Do You Know and Embrace Yourself?

posted by Andrea | 05/23/2016
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dekker family

When I first started my business back in 2007, it didn’t take long before I was asked the dreaded question… “so, what exactly are you doing now?”

In the beginning, I often fumbled over my words and gave long-winded explanations — after all, I barely even knew what I was doing! However, I soon crafted my “elevator speech” — or a one-sentence summary of what I was doing.

From then on, every time I was asked that question, I simply said, “I’ve started a business helping others simplify and organize their homes and lives.” 

Now, I usually say something like, “I run a blog where I share tips, resources, and encouragement to help others simplify their homes and lives.” 

Done!

No fumbling over my words, no stuttering and stammering trying to think of something smart to say, no long-winded explanations. Just short, simple, and to the point.

I know what I do, and I embrace it — and in the process, my answer to this ever-recurring question is drastically simplified.

Similarly, we can drastically simplify many other areas of our life if we KNOW what we want or who we are and EMBRACE it.

Let me explain…

PERSONALITY TYPE:

Are you an introvert or an extrovert? Are you more analytical or more emotional? Are you a workaholic or do you have lazy tendencies? Do you like to take charge or work in the background?

If you don’t know your personality traits, characteristics, strengths, and weaknesses, you are doing yourself a HUGE disservice.

I don’t think we should necessarily let our personality traits put us in a “box” or serve as excuses for our behavior based on what our perceived strengths and weaknesses are. However, I DO know that my life has been simplified because I have made an effort to better understand and learn about my specific personality.

If you haven’t taken a personality test in a while, I would highly encourage you to do so! There are so many free quizzes online that just take a few minutes, and can open up a world of information for you and for those around you. Here’s one free online test I like because it offers a detailed summary of each personality type to help you better understand your personality.

By knowing and understanding your own strengths and weaknesses, you can work intentionally to develop your strengths, be aware of (and seek help for) areas you aren’t as strong in, and avoid situations that could cause unnecessary stress and pressure on your life.

Also, if you’re interested in a few more resources:

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LOVE LANGUAGE:

When I was in college, I had to read The 5 Love Languages for one of my psychology classes… and it just so happened to be soon after Dave and I got engaged. I got Dave to read the book too — and 11 years later, I STILL reference tidbits of information from that book on a regular basis.

It was SO interesting for me to learn more about what makes me feel loved, why certain acts of love and friendship resonate more with me than others, and how I can do a better job of showing love to others in THEIR love languages.

In case you’re wondering, my main love language is Acts of Service, and my lowest love language is Physical Touch (I have a VERY large personal bubble!)

The book is a super fast read (even for someone like me who doesn’t love reading) and very eye-opening! I honestly can’t recommend this book enough!

More 5 Love Language Books:

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CLOTHING:

Until a few years ago, I never really considered how much I could simplify my life by knowing and understanding more about my clothing and wardrobe choices.

I didn’t pay any attention to why I wore certain things, certain colors, or certain styles — or why I didn’t wear other colors and styles. I didn’t think about mixing or matching, about trying to buy coordinating colors, or about making sure I had something my new clothing item would look nice with. I just always looked for clothing on the clearance rack that fit and was somewhat comfortable — and tried to get in and out of the store as quickly as possible!

I felt bad that I wore black, grey, navy, and white almost all the time, and I often tried to buy brightly colored clothes to “liven up” my wardrobe… but those were the pieces that ended up sitting in the back of my closet until I finally decided to donate them.

Now, after working with a personal stylist 2 years ago, I have a completely different outlook on my clothing!

My closet is less cluttered, I actually wear and love my clothing, I’ve embraced the fact that I prefer neutral colors with small pops of color (like a scarf), I know what styles look good on me, I know what brands fit me well, and I know that most of my items mix and match quite well together.

My goal is NOT to have a capsule wardrobe, or an extremely minimalistic wardrobe, but rather to simplify the process of shopping for clothing and getting dressed each day (both of which I have accomplished).

(p.s. Later this week, I’ll be sharing more about how knowing and understanding and embracing my personal clothing style has allowed me to save BIG on secondhand clothes!)

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FOOD:

Lately, I feel like I spend half of my waking hours planning, preparing, making, serving, feeding, and cleaning up food for myself and my family — I’m sure some of you can relate!

I’ve taken many steps to simplify and streamline the “food” in our home — and it all started with acknowledging and embracing that our family likes very simple meals, we don’t like going out with all 3 kids, and we aren’t health nuts.

I’m not going to stress about buying everything organic, making everything from scratch, or making fancy meals or baked goods.

