Thursday, February 08, 2007

Recognizing Our Strengths: Exercise 2


Amy said...

I listed my strengths as being at work and being home in my garden or reading. I love to get things done and like the challenge of a project to complete. I also love reading and contemplating. I'm so excited that Spring is around the corner for gardening.

I stink at sports. I used to say I just wasn't competitive. As I've gotten older, I realized that I am quite competitive. My problem with sports is that I don't do it well, so get frustrated and just want to bail out! :)

I like large groups, but only for periods of time. Long term, I get worn out.

I'd like to say I'm strong with a group of close friends. I'm really working on this. In addition to being an introvert, my family moved around a lot while I was in Junior High & High School (4 states in 2 years). Of necessity, I became pretty self-sufficient. I tend to hold myself in and if I feel insecure at all, keep relationships at a point where I am less vulnerable and more in control. I'm working on this, but it's a work in progress.

Jemila Monroe said...

Amy, I'm right there with you. Work/school and being home creating or reading (though I don't know much at all about gardening,) seem to be the places I feel most at ease in myself. I find work/school energizing and simultaneously sometimes overstimulating; reading, being, etc replenish my soul and help bring me back into balance.

Although I can manage, I find coctail party/coffee hour scenarios very draining, esp over time. I esp abhor ongoing superficial acqaintanceships with people I don't really feel invested in, yet that which demand my energy even though I know the connection (or lack thereof) isn't going to deepen or grow in significance.

I love dancing and I used to be a competitive figure skater (which was a hugely mixed bag,) but otherwise I'm not really that sports saavy, although I do enjoy soccer and volleyball and occasionally basketball, with the right crowd that's able to be playfully competitive without pressure. Otherwise I feel too competitive and simultaneously inadequate, which tends to be an unfortunate combination, as Amy alluded :)

Carri said...

I also enjoy gardening and reading. Amy I would enjoy hearing more about what is in your garden. I am always looking for tips & new ideas! I am glad that you are apart of this group. I hope that it is a place that you can make progress towards being more comfortable with a group of close friends.

Although I have always considered myself an extrovert, I totally agree with you Jemila. I feel like I don't want to waste time with superficial conversation just for the sake of conversation. I know it has its place...but I thrive in a group of close friends.

I enjoyed playing team sports mostly because of the people on the team. I am not really much of a competitive person either.

Nancy said...

ernI'm highly relational and so it comes as no surprise that I'd pick being comfortable with a close group of friends as where I feel most at ease. My work is relational and I enjoy being there also. Much of my life is listening and talking. : )

So, I also very much relish my "alone" time (and NEED it)...whether it be reading, digging in the dirt (I have 10 acres...much dirt to dig in), taking a hike, or journaling.

Nancy said...

I'm highly relational and so it comes as no surprise that I'd pick being comfortable with a close group of friends as where I feel most at ease. My work is relational and I enjoy being there also. Much of my life is listening and talking. : )

So, I also very much relish my "alone" time (and NEED it)...whether it be reading, digging in the dirt (I have 10 acres...much dirt to dig in), taking a hike, or journaling.

Jemila Monroe said...

The close friends aspect I was thinking about and didn't end up posting on (I think I intended to -- perhaps was subconscious.) I have always been a very loyal friend, but I have always seemed to find one or two special people here and there from different groups with whom I really connect, and have never really been part of a "group of close friends" because until this group, I have never really felt comfortable with the overall ethos/values of a particular group. My independent-thinking personality blends with intimacy issues and fear of getting sucked into a vortex, so usually in group situations I kind of keep myself as a friendly outsider.

Jemila Monroe said...

Oh yeah, did I mention fear of rejection? There's some of that too. Okay, PLENTY of it ;)

Lori said...

It's such a kick to answer these questions in my mid-30s, as opposed to 20s or teens. The raging insecurities of those years seem to be dying down a bit, and I'm so much more comfortable with myself and who God made me. For example, I can say, with no qualifications, that I simply hate sports. Why, then did I try out for volleyball in high school? The bad reasons go on and on. Now, I can just say, no way. I hate them. (Okay, so I run, but again, wouldn't call myself a runner, just someone who likes to stay fit.)

