20 Questions to Help Know Yourself Better

Happy Sunday, y’all!

 

I’m now in the midst of beginning applications for my final internship for grad school. It’s shocking to me how quickly this first year has flown by and here I am, with graduation only another short year away. Madness!

Anyways, as I fill out form after form after form and spend my free time crafting cover letters, my mind is constantly inundated with trying to answer prompts ranging from: “Tell us about yourself,” “What qualifications and skills do you bring to this position?” “Where do you see yourself in five years?”

I think we can all agree that these questions can be super freaking hard to answer.

Why is that? Why is talking about ourselves so hard?

After turning this idea over in my mind, I’ve come to two conclusions:

  1. We want to answer differently than everyone else.
  2. We don’t know the answers.

As humans (or maybe just as Americans), we have an innate tendency to want to be different, unique, special – like snowflakes.

Jokes aside, I think that a lot of us get tripped up because we don’t want to answer like everyone else – and that’s not a bad thing! To stand out amongst other applications, you want to show the interviewers that you bring something that they can’t get from someone else so naturally, you want to answer differently.

On the flip side, sometimes we just don’t know the answers.

In this case, some self-reflection can give you the insight you need. You can think of this as an interview with yourself to prepare for the interview with your potential future boss.

DISCLAIMER: I don’t think that you need to be applying for a new job to ask yourself these questions. Any time is the best time to try to know yourself better! Everyone can benefit from taking time to devote some brain power to answering these, even if it only unfolds a small nugget of wisdom.

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If you’re a journal nerd like me, you can turn this into a fun writing challenge to span out over a few weeks or you can simply use it as inspiration to generate answers to difficult interview/application questions.

Whatever tickles your fancy.

Without further ado, here are 20 questions you can ask yourself to get to know YOU better – your starting point to get re-acquainted with the unique person that you are:

  • What do I find myself doing when I’m not working, finishing homework, doing chores, etc?
  • What is something that helps me breathe a sigh of relief in the midst of a busy day or week?
  • When and where do I find myself being the most productive?
  • What have I been told by a teacher, boss, or coach that I am good at?
  • What is something that can almost immediately put me into a bad mood?
  • How do I get myself out of a bad mood?
  • At what time in my life was I the happiest I’ve been thus far?
  • What contributed to that point in time that made me so happy?
  • What, if anything, is different between then and now? What is the same?
  • What is something I did in my past that I still give myself a hard time for? Why?
  • When is a time that I can ‘let my hair down’ and feel relaxed?
  • How do I know when I’m stressed out?
  • Who do I admire or look up to? What characteristics do I admire them for?
  • If I could be living any kind of life right now, what kind of life would that be?
  • If I’m not living that life, what is holding me back from pursuing that lifestyle?
  • How do I show people that I care about them?
  • How do I know that others care about me?
  • What do I think it will take to get to where I want to be?
  • What is my definition of success? 
  • How do I know when I have been successful?

•••

I hope these questions helped you gain a little bit of personal insight as the weekend comes to a close. After all, no one else can be an expert on what makes you YOU.

Until next time, friends.

XO, Lain

Back in the Driver’s Seat

Ask any grad student and they’ll tell you that rigorous master’s programs force you into a lot of (often unwanted) self-reflection. You have to analyze how you manage heavy loads of work, assess areas and skills that you need to improve, and recognize both the healthy and unhealthy ways that you cope with stress. For anxious perfectionists like myself, this aspect of grad school has been grueling and like a never-ending series of adult growing pains.

This obviously is not the same for all grad programs out there and I can only speak from my current experience as a student in a master’s of science in social work (MSSW) program. But let me tell you: my first semester called for constant, constant, constant self-reflection and critique.

You’d think that being a part of a program that embraces introspection and reflecting upon one’s strengths and weaknesses would help me to boost up my self-care and focus on enhancing my strengths, right?

Wrong.

I’ll be totally, totally honest: My. Self. Care. Routine. SUCKED. I mean, it was basically non-existent.

On top of that, constant self-analyzation is super anxiety-inducing – even for the average person. For someone prone to being self-critical (i.e. ME), this aspect of grad school served as a huuuge foundation for developing a negative view of myself.

Now, for a little bit of clarification (and to stop myself from sounding over-dramatic), I have to admit that my first semester of grad school was better than I’m making it out to be. I got the best grades I’ve ever gotten, I established wonderful friendships with a lot of my classmates, and I loved what I was learning and the work that I was doing.

The problem here was that I was so wrapped up in school, analyzing my personal strengths and weaknesses as a professional, and learning the ‘ins and outs’ of social work practice that I wasn’t putting any focus on enhancing my own life and caring for myself. I became overly self-critical and (sometimes) debilitatingly anxious over my performance and others’ perceptions of me. This created a mindset where I was almost always searching for things that were broken and needed fixing in virtually every part of my life, ranging from how I was doing at my internship to how often I was (or wasn’t) working out and being active. I criticized everything.

I basically transformed into an emotional, anxious mess.

Despite the fact that I was doing the best I ever had in my short life, I often went to bed feeling empty. And I couldn’t, for the life of me, figure out what I was missing.

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After the semester ended and I was FINALLY on break for a few weeks, I woke up in the middle of the night and thought, ‘I’ve been so negative, focusing so much on the outside aspects of my life – what will happen if I change my mindset and try to focus on the inside stuff instead?’ 

I realized that going to school, pursuing my career, and ‘having everything’ wasn’t going to make me happy – and negatively critiquing the less-than-perfect parts wasn’t going to either. Real, raw fulfillment and happiness won’t come from that – it comes from within!

So, what’s the point in me sharing all of this?

Well, with the start of a new year looming, I have decided to dedicate 2017 to take what I’m learning in grad school (and from my favorite self-care bloggers!) to myself and my personal life – and to document my journey along the way.

happiness-is-not-determined-by-whats-happening-around-you-but-rather-whats-happening-inside-youSelf-care and self-development are in y’all, and I’m feelin’ trendy.

I’m still not entirely sure what this entails or what this year has in store for me BUT I do know that I’m absolutely stoked to get started. After having a few weeks away from school for the holidays, I feel refreshed, rejuvenated, and 100% certain that I can achieve my goals and be happier and more fulfilled while doing it.

2017 is the year that I’m turning my focus onto myself. It’s the year that I’m taking control of the ‘inside stuff’ – my growth, wellbeing, and happiness. I’m back in the driver’s seat. I’m “staying in my Lain.”

If you’ve made it this far, thanks for stickin’ with me! Talk to you soon.

XO, Lain