Dear Culture: Personality vs Character

Dear Culture,

I think you’ve been so beaten up by horrible expectations and rules in the past that you now despise perfection. You’ve been told to be perfect and flawless, which is impossible. I get it.

But now your whole goal is to be yourselfIt’s all about who you are now, and not what you could be. You cries out, “listen to no one’s advice, trust only yourself, and make yourself and others happy. You are who you are.” Sounds familiar? Sounds good, right?

Not really.

You see, I would agree that you shouldn’t listen to everyone. But no one? Not even the wise, caring people who can see your blind spots and help you get over them? Trust only yourself? Once again, what about your blind spots that could shadow your judgement?

And this last part, about being happy and making others happy. What’s happiness? It’s a very loose, opinionated word. Writing makes me happy, but some people can’t stand it. Being first in line makes me happy, but does that mean I should cut in front of others? Should I do the opposite—-make others happy but threaten my well-being?

I am who I am. Or am I? Does my personality truly define me, the one with plenty of weaknesses and a few strong points, or is it possible to develop character that surpasses my personality?

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard people say things like, “I don’t like doing (insert a good habit or deed here). I’m just not wired like that.”

Of course you’re not. You’re wired to believe that your wiring can’t be re-wired.

The truth, though, is that you can change how you act and how you look at life: it’s called building character. I learned this fact this past semester when I took a study of personalities class. It said that while you begin at an early age to have a distinct personality, you should eventually grow into displaying each area of all the different types of personalities.

So for example, if you’re primarily an introvert and think before you act, you’ll sometimes need to act without thinking when the need arises to make a choice quickly. If you’re shy and “talking” to others just isn’t your thing, get over yourself. Just talk to people and do it afraid. The fact is this:

Building character doesn’t limit you to yourself. 

When you build your character, you go beyond who you think you are and set yourself to a higher standard. And let’s be clear: building character doesn’t mean you have to be perfect. It means you have to grow. It means you become better every day.

So even though you’re bruised and wounded, Culture, pick yourself up and stop settling for less. Your wounds will heal. God doesn’t want perfection. He only wants a willingness and effort to grow and live for more than yourself.


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