“You will never be the same again…” You hear that, but what do you think about it really? Of course there are events in your life that have lifelong impact, like the birth of a child, a wedding, the death of a loved-one, etc…. These are life-changing events that will impact day-to-day forever…all true. Believe me when I tell you that the changes go much deeper….and they are not temporary….these are permanent changes to who you are and who you will be, and will modify you at your core. I have actual proof.
I am not just referring to surface changes. Changes to parts of your life that are obvious, like when you have a baby, your life in the every day needs to be about caring for the child. I don’t mean, when you lose a spouse, you need to figure out how to deal with everything in your life alone. Those are surface items, things that change the day-to-day. I am talking about your personality, who you are.
Yes, I have ALWAYS moved through life with a healthy dose of sarcasm. I was raised in sarcasm, therefore it has always been a part of who I am. Now, since my husband’s passing, that has not changed, however, I have added a generous dose of cynicism that wasn’t there before. It is harder for me to see the shimmer of joy that comes with the holidays, or the glimmer of optimism and hope that come with a compliment or friendly gesture from a friend. I don’t mean to be offensive, I just struggle sometimes with the positive because I am always waiting for the other proverbial shoe to drop.
But it is more than that, and let us not forget, I did promise proof. Honest to goodness proof. Well hear this:
Many, many years ago (in a land far, far away), my employer conducted personality tests to help establish working relationships between employees and their next level managers. The assessment is the DISC, a well-known personality test that identifies strengths and weaknesses and gives guidance on how best to work with the individual. It is designed to be shared with management and for management to share their own profile with their direct reports as well. It is a tool to help manage and communicate more effectively. It identifies a persons personality traits in four categories (DISC). This is a brief , simplified explanation:
- D – Dominance = how we respond to challenges and solve problems. People with a high “D” are very active in dealing with problems and challenges, they can be demanding, forceful, egocentric, strong-willed, determined, aggressive, etc. Low “D” are less active, more conservative, low-keyed, cooperative, mild, agreeable, etc.
- I – Influence = how we influence others. People with high “I” influence others through talking and activity and tend to be emotional. Low “I” scores influence others by data and facts rather than feelings.
- S – Steadiness = People with a high “S” work best in a steady environment and dislike sudden change. They are calm, relaxed, patient, deliberate, etc. People with a low “S” like to work with change an variety. They tend to be impulsive, eager, and impatient.
- C – Compliance = Those with a high “C” are the rule followers, prefer structure, and are exacting, precise, neat, and tactful. Those with a low “C” are more stubborn, opinionated, and not detail-oriented.
I took this test several years prior to the passing of my husband. And for people that have known me, they will see that the results were not surprising in the slightest:
I scored super-high on Compliance, preferring structure, organization, and precision. My next highest mark was Steadiness, given that I like to operate in a calm more relaxed environment. I held a marginal score on Dominance making this a fairly neutral trait. And I scored extremely low on Influence, showing that I prefer facts and data (PROOF), to emotion and lots of hype.
And then my life changed….and with it, so did my personality…the person you knew, …the person I knew…no longer exists…
The second test was taken a year after my husband passed. My new personality shows me with a high I, high C, and high D, with a marginal S. Talk about different, but accurate. I am much more demanding, forceful, and aggressive. I tend to be high in emotion and expression, rather than conservative. I have the flexibility to work at either a steady pace, or within chaos. The one thing that is holding true from the old me is that I continue to be exacting, precise, and detail-oriented. Basically, I have lost most of my reason, and can now be hell-on-wheels.
What does all this mean? What can I learn from this?
- People can change and adapt as a result of major change in their lives. Not just surface changes, but deep down personality changes. Changes to who they are and how they function.
- I am less rational and more driven by my emotion than ever before. I have learned to push for what I want, and for what I think is right.
- I still prefer details, structure, and facts, but with less patience and go after things with more passion to add to the data I present.
“Time is of the essence”, people say all the time “don’t waste time” and to “go for what you want.” “Spend time with those you love.” “Don’t be complacent nor passive.” They are more right than they realize. I would have to summarize this post by saying that I have learned the importance of what matters and try not to waste my time on the things that don’t.
I am jaded and skeptical, a sarcastic cynic. Take it or leave it, I make no apologies. Love me for who I am now, not for who I used to be.