Knowing Me ~ Knowing You (Personality Part One)

It's my 36th birthday today so I hope you'll forgive a bit of self-indulgent navel gazing.

In The Truth About Transition I shared bits and pieces of my personality to explain why change and transition are so difficult for me.

In today's post and the next (or near to next) I'm going to talk about my personality a bit more, something I've wanted to write about for a long time.

During the winter season last year (I mention it on last year's birthday post) I spent a lot of time in self-evaluation and reflection mode. I think this was brought about by a few factors:

  • The natural course of personal development through my thirties. After the intense years of raising littles I was discovering myself all over again.
  • My heart's desire to prepare for my children's young adult years when I know the relationship dynamics will shift and I need to be ready for that.
  • The creative urge to grow professionally beyond the career of homemaker, my main gig for the last 15 years, and subsequently needing to know who I am beyond mother and wife.
  • Our impending move that I knew would change the course of our lives and trying to understand who I might be in that new context.

Some might call what I did digging deep and indeed, that's what it has felt like.

Anyway, during those months of reflection I journaled quite a bit of my discoveries (about myself and others) that I hoped to publish someday at FIMBY. Now is that day. A birthday gift to myself.

It's a bit personal and self serving. But you might find parts of it fascinating in a "isn't Renee strange" kind of way. And I suspect Type A readers will identify with quite a bit of what I write, though I don't think personalities are as simple as one type or another.

In my follow up posts (since this post grew longer than intended) I will share links and resources that might help you gain insight into your own inner workings. I'm not so self-serving after all!

As a Young Woman

Way back when... when I was just a young woman studying in university - meeting my life's love and experiencing the freedom (and responsibility) of adulthood for the first time - understanding my personality type didn't matter much to me. I have always been fascinated with how people learn, including myself, but personality per se did not matter much to me.

I am an outgoing person, a natural born leader. I'm gregarious and laugh loudly. I get things done. I'm committed and responsible; opinionated and hard working. I like putting things in order. I'm also direct and honest. I have a strong internal compass, know my mind and am not afraid to speak it.

If you find any of this surprising (if you've been reading long enough you're probably not surprised) you should know I filter a lot of my outspoken-ness in this very public space. Though it bubbles up from time to time. I wish I could edit my speech the way I edit my writing. Ah...but I'm getting ahead of myself in this story.

So when I was a young woman I had a "you can take me or leave me" and "what you see is what you get" attitude. I wouldn't say I was cocky, in the athletic jock fashion. I truly cared about friends and family and like to think I was loving and welcoming. I was just really self-confident also. 

Somehow, in spite of myself, I snagged a keeper who wooed me with his calm, steady nature, his sparkly blue eyes, who loved me exactly as I was. Still baffles me to this day.

All I know, is that during my late teens and early twenties as I came into adulthood, I didn't give much thought to my inner workings or the inner workings of other people for that matter.

Either people were like me, (in which case we might not get along!) or they weren't. And if they weren't, that was ok but I didn't feel the need to dig deep into understanding it all because I was a confident young woman, who was admired (by at least some or those that mattered - in my opinion!) and unconditionally loved by family and my husband.

And then everything changed.

Becoming a Mother

Funny how motherhood changes us. For me, having children has been the biggest character changing event in my life. Moreso than marriage (An aside: Once I consciously stepped back a bit and encouraged my husband to express his own person more, marriage became a character changing relationship in my life also!)

My love for my children opened up my heart in ways I had not unexpected. A challenge for someone who wants to know what to expect.

There's not enough space in this post to go into my whole journey of change as a young mom. Let's just say motherhood un-did and is continually un-doing my attempts at perfection. Thank goodness!

I'm almost ashamed to admit it now but I started mothering from a "this is my life and you will fit into it" mindset. There's whole books on parenting geared toward this mentality. I was used to approaching life this way. Along the lines of "take it or leave it".

Over the course of three children, who ripped open my body to be born and whose love ripped open my heart, my mentality changed to I surrender to this calling of motherhood.

I surrendered my body, my plans, my quest for perfection, my sleep. Oh, I surrendered my sleep. All for love.

It blows my mind that as we open our hearts to love, by choice or by circumstance, we are changed in so many unexpected ways. To be honest, it scares me because love is out of control, illogical, unpredictable and loss of those you love is inevitable.

As my children started to really come into their own personalities I wanted to truly understand them as individuals. My sincere parenting desire is to help them reach their full potential and I want more than anything to have a loving and open relationship with them - always.

Love will do that to you. Change your attitude from "take it or leave it" to "please never leave".

And so started, in earnest, a journey of discovery. Discovering who my children were so I could better parent, relate to, teach, train and educate them. In the process of course I discovered more about who I was, learning how to be a better partner to my husband also.


To be continued...

PS. The photos in this post describing me as child are from a family memoir Two Beats in My Measure written by my mother. I write about that memoir, and journal keeping in general, in Because Story Matters.

