When I got my first "grown up" job (ie: no more summer breaks or Christmas vacations), I quickly found out I would need to venture into the world of personality tests. I know some people who hate them, but I actually enjoy them quite a bit. Understanding personalities seems to make the world a more interesting place for me! Well, last year my team started to read a particular book called StrengthsFinder. And the insights this book (and personality assesment) gave me were priceless...
But wait, let me back up a minute.
I've always been different from other people. In elementary school, I wasn't very interested in hitting a badmitton birdie around the gym or running relays on field day like the rest of my peers. In middle school, instead of having heart palpitations over the Backstreet Boys, I had my nose in a book. In high school, I didn't go to prom because I simply didn't want to. And in college, I found myself differing from most of my friends because I didn't drink alcohol when we went out. So yeah, I've always been different. And...I've kind of liked it.
I've got friends from all walks of life. One of my close friends really, really, really loves Disney movies. I think she's fabulous. But I'm not at all a Disney fan. (Just not the princess-y type, ya know?) My husband is a big fan of anything Sci-fi and likes to play video games to unwind. Guess what things I don't particularly enjoy? Haha. My brother is a great runner, whereas if I'm putting on running shoes it's because I think they're cute.
We're all different. And I love it.
But sometimes other people don't. Sometimes other people have pulled me aside and said that I really should like such-and-such, or I really shouldn't be doing such-and-such because it wasn't normal, or it wasn't what the rest of the group was doing. Sometimes people have told me I'm judgmental because I did things differently than they did. And I always had to scratch my head and wonder. Aren't we all supposed to be different and unique?
Anyways. Back to this StrengthsFinder thing...when I took this quiz it told me some things I already knew about myself. Things like, I'm an achiever! Well...duh. I make lists every day of my life and I sincerely enjoy checking things off. And this test told me I'm also very empathetic! (Guilty as charged. If you cry, I cry.) But the third one...it was new for me.
My third strength was individualization. And I'll admit, I had to look it up to see what this test meant.
Come to find out, it meant I like the differences in people. I enjoy getting to know people who aren't the same as me. It meant I think the different things about other people are strengths!
So no wonder I've spent all these years being different and having an array of different friendships. I felt relieved! There was a word for my kind of different. And now I use it all the time. Because it's true...no two people are alike. And it's a beautiful thing! It's how God made us...each in His image, but totally unique.
So next time someone looks at you sideways and says, "What do you mean you'd rather read your book than go waterskiing? Reading's not nearly as cool." or, "What do you mean you don't shop at insert-super-expensive-trendy-store-here for all your clothes?" you can just smile. And you can tell them that you're happy being you.
Tell them that you're happy being an individual. And you love them in spite of (or because of!) how different you are from each other.
The world's much more interesting with all our differences anyways. :-)
Has anyone ever criticized you for being different? What kind of things make you different, and what do you like about you that's different from everyone else?
Ashley was the editorial assistant for BRIO Magazine until the magazine was shuttered in January 2009. Now she freelances, occasionally writing articles for SUSIE Magazine, and writing her own fiction. She also has a blog, which you can find at http://www.ashleywritesagain.blogspot.com/. If you want to chat, look her up on facebook. Want to know more? Visit her website: http://www.ashley-mays.com/.