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Self-Help: Why you should be celebrating your weakness instead of trying to fix them

Ever felt stumped by that awkward, 'what are your weaknesses' interview question? It feels like a bit of a catch-22, I mean... you want them to hire you. Recently, I've changed my outlook on weaknesses and you can too by looking at them in a different light, by Rosa Fairfield.

Photographs by Linda Smith


Would you give up your strengths to your weaknesses?
I was researching savant syndrome, and all though not always the case, there have been reports of intellectual trade-offs. A person who has a great artistic ability, losing it when her lacking social skills improved.

Of course, this is rare, often seen as extreme, and most people aren't savants but I think it can be applied philosophically to some extent. Would it be possible for a person to be equally strong in every area of life... or would some kind of weakness have to appear in some other area of their life? Even if they had no weaknesses would this mean that they were actually good at anything though? If you had to give up one of your main strengths to fix one of your main weaknesses, would you?

It's perfectly possible to live a life with weaknesses
Say hello to Sarah. Sarah is working as a part-time shop assistant whilst at university, most of the other students are doing the same thing. In all honesty, Sarah is an absolutely terrible shop assistant and she knows it... it's a miracle she hasn't be fired yet. She's been trying her hardest to improve but not matter what she does, her sales figures always seem to be the lowest.

On the other hand, Sarah always excelled in academia, she won a series of competitions for her essay writing and always used to help her classmates with their homework. Should Sarah continue to be a second-rate shop assistant (even if it is just a part-time job)? Is this really the only possible way in the world to make money? Couldn't Sarah offer her services as a private tutor? This certainly sounds like something she may be good at.

Okay, it isn't always this simple... but there's always a way to do everything. Maybe that way just isn't the norm... you have to work with your strengths to find new ways of doing things.

Are weaknesses really weaknesses?
Or rather, are weaknesses just perception? Let's say hello to Sarah again. Hi, Sarah. Sarah is upset because she eventually got fired from her job. Her friend Jessica tried to comfort her, she could relate to the situation as she got fired from a job a few years back. After suffering a period of depression, she got the help she needed and managed to set up a successful flower company. She shared her story with Sarah in the hope to encourage her.

Now, there are many different possible outcomes to this situation. Sarah could think of Jessica as being self-centered as she has managed to turn the conversation about her job loss into a story all about Jess. On the other hand, knowing someone has gone through a similar situation but come out of it on top could comfort Sarah... knowing that there is still hope for her. In these two different examples empathy could be both considered a strength or a weakness. It's really dependant on how the other person perceives it.

Would we actually like someone who has no weaknesses?
People so often jump on others for their perceived imperfections, no matter how big or small they are and demand for a change to be made. It's funny though... I wonder how many people would actually like someone who has no weaknesses... or would they find that in itself annoying? We often relate to each other through our shortcomings, it's one of the ways that people bond. It would be no fun being the only person in a room with any kind of 'faults'.

I always think there's elements of balance. Improving weaknesses can sometimes be really beneficial but you shouldn't have to feel guilty about those, every human has flaws who make us who we are.