Also, I love people. I love small groups of friends, and don't even mind large gatherings. I'm always awkward at the outset, but once I get into it, I always have a great time (well, there have been a few obligatory political gatherings that were very uncomfortable; the nose ring kind of made me stand out). The real kicker is that I can never sleep after I've been with a group, small or large. I think that's a classic sign of extraverted tendencies! I do especially treasure time with like-minded folks, which makes the very best times typically very small gatherings, you know, three or four people. Fortunately, my husband and I tend to connect with the same types, so we together host dinners, small groups, etc. that foster those specific relationships. (Of course, he falls asleep as soon as we put away the last wine glass!)

Since having kids, and being influenced by the mystics who speak inspiringly of silence, I've developed a deeper need for time alone. I've always loved to read, so these two desires work well together. With both kids in school now, I get quite a bit of quiet/reading time, and I love it. I just have to watch myself, because I can get wrapped up in it and unavailable to the world outside. The worst part is, if I go too long without adult human interaction, I get really wierd. So I have to balance out these two sides of me, and I'm still learning how to do that.

I'm interested by how many of us crave relationship with like-minded people. In a crowd, that doesn't matter so much, but in real relationships, it's really hard to find. Especially as women, I think--I have this awful tendency to prefer talking with my husband's male friends over time with their wives. Decorum influences how I spend my time, of course, but I'm often jealous of my husband and his friends and conversations. This group is a godsend, in that it reassures me there really are other women out there like me. Of course, it's also a little threatening...maybe I'm not so unique after all!

Jemila Monroe said...

Good for you Lori -- what refreshment to be able to breathe deeply and look back and realize you're lighter than you used to be, more comfortable just being you as God made you.

I hear you on the preference for male friendships. I general I also prefer talking with men, simply because I think women (generally) get stuck in expected ruts and don't tend to talk about interesting things, or take themselves too seriously and don't appreciate body humor as much ;) I have struggled with this one being married, trying to know how to navigate boundaries etc without being untrue to myself and artificially cutting myself off from half the human race on account of being married. What has worked for you?

Jemila Monroe said...

Let me just add that I adore EW women, you gals are among the exquisite exceptions to my general rule of thumb :)

Amy said...

Lori, I like what you said about becoming more comfortable with yourself in your 30s.

Regarding male friendships, again, I hear you all!

I am enjoying this group of women ever so much. :)

Kate said...

As a full-time working Mum, I'd say that I typically feel comfortable at work. I love the relational aspect of my job -teaching, encouraging, supporting. I have to balance that with the hurt I feel to be away from my son each day and the pressure of having to financially support my family.

I used to love playing sports - netball, tennis, hockey. These were dropped as I became a self-conscious teenager. Any kind of physical expression became so awkward for me. I think my resistance to sports as an adult stem from the same self-consciousness. I keep telling myself I should sign up for a tap-dancing class (I'm actually pretty good) but can't bring myself to do it!

I love being at home, and the pile of books by my bed and scattered around the house (my husband is a philosophy grad student) indicate how much I love to read.
Our is house is usually loud, busy, messy and hairy - so home is not really a peaceful place for me, but it is my haven.

I really struggled with the large group/small group question. I am such an extrovert that I usually need to be around alot of people.
If I am alone too long, I too get a bit odd. Being with alot of people allows me to be the social butterfly, the 'friendly outsider', I'll talk about anything with anyone and people often view me as confident and outgoing. The superficial nature of that, while I dispise it, allows me the distance to not really get that close with anyone.

