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Every Strength is a Weakness

While reflecting on some of my own personality traits, I came across this Idea I need to work into all of my characters- every trait that is a strength is also a weakness. This isn’t the same as saying a well rounded character needs to have strengths AND weaknesses. The more time I’ve spent thinking about it, the more certain I’ve become that’s not a fine enough point.

The seeds of this thought come from thinking about how parents exist in a state of perpetual catch .22. Force your child to play piano? you kill the child’s love of it. Allow you child to quite piano? You didn’t encourage her to work through her difficult times. Or, even broader, parents who are there for their children are also suffocating, while parents who give their children space are also abandoning them.

Along those lines, I think I’m decent at seeing situations from multiple points of view. I think this is of benefit to my writing and, often, my personal relationships. Also, it makes me a terrible sympathizer with regards to interpersonal conflict. If someone complains about a colleague’s actions, I too often find myself searching for explanations for the behavior. Intellectually, I understand my role as friend or husband is to say, ‘that person sucks’ or ‘you are so right.’ Yet I fail to do this. I have plenty of examples of this.

For my characters then, it’s a matter of perspective. If they are confident, then they view a particular trait of theirs as a strength. However, some others will see the very trait they value as a weakness. Similarly, if a character has low esteem, he will see a trait as a weakness, where others might easily see a strength. It’s all a matter of perspective.

And I need to do a better job of emphasizing how all of my character’s strengths are also their weaknesses.

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