Recently I was preparing for an interview by practicing interview-prep questions. “What’s your greatest weakness?” is a really common one. Apparently, the super-sneaky way to answer this question is to talk about a weakness that is the flipside of a strength so as to incept an idea of your awesomeness into the interviewer’s brain.
Something like this?
“Well, I procrastinate and spend a lot of time watching TV, but because of that, I know all the lyrics to 'High School Musical 1 and 2'" (3 sucked but let’s not get into an internet argument now).
“I can be prone to anxiety, because I care deeply about things and am dedicated to being the best I can be. And also because the mafia has been on my tail since I cured the cancer of one of their enemies.” (Let’s play two truths and a lie)
Sooo sneaky, right? And yet, what you tell the interviewer is actually the absolute truth (I mean everything you tell the interviewer is truth of course…). My point being, our weaknesses are always the flipside of our strengths. Why does having a flaw pointed out feel like an attack on your identity? Maybe because, along with wishing you didn’t have that flaw, you are wishing away a part of yourself that you are proud of. In wishing I wasn’t so anal and controlling about everything and hating the effect produced on my life and mental state sometimes, I am also wishing away my driven-ness to achieve my goals and strong sense of responsibility.
If everything is two-sided, where do we go from here? The answer is not to stare, with tunnel-vision, into the void of your mistakes and flaws (although, you wouldn’t believe how often I do this). On the other hand, the answer is also not in the inspirational quotes of “you’re perfect and you never need to change” (you also wouldn’t believe how often I turn around and think this). Disclaimer: I don’t mean change in order to fit every societal pressure. I mean growth. Because where would we be if people never had the capacity to gain life experience, learn from their mistakes, and become the best version of themselves?
Easier said than done. It’s so easy for me to see my flaws negatively impacting my life, goals, or relationships and be completely discouraged. After all, the flaws are the side-effects of the positive things I’ve built my identity on (on which I’ve built my identity… grammar isn’t one of them). And it would seem like I have to undo who I am in order to change them and become a better person. But the answer isn’t trying to diminish personality traits which all have positive and negative aspects. Rather it is being able to look at yourself honestly, recognize the mixed bag we all are, and find a balance. You don’t have to completely change your weaknesses, because those are the strengths that make up who you are. And being cognizant of our strengths and weaknesses in the context of the relationship between them is the first step to moving forward.So where is that balance? I have no idea. I overshoot it and undershoot it wildly. Loosen up a bit, tightwad! But, also, don’t skip class on the day you’re supposed to get your biochem tests back… (to be fair, it was my birthday) Growing is a process, and can be quite a painful one at that. The ups and downs of life knock you around like the bumper rails I still need at bowling alleys. But, in the end, the bumpers will help you correct your course as you move forward (bad at bowling but good at cheesy metaphors?). So, my fellow poorly-aimed bowling balls, be patient with yourselves. We’ll all just have to keep bumping along together.