We eat some processed foods, we make quick and simple weeknight meals, and we occasionally enjoy Culver’s, Arby’s, and Little Caesar’s AT HOME, where our kids can be as crazy and as messy as they want without totally embarrassing us!

I know we have friends, relatives, and blog readers who think our food choices are unhealthy and who choose to eat much differently than we do, but that’s totally OK with us. We are doing what feels right for our family and our stage of life, and I cannot tell you how much this has simplified our lives.

There is no way I could commit to making everything completely from scratch without giving up several other things I do — and frankly, I’d rather eat some processed foods than give up all the other things, people, and activities I enjoy!

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GOALS:

Over the past few years, I haven’t had many big, huge goals that are fun to share here on the blog — mostly just a few home renovations, funding our retirement accounts, keeping children happy, safe, and fed, etc.

I have intentionally scaled back my goals because of the season of life I’m in, and the fact that I’m not willing to spend countless hours pursuing big business, personal, or life goals right now.

There will be time again for my big huge goals; and when that time comes, I will acknowledge and embrace those big huge goals — and work hard to achieve them. But for now, I have acknowledged and embraced the fact that my current goals are daily and weekly (sometimes hourly) and I can’t tell you how freeing that is for me.

I don’t feel the pressure to push myself to work towards something big right now — instead, I can just continue moving forward on an hourly basis and making it to bedtime 🙂

If you’re in a completely different stage of life, working towards a big huge goal, or even a medium-size goal, I think you’ll also find it freeing to acknowledge and embrace that goal — and then say no to anything else that might prevent you from hitting that goal.

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Do you “know” and “embrace” yourself?

I realize how ridiculous it might sound to “know and embrace yourself” but you’d be surprised how many adults don’t know what to say when asked about their personality type, their love language, their food preferences, their clothing style, their goals, and more. They stutter and stammer as they try to come up with something to say — just like I stuttered and stammered when people asked what I was doing with my new business.

However, by learning more about ourselves, and embracing who we are (instead of trying to be or become something we’re not) we can simplify our lives by taking so much “guesswork”, confusion, and frustration out of the equation.

I know Dave and I both have introverted tendencies — so I won’t schedule activities for our family every night of the week because I know we would both be tired and cranky by the 2nd night.

I know Dave’s lowest love language is Gifts — so I don’t let myself get offended or upset when he doesn’t remember to get me gifts throughout the year.

I know what my clothing style is… that I like to wear black, grey and navy; that I prefer skinny jeans and v-neck shirts; and that scarves and earrings are really the only accessories I wear — so I don’t waste my time looking at other items, and I save time and money shopping online at stores like ThredUP, where I can search for my specific styles.

I know our family prefers simple meals and LOVES Culver’s and Arby’s — so I stick to very basic and simple menu plans each week and we don’t really try any new restaurants with 3 little children.

I know I tend to be a workaholic — so I consciously set a few boundaries for myself so I get to bed at a reasonable hour, take breaks, and leave my phone and computer turned off for parts of the day.

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By knowing, understanding, and embracing who I am, who Dave is, and who our children are, it is SO much easier for me to plan our days, our schedule, our meal plan, my wardrobe, my work life, etc.

Life is less stressed, our days are simpler, and we’re ALL a lot happier! 

How well do you “know” and “embrace” yourself?

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25 comments

  1. Sarah Schreuders

    05/25/2016

    A friend recently recommended a book to me to help my kids learn more about their own personalities. It is called The Treasure Tree and the author is John Trent. It has actually helped our whole family learn more about our own personalities in a really rich story format. It is a huge hit for our 6, 4, and 3 year olds. It is for sale on Amazon now for just under $13.

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  2. Jane

    05/24/2016

    Fab, helpful post Andrea — so strange as I have spent many years trying to find ‘my group’ but having taken the personality test I realise that I will never be in the middle of a group because groups drain me! I need to embrace little and often friendships. So great to be reminded that we are all just wired differently and can’t make ourselves be someone we think we should be.

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  3. Nicole

    05/24/2016

    Hi Andrea,
    I have been reading your Blog for yours but this is the first time of me actually posting something. This blog post is just phenomenal!!! Thank you so very much. Through your blog I discovered that I’m an introvert and this personality test is just so very accurate. I am ISDJ-T and even my profession (doctor) ist accurate. This page is so helpful and I am thinking about buying the package aber all personalities to study more about this topic as I have been always very interested in psychology.
    Thank you Andrea fro this blog and these posts (it’s not rocket sience, right? *wink.wink* 😉
    You have wisdom beyond your years.
    Yours, Nicole
    PS: Sorry for my english maybe sounding off, I am from Germany but have spend a year in the US as an exchange student in 2005. Haha so I am a bit rusty 😉

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    Andrea Reply:

    Hi Nicole, Thanks for the first-time comment (and the long-time readership!)

