Life @ U of T

Introduction

Building Your Strengths

Building Your Strengths

a checklist in my journal saying "Know my strengths, explore them, build them, write a blog post about it"

University is a challenging environment, especially with all the studying, Netflix-ing, and finding time to sleep. At times, I find myself so lost in all the chaos of life, trying to learn about 5 things at a time, that I feel like I’m not good at any of them. I forget all the strengths I already possess. We all do. Sure, I can buy all the planners and journals to give myself the illusion of organization and productivity but where does that really take me? Sometimes I feel like I spend more time organizing myself than actually doing the work. I’m starting to feel like my obsessive organizing is more of a weakness than a strength. One part of finding, building, and exploring your skills is knowing your weaknesses. And then throwing them away.

The first thing I’d like to say, that is never said enough, is that we have to stop comparing ourselves with others. Someone you might be intimidated by, envious of, or even inspired by, may not have qualities that come naturally to you. You’ve heard about the whole facing your fears thing, right? Why not do the same here and just go up and talk to them. Figure out how they do what they do. I’m guilty of doing this throughout university whenever I meet people. Everyone has their strengths. Focusing on those gives you a sense of confidence, content, and makes you feel more grounded when moving forward with your life – be it academics, personal, or career.

So, wait, what are these strengths I speak of? That’s something you can easily figure out on your own if you haven’t already got a good sense of it. If that doesn’t help then try asking your family, friends, councillors, mentors, or even online tests (yes, I’m serious). Keep in mind that strengths aren’t restricted to being able to write papers well, solve math problems easily, or be a good public speaker. These can also be simple skills, qualities, and personality traits: listening, retaining information, humor, honesty, problem solving, stamina, Instagram aesthetics, skim-reading, binge-watching, pulling all-nighters – whatever it is! You can always find a way to improve and incorporate them into your undergraduate career – and eventually the rest of your life. One way to do that is by surrounding yourself with a good support system who push you to be the best at being you. Partner up with others who have complimentary skills to yours. If you happen to encounter haters and setbacks, use it as motivation. One of the biggest factors that pushed me to do better, look better, and therefore feel better about myself was actually people who didn’t think I could and grades I didn’t quite like.

As I mentioned earlier, I waste a lot of time and pretend like I don’t because of my calendars and checklists. For some time, what I wanted to figure out was how much better my life would be if I spent less time organizing things and more time just jumping into the task at hand. I know now that without all my ‘fake work’, I would not be able to accomplish everything else. My brain simply needs that order and time management laid out in front of me and not everyone else is the same. And that’s okay. Knowing this is something I can’t change also helps me narrow down what kind of career path I’d want to pursue and what role I’d be best at in teams and so on.

Learning is the constant in our lives.

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