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When I Grow Up

Gila Arnold

Too many of us know what we can’t do but not what we can. Knowing our strengths is the key to accomplishing our missions in life.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Sari has been a stay-at-home mother since her oldest was born, 18 years ago. Now that her youngest is in school, she’s toying with the idea of getting a job, but keeps getting stopped by the thought, ‘There’s nothing I really know how to do, other than dishes and laundry.” Since earning her master’s in special education, Elisheva works for a public school — and dreads going in every morning. She finds herself looking at the clock constantly throughout the day, counting the minutes until it’s time to go home. Working with young children bores her; yet it’s a good job with good pay, and she feels ungrateful complaining. For the past few years, Naomi’s dating has been a frustrating experience. She gives shadchanim the specifics of what she’s looking for: a serious ben Torah, focused on his learning — the usual, same as all her friends want — but the guys she gets set up with are quiet and too intense. Why can’t the shadchanim get it right? Sari, Elisheva, and Naomi all have one thing in common: They aren’t in touch with their individual strengths. This lack of awareness is leading them to make some poor choices, and preventing them from maximizing their life’s potential. They aren’t alone. As one rebbetzin noted, ask an audience to generate a list of their negative traits, and they’ll scribble for ten minutes straight. But ask for their positive traits — and they’re done after two minutes. Why are we so bad at identifying our personal strengths? And what can help us accomplish this vital task?

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