1. Having a decent list of failures to your name.
There are plenty of failures that are not admirable – having a poor GPA because you didn’t try, quitting a passion (even though you loved it) simply because it got hard, etc. But there are also a lot of good failures in life – failures that came from you putting yourself out there and taking a swing at something new and trying something that scared you. They may feel horrible at first, but when you have the right kind of failures to your name, all it means it that you’re very much alive, that you’re trying things outside of your comfort zone all the time, and that you understand the importance of growing every day by doing things that you’re not already good at.
2. Your inclination to be honest with the people you care about, even when it hurts.
We all want the high, we all want the easy way out. If we’re dating someone that treats us poorly but we’re too scared to be alone, we gravitate towards the person that tells us this is normal in relationships. If we get incredibly winded climbing the stairs and we worry that we’re unhealthy, we want someone to tell us it’s nothing to worry about. If we’re on our sixth job in two years and we’re wondering if we’re the problem, we want to be told ‘no way, it’s not you, it’s them!’ But when you truly love someone, it’s more important to tell them the truth, even if it hurts, even if it makes you seem harsh. It’s important say something to someone you care about when they are wasting their life with a jerk, or when their health is deteriorating from their own choices, or when they are not holding down a job because of their own lack of responsibility. Although you might be the ‘tough love’ friend or sibling or partner, that’s a thousand times better than being the person who tells people what they want to hear, just to be liked.
3. Asking for what you want.
This is not the same thing as demanding what you want, or feeling entitled to anything in your life that sounds good or pleasant or fun. But asking for what you want – a raise when you’ve worked hard, a ‘what are we?’ talk with a romantic interest you’ve been spending a lot of time with, support from your friends when you’re struggling – just means that you know how to be vulnerable and you feel comfortable asking for help when you need it.
4. Your desire to be by yourself, a lot.
It’s obvious that our generation has a serious problem with the fear of missing out. Because we live on our phones and have multiple apps and social networks that can remind us of what everyone else is doing down to the second, it’s difficult not to feel like everybody is having SUCH A BETTER TIME than you. And because of this, the desire to want some time alone, even if you’re convinced that you’re an extrovert, can make you feel like something is wrong with you. But wanting to be by yourself quite frequently can be a healthy thing – it shows that you’re not afraid to be alone with your own thoughts, you have a strong urge to take time to process your emotions and feelings about each day, and you have a yearning to truly understand who you are when no one else is around.
5. Your tendency to let go of friendships that are weighing you down.
There is a difference between being the kind of person who completely bails on a friend who is having a really rough time – and a person who chooses to walk away from a one-sided friendship in which the other person only brings in negativity, toxicity, and selfish choices into the mix. If you are the kind of person who shows up no matter what when your friends are hurting, but who also walks away from people who won’t support you the way you support them, you have nothing to be ashamed of. Cutting your ties with a bad and self-centered friend is nothing to be ashamed about – it just means you have enough self-respect to understand that you’d rather be part of a relationship that is 50-50 rather than one that is one-sided.
6. Feeling afraid every time you try something new.
Fear doesn’t matter. It’s the most human thing in the world, and every time it shows up in your life, it means you’re doing something that’s outside of your normal, safe little bubble. Feeling afraid of newness and unfamiliarity is not a personality flaw – the personality flaw is only born if you let that fear stop you from doing.
7. Your unwillingness to just say ‘yes’ to everything.
We live in an age where we’re constantly encouraged to ‘follow our dreams’ and to ‘always try something new.’ And while these are positive and optimistic outlooks to take, they can also confuse us into becoming a ‘yes’ man or woman – someone who’s afraid to say no, someone who’s afraid to put their health and mental wellness first, and someone who’s afraid to speak up and tell someone the truth, even if it would benefit that person in the long run. Some people may judge you for not being a spontaneous, yes-let’s-do-anything kind of person, but all it actually shows is that you have a backbone.
8. A lack of desire to work 80-hour work weeks.
If you want to one day be the top executive in your company or the top person in your law firm, then do what you gotta do – no judgments being made here. But if that’s not something you want – if you’d rather have a decent job that pays the bills and challenges you and lets you build a life for yourself without asking for your life in return, there’s nothing wrong with that. There is nothing lazy or lamentable about not wanting your career to be your whole focus for the next several decades of your life. It is just as okay to want it to be part of your life.
9. Asking a lot of questions.
This can be seen as annoying – in work meetings, during someone’s story at dinner, at a panel for something you’re interested in. And yeah, sometimes, there are certain people who do this just because they want to hear themselves talk. But often, there are people who are truly curious and just want to learn – and in a world where we are all so focused on getting out what we have to say, it really is refreshing and admirable to be around someone who truly just wants to know more about someone else’s life, someone else’s story, someone else’s experience. So when you’re doing it truly for the right reasons, when ego is not involved, and when all you want is to know more about that person’s perspective, the tendency to ask questions can be a truly charming and rare personality trait.
10. Not having a large number of friends.
This seems like the most important thing in high school, and college, and even those first couple years after college. But the older you get, and the more comfortable you start to feel about yourself, the more you actually understand that the quality of your friendships is so much more crucial to your happiness than how many friends you actually have. A lot of friends can make you feel important and safe, but a few friendships with deep depths are the ones that bring you the greatest joy.