Five Strengths, Five Weaknesses (30 Days of blogging prompts 13 and 14)

When I’m making lists for a blog post, I try to make the list first and then elaborate afterwards.

These are two successive prompts that I will try and cover in one post because they are connected in a way.  I have to admit it took me a while to complete the list although I had been lugging around a sticky with two or three of the items until I finally completed it.  I don’t know if it was harder to come up with the strengths or harder to admit the weaknesses.


1.     Determination to achieve my goals. I set my sights on something and I work for it.  I am not easily deterred.  Even in the face of challenges that would cause others to give up, I have always been headstrong in going for something I wanted.

I’m a staunch believer in the saying “If there’s a will, there’s a way.”  I went through law school at an expensive university at a time when my family had suffered a crippling reversal of fortunes but I persevered.  I worked while studying, beginning with being a newscaster for an FM radio station.  When young legal eagle hopefuls now ask me for advice about law school, I tell them you need to want really want to be a lawyer to survive the challenges of law school. 

Working for one’s dreams or goals is a must to achieve them – it is not enough that we dream, we have to work towards that dream.

2. Resilience in the face of failure, disappointment and frustration.   I guess related to possessing that kind of determination is resilience — or the ability to get up again after a fall.  

 While I take disappointments to heart, I never let it stop me from picking up the pieces or at least trying to pick up the pieces.  I am able to grieve without wallowing, and move forward even if my wounds are still healing.

 Most people think that this means I’m unstoppable or unbeatable.  The truth is, moving forward doesn’t mean that one’s spirit has not been broken.  I believe that is the spirit of resilience.  It’s being able to go on no matter how many times you get hit, or how many times you fall.

To me, it’s being able to smile even when deep inside you’re crying.  I had long ago come to terms with the fact that the world will keep on turning no matter what happens to me.  And I know that there are many others who depend on me like my son, my friends, and my family.  I cannot just abandon them in the midst of my own heartache or pain. 

3.  An inner calm in the face of challenges. I used to panic easily and get frazzled by unexpected problems that might lead to derailment.  I used to worry even before the problem exploded which, I have learned, doesn’t really help one to tackle it better when it does come in a level-headed manner.  So when things do go wrong, one thing I’ve learned through the years is that it’s very important to stop and calm your mind, and see the bigger picture.

 I’ve been fortunate to have had jobs that allowed me to train for “life.”  Executing major projects where a lot depended on its success, which literally meant it was my job on the line.  Things did go wrong on occasion, and I’ve learned my best lessons about working through the bumps in the road of life in the ways we worked around those problems. 

 4.  My strong faith in God.  I have never been shy to wear my religion on my sleeve.  I have always had a very personal relationship with God, and have always believed that whatever good graces and blessings have come my way came from Him.  During my lowest moments, I have always looked to God for hope and strength. 

It is an unshakeable faith that He will never give me anything I cannot handle, and that things happen in His way in His own time.

5.  Being THE Eternal Optimist.  I had a hard time coming up with the fifth strength but it all came to me as I finished writing about the first four.  I ask what it is that makes me strong – it has to be my belief that things can only get better, even in the face of utter failure or imminent doom.

I try to keep my hope or expectation of the positive on the pragmatic side, though.  I haven’t quite gotten to that kind of desperation where one pins your hope on luck or fortune tellers. 

Hope or optimism is a strength when you are able to see the positive in things even when everything that can go wrong seems to be going wrong.  It has enabled me to keep going during my most trying moments.  When everything is failing, then the only other thing that can happen is that it stops.   Then you get a reprieve, and you are given a chance to recharge or regain your composure.

When you hit rock bottom, the only way is up.     

And just like the unshakeable faith I speak about, it is a belief in the God who loves and nurtures and takes care of his children, no matter what.


