I am the adored youngest child of five. My older siblings spoiled me and played with me and tormented me. I remember one brother dragging me through the house on a blanket and the other dancing with me in the living room, letting me stand on his feet.
I was considered, from a young age, to be something special. A special kind of smart. My parents had not attended college, nor had many of their siblings, (each of them were from large families). I was destined for college from the beginning.
I was blessed by this adoring family that thought I was especially smart. Then God blessed me with an amazing best friend at the ripe old age of 6 who would also believe I was something special. A special kind of smart. Gifted these people said.
All through school I kinda skated, you know? I made good grades. Most teachers seemed to like me. I was, different. But I was a highly functional different so it was good, right?
I knew there was actually something “wrong” with my brain. Others seemed to think I was so smart. Gifted. But I knew. There was always something wrong. No matter how hard I tried, I just couldn’t think like, be like, function like normal people. But these other people thought I was, well – smart. Who was I to argue? I sure didn’t want them to find out. No one would like me if they knew.
Then God sent me this amazing boy. He was actually smart. He was terrible in school which I thought was funny because he was just so smart, but try as he might he couldn’t make this school thing make sense. I couldn’t understand half the stuff he understood, but I could do school. He was smart. I was academic. For the first time I found someone who didn’t really think I was smart. I mean he didn’t think I was an idiot, but just normal smart. Not special. And for some reason he still liked me. I decided I had better hang on to that one, he was crazy but he was smitten so I’d take it.
I went to college, got really good grades. Irritated my roommate with my lackadaisical approach to classes. Graduated with honors and went on about my life. I’ve occasionally wondered what would have happened if I had applied myself…. But I had a great college experience and ended up where I wanted, so good enough I guess.
It wasn’t until adulthood that I learned a few interesting things about my “quirks”. All these things that contributed to my special kinda gifted smart, are actually things seen by most of the world as flaws. It’s true. In me, the way God created me, the family support he put around me, the people he put in my path, all these flaws became a “smart, quirky, gifted” person.
Here’s a list of things that are “wrong” with me.
- I’m an introvert – Oh, I know, there is nothing wrong with that. Yeah, that’s what the world tells us, themselves. But then they say things like “if you just tried harder to be social” or “you just need to put yourself out there more” or “you just need confidence”. No. I just needed to realize that my brain was made to work inside itself. I think a lot. I get distracted by the world around me. That is sometimes a huge blessing. I love people. I’ve been pulled way, way, WAY out of my comfort zone and been blessed by it. But at heart, I work best in my head. That’s actually why I write. My fingers type and process what my brain cannot express any other way. And people make me tired. Even those I love dearly.
- I’m ADD – I read test after test for ADD (especially in Adults) and I laugh. I am certain there is someone with a camera in my house and my head. I think and work best when I have an abundance of things going on and a deadline. I thrive on chaos. My brain is like an internet browser with multiple tabs open. In fact I prefer my browser that way… I can (especially in school) balance many, many tasks at once. It is only when I don’t have multiple things going on that I find myself spinning in circles accomplishing nothing. I like having all my stuff out in front of me. In school I liked to carry all my books to each class, in case I needed something to do in class, like the homework from the one before…
- I’m a night owl – I know, again the world will promise no judgement, but when I’m still in bed at 9am those early birds sure are quick to call me lazy. In fact, I just think and work best very late at night.
- I’m a procrastinator – If you don’t give me a deadline, I won’t finish. But I’ll be danged if I miss a hard and fast deadline. Soft deadlines don’t count.
- I’m a planner – Flaw you ask? Yup. I’m always thinking and planning and have 2-3 contingency plans. This may not sound like a flaw, but it sure seems to stress most of the people in my life. I’m very flexible, I don’t care to change plans. But if you want to irritate me, agree to my plans, don’t formally acknowledge any changes, but just don’t actually do anything toward said plans. If we agree to meet for dinner at 5, and you are late because life exploded, fine. If you are late because at 5:15 you finally decided to stand up, put on your shoes and leave for the half an hour drive it takes to get there, we will have a problem. I don’t know why. That irritates me.
I’ve spent years learning to deal with all the idiosyncrasies the world wants to call flaws in my personality. In a world of tolerance we are forced to say all of these things are ok, but people don’t actually mean it. It wasn’t until very recently that I realized that it wasn’t in spite of these character traits that I was so good in school, it was because of them. I was “smart, quirky, gifted” because of each of these traits. When I didn’t know they were wrong, I really flourished and did very well. As an adult I learned that they weren’t normal and that niggling fear in the back of my brain that I wasn’t as smart as every one thought was justified. Because, I wasn’t. Only really I was. Just not the way everyone thought.
Now as a forty year old woman I am finally learning, most days, to accept that I am created, fearfully and wonderfully, by an amazing God who decided that this exact recipe of dysfunction and crazy would work to make me the me he wanted me to be.
Learning to accept your shortcoming, flaws, quirks, characteristics as a part of you, part of the total package, part of what lets your good be good is important. We always want to see what people do “in spite of” their environment, history, surroundings, whatever. No. It is what we do “because of”. We are made a whole package. These traits aren’t bad any more than a hammer is bad. They are tools given to us by God to build our lives. We choose how to use them.
I challenge you. What “flaws” do you see in yourself? Now, what good do you see? How do you best market your flaws to produce the good in you? Start looking at your traits as traits, not good or bad. If you are a procrastinator, stop telling yourself you have to set deadlines or you won’t do what needs done. Think that your personality is such that deadlines motivate you to work. Stop judging yourself and use your traits together to accomplish God’s goals for your life.
And remind me to do the same.