Your Personal Qualities

Discovering or acknowledging your personal qualities – and acting on them – is another piece in building the jigsaw puzzle of your identity.  This is similar to discovering your purpose and how you are significant.

It is – unfortunately – rare to have someone take you aside and lay out what they see as your personal qualities.  Sometimes it happens, but rarely.  These qualities are yours to discover anyway, so let’s look at the challenge.

Discovering Your Personal Qualities

One key part of the foundation of an identity is the image we have of ourselves – what we see as our personal characteristics that combine to form that image.  Because you haven’t lived that long there is often the sense that “I’m not really much yet – I’m still mostly a kid.”  For the vast majority of teenagers – even though it might feel that way, it just isn’t true.  You already have developed a set of personal qualities.

For example, if you skim the list of sample characteristics below and see which characteristics apply to you, you may be surprised.  People don’t usually give much thought to their qualities – or they discount them as not being that important – and that’s a mistake.

You almost certainly have a lot of good qualities – more than you probably think.  The challenge is to become aware of and build on your strengths and commit to areas of growth.  You may find a bunch of qualities that you want to get good at – that’s part of the journey – there is always more to discover and master.

Examples of Personal Qualities

I Am…..

  • Kind
  • Smart
  • Thoughtful
  • Tough
  • Gentle
  • Curious
  • Someone who perseveres – I don’t give up
  • Resilient – can bounce back
  • A smart risk taker
  • A person with a good sense of humor
  • Someone who sees the good in others
  • Courageous (little or big ways – overcome fears to act
  • A good athlete
  • A good dancer
  • A good singer
  • A good actor
  • A good artist
  • A good storyteller
  • A good joke teller
  • Helpful
  • Supportive
  • Someone who stands up for what’s right
  • A good writer
  • Respectful
  • Responsible
  • A good listener
  • A good care-taker
  • A good friend
  • A good son/daughter
  • A good brother/sister
  • A good student
My Personal Qualities

"The wonderful thing about saints is that they were human. They lost their tempers, got hungry, scolded God, were egotistical or impatient in their turns, made mistakes and regretted them. Still they went on doggedly blundering toward heaven."


Pitfalls in Assessing Personal Characteristics


Pitfall #1 – Not Being Perfect

There are always gaps between who we are and our ideal self, but that’s much of what life is about.  It’s why we go through multiple heroic journeys.  We become increasingly whole, mature and capable – if we are paying attention and keep saying “yes” to personal development.  This is true throughout life.

You don’t have to be the kindest, toughest or most resilient person in the world to check off those characteristics.  Nor do you have to be the best athlete, writer or friend to realize that those qualities live in you.

Pitfall #2 – A Couple of Dominating Characteristics 

A lot of characteristics go into composing an identity.  A big danger is allowing one or two characteristics – good or bad – to define your identity.

There is a danger in allowing one or two negative characteristics – “I’m overweight” or “I’m awkward in social settings” – to define you.  It’s also dangerous to allow one or two positive characteristics – “I’m a star athlete” or “I’m one of the smartest in my class” to define you.  You are more.

“Nothing is easier than saying words. Nothing is harder than living them day after day."


Remember – the Journey Is About Growing & Developing

You can act with more awareness every day and therefore be more true to yourself – your qualities.  Which of my qualities do I want to pay attention to today?  Which qualities do I want to deepen?  What qualities do I not show as much as I would like and how can I develop those?  What characteristics do I not yet have and how can I start to develop them?

This is a life-long quest (hopefully) and it becomes critical as a teenager.  Enjoy the qualities you already have and look to see what new qualities you can develop or enhance.