Finding Meaning in the Middle

I️ remember taking a future career placement/aptitude test back in middle school and getting results that placed me in every field under the sun, from film director to accountant. Why was I️ taking a test like this in middle school? I️ still don’t know, but it was the beginning of the middle for me.

The 5 Love Languages

I️ have always felt that I️ can pick up most anything well enough, or that I️ know a little about a lot, but I️ am not amazing at any one particular thing. In high school, I️ did well in all subjects but wasn’t particularly drawn to, or challenged by, one over another. In every aptitude test I’ve ever taken to try and get some clarity on the direction I️ should take my life, I️ have always ended up in the middle of the sliding bars for almost all categories. Even in The 5 Love Languages test, I️ tied for 3 out of the 5 languages while my friends all clearly had a top result.

Maybe this comes from the dichotomy of my parents. There is my creative, spontaneous, extraverted, energetic, and perhaps a little eccentric father on one side, contrasted by my practical, rational, organized, disciplined, responsible, and dutiful mother on the other. (Yes, this did make for quite an interesting childhood.) Dr. Meg Jay writes in her book The Defining Decade that about 50% of our personality is inherited, while the other half is shaped through life experiences.

The Defining Decade

She also writes about the chaos and uncertainty twenty-somethings can feel in trying to navigate who they are, and what they are going to do in this world. Her solution… just do something. So, I’ve decided to stop trying to find my way out of the middle and instead embrace my spot in the center for all its glory, by re-framing and taking action.

Re-framing: Being someone in the middle doesn’t mean you’re lost at sea. Being in the middle means you understand many sides of a situation. It means you bring a variety of skills to the table. It means you are flexible and adaptable, ready to take on any task thrown your way. I️t means you can more easily understand other’s thought processes and understanding. You can empathize.

Taking action: I️ have strengths in a variety of skillsets so it’s time to figure out a common denominator and go. Take the skills I have and start building up experiences and tools for my future. Try one path and if it’s not for me, try another. If I’m in the middle that means I️ have a lot of options for which direction to go next. It’s time to choose one and adjust as necessary.

I’ve decided to see being in the middle not as misplaced, but instead as sharing in many common grounds.