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what do I signify?

November 16, 2014

I remember reading Strengths Finder 2.0 some time ago, but I didn’t record doing so on LibraryThing (maybe because it was a library book, so I didn’t see how I could do the assessment without paying money). In any case, I have it again from the library. Last night when I couldn’t sleep, I reread the whole thing. I looked for strengths I was pretty sure applied to me; strengths I was definitely sure don’t apply to me; and as I went I found a third category —maybes.

There was exactly one strength that grabbed me by the scruff of my neck, made me sit up straighter, and furiously write down (almost) every single thing it said . . . SIGNFICANCE:

You want to be recognized. You want to be heard. You want to stand out. You want to be known. In particular, you want to be known and appreciated for the unique strengths you bring. You feel a need to be admired as credible, professional, and successful. Likewise, you want to associate with others who are credible, professional, and successful. And if they aren’t, you will push them to achieve until they are. Or you will move on. An independent spirit, you want your work to be a way of life rather than a job, and in that work you want to be given free rein, the leeway to do things your way. […] Your significance theme will keep pulling you upward, away from the mediocre towards the exceptional. It is the theme that keeps you reaching. (Tom Rath, p. 161) (emphasis added)


I have had jobs where I have done (or been part of) projects that I thought were amazing. Sometimes that is enough on its own.

Sometimes it isn’t.

If my life followed a well-trodden path, probably my accomplishments would hang together in a way that makes sense even to me. They don’t. Even I myself don’t have a narrative about what I’ve been doing with my life. And I’m a writer.

It’s not enough to “fix” myself — which I have been diligently working on, my entire adult life. I have to fit somewhere. There has to be something only I can do, something that I desperately want to do, that I am doing in a meaningful way.

I’m not there yet. I don’t know where to look for that. I’ve tried volunteering multiple times. I’ve tried joining social groups. I’ve tried going to professional conferences.

There is a piece of my puzzle that’s missing, but I don’t know what it is.

Except . . . it’s not enough that I believe in myself. Because I do believe in myself. I need others to believe in me, and I don’t have that. I need others to want great things for me, and I don’t have that. I need others to . . . want me to do what only I can do. (Whatever that is.)

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