When I was a kid, I often heard how stubborn I was, how rebellious, that I was a moody daydreamer who talked too much and couldn’t sit still. Sounds pretty terrible, right? And I’ll admit I could be a pain in the behind, often to the adults around me and sometimes to my friends.
As hard as I tried, I couldn’t seem to completely squelch any of these traits. I could mostly subdue them but the temptation to give into them sometimes proved too much.
Yet, sometimes my worst traits were a blessing. My stubbornness kept me going when I was tempted to give up. My rebelliousness meant I didn’t blindly follow anyone or anything. My daydreaming and talking too much made me a good storyteller. My moodiness and couldn’t-sit-stillness were harder to see in a positive light but they gave me passion and drive.
I started to wonder if maybe what made these traits bad was the way I looked at them, the words I (and others) used to describe them. Yes, all the traits had a downside but maybe that’s what it was, the downside of a positive trait.
Shoulda been obvious, right?
But for so long, it wasn’t obvious to me.
If I gave them positive names, I could see that so clearly.
My stubbornness was commitment, stick-to-itiveness, and loyalty. My rebelliousness was thinking for myself. My moodiness was passion. My daydreaming was thoughtfulness and creativity. My couldn’t-sit-still-ness was ambition and the willingness to try new things.
Once I saw that these traits were essentially good, that they could go awry but they could also be honed, I embraced them. I began to love them and how they made me who I was. And I vowed to look at others this same way.
These traits have served me well in life. Sometimes they bite me in the butt but mostly they make up what I like most about myself. They’ve carried me through dark times and pushed me into good ones.
And this outlook has also served me well as we’re never really done discovering who we (and others) are.
Of course, because I am passionate and determined, this outlooks is also often put to the test.
When my children came along, I saw many of my “worst” personality traits crop up in them along with a few others.
Did your parents ever tell you, “I hope you have a child just like you,” like it was some sort of curse?
And boy, did that ever come true.
There are moments when it does feel like a curse, when my
stubborness stick-to-itiveness collides with my daughter’s epic stick-to-itiveness or my passion locks horns with my son’s passion and the fireworks commence. At these moments, it’s so tempting to revert to the kind of thinking I encountered as a kid, to see their personality traits as all bad, to wish they were easy-going and obedient all the time. That’s when it’s most important to remember these traits, while they may be in need of a little honing, will serve them well in life…even if it makes me want to pound my head into the wall right now.
Because the way I see them is the way they see themselves
is the way we see the world
is the way I see myself
is the way I see them.
How about you? Did you grow up hearing about your worst traits? Have you embraced them? Are you still working on that? Do you think there are any personality traits that just don’t have an upside?