Looking back, some of the most valuable work I did in my 20s was learning (and sometimes re-learning) my personality.
In terms of marriage, my career, friendships, family dynamics, and parenting, being equipped with knowledge about the way I am wired has helped immensely. Aren’t those all the key areas you want to grow in, too?
During high school, I completed a lot of personality typing before graduation to help discover a career path. While I’m sure it was helpful, as a teenager I was so lost about who I really was. I had covered up a lot of my true self with masks to “fit in,” that I had no clue what I was putting down as answers. In any assessment, one pitfall is the ability to be honest with oneself.
That’s why it was so enlightening to experiment with the resources below as a 20-something. I had started recognizing the discomfort of the masks I had worn. In the freedom of a new job and a new city, I began to discover how God had really shaped my heart and how I had distorted it. I went back to things I loved as a child – like reading and yoga (as a replacement for gymnastics) – and I grew more and more comfortable in my own skin and voicing my own ideas.
Here are several of the tools that I used and would highly recommend:
- The 5 Love Languages, by Gary Chapman. This book has been so instructive in our marriage. I can’t count the number of times we’ve referred to our love language in the past 10 years. Often Zach and I were speaking two different languages of love, and with time, we learned how to better communicate the love that we both feel.
- Strengths Finders 2.0, by Tom Rath. Articulating strengths can be a difficult thing for me. Especially while interviewing and working, it felt artificial or prideful to talk about my strengths. Taking the included test, and reading about my 5 strengths helped me to put honest, straight-forward words to my strengths. This book also helped me realize the value of my strengths, because things that come intuitively to me, don’t necessarily come naturally to others.
- Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking, by Susan Cain. This book rocked my world. It was the beginning of my true acceptance of the way God built me. For years, especially in high school, I had masqueraded as an extrovert. While reading Quiet, I learned that Western culture rewards extroverted behavior, and I had strived to fit in. I learned how an introverted brain is wired differently, and I geeked out on Cain’s biological descriptions throughout the book. If you think you might be introverted, I can’t recommend it highly enough.
- The Highly Sensitive Person: How to Thrive in a World that Overwhelms You, by Elaine N. Aron. In Quiet, Susan Cain references highly sensitive people. I had a hunch that I might be one, and after taking a quiz and skimming this book, I realized I absolutely was. This explained so many of my quirks, I can’t even tell you. From muting commercials (my family thinks I’m nuts), to feeling overly empathetic to traumas on tv, to my dread of scary movies, to a general feeling of overstimulation, quirks started to make sense.
- The Road Back to You: An Enneagram Journey to Self-Discovery, by Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile. Zach and I read this in our 30s, and we’ve been recommending it left and right since. The most valuable part for me was realizing how we function under stressful seasons of life and naming our deadly sin. The book was just oddly spot-on for both of us, and we can’t stop talking about it. More about it in this post.
I’m still learning everyday, especially now that we are in the thick of parenting young kids. It’s fascinating to see their personalities shine and develop. Sometimes I see little (or glaring) bits of Zach and I in each of them, but they are also each so unique. Do you have any resources you would add? I’m hoping to read this book next.
PS: Outfit details in this post.