Strengths and Values

Admittedly, I have been apprehensive about writing more on this blog. Lately it has felt very exposing, since I have made new friends that have access to think link through my social media. I don’t want to shy away from these parts of myself because I tried to conceal and repress them all my life. But I am also cautious about being too open and honest. Will this honesty affect my future career? Friendships? My romantic life? Perhaps. My temporary conclusion is that there is power in vulnerability, and I am only sharing things on here that I would be willing to share in conversations in real life.

I am currently trying to map out the intersecting aspects of my life. How winter camping meets my identity journey and my acceptance into a Masters program. I have been riding on a high since winter camping and there are so many elements of that trip that I wish to explore. I will attempt to discuss how this trip intersects my identity journey. This post is really just a way for me to organize my ideas about myself and to construct a more cohesive understanding of the identities I currently claim. Maybe it will help inspire others to consider these things as well.

Through a Leadership course I am enrolled in, I have been asked to reflect on my strengths, values, and goals; all personal and professional. My top three goals, according to the Gallup StrengthsFinder include: “Input” (my inherent curiousity motivates me to perpetually collect/crave “more” of whatever interests me, leading to frequent knowledge-seeking journeys), “Ideation” (I feel deeply connected to, invigorated by, and fascinated with contemplating, entertaining, learning, and debating ideas), and “Connectedness” (Being able to relate all information, ideas, people, and things is the way I structure my knowledge. Further, I have faith in the links between these things). My top three values include: Healing (recovery, health, harmony, rest), Wisdom (knowledge, leadership, usefulness, journey, appreciation), and Integrity (endurance, truth, follow-through, audacity, courage).

These elements of myself work together in complicated ways. I learned in the course that people express their strengths and values uniquely. For myself, I compiled a list of the ways in which these elements are expressed on a regular basis:

  • I structure my time to prioritize restoration and recovery.
  • I respect my body and mind, exemplified through food, water, exercise, socialization, rest, isolation, challenge, and passion.
  • I am enabled to collect information, organize ideas, and contemplate courses of action.
  • I form deep bonds with people quickly through learning and discovery processes.
  • I engage in deep learning about new ideas (e.g. rabbit hole of “Risky Play” research).
  • I am empowered to be a good researcher, strong student, and a fairly excellent writer.
  • I am, typically, a high-achiever.
  • I show up to events alone and make new friends as we learn together.
  • I am excellent at reflective exercises… to the point where I think I know all the models that exist.
  • I write sentimental music.
  • I search out feedback, and critically consider new and olds ways of being, knowing, and doing.
  • I believe I have healthy intentions but I am aware that impact is not always as intended; I try my best to reconcile any differences.
  • I gravitate towards those who express the wisdom that I am seeking and who resemble the integrity I respect.
  • I can spend a long time dwelling on and going deeper into a topic without feeling able to “wrap up” until I have made it full circle in a spiralized curriculum fashion.
  • I am fascinated with the hypothetical and can be hesitant to commit or move more intimately in one direction with complete transparency.
  • I can become absorbed with ideas at the expense of true reflective practice/inner work/ output.
  • I think I am most inhibited by my “input” strength, because it that means, at times, I struggle with output, and by my “integrity” value, because it means that, at times, I have decided to be loyal to too many things and I end up not appearing to be integral.

Nevertheless, being aware of my strengths and weaknesses means that I can tune in more closely to the areas I can excel in, and hope that others give me the grace and space to do so.

What I learned on this winter camping trip was that when faced with adversity, exhaustion, and fulfillment, it is not just the art of gathering that kept me sane and content, but also the ability I had to influence the group through knowing myself better. Being more self-aware and in a process of self-love, I showed up in new ways; for example: I was able to share my knowledge (beyond that of self-knowledge). Knowing something intimately – such as: to go lay in the middle of the lake and look up at the stars, or to wear boots and coats a size too big to account for the space for dead air to keep our bodies warm – made me feel like I could meaningfully contribute. Knowing what is currently happening with the Wet’suwet’en-pipeline situation and having an opinion I was willing to share, made me feel like I could contribute. Knowing books to recommend to those interested in bushcraft such as What the Robin Knows and Coyotes Guide were my ways of sharing all the stored information in my brain. All the years of input and contemplation combined with the healing and therapy and brain/nervous system re-wiring has led me, finally, to feel like a competent human being who has shed an inferiority complex. And further, knowing what people meant when they were trying to express themselves, like when they said how captivated they were by seeing the sun on the lake for the first time – I know that feeling and it was absolutely delightful to hear others speak of it so highly. Younger Kim was not able to access all of these tools or to bring her goals to fruition. She required hands-on experience, suffering, and failing before she became curious about the things that would make her able to give back to others in deeply meaningful ways. On this trip, I felt that I was able to exist and be embraced as my paradoxical self (e.g.; ex-vegan, now flexitarian). My peers seemed to inherently understand that humans are complicated and that we all have unique strengths. It is on trips like these that our quirks become the things we love about each other: one person’s clever wit, another’s musical abilities; someone’s fire-making approach, another’s back country survival tips. Like I discussed last post, there was something romantic about suffering and working together, and that kept us warmer than any fire, wine, or down-filled sleeping bag. Being able to finally show up as my authentic self and experience life clearly through that identity was novel and relieving.

I am so excited for round two next week, and to wiser Kim responds.

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