Does Your Greatest Strength Reveal Your Biggest Weakness?

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It’s a typical Sunday when my boyfriend is happy to relax and laze about in the hammock in my back patio — and I join him for about 15 minutes before I get restless and ask what we’re going to do next. This ability to easily relax and enjoy leisure is what I call his “vacation brain.” Very little upsets him; he is generally calm and almost never defensive. There is a flipside to this enviable quality, though. His relaxed demeanor means a certain detachment. He prefers to avoid difficult things and easily puts them out of mind (sometimes to my annoyance).

These opposing traits are two sides of the same coin, or, what I think of as a Janus face.  Janus is the Roman god of motion and transitions. Since these concepts are complementary in nature – starting one thing means ending another, arriving in one place requires leaving somewhere else — Janus is usually depicted as having two faces, one looking to the future, and one to the past. Similarly, our greatest strengths are typically the inverse of our biggest weaknesses. (read more…)

The Failure Experiment

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I know, intellectually, that failure is part of life. But it’s not something I’ve had much experience with. My life has never been messy, or far from the beaten path, or out of synch with my own expectations for myself.  My first 30+ years have provided stability and many rich experiences, but it is not quite the wild and precious thing that I want for the next thirty.

I am in the middle of a change. I’m at the point where I know something is happening, but my ultimate destination is murky. Even though I can’t visualize it (or maybe because I can’t), I am worried that I might fail to arrive in this new place. And that terrifies me.

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My Boobs Are Just Fine

Vija Celmins

I hate shopping. I only go when I want something extremely specific. Last week, this “something specific” was an unpadded bra. The process made me realize how my changing relationship with myself is not at all reflected by the consumer nation.

I’m a small-breasted woman. I could probably arguably fit into a girl’s trainers bra. And I might have to because it seems the majority of A-cup bras have a ridiculous amount of padding in them. And if they don’t have pillows built in, they cup in a way that leaves a gap between where your boob ends and the bra starts. (read more…)

Love: a 4 Letter Word in 4 Parts

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I don’t have a memory of love before I was twenty one.

True, I grew up in a close-knit family where the words “I love you” were regularly spoken. But, for me it was a statement of fact or obligation. It was not the joyous, deep body feeling that I now know as love.

The person I dated for a over a year in college was rightfully angry that I told my friends and family that I loved them, but I never said it to her. It is only in hindsight that I see how immature I was. I didn’t know what love was really, what it felt like, or that I was responsible for it. I thought it was a thing that would simply come to me, like Tinker Bell, and sprinkle me with a magical dust. I worried that I would never love someone, that something was wrong with me that rendered me undatable and incapable of love. For years, I was comforted by Melissa Ferrick’s “Love Song.” She sings: “How strange at twenty one, never even had one.” If Melissa Ferrick felt this way too, maybe I was ok. (read more…)

Learning to Forget, Overlook and Ignore

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When I was in middle school, we were always given a packet summer assignments that were due in September. It constituted probably two or three total hours of work, and I’m sure most kids did theirs the weekend before the first day of school. I always did mine on the first or second day of summer vacation.

I’ve never been someone to put things off. It’s not just the schoolwork of childhood; errands and work projects as a grown-up get the same treatment. Sometimes people tell me they wish they could be more like this, but it’s not some great virtue to be admired. It’s just what I am compelled to do to manage anxiety. Doing things ahead of time doesn’t make me do them better or more carefully, it just makes me feel better in that one moment. In this way, it’s actually no different from procrastination. (read more…)