The rough draft. Thought I should post since the previous post touched on it, and it's nothing too personal. Lengthy informal paper. :)
Apparently blogger doesn't believe in paragraphs. . . so I will separate with a space.
Predicting how close friends and family would describe my personality and behavior in four or five adjectives did not feel like a task I could solely conjure; thus I looked to the aid of my friends’ and family’s direct perspectives. Initially I found it a little uncomfortable to ask for my friends and family to honestly sum up my character in five adjectives; however, their perspectives were also very intriguing.
To begin my assessment, I asked my good friend Cait* for her perspective. I met Cait* while studying abroad in Italy during my sophomore year, and we have been close friends since that experience. Cait* started off by saying “corky” (which I later looked up in the dictionary to mean “lively and buoyant”) and stated, “That’s the first thing that comes to my mind.” She followed with, “generous, fun-loving, spontaneous, and smart.” Next I asked my roommate, Ash*, who I also met while studying abroad in Italy, and she stated, “Compassionate, loyal, inclusive, independent, and forgiving.” Lastly I asked my parents. My mother did not particularly think it was “fair” for me to ask her (I did not understand what she meant, because I told her that the good and bad were fine to hear), but my father immediately chimed in with, “Loving, deep, serious, sincere, and dynamic.” My mother explained that by “dynamic” they meant that I “like to do a variety of activities and always do them with gusto.” Finally, I thought about how I personally would identify myself with five adjectives. I came to the conclusion that I am respected, goofy, indecisive, ambitious, and reflective.
The perspectives of close friends and family made me consider that I have personal characteristics that I did not formerly realize to be outwardly and strongly apparent; however, due to the diversity of the listed adjectives, I was still very confused as to whether there was any commonality among how I am generally perceived by people. Although Encounters With the Self states that people tend to behave in a consistent manner, I believe that I may not be someone who has any strong consistency in their behavior. Perhaps I am consistent according to a situation or person, but not consistent according to any general pattern of behavior. Often I feel that the only consistency I may have is that I am constantly inconsistent.
This is not to say that I change my identity for a situation or person, but rather that there are many facets of my identity that I enjoy exercising and change according to how appropriate they are to the situation and person. I have an extremely diverse group of friends, and I think that this is primarily because my temperament is very diverse. While even my close friends may have an idea that there are other important aspects as to who I am (religious, academic, etc.), that does not mean that they generally associate me with those aspects because that is not what they primarily see when I am with them.
One thing that all of my relationships have in common is their open-mindedness. They can accept me and not be in shock if I tell them something that seems “out of character” from their perception, because they realize that to a certain degree everyone has different characteristics that are shared with some people and not others. When I am with Cait* I tend to be more lighthearted, playful, and focus on the silly aspects of life (boys, school, fashion, etc.). When I am with Ash* I am more personal (discussing past-experiences, family issues, and difficulties). When I am with my family I try to demonstrate my care for them and share my dreams and opinions. In this respect, it is not surprising that Cait* first described me as “corky,” whereas Ash* first described me as “compassionate,” and my family to have first said “loving.”
The five adjectives I chose best resemble what I value in others and myself (excluding indecisiveness). It is interesting because they also appear to encapsulate the adjectives that I received from the variety of other perspectives. For instance, “goofy” is related to Cait*’s adjective of “corky”, “respected” is related to Ash*’s adjective of “independent,” and “reflective” is related to my parent’s adjective of “deep.” This suggests that indeed I do value my diversity the most and strive to maintain these qualities. Being true to who I am and what I value is what leads to my personal fulfillment, and thus I strive mostly to live up to my own expectations. A sense of incongruence occurs when I live up to the expectations of my parents or anyone else; however, living up to my own expectations has its own downfalls as well when they become unrealistic. At any rate, being true to who I am has helped me discover more qualities that I truly own.
For example, my parents are very religious and strong in their faith. Although my faith is important to me, there came a point in my life when I realized that my faith had become something that I was trying to fulfill thru my parents’ expectations. To better understand what my faith meant to me, I took time off from going to church and instead dedicated the time to personal prayer and reflection. It was only after this period that it felt right to return back to church--I felt a true calling to be there and clearly understood that my faith was something that was sincerely important to me.
I live up to expectations that are developed from a very personal nature, and it comes as no surprise that my locus of control is highly internal. I found the reading in Encounters With the Self humorous because I identified so strongly to someone who has a high internal locus of control: “Internals want the control that comes from within . . . are able to assume responsibility for success . . . prefer activities that involve skill . . . are less likely to blame outside factors for their failures . . . ask [doctors] many questions about their condition . . . and are less likely than other patients to want sedatives or pain killers.” Several of my adjectives also reflect my internal locus of control with words such as “indecisive,” “ambitious,” and “reflective.” I am constantly thinking of possibilities and choices I can make, and opportunities I can take--finding myself among numerous good options that lead to indecisiveness. Similarly, I am always reflecting on the past and how I can learn from it to make better choices in the future. An underlying drive to succeed is also intrinsic in my character, as I believe that with hard work I have the ability to play a role in shaping my future.
It is human nature to believe that we are particularly unique in our traits and do not fit into any schema of behavior. In truth, it is a well-studied social psychological topic that suggests everyone does indeed fit into a certain pattern of behavior that will continue to predict future behavior, thoughts, and actions. Although I question how this applies to myself, I have no doubt that it is indeed true. Despite this truism, it is still fascinating to explore how and when our dominant traits come through and how people will perceive them differently.
It was interesting for me to consider that while my friends and family are close to me, it is not common that I take the time to question why these people bother investing time in developing a relationship with me. In fact, I think it is safe to assume that people in general do not question why their close relationships work--why we put our trust in certain people and why they conversely put their trust in us. We remain modest by not questioning what exactly attracts people to us, and remain comfortable with the belief that, “my friends accept me and that is what matters”--even if we do not know off-hand exactly what they are accepting us for. While I may have had my ideas as to what people thought about me, I was surprised that some of the top five adjectives they named were adjectives I would not typically strongly identify with. Being someone who is always searching for self-discovery, I was pleasantly surprised to realize that a unique and direct method to self-discovery is as simple as being open to the “truth” of my character as another person perceives it.