I have always had just one or two close friends. Since moving to America, I have struggled to find anyone who 'gets me'. I so long for the closeness of that type of relationship, and yet am not sure how to begin. Having lived in the same village in England for 23 years, community was real and friends were true and lasting. How do you start from scratch, without years of sharing and experiencing life?
One thing I really feel that God is teaching me is that I can close the gap between who I am in a large group and who I desire to be in a small one. That I can just be me. I'm hoping this group will encourage me with that. I already feel encouraged.

Lori said...

Kate, you bring up an interesting point about community, with your experience of living 23 years in the same village. I so envy that! The memories of my childhood are dated by our moves ("Oh, that was the year we were in Oregon"), so it wasn't until relatively recently that I've put down any sort of geographical roots. I've grown to see the unique value of rooted community, and feel the loss of that sort of relationship. What must it be like to spend 23 years with the same people?! Hopefully someday my husband and I will know that!

On the other hand, there is a depth of relationship unique to the transitory lifestyle, if you share it with others. Because I grew up overseas, most everyone knew they'd be moving on soon, so relationships went deep quickly (if they went deep at all). Now I've had to struggle with the hard work of slow-growing relationships, which, it turns out, seem to be more the norm. So Kate, I can only say that it's worth trying again. It's true that the relationships will never be the same as those with people who knew you all your life, but perhaps there's a new way of relating and being yourself that can grow out of this experience. That's at least what I hope!

Jemila, I'm open to any suggestions on maintaining relationships with other men within the context of our marriages. I've been married for nearly 16 years and am still working it out. I do have to say, first, that I've decided to prioritize my marriage above anything else, including relationships with other people. So if we're out for the evening and my extraverted self is just getting started, and my husband is ready to head home, we'll initially try to compromise, but then I'll leave with him. While I often feel the loss deeply, I'm convinced that in the long run it's this one relationship that I most want to build, and it's worth the sacrifice. (Not to say there's been no conflict in the moment!):)

It helps that my husband and I enjoy the same types of folks, so I can hang out with his friends without any sort of conflict. We both enjoy hospitality immensely, so that also makes it easy to enjoy company together. Again, for the sake of our marriage, I don't hang out with other men without him; this feels like an appropriate boundary, though I still chafe at it sometimes. (He honors me in the same way) We take that "two become one" pretty seriously. :) So if we didn't like the same sorts of people and the same sorts of conversations, I'm not sure what I'd do!

I'm the kind of person who struggles with closing off my options, and really resist limitations. I still wish I could do it all. This makes the relational questions difficult, because I want to be happily married and maintain significant outside relationships. I feel it's only with God's help that I can release some of my desires, and find comfort in the loss, and hope in what I've chosen for. Those relationships (or conversations) I release aren't bad ones, but sometimes there's more to be gained from the loss of good things than of bad ones.

So much of this is a work still in progress; I certainly imagined by this stage in life I'd have it figured out!

Jemila Monroe said...

Lori, I very much hear what you are saying. My hubby trusts my discretion and isn't terribly worried about this area; for him, me having male friends isn't threatening as long as there's no fear of me leaving him. Stability is the key. For me, however, just knowing that he had an emotionally close relationship with another woman to whom he might be even a smidge attracted to makes me feel wild with jealousy. So I walk a fine line between "do unto others as you would have them do unto you and "do unto others as they would have you do to them. Overall I have tried to set good boundaries and oscillitated between having good male friends and not, never sure which is actually healtheir.

I think alot of where the struggles come in is if there is a rough spot or unmet need in the marriage, it is too easy to look to another man for affirmation, whereas when all's peachy and shining at home, it's easy to truly be, "just friends" or "brother and sister."

Amy said...

Carri, you'll probably laugh at my's tiny (4 ft X 6 ft)! It hasn't grown much in the last few years as I've either been pregnant, nursing or completely overwhelmed with three young children! I like growing tomatoes, herbs (basil, mint, and cilantro primarily). Cucumbers and squash have done really well in my garden. My grandpa had a massive vegetable garden and a 9 20 foot rows of raspberry plants when I was younger. He's my gardening hero!

What about you? (We can exchange info via e-mail, rather than via the blog if you'd like)! :)