Describing Myself in Four Words
By Jeff Salter
“For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.” [KJV]
— 1 Corinthians 13:12
Our Wednesday Fox gave us a tough assignment this week: Which four words best describe us?
As others here have noted, people and their characteristics / personalities are (generally) not static — rather, they change over the term of their lifetimes. One certainly hopes those changes are for the better!
The cited verse from 1 Corinthians was one of the first things that came to my mind — though I think it has been misunderstood by many. This is not the place or time to analyze this scripture, but let me say that (to me) the most secular interpretation conjures the image of peering into a mirror and being not quite able to discern clearly (at present). In other words, maybe the image will be clearer… LATER.
As I was thinking about this topic, I realized – as have others this week – that descriptions of myself in earlier decades were not necessarily the same as they’d be in current times.
When I’ve (previously) looked back on my 70 years, there is one period – fortunately relatively brief – in which I occasionally behaved like the kind of person I would NOT wish to be around. There were lots of factors: I had chips on my shoulder about not being able to afford to return to the university where I’d spent my freshman year, I knew I was going to be “called up” to serve in the military (in the first lottery… fall 1969), and I had a part-time job at a local newspaper that gave me an inflated notion of my sophistication.
Most of the unfortunate characteristics I’ll list below were exhibited in the local college classrooms — to other students and the professors. At times, I’m ashamed to admit, I behaved insufferably. But when one is 19 years old with several chips on his shoulders, he can be a bit of a stinker (without even trying to be).
So here are some terms I’d use to describe the 19-year-old Jeff… with those unwieldy chips on his shoulders:
Yes… that was me, especially on the campus (that I’d determined was too “inferior” for me). I like to think I kept those worst characteristics under some degree of control elsewhere (like, work, church, home, etc.). But it’s also possible people in those other environments saw bits and pieces of that insufferable stinker. If so, I’m grateful to those who were able to overlook my immaturity and hold out hope for my future.
So, fast-forward through the decades… through my marriage, my Air Force hitch, our two wonderful babies, completing my bachelors and masters degrees, and working nearly 30 years in the library profession.
In these retirement years, I think I’ve finally shaken loose of those four undesirable characteristics. Now, the counterparts to those same terms would be:
Not pretending that I’m perfect — far from it. But definitely recognizing significant progress from that immature, self-absorbed jerk with the chips on his shoulders. And making positive transitions as we age is likely what living a life is all about.
Which four terms would describe you now?
Which terms would describe you at your worst… whenever that may have been?
[JLS # 524]