5 Things I’ve Learned About Myself

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How many of us spend more time observing other people than analysing ourselves? I have always paid more attention to the motives and circumstances of the people around me. But I have spent a lot of time ignoring myself.

In the spirit of facing my fears, I took a good, hard look at myself, and pulled out the things that surprised me within the last two years. There are some things that I was afraid to say about myself, because it would make me seem arrogant. Then there were some things that I was afraid to say because they were just plain scary.

Greek philosopher Aristotle once said, “Knowing yourself is the beginning of wisdom”. So, hopefully, I’m a bit wiser, after some self-analysis, and sharing what I’ve discovered with you. The first part of getting better is admitting the problem to yourself. Right? So here goes:

1. I am proud.
It’s something that a lot of people have called me out on, and at some point I actually decided to listen. I’ve always secretly thought of myself as the most important person in the room, even when I know I’m not. When I make a point, I know that I’m right (regardless of whether I’m right). When I tell a story, I think everyone should listen to my epic tale of taking a maxi out of Port of Spain at 5.40 p.m. on a Monday in the rain.

I have a complex where I think I’m the most important person in the room, and when people don’t recognize it I want to kick them in the face with their own foot. It’s something I’m still working on, but the fact that I actually paid attention to my friends who thought I was being too much of an a**hole meant a lot to them, and allowed me to be a more respectful person.

2. I need structure.
It is damn near impossible to get me to finish an assignment on time (the editor of Outlish can attest to this). I’m not good at keeping appointments, completing tasks, replying to e-mails, or even getting up on time. At first, I blamed the alarm clock that habitually failed to wake me up, but in honesty I need assistance. I need a friend or partner who I can create a structure with, and will hold me accountable if I don’t get my lazy behind out of bed. Honestly, though, I haven’t gotten much help there. So maybe it’s time for me to take full responsibility for this one.

3. I am insecure.
This conflicts with my first point. I actually think that I’m not particularly worth anything special to the people who I hold very close to my heart, and I overcompensate for that worry by being proud. I have a lot of issues about what I’m worth.

It might come as a shock that a guy like me has a problem with rejection, but I do. A big problem. It was something I realized quite recently. When a girlfriend says she needs space, or is busy with something else, I feel rejected. When someone decides to distance himself or herself from me completely, I feel like a failure. So far, I’ve accepted that and I’m trying not to be so needy.

4. I am idealistic.
When I started going to university, I noticed that the way I thought about people and situations was not how everyone thought in the ‘real world’. Apparently, I’m expected to believe that you don’t get what you want, people aren’t good, there isn’t any such thing as love, and that living your life trying to do good and be great at it is a waste of time. I don’t, and that makes me…well, naïve to some, and apparently a prude to others.

My ideals sometimes run counter to the lives that some friends and family of mine want to live, and my big mouth must always comment. But being idealistic is not a bad thing. It’s trying to preach to people that don’t feel the same way. I’ve learned now that there are people that aren’t going to want your outlook on life. Don’t let that discourage you if that outlook brings positivity into your life.

5. I am talented.
You should always pay attention to the good things about yourself, and this is one. In the past two years, I taught, acted, directed, organized a couple protests, became an accidental spokesperson for an NGO, and held my own as a journalist, writer, and even social media coordinator. My skill set is strong, and growing, and I don’t have many excuses to say that I can’t do anything.

Every time someone throws a challenge my way, or I get an opportunity, I run into it and don’t come up for air until it’s done. Sometimes it’s not the healthiest way to get work done, but no one can ever say that I’m not ready and willing, even when I’m not completely able, and I still get the job done as best as I can.

It’s hard reading this in black and white for me. But being a lover of philosophy, I’m taking Aristotle’s philosophy that knowing yourself is the beginning of wisdom to heart. When you know your own weaknesses, people can’t take advantage of them, and…you don’t give yourself too much room to become your own worst enemy.

Sometimes, it’s as simple as listening to the things that your friends tell you about yourself. Other times, it might take a hard look at the parts of your life that never go how you planned it. Some things even come to you when you look back, and see how much you’ve changed or remained the same over time. But never let you get the better of you. Striving to be better means knowing who you are, and discovering what’s better. And I think that’s the wisdom that Aristotle was talking about.


Image credit: Leo Reynolds; Flickr.

Brendon O'Brien

Brendon O’Brien is a writer, Spoken Word poet and performer, blogger, activist, and a host of other things. Simultaneously pursuing performance and journalism careers, he writes an almost-weekly, inspirational blog for ARC Magazine called “Operation Ante-Up”, as well as his own blog http://thezenplayground.tumblr.com, and has tried his hands at acting in the 2010 Best Village-winning “RepatriHaiti”, and directed the ASHTAR Theatre production ‘The Gaza Monologues’.


  1. Semoy Piggott

    May 28, 2012 at 11:12 pm

    Have to hand it to you Brendon….I should be referring to you as “Brendon The Brave”. I am certain a lot of us do not have the cojones to self analyse, and furthermore to actually say it out loud/blog about it on social media. I could identify with some of what you discussed, especially the insecurity and the “neediness”. I don’t ever hear men discuss being needy or feeling rejected when someone for some reason has decided not to stay in contact. Incidentally, I have had the “honour” of experiencing just that very recently. Thank you Brendon, for baring your soul and reassuring me that there are men out there who are in touch with their “soulful” side. Your piece is a gem :)

  2. Yvonne

    May 30, 2012 at 6:25 am

    R.E.S.P.E.C.T. to you

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