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  • Emily

    Emily on Dec. 2, 2011, 4:12 p.m.

    Well, Happy, Happy Birthday, Renee Dear!

    Birthdays often give us the chance for a bit of quiet reflection: sentimental thinking of the past, evaluating where we are right nowin our life's journey, and exploring possiblities and paths for our future selves. (my own birthday is on Monday, so I can relate, girl!)

    I can see a lot of myself in you.

    So glad you've become a part of my life. Your life has hot only been a gift to me, but to so, so many. Hope you find all the love, peace, and joy you seek- today- and always.


  • RebeccaL

    RebeccaL on Dec. 2, 2011, 5:35 p.m.

    Happy Birthday Renee!

    I love learning about my own personality and trying to figure out why people do the things they do. You sound like someone that I would probably gravitate towards. I tend to get along well with those who are natural leaders, probably because I am a natural follower! lol Thank you for opening up and sharing yourself with us.

    This - "this is my life and you will fit into it" mindset. There's whole books on parenting geared toward this mentality. - really resonated with me. I struggle with that mentality because it feels so foreign to me, but "everyone" tells me this is the way I should parent. Thank you for validating my instincts.


    • renee

      renee on Dec. 2, 2011, 5:45 p.m.

      Rebecca, you know I've come to believe those books are written by folks with personalities like myself (smile). I'm thankful my own plans were derailed by a strong mothering instinct that caused me to question such "wisdom" and listen to my heart, not just my head. To tune into what my children truly needed, not just what worked in my "systems". I'm still a structure orientated parent, I can't help be what I am. But parenthood has been a continual growing and learning how to accommodate other people's needs, desires and personalities while letting myself still be me and ok in my own skin.


      • RebeccaL

        RebeccaL on Dec. 2, 2011, 8:58 p.m.

        I'm more of a go with the flow kind of person, but I have learned that my daughter needs structure both in her day and in the affection she receives from me. Also since I am a single parent and have the majority of the parenting responsibility I have had to step up and be the leader instead of only the nurturer. Trying to figure out how that role fits into my personality has been rough, but I'm slowly getting there!


  • Vickie

    Vickie on Dec. 2, 2011, 6:50 p.m.

    Happy Birthday Renee. I see so much of myself in what you write. Can't wait to read more. Hope you had a wonderful day.


  • Joan

    Joan on Dec. 2, 2011, 7:16 p.m.

    Happy Birthday to you, God bless you and your family, and specially all the beautiful job you are doing to inspire all your readers about daily life. I''m from the island of Puerto Rico ( a little bit far ) I read your blog every day and you became one of my greats inspirations in homeschooling. Have a great and happy day!!!


  • Kiersten

    Kiersten on Dec. 4, 2011, 2:02 a.m.

    I so appreciate this post and the lovely links about storytelling. I so believe in this and it sure does help to explain my compulsive blogging!! Thank you, I am glad I stopped by....


  • Kyce

    Kyce on Dec. 6, 2011, 3:47 a.m.

    Ooh, one of my favorite posts from you ever, and I can't wait for the next installment. I am so happy you are posting videos of yourself now and then--it gives me so much more of a sense of your liveliness. Now when I read I can hear your voice and get the feeling behind it.

    I've been reflecting a lot on the journey of motherhood, lately. Remembering what I thought was in store for me when pregnant for the first time. I think I mostly thought in terms of how cute I would look with a baby on my hip. Honestly, we begin where we begin and are transformed beyond our wildest imagination. The journey of motherhood has been so much richer than I could ever have fathomed...


  • Francesca

    Francesca on Dec. 6, 2011, 6:56 p.m.

    Happy (belated) birthday Renee! I wish I knew that many things about myself. PS I saw your link to Action Pack: it's indeed a cool resource - I have two projects in there :)


  • Emily

    Emily on March 2, 2012, 2:58 a.m.

    Just found this series and its themes are so current for me right know, this aside really jumped out at me

    "(An aside: Once I consciously stepped back a bit and encouraged my husband to express his own person more, marriage became a character changing relationship in my life also!)"

    any chance of expanding or sharing ideas and resources for this step its really where I'm at right now.your words have been a comfort and revelation.oh and can I pre order that E book. cheers from Emily down in New Zealand where summer is just quietly ending


    • renee

      renee on March 5, 2012, 1:29 p.m.

      Hum... I don't have too much time to expound upon this but basically I am a strong willed extrovert. My husband is introverted, go with the flow (he has strong opinions and values also, he just doesn't need to verbalize them as much as I do). My tendency is to lead, to manage, to control. But this doesn't work so well in all situations (smile) and the only way for my husband to take the lead in areas that really mattered to him (or in areas I wanted him to lead) was for me to pull back. This is a dance to be sure and the character growth has come for me in learning to go with his flow in those areas, instead of always managing the situation. Hope that helps explain what I mean somewhat.


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