Before beginning college, I took the StrengthsFinder survey to discover my top talents. I discovered that I am deliberative, a learner, and an achiever. I also found that I like to understand how historical and social contexts influence people, which helps explain why I am “restorative”: I like to relate to and help others. When I read the essay “‘Only Connect…’ The Goals of a Liberal Education” by the historian William Cronon in my leadership seminar, I discovered many connections between the ten qualities he associates with liberally educated people and my own strengths. When I listen to people, I pay attention to not only their words, but also the meaning behind the words. As Cronon points out, I can “follow an argument, track logical reasoning, detect illogic, hear the emotions that lie behind both the logic and the illogic, and ultimately empathize with the person who is feeling those emotions.” This is what I try to do when I listen to others. I also like to read different kinds of sources to better understand my world. I discovered why the earth revolves around the sun from science magazines; I felt and understood love and suffering by reading Wuthering Heights; I continue to learn about current affairs by reading newspapers.
Being restorative means that I am able to solve difficult puzzles—not only academic problems but also life problems. Since I am willing to know people who have different backgrounds and cultures, I can easily talk to almost everyone. When I talk with them, I can understand their stories and give them suggestions. Therefore my friends like to chat with me and ask me for help when they are in trouble. Cronon thinks talking with anyone and solving puzzles are important to liberally educated people, and I agree.
I also like to review the past and make decisions very deliberately. I think these two talents make me prudent and responsible in my college life and my community. As Cronon says, “liberally educated people understand that they belong to a community whose prosperity and well-being are crucial to their own, and they help that community flourish by making the success of others possible.” Truly, to help my community thrive, I should be aware of history, and look out for the welfare of other people.
I believe discovering my top five talents will help me adjust to college life and make the most of my time here.
Cronon, William. “ ‘Only Connect…’ The Goals of a Liberal Education.” The American Scholar, vol. 67, no. 4, 1998, pp. 73-80.
Rpt. by Cronon, www.williamcronon.net/writing/only_connect.html.