A common question they ask at interviews is something like… “So, tell me about your strengths.”
It never fails to trips me up, that question. I am brought up a simple humble Chinese boy, and blowing my own horn is a very wrong thing to do by our customs. Yet, I hate to look like those idiots you sometimes see who mutter something about having no strengths (except maybe failing at interviews), so usually I sit there for about two seconds before answering, my pulse racing, my mouth half-ajar, my eyes bulging while my brain clicks and pops from the exertion of thinking up something to say that is at once witty, slightly self-deprecating, and yet somehow shows off my better side.
Yes, I’ve been to a few interviews – enough to know that the question almost always comes, but not enough to have a standard answer yet.
I’ll need one soon, of course.
And then there are those party games where you need to think of words to describe yourself? I am a Computational Science student whose speciality is complexity, random behaviour and statistical analysis. I read much philosophy and literature pertaining to the human state. I write long long blog entries that bore the hell out of my friends who keep reading them in the hopes that their names will appear on them.
I am not about to believe that any person can be described in a single word. Unless you use the word “forgotten”, in which case it can apply to any person you’ve never known. But if anyone else has known them then they can be described in relation to that person. Ergo, only non-existent person can be described as being “forgotten”. But once you think of a non-existent person, you immediately give him/her/it properties you would normally attribute to the people you have experienced, thus ruining his/her/it’s complete and total anonymity, giving it instead the trait of possibility.
What I’m trying to say is, it’s stupid to try to describe any person, living or otherwise, in a single word. Currents run deep. And even if they’re shallow, they can still carry shit and rubbish with them, so don’t judge a perosn by his/her/its cover.
Which means that in games where I do have to describe myself in a word I usually use something like “Allergic”, or “Anti-social”, or “Reluctant”, which doesn’t make me seem very fun or interesting – which I really am! I am! REALLY! (you have no right to judge – you’re reading this blog). So I need new words.
Of course, introspection probably won’t help much here – you are the worst judge of yourself, so they say (especially when it comes to body-odour). Seeking help, I turned to – Friendster.
Yes, Friendster, that monolithic website that my sister frequents daily, that I hardly ever visit these days, that I despise as consisting of inaccurate reflections of human personalities, that I consider to be a poor replacement for actual physical contact (I mean eye-to-eye, you dirty bastards!). Yes, I turned to Friendster. Specifically, I wanted to look at my Testimonials – perhaps therein lay some sort of defining personality trait that I could use to describe myself.
The testimonials, happily enough, seemed to have some common consensus among my friends. Past the good turns I’ve done for one or the other, prompting the “good friend”, “good listener” bullshit, it seems many people think I am:
- full of scientific bullshit
- humourous in a sarcastic/mean/weird way
- not quite in the same frequency as others
I am unsure if these are truly flatterring traits that I should put on my name tag or inform my potential employer about. I have the suspicion they’ll lose me a job more often than not.
And then there are the shortcomings, of course. I have noticed that most testimonials have little in the way of detriment, but mine seems to be littered with them. It’s as if my friends wrote them primarily to remind me what a shit I can be sometimes. I am, as one girl puts it, “a wonderful, kind hearted gent after wading through tons of shortcomings“. Awww. How sweet. I bet Jason from Friday the Thirteenth was a really nice guy deep down, too.
But I am a happy, optimistic person. These people must really love me to want me to improve like this, right? And to have the guts to criticize me so openly in public, it must be because they know me well enough to be comfortable in knowing they won’t offend me?
I am a realist. I know. I’m just getting my own back.
From now on I am Antiseptic Alex.