I thought I was self-aware. To me, I was the most self-aware person I knew. I had no blindspots, and if I did, I would find them soon enough, all by myself.
I didn’t need people to point out my weaknesses. I would find them on my own, or so I thought. Much less, I was convinced that I was invincible, void of any weakness. It was all fantasy and mind games.
I never dared to self-evaluate or ask people into my life to give me feedback, in the chance of weakness or vulnerability being revealed in me. The thought of being defective, of appearing weak, of not having it all together – that thought terrified me.
I know that we worship that which we are afraid of, so in my constant state of living afraid, I was really bowing down to an idol of self-preservation. In my fear of appearing less than perfect, I was serving the god of false humility.
I knew that I couldn’t be perfect – no human can be – but the risk of pain was too great for me. I couldn’t do pain, my life oft spent avoiding it like the devil. I knew that involving people in anything drastically increases the chance of experiencing pain.
I vowed to do it all myself. It was my job to carry the weight of the world on my shoulders. I was their savior, I was being depended on to save myself, my family, and my community.
It was job to carry the weight of the world.
In every relationship, there was always a hint of doubt in the other person’s belief in me. "I'm never fully convinced that you're really, truly for me" was the continual chant in my head.
That lie was pervasive in my thought life surrounding the people placed in my life. I kept them at arm’s length, putting up walls around my heart, walls built with insecurity, doubt, and most of all, fear.
Though I was mostly oblivious to all this at that time, I’m sure you could have seen, smelled, touched my walls if you got close to me. My skin was thick, and my skill level at pushing people away when they got too close for comfort was good.
Then it all started to change. I realized that I needed help. I admitted that I had issues and flaws and weaknesses.
It all starts with confessing your weakness.
I started asking for feedback. I asked people how I was affecting them. I asked them about my strengths and weaknesses, what I excelled in and what I needed to grow in.
It was all scary at first. I remember receiving the first piece of feedback. It took all I had within me to not run when I read the feedback concerning my weaknesses. But it got easier from that moment on.
Soon after this, I started the journey of diving into my personality with the Enneagram. I started looking at weakness as something to embrace, not something to kill. I allowed myself to non-judgementally view myself as a whole person, with strengths and weaknesses.
(I’m an 8, The Challenger, if you were curious.)
The most impactful thing I learned in this process is that I’m not complete without my weaknesses.
That in fact, I won’t feel fully connected to myself until I connect with my weaknesses and imperfections. It’s not until I stand face to face with the messy, the ugly, the smeared parts of me that I can start to love all of me.
And that’s become the goal. To love all of me, good and bad, strengths and weaknesses. I can’t love me if I only love the good parts. I can’t separate myself, I can’t take sides. I have to fully embrace my weaknesses if I’m to become whole.
And that’s beautiful.
My advice to myself in this time goes something like this…
Give yourself more grace than you ever have before in this process. It will be easy to judge yourself for not having it all together, but judging isn’t helping you. Compassion and self-acceptance will.
Judgement doesn’t help; compassion and self-acceptance does.
Fall in love with all of you. Embrace every part of you, especially the parts you haven’t liked in the past.
You are not your personality.
“Your personality is what shows up when you don’t.” - Ian Morgan Cron
Bring your true self to the table, leaving the façade and masquerade behind you. Drop the act, be true to yourself. People need the real you to show up.
In closing, I’m on a journey of learning that I can’t be fully Japheth without weakness. I can’t fully connect with myself, much less other people, if I’m disconnected with parts of myself. Loving all of me is crucial to becoming a whole-hearted human being.