    No, it’s not rocket science (You have a good memory, by the way!) and your English was just fine. I completely understood everything you wrote!

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  4. Emily

    05/23/2016

    Getting older and reading books have been the two things that have helped me understand myself much better. I also read the Five Love Languages. Knowing who I am makes life so much more enjoyable! It has helped me stop comparing myself to others. Instead, I’m able to recognize the differences and accept that my strengths are just different from others.

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  5. Beatriz

    05/23/2016

    Awesome post! I followed the link to the personality quiz and it was a little scary to see myself so well described. It also helped me with something I’ve been struggling with lately, so thank you for that.

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    Andrea Reply:

    thanks Beatriz! Isn’t it crazy how well those personality test results seem to “know” us! Glad to help with your struggles! Happy Monday 🙂

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  6. Olga

    05/23/2016

    Thanks for the post, Andrea. Now I understand why it feels like you are my sister. ☺ Additional thank you for the link to the personality test -true to the point for me. I have hoped something changed over the years, but no, I am still an ISTJ.
    Although I think I am not as stubborn as I used to be. ☺ I also love G. Chapman’s books, and often refer to them. Even your main love language matches one of my (I have two ).
    Amazing!

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    Andrea Reply:

    haha — my next love language is Gifts. Is that your 2nd one?

    Also, I am thankfully not as stubborn as I used to be either 🙂

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    Olga Reply:

    No, my second– and actually very close to first– is Quality time. ☺

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    Andrea Reply:

    ok — that’s probably my 4th one. I guess we’re not twins 🙂

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  7. Lynn

    05/23/2016

    As always, your words are right on target! You are doing what’s right for you at this stage in your life and you’ll continue to reevaluate what works best for you and your family! I love that you’re not afraid to share that you eat some processed foods, and you’re okay with that! There’s always something we could be doing better – or worse! I love having simple dinners, unlike what I grew up with, but it works very well for us, and it’s much easier!

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    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Lynn.
    I could be TOTALLY wrong here, but based on my family, our extended families, our friends, our coworkers, our neighbors, etc. I have a feeling most people eat WAY more processed foods than they would admit. It seems there are just a handful of celebrities, foodies, and natural bloggers that preach “no processed foods” but those are the people speaking out — so we think “everyone must be making everything from scratch”.

    I’m not saying processed foods are “better” or that we should all eat processed foods. I’m just saying that our family does — and we are still living happy, healthy, fulfilling lives. Organic food and natural eating is definitely not one of those platforms I’m willing to stand on at this point in my life! I think more people need to hear that there are lots of normal people eating some processed foods every day and not suffering dire health complications from it 🙂

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  8. Debbie

    05/23/2016

    I’m so glad you posted this all-inclusive “know yourself” blog. I think many don’t know themselves well enough and may be discouraged when they see they’re not accomplishing as much as their friends when the real reason is actually deeper than that. This truly worth sharing and hope it will help many.

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    Andrea Reply:

    I agree Debbie! It’s amazing how many people don’t even know whether they are an introvert or an extrovert (or really even what those terms mean).

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  9. Chris

    05/23/2016

    Great post! You know the saying “I wish I knew then what I know now”, well that’s been me for the past 13 years! I’m 53 now and am very comfortable with who I am in all aspects. I know what I like to eat, what my style is, etc. What I have gained in these years, and really like about myself now is, I have more patience and understanding of other people and their situations. It’s ok if they don’t do things my way. I can “let it go” and being nice will always win. I beleive as we go thru life we have periods of evaluations/epiphanies, sort of like a reststop so we can stretch our legs, throw out the trash, eliminate the waste, wash the windshield and continue on to the next stop.

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    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Chris! I love that you mentioned “It’s ok if they don’t do things my way. I can let it go…” This is always a struggle for me (at least in some context) so I’m working on “letting it go” too!

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  10. Barb

    05/23/2016

    Andrea,

    You are absolutely right! I’d love to see more posts like this. I often find that internal clutter is a bigger issue for me than external clutter. As you said, the more I learn about and embrace who I am, the easier I find it to simplify my life. Consequently I enjoy my life a lot more. Thanks for the great post!

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    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Barb! And yes, I like your reference to “internal clutter”. When I used to work in people’s homes helping them to better organize their spaces, at least 80% of my clients had internal clutter issues of one type or another. These issues prevented them from really ever fