Strength or Weakness?

Day 17 – My strengths and weaknesses list post

Wings of Crepe © 2012 Jane Waterman
Wings of Crepe © 2012 Jane Waterman

I’m afraid this post will reveal one of my weaknesses, which is a categorical dislike of absolutes (just kidding). Going back to my discussion of positives and negatives of a few days ago, you’ll find that I approach strengths and weaknesses in a similar way. As wishy-washy and annoying as generalities may be to some people, in my experiences of life, both strengths and weaknesses fall along a continuum. As a person who has lived with depression, I’m aware of the nuances in life: the shades of grey. Shades of grey become very important, believe me, when it’s a matter of rising above our darkest despair.

To me, deciding what are strengths and weaknesses is an arbitrary process. For example, some might say my tendency to overthink things leads to annoying first paragraphs like the one above. Others may find value in it, however. It’s dependent on context, including my situation and experiences, the situation and experiences of other people, and indeed the state of the world itself.

With this preface over, here’s my wishy-washy attempt at listing my strengths and weaknesses.

Resilience: My survival is a direct consequence of resilience (strength); which also made me put up with situations and people longer than necessary because I believed I should endure them (weakness).

Empathy: My ability to care deeply for others (strength); and to care for others before myself to the detriment of my health (weakness).

Sensitivity: This quality was often used as a criticism, but I’ve come to realize that sensitivity is the source of my writing, art, love of animals and nature, and so much more (strength). It also means that I feel hurts keenly: especially the hurts done to others (weakness). Being the one who did the hurting is catastrophic to me.

Openness: Sharing my experiences in the hope that it will benefit others (strength); and sharing too much, sharing before I’m ready, or sharing with the wrong people (weakness).

Self-compassion: Although at one time this felt like an overwhelming weakness, as I never offered kindness to myself, during the last two years I began learning to extend the same compassion to myself as I do to others, and found, paradoxically, that this practice has become a source of strength.

Humour: I’ve had a good sense of humour as far back as the 6th grade, which I think was a direct attempt to survive my 6th grade teacher. Even when I feel at my worst, I can usually find things to laugh at, even if the only audience for my comedic wit is my better half (strength). I am a fan of self-deprecating humour (weakness). I can also make myself laugh, usually while talking to myself (madness?).

Hope: The only quality I tend to get categorical about is hope. Even when things are at their worst, and there indeed seems to be a lack of hope, I do my best to go on. This suggests that hope is perhaps my most steadfast and desirable strength.

How do you feel about strengths and weaknesses? Do you disagree that a strength can be a weakness, and vice-versa? Have you ever been surprised by what other people identify as your strengths?


Did this post resonate with you or help you in some way? Let me know in the comments below! If you’d like to support my work, you can buy me some writing time! This helps to support my work and keep it accessible and ad-free!

Jane Waterman

Hi, I’m Jane! I create blogs, fiction, art, and adaptive yoga as I seek peace and healing in this strange and sometimes beautiful world. I’ve been chronically ill and probably crazy for 30 years, but I try not to let it stop me!

Please visit the about page to learn more about me and my hopes for this community! If you’d like to support my work, please visit my tip jar at or my ongoing creative projects at



4 Responses

  1. That sounds like a premise that I have no problem agreeing with. I am the champion at making excuses for people who disappoint me or others. That's a plus when driving because then i don't take rude driving habits personally, but was a minus at work when people were sometimes getting paid for doing next to nothing.

    A good sense of humour can take you a long way. Your 6th grade teacher must have been quite awful for you to still remember so clearly how bad (s)he was. My son also had bad luck in grade 6.Being a champion of the underdog can get you into hot water.

    I remember Sister M from grade 6. She sent me for a hearing test because I was always reading a book hidden in desk. I don't know if that is why I once put a snowball on her chair.

    Did you get your work done on the weekend? You are catching up fast

    1. Darn, Annette, and I was trying to be controversial. ;) Just kidding. I do think there is a value in recognizing our own strengths/weaknesses, as we can hopefully stay mindful of the possibly 'negative' affects, while benefiting from the 'positive'.

      My grade six teacher was on the surface fairly benign, but on reflection when I showed weakness, he got right in and exploited it immediately. He really was quite a vindictive man. I think he caused me to perhaps have the first breakdown of my life.

      I have always had that desire too to speak up for the underdog. It got me burned quite a bit in later life at work when people would exploit that to get me all worked up over their 'causes'. I would speak to management, and the person involved would distance themselves and look at me as if I was stirring up the proverbial shit.

      LOL – I'm sure the good sister must have deserved the icy treatment. :)

      Regarding work, sadly no – very slow going. I seem to be flaring and I wrote today's two articles late last night, interrupted for at least an hour talking over the meaning of life with my oldest (she's 27). She always seems to have these spiritual crises in the middle of something. The blessing is that she's thinking about things that never seem to occur to many of her peers.

      I'm off now to see if I can get another entry done before I crash again. I'm certainly learning a lot from this challenge, especially the fact that daily blogging is not sustainable!

      Thanks for commenting. Take care!

  2. What a great list and an awesome way to look at how sometimes our greatest strengths can also be a weakness or a blind spot. One of the strengths you didn't add to your list is the inspiration that you give to others. You truly are a light of hope and love, and you have touched and changed the hearts of many.

    You have so many gifts and I am so very lucky!! I love you!!

    1. Inspirational – hmmm, what would be the weakness in that? Too wordy? LOL Thanks, Sweetie. Love you and thanks for the comments and for being a support always. xxxx

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