1. My bad temper.

One thing you wouldn’t want to see me doing is going crazy mad. I have to admit that my temper is something that sometimes gets the better of me. Perhaps it’s the Aries side of my personality — Ares, the God of War, they said rules my stars. But even when I was younger, I was prone to emotional outbursts. I have been trying to curb that through the years and while I have somehow succeeded in doing so to some extent, there are still times when it rears its ugly head.

It helps that I’ve had good exercise as far as biting my tongue. I have always been outspoken but the years that have passed have made me more careful in speaking my mind out. Even when a thought or idea pops up, I try to keep myself from just blurting it out. I have learned the art of processing it first and then refining or deleting it from my thought cloud altogether. Age.

I have become calmer, and better able to hold the anger in. But anger is something that eventually seeps out, and when it does, it gushes in torrents and you’re going to wish you didn’t see the crazy evil me that suddenly attacks with fangs and all. I wish I didn’t get to see that evil side of me.. anger tires me now.. physically. And it gets more and more difficult to shake off the aftertaste of the effort one puts into such an emotional outburst.

2. I am generous to a fault. I know that generosity can cut both ways and sometimes I think that I end up giving too much of myself and my time and resources to things that matter to me, and more importantly to people who mean something in my life.

I remember when I first moved to New York from Manila in 2000, (and actually even to a large extent up to now), I would enter a store and see things that aren’t for me, but for my brothers or sister or mom or dad. These days it’s automatic for me to shop for Angelo first (and almost always), but from way back, I’ve always wanted to give.

One thing my mother missed dearly after I left was the fact that at the end of the day, I’d usually have a box of some treat or other to bring home to her. We refer to this as pasalubong in the vernacular. Even if I just came from the office, I’d make a quick sweep of wherever I am before I go home and bring her a snack.

I always try to help and when I do, I give it my all. (I think I took the admonition to give until it hurts to heart quite early on in life.) My parents had introduced me to charity work early on. They both came from very humble beginnings and wanted to share their blessings with the less fortunate. And I learned from them that help isn’t always financial. Sometimes you can help ask for financial assistance for others when you can’t give the monetary assistance yourself.

I chalk this up as a weakness and not a strength because I have often ended up giving too much. More than materially, emotionally. At the end of the day, there is nothing left, and that emptiness can hurt. I keep telling myself there are times when I should be more selfish. While we are constantly told to be selfless, we need to remind ourselves that we can’t forget about the “me” so that we can get to the “we”.

Again, I try. I know that much of my frustration, pain and disappointment is caused by all this giving. I have left my heart empty in the process, and it’s that emptiness that throbs with hurt.

3. I am a very emotional person. For someone purportedly with a “good head on her shoulders,” I still cave in to my emotions when my brain should be having full reign over my faculties. I have managed to be less sensitive, but I still tend to give more weight to my emotions rather than to my rational side when making decisions. I believe I’ve managed to gain better control in the past few years, allowing me to mask my true feelings better. I am a very transparent person and that can be quite a challenge oftentimes, but when needed, I can completely “steel” my heart.

It has led to my undoing many times, but even then, I do not apologize for giving vent to my feelings more to my rational side. There are many things in life which are not ruled by numbers or exact definitions — there is a lot of grey out there that we have to weed through.

Often, it makes me quite easy to sway towards giving in, although I would not always equate giving in to forgiveness or forgetting.. which brings me to my fourth weakness.

4. I find it hard to forgive and forget.

I can bear a grudge for a lifetime, notwithstanding how I feel about something or someone.

In a sense, I guess, it’s the “emotional” me —  clinging to the hurt and the pain in my heart.  I know I shouldn’t, but I oftentimes have to struggle against the urge to be vindictive even if only in my mind.

I usually tend to just ignore those who have hurt me or who, I feel, have done me wrong.  My heart has a way of distancing itself from those who caused me pain.

I am only human.

5. I tend to procrastinate and cram. Story of my life.. from law school to the swaps. I think I’m doing better time-wise now, though. It is definitely a luxury I cannot afford, and something I can correct more easily.

Two blog prompts out of the way… =)