2018 has been rotten overall. I can give a long list of reasons; totally valid reasons I might add. You would read it and maybe feel as sorry for me as I’ve felt for myself. Well, maybe not quite.
Have you taken any of those personality tests? I’ve taken probably half a dozen or more. Now, sometimes they are encouraging, right? They showcase your strengths, and even though they also highlight some weakness in your character or habits, they mainly seem to focus on positives. At the least they help you identify your strengths.
My family likes to do these. I suppose it’s good to take the tests together and discuss them, and compare them. They help us discover things about ourselves and each other. They are helpful in marriages to understand one another better.
However, I took one that my husband and oldest son rave about as most accurate, and I came off badly. For one thing, it seemed to have too few questions to be very accurate. For another thing, the results are so arbitrary to be dependent on your blood sugar levels, hormones, or mood that day. That’s my opinion anyway. It also said I was pretty opinionated. Whatever.
I scored 100% on creativity and imagination and like a 5% on self discipline. So, apparently I’m like some flighty, artsy type who floats through life never really accomplishing anything? Well, that hurt. I evaluated my life for hours after that. I couldn’t sleep.
I got a low score on empathy for others…what?! Really? As well as some extremes on other areas like a very high score on assertiveness. Now, some things are probably close to the truth, but others I have serious doubts about.
I took the test with my oldest son and his wife, and held up pretty well in spite of my rising discouragement while they were here. But after they left, I kind of fell apart. By fell apart, I mean like cried for about 3 or 4 hours. That’s not like me at all. Perhaps it has something to do with the no good, rotten year I’ve had so far. It all folded in on me and I had a major pity party. Maybe I was mourning for the person I want to be but am not yet. Maybe I’m drained and over emotional. Could be a combination of it all. Maybe I’ll just go take the enneagram test again. sigh. I don’t know about you, but I get sick of navel gazing. Everywhere I go, there I am. I get sick of myself. There are far more interesting things to think about and examine in the world. I suppose some introspection is healthy, though.
The interesting thing is, the same day I also got the judge’s critiques back from the First Impressions contest that ACFW holds every year. I didn’t expect to do well, and I wasn’t upset by the criticism at all. I had entered the contest with the goal of receiving the feedback. I want to know where to focus my studying of fiction writing craft. If you have never heard of this contest, and you are a christian fiction writer, it’s a gem. By the way, thank you judges! Your time is appreciated.
First Impressions is an amazing opportunity for unpublished writers. It’s only $15 for professional judging and 3 critiques on the first 5 pages and blurb of your manuscript. Pure gold!
I had been so cut down by that personality test and yet I read the critiques on my writing with relish. I know it sounds weird, but I’m being honest. I knew going in I hadn’t put forth my best work. I had started with the wrong scene for my genre. I knew that, but had been so focused on getting words down for two books that I didn’t spend much time polishing those 5 pages before entering the contest. Besides that I could not format the way they wanted to save my life. I spend days and days on that and still ended up needing someone to do it for me. I really wanted to know my weakest points, and I got my desire. It didn’t sting though. The feedback gave me places to go, rather than spreading my time so thin by trying to cover everything at once. I have only been writing fiction for a year, and studying how to do it for a couple months longer than that. You can imagine I have years to go before I get proficient at this writing thing.
Now, why were the results of the contest a blessing to me, and the results of the personality test a curse? For one thing, I still don’t think that particular personality test very accurate, for another it seemed like a personal attack. The judges scores and comments on my manuscript were valuable to me because I want to improve as a writer, and I give myself grace and time to learn. The personality scores lacked grace and maybe even truth, so I found them discouraging.
My takeaway is that maybe when I am passionate about learning something I can take the hits and keep going, but when I merely feel criticized without suggestions of self-improvement I am discouraged. Wouldn’t you be? Maybe I’m wrong. Being self-aware is great. Helpful even. I highly recommend it. But if the feedback in your life merely makes you feel shame, toss it and move along.
I’m going to do something the next two days very well. I’m going to cook Thanksgiving dinner for my beloved family. I excel at Holiday dinners. My gravy would bring a tear to your eye. Then I’m going to watch the Hallmark channel all weekend, and Monday I’ll get back to work on grammar, story structure, plotting and characterization. I’ll busy myself with Novel Academy lessons, and I’ll keep writing every morning. In-between barn chores, laundry, and grocery shopping.
Since supposedly I have little to no self-control, I’ll make sure to hit Starbucks for my decaf Cordusio and stock my writing desk full of chocolate. Eat that, personality test.
I hope you’re having a better year than I am, and let’s all hope that 2019 is brilliant.