I recently had to fill out fill my profile page for the upcoming WDS in July, which got me thinking how best to describe myself these days; I say “these days” because like most people, being in my 50’s I’m a much different person than I was in my 20’s, and many of the things that defined me back then (like a full head of hair and chiselled abs… okay, just a full head of hair!) have since changed. But most of all, I was curious which character traits have stayed with me over the years (hopefully good!) and which have faded away over time (hopefully all the dumb-ass, unproductive ones~!); and since the box to write these traits in was so tiny and only allowed limited characters, like Indiana Jones I knew I’d have to “choose wisely”. This in itself created a dilemma: How to paint a honest portrait of “Who I am” without coming across as a shiny, happy hybrid of equal parts Tony Robbins, Gandhi and Mother Theresa, (with a little “Batman” thrown in for good measure) knowing full well, this wouldn’t be totally honest?
Seriously, as much as I believe I’m a good person – you know, someone who is loving, kind, bold, has integrity and is fun to be around – I didn’t want to ignore the facts (to myself at least) that there are some darker sides to my personality as well…. I mean, like everyone, I still have my moments where I get annoyed, pissed off or don’t always take the most politically correct view of certain things; and while I’m not exactly a felon on death row, I’m certainly no angel either. So what to do? How can I best describe myself to a bunch of strangers while (a) being brief enough to fill the little box, yet (b) honest enough not to stretch the truth? These questions made me dig even a little bit deeper into my psyche, and here’s what I realized:
Getting older often causes us to look back upon our past successes and failures, and – using that information – determine the kind of people we’d like to be in the future. After stumbling around this planet for years, we have a general idea of how we’d like behave, the way we want to be seen by others, and how we want to be viewed by our friends and family – be it the way we’re seen now, or totally different. We want to take what we’ve learned from personal experiences (both good and bad) and use this information to become the best versions of ourselves we can be, then put that forward for the world to see. With all this to think about, it’s quite the task to make it fit accurately into 140 characters, so like I said before, it’s important to choose wisely.
Eventually I filled that little box with something about being a writer, adventurer and traveller, plus am a guy who loves meeting and connecting with new people. And while it’s all true (and probably enough for this purpose) I realized that if I were to be 100% honest, I’d add in a few other adjectives which – while not as appealing – would accurately describe me; which in turn got me wondering about something I saw recently, which asked readers to describe themselves in six words. What I found most interesting about this exercise was that by only allowing six words it meant that people’s choices had to be multifaceted and cast a wide net so as to encompass several different parts of their personalities with single words. I found this to be a tough assignment since my original list had twelve words.
After a while I honed it; so using only six words, here’s how I would best describe myself, warts and all; and after each word is a brief description of why I think this best describes me. I’m being honest and transparent here, so hopefully I don’t come off as too much of a jerk.
Six Words I Think Accurately Describe Me
Passionate: I’m very passionate about almost everything I do, be if from visiting a country, to cooking the very best meal possible for my friends and family, to trying to write the best post ever. I want everything I do to be a reflection of an unwavering commitment to excellence; to present the very best version of me, how I feel about life, and to use all my abilities to create greatness. I love life, and want to experience all that it has to offer; and I’m prepared to do whatever I have to do to make it happen – for me, my family and my true friends. Other words that could be used here to describe me would be excited, enthusiastic and driven.
Loving: I’m a very loving, emotional person; someone who is easily moved, and yes, on occasion cries when I feel sad. There’s nothing I won’t do for other people, as long as they are deserving of the help and attention; unfortunately, I tend crave the thanks and appreciation that comes from that help – and to be honest, I see this as a weakness.
Tenacious: My motto is “get it done”; and I live this to the fullest, even when a task is unpleasant. The bottom line is that if I said I’d do something, then I won’t quit until I’m finished – which also means people know they can count on me, no matter what the circumstances. I believe tenacity is a key cornerstone to success, and therefore it’s very important keep driving the truck until the job is finished. So however long a task takes, or how hard or unpleasant it is, you know that I’ll stick it through to the end.
Loyal: My word is rock solid; and just like with tenacity, if I say I’ll do something, I’ll do it. The people who are important to me – being my family and friends, or those who are dear to me, I’ll always have their back, and be there whenever they need me. Having said that, if someone breaches my trust, I’ll drop them like a rock into the abyss – to quote Bill Paxton, when this happens, it’s “Game over, man!” I’ve actually cut off a family member for this very reason, surmising the fact that we share the same bloodline does not override, betrayal and dishonestly; these things have no place in my life. Am I unusually hard? You bet. Will I ever change the way I feel about this? It’s doubtful.
A Planner: Regardless of whatever I want to achieve, there must always be a plan in place; and only then I work that plan to ensure my family has a great life. I know exactly where we’ll be in six months, one year and five years, because we have a plan in place to get us to each of those places. For me it’s plan, plan, plan – and then work the plan to get the desired results that allow us to live an awesome life.
Insecure: Like most people, I’m pretty insecure – and for years, this came from feeling stupid and inadequate for not having a traditional education; however, as time goes on and my accomplishments grow, this feeling appears to be dwindling more and more as time goes on. Besides that, today I see certain things (looks, social standing, cars, job titles, etc.) that – while seeming important in earlier years – I now view as unimportant or superficial. In fact, as I get older, I find that Paula and I tend to distance ourselves from people who need these things to feel good about themselves, because it usually means we don’t have much in common.
At times I definitely feel like I should be “more” or better at certain things; a better father, a better husband, a better contributor to the community, a better friend, etc. So I continue to work on these ideas’, with the hope people like me for who I am. If they don’t appear to, or don’t acknowledge my efforts, I definitely wonder what I’ve done wrong; usually, it’s nothing. But sometimes – even at my age – I still wonder if I’ve messed up, and it still hurts to admit I feel this way at times
What About You?
I can think of a few other words that would also describe me; but since my limit is six, these ones will have to do. And as much as I like most of them, and feel they accurately represent me , I don’t like the fact that I still feel the need to “be liked” as much as I do, which feeds the insecurtiy; it’s something I’m aware of, and work on a lot. But enough about me… What about you? What words would you use to describe yourself? Like mine, have they also changed over the years?
Go ahead: I challenge you to also dig deep and see if you can also come up with six words that describe “who you are” as a person; if you take the challenge, just be ready for (a) some serious self-reflection in the process, and (b) to realize just how far you’ve grown over the years. Trust me when I say, it’s a worthwhile and eye-opening exercise, and you may just discover that – like I did – that despite a couple of minor character flaws, we are still pretty good people after all.