Monday, October 28, 2013

The Boat...

I'd just like to say that I'm sitting on top of Cloud 9 right now. Way up high in the sky looking down at the world. As long as I don't get hit by a plan (literally or figuratively, I guess) I think I could be in the running for happiest poor college student in the world. My best friend stayed with me two weekends ago. Two of my favorite people in the whole world were here this last weekend. I'm going to be home for a day and a half this upcoming weekend. I have an interview to be a facilitator at a team building ropes course on Thursday. And on top of that I think I'm starting to figure out exactly what I want to get out of college. 

That's not what I wanted to write about, I just need a way to release some of my excitement or I'm never going to get to bed. 


During my Emerging Leaders Program last week we discussed our strengths. Before the session started all of the members were tasked with taking a quiz called "Strengths Quest." I answered well over a 100 questions about myself and from those questions I was told what my top 5 strengths were out of a list of 34 different options. Some of them I found pretty shocking. They were (in order from lowest to highest):

5: Adaptability. People who "go with the flow." They tend to be "now" people who take things as they come and discover the future one day at a time. I won't say I'm completely surprised. For the most part I like structure, but I'm fully aware that most of my plans don't work out... so I guess that makes me adaptable. It wouldn't have been something I would have guessed would be in my top 5, but hey I answered the questions so I guess I can't argue it.

4: WOO. WOO stands for "Winning Others Over." I read this and immediately I got a negative vibe from it. I read "Winning Others Over" as "Manipulating the Feeble Minded In Order to Make Them Be Your Slave Monkeys." Okay I didn't word it like that, but you get what I mean. The description let me exhale a sigh of relief, though. People talented in the WOO theme love the challenge of meeting new people and winning them over. They derive satisfaction from breaking the ice and making a connection with another person. I won't deny that I am kind of sappy when it comes to making connections with people. The connections I form with people are the most important things I have. Thought I try not to be a manipulative person. I have no aspirations to be a politician. Heh.

3. Communication. These people generally find it easy to put their thoughts into words (Hey! Look what I'm doing right now!). They are good conversationalists and presenters. I was a little surprised this one didn't score higher. I think it's safe to say I'm no stranger when it comes to being a communicator. Although my communication skills tend to get me in trouble sometimes... at least when it's blunt and sarcastic means of communication. But it's also important to me personally. I need to communicate with people, it makes me feel tranquil. And if they don't communicate back I stress out a bit (a lot, really). Hey. Nobody's perfect. Hannah Montana taught me that. She also taught me how to ride a wreck- moving on.

2. Strategic. People talented in this area create alternative ways to proceed. Faced with any given scenario, they can quickly spot the relevant patterns and issues. I'm a decent problem solver (unless it's music theory. That's just a problem that requires divine intervention). I guess this also kind of fits in with adaptability. I wasn't expecting this one to score so high, but I wasn't surprised either. It's a valuable skill, and I'm glad I have it.

1. Empathy. Literally everyone that reads that empathy was my highest laughs, and I guess I can't blame them. Sarcasm and dry humor don't usually mix with "empathy," but I count on my friends that know me well to see my empathetic side a little better. People talented in the empathy theme can sense the feelings of other people by imagining themselves in others' situations. I'm empathetic, but not always sympathetic. I don't find pity to be useful or empowering. I think empathy is an effective means of bonding with people, though. Use of empathy leads to enlightenment in the sense that you can better understand the people that surround you. If you understand someone you can bond with someone, and I think I've established how I value my emotional connections with other people.

After we read about our top 5 strengths we were given a sheet of paper with a picture of a boat on it. Our job was to take our 5 strengths and decide which one was the anchor, oars, sail, boat, and rutter.

The anchor is what keeps you grounded.

The oars are what push you along and keep you going.

The sail is what the wind in your sail is.

The boat is the base of who you are.

The rutter is what guides you.

I decided that my anchor was my communication. When I'm stressed and I need to ground myself and pull my head out of the clouds I talk to people. I write. I just have to express what's running through my head to make room for new thoughts. My mind is a very hectic and cluttered place.

My oars are my adaptability. No matter what happens I remind myself that I need to go with the flow and keep moving forwards. Reminiscing on troubles in my past doesn't lead to progress. I have to adapt to the situation and push forward.

My sail is my WOO. When I can, I try and let my social skills push me forwards. It makes for an easier voyage. I can't always rely on it, but I like to use it when I can.

My rutter is strategy. I like to count on the fact that I can analyze a situation and develop a solution, and that allows me to guide myself through rougher waters. I like to keep moving but sometimes it's more beneficial to sit down, take a deep breath, and develop a plan of action. Spoken like a true silver.

My boat is empathy. My ability to understand the needs and emotions of others is what makes me who I am. It has ultimately gotten me to where I'm at now, and I like where I'm at now. People sometimes laugh when they say I want to be a guidance counselor (it's all that damn sarcasm), but I think that my empathy is exactly why I want to be one. Despite my blunt tendencies, I understand people. I want to help people, not sit on the sidelines and pity them. 

I like that college is allowing me to strengthen the idea of who I want to be. I feel like I learn something new about myself everyday, and I still have 7.5 (ish) semesters to go. Here's hoping I learn even more every day from here on out.


-- JewFro

Sunday, October 20, 2013


If you’re not in high school I’m going to ask you to remember something for me (if you are still in high school or have yet to enter high school you can just pretend). 

Think back to the days leading to the end of your senior year. Whatever day you got to spend signing people’s yearbooks and leaving messages about how much you were going to miss that person, well wishes for a good summer, and how “they better keep in touch with you once you go to college, dammit, because you’re like BFFs for life and they’re your favorite person in the whole wide world.”

How many people times did you write “I’ll miss you!”? How many of those people cross your mind on a daily basis? When was the last time you called them, texted them, or established contact? 

I’m by no means trying to be accusatory. I am just as guilty as everyone else, if not more. 

I’m also in no way saying you need to text your best friend from 3rd grade every day and explain your days to each other in agonizing detail. 

Life gets in the way sometimes. You go from having 4 classes a day together in high school to being separated by hundreds of miles because the job market is practically demanding a higher education (Thanks, Obama). You promise that you’ll call each other every day, and you do. For a while. And then you can’t because you have to study, or write a paper, or you just forgot. It happens. And then after a while you might move on. 

I think I’m one of the lucky few. Up until college there was an entire state between me and my best friend. Now there’s only half a state, because my college decision allowed me to move closer. So my best friend / brotha’ from anotha’ motha’ was with me for the weekend. I am fully aware that I’m one of the few who have that opportunity. 

You would think that, considering the leaps and bounds we’ve made in technology, staying in touch with people would be easier. We’d communicate with our friends across the state / country / world more often. The little rectangle that never leaves our side is a gateway to people everywhere. Yet instead of interacting with people we elect to cyber stalk them on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Vine (well... Vine’s gone to the crapper... so not Vine, really). It’s easier, it’s quicker, and we don’t have to wait for them to respond. 

I’m not saying we’re doing anything wrong, as a society. It’s part of who we are. I really have no idea what I’m trying to say at all, if we’re being honest. And if we’re being really honest I’m writing this because I got sick of studying for the midterm I’m about to take in less than 12 hours. 

All I’m really saying is that I pass people I went to high school with almost every day while I’m walking to class, and neither of us really make the effort to acknowledge the other. 

So maybe we should put a little more thought into what we write in someone’s yearbook, ya know?