Best Self Redux

Maybe it was wishful thinking. Maybe it was the excitement of an assessment that mapped so strongly to what I want to believe is my most valuable trait. Maybe the CIVIFS I coined is pretty close to the most valuable or tied with it, even. Or maybe, I struggled with admitting what my true most valuable trait is. Maybe it was easier, prettier to ignore.

But all that changed when I read GinnyLee Taylor’s wonderful response to Sally Hogshead‘s Quest 2015 prompt:

What is your most valuable personality trait — and how can you bring it forward in your best work in 2015?

In it she said:

My most valuable personality trait is introversion. I’m a thinker, a listener, and then responder with depth.

She claimed her introversion. Something I own for myself, but as a most valuable trait? All I could think was, now that’s brave. And then I remembered something I have long believed and even stood up and said on way more than one occasion:

The thing we consider our greatest weakness is often our greatest strength.

How could I have forgotten what I’ve known most of my life? That my most valuable trait, not just in personality, but emotionally, spiritually, physically, is my sensitivity. Yes, my sensitivity.

I am the girl who cries at movies, who escorts insects out of doors, who is overwhelmed by light and noise and scent and touch, who some days doesn’t have the energy to haul myself out of bed, who breaks out in hives or whose joints swell with most everything I eat or when the weather is damp. I am a girl who has been labeled hypersensitive, moody, overly emotional, hysterical, even hypochondriacal once or twice. And I have to admit, it can be hard to own that.

But I am also the girl who feels everything. The sun on my back, the stillness of trees, the tears you cannot or will not shed.

And there’s something else. Something about living with pain, with experiencing deep loss, that opens our hearts. That gifts us with empathy and its companion compassion. What we do with those gifts is up to us. We can accept them or shut our hearts tight against them. Me, I chose to do what I have always done, what I have to do: I embrace them. I feel them. And today, I own them–the good and the bad.