“I just noticed, really noticed, that autumn is here again. When I was driving home today I saw that the leaves have changed – the red and orange are taking over the green, and it made me ask myself why I’m here. Am I here to be a lover, a friend, a wife, a daughter? Am I meant to become someone great, for the world to see, or just to be seen as great by the people I love, the people I’m lucky enough to be loved by? I don’t know the answers. I really wish I did.
At this point, this threshold, it’s hard to see past the next few weeks – because I’m stuck at home, not really free to pick up and take off whenever, wherever I please. That’s the freedom I crave, and patience has never been one of my virtues.
Right now I want to be a writer, an editor, and a mother. Right now I’m scared, so scared of losing everyone I know and love. I feel cold all over thinking about my loved ones being gone one day.
I think I feel too much.
That plus my penchant for worrying do not go well together, like champagne and beer. Ugh.
Today I found the (free! Unless you want the entire report) HIGH5 Personality Test. After 100 questions, you find out your top 5 strengths.
Here are mine:
Your objective is to be empathetic to others’ emotions. No one can step into the others’ shoes better than you – it comes so naturally to you. You might not agree with every perspective and emotion, but most importantly you are able to understand what the person is going though. It allows you to have personalized approach to everyone, to see their differences and specialties, to include them and to treat fairly. Naturally, it draws others to you, as you know exactly how they feel. In a team, such a strength based on kindness can be essential for mitigating conflicts by making sure all team members are aware of each other’s emotions and challenges.
2. STRATEGIST Your objective is to see the big picture. Have you heard about ‘taking the helicopter view’? In your case, you are constantly on this helicopter! That’s not even a skill, it’s a special way of seeing things – a special perspective on the world at large, where everything is interconnected. While others could be confused by your short-terms steps, in your mind you have a clear multi-step strategy on how to arrive at the desired outcome and to avoid paths leading nowhere. Such a strategist is an essential asset for any team determined to find a clear direction in a complex situation.
3. THINKER Your objective is to think. Some get excited by exercising their biceps or triceps, you – by stretching your ‘brain muscles’ through deep thinking. It does not necessarily mean you are a very focused person. It just means you enjoy the mental activity and meaningful conversations. For your mind journeys, you perceive yourself as the best companion. This introspection allows you to digest complex information and ideas before communicating about it with the surrounding world. Who wouldn’t like to have a team member who can simplify even most sophisticated concepts in a way that a 3-year-old would understand?
4. COACH Your objective is to develop people’s potential. Contrary to what others might think, you believe that every person has the potential for development. None of the people have achieved the ultimate level of excellence – there is always space to grow. You perceive it as a personal mission to help others utilize their potential and to experience success. As the result, you look for ways to facilitate their learning process – from challenging their thoughts in a discussion to creating environments which would facilitate learning process. You are one of those leaders that really care about the development of team members and they really appreciate it.
5. PHILOMATH Your objective is to learn new things. Due to your love of learning people tend to say you are a very curious person. You like to experiment with different styles of learning as well – in the end, there is something to learn from that as well, right? As it’s the processes itself that excite you, you are not necessarily interested in becoming a subject matter expert. Instead you prefer learning something fast and then shift to a new thing to learn. Thanks to this strength, you learn very fast and thrive in short projects and dynamically changing environments. Needless to say, you will always be the one to contribute with new knowledge to your team as well.
This Myers-Briggs Personality Type Test is one of my favourites, as is this one – it has really in-depth results and cute graphics. I am INFP-T by the way; a less assertive and more ‘turbulent’ form of the Mediator / Healer type.
Last, I like the Enneagram Type Test. There are 9 types in all; I am Type 2 – The Giver/The Helper.
I could go on and on about quizzes and personality types. I love knowing more about myself and exploring the different, and often contradictory, aspects of my personality.
Rainy days are perfect for so many of my favourite things: reading, napping, writing, and cuddling with my puppy.
Inspiration doesn’t hit me like it used to. I blame the uncertainty that comes with a global pandemic. I obsess over what’s happening, and what could happen. I frame these thoughts in a negative way. But I know I need to switch my thinking and not dwell on the doom and gloom. We don’t have to go back to way things were; we have a chance to make the world better and to give our children hope.
So more often than not, I am weighed down by the heavy things. I think, “Why bother writing about love, friendship, or anything light-hearted? The world is crashing down upon us in so many ways – there’s no time for fluff, for laughter, for light!”
But this is exactly the time for such things.
The following is a poem I read recently that really resonates, so I wanted to share it:
I cannot tell you what lies ahead, but I can tell you: you will grow.
Your ability to keep going each day is a sign of courage on its own.
I know that peace feels far away as you try to make sense of all the change, and I just hope you can remember this:
You do not have to make sense of it all in order to be worthy of peace.
To be the one keeps breathing in the unknown is a brave and miraculous thing.
Learning to exhale is no small feat. You are doing brave things. Yes, you are doing brave things. Even though it doesn’t always feel that way.
By Morgan Harper Nichols (on IG @morganharpernichols)
In 2000, I was in 5th grade. In November of that year, we were tasked with memorizing the poem In Flanders Fields by John McCrae. On Remembrance Day, each one of us faced the class and recited the poem.
All these years later, I remember the words.
Today stirs up a lot of feelings. My dad joined the Canadian Armed Forces when he was 18. He was inspired by his own father’s service; he wanted to help people and make the world a better place.
So I grew up on military bases around Canada. I knew my dad had a very important job. His job took him away from us for months at a time. As I got older, I would hold back tears during the schools’ Remembrance Day ceremonies. I thought of the times he was in war zones; the times he came back but some his friends and colleagues didn’t.
I remember when he was overseas in Afghanistan. I would hardly breathe when the news came on TV, waiting to see if his name and photo would flash across the screen.
The first time I saw my dad cry was when he said goodbye to us before his second tour. I was a teenager, and I did my best to hold it together for my parents.
He is retired now. I know that as a combat engineer and EOD specialist, he saw and experienced some (or a lot of) very bad things. He doesn’t talk about it.
So on Remembrance Day, I am thankful to all soldiers for their service. I hate that they experienced so many awful things; I hate war. All of the senseless death and destruction makes me physically ill. I hate that war is so often viewed as necessary.
I’ve always loved the idea of new beginnings. Fresh starts. Next chapters. The thrill of reinvention, rebirth; wiping the slate clean.
We, as humans, give time meaning. We have followed the movements of the moon and the sun and other stars for as long as we have been on earth. The sunrise always means a new day, a time to start again. So does spring. All living things have a season – us included.
2020 feels special to me. I am so aware of my patterns now, both the destructive ones and the positive ones, and I am looking forward to actively and purposefully making changes.
I need to let myself breathe. I need to be just fine with existing. I am not worthless because I don’t have a job. I am more than my depression; I am more than my anxiety. I am allowed to rest without feeling guilty.
I am doing the best I can with what I have.
I cannot control others, and that is okay. I only control what I do and what I think. I want to embrace others and see them for who they are, not for what they can be or who I want them to be. This part is difficult, especially when it comes to romantic relationships. I have fallen in love with others’ potential so many times, it’s kind of embarrassing. But now that I see this so clearly about myself, I can actively work toward accepting people as they are.
I also know I can’t be hopeful and optimistic all the time. Cycles exist for a reason. Even with medication and therapy, I have dark days. Sometimes I feel bogged down and sad and grey. For me, ‘pushing through’ with a smile just doesn’t work. So, when I can, I let it hurt. I feel the blackness, the loneliness, the despair.
I struggle with milestone birthdays. 25 was a hard one, too. At 25, I was on the verge of a completely new life – single after many years in a relationship, a young daughter in tow. I came out the other side, obviously. I survived 25. I moved on. I did what I could to put the pieces into some semblance of a picture.
But 30?! I had all these plans and ideas of what my life would look like by now. A white picket fence sort of thing, with a doting, successful husband, a few children, a few pets. A garden. A front porch with a swing. A fulfilling career for myself. By 30 I would have all of those things. Wrapped in a perfect pretty bow.
I can still have those things. I know this. But it felt like 30 was a deadline and if I hadn’t achieved every single goal and dream by then, I’d be a failure. And so for the past few days, I’ve been feeling like a failure. I wanted to stay in today and hide from the world and not acknowledge anything or anyone.
But I didn’t. I went for supper with a few friends. We laughed and talked and had a good time. I’m glad I didn’t hide. I know ‘age is just a number’ and it’s ridiculous to think that life somehow ends at 30. I’m remembering to breathe and to remind myself that life now is good. Not perfect. But good. And that’s okay.
There’s loads of time for me to get what I want.
I am being very intentional about how I spend my time and where I put my energy now. I want love and compassion and reliability, so that’s what I put out into the world. I do my best to be kind and to be understanding. When I feel sad or frustrated, I take time to actually sit with the emotion, hold onto it; I acknowledge that shitty feeling and then I let it go.
It’s not easy, of course. I have a tendency to dwell on negative thoughts and feelings. Stew in it. Or push it down and bury it until there’s no room left and it all comes out at once in great howls of despair.
I don’t want that anymore. So I’m trying something new. I’m going into 30 with with as much hope and confidence as I can muster. That hope and confidence is a tiny, flickering flame right now, but it will grow.
For the past few days I’ve been feeling grey; colourless. I went for a walk. I read a good book. I spent time with people I love. And yet, the feeling remains.
Depression is this insidious, oily, thick black smoke curling around me, clutching at the back of my neck. It whispers all kinds of mean things – you’re worthless, pointless, everyone would be better off if you were gone – and I try to close my eyes against it. But sleep brings too vivid, sometimes frightening dreams, so sleeping the fog and the ache away does me no good.
I would love to channel these feelings (lack of feelings?) into writing. I have a story to tell; I feel its claws. It is digging itself out of me. I really should stop fighting it so much.
That’s what I do, you know. Fight. Every day is a battle against something: the feelings I have about myself, about others.
I am tired. Again. I am scared.
It’s funny, though, how I’m afraid to break. I’m already broken. Lots of jumbled up, jagged pieces in my head. In my heart.
One year ago, I faced my fear and brought my writing out of the dark, into the light.
Spring is a time of renewal. The snow and the cold are retreating, making way for blooms and blossoms and warmth. Persephone has returned.
As such, my life is changing, too. Lately I feel a lot more unburdened, lighter; like I can take a deep breath and exhale.
My daughter is getting older and more independent (she’ll be eight years old this year). Watching her discover and delve into her interests; navigate friendships, experiencing loyalty, jealousy, laughter, and tears; makes me so proud to be her mother. I want her to know she can fail and make mistakes and still be a strong, amazing person. We’ve been through a lot, and I know life isn’t finished throwing hardship and obstacles her way, so I tell her as often as I can that I love her and I will be here for her, always.
Over these past few months I have discovered a lot about myself: what I want, and what I’m capable of. My heart is full of hope and I’m excited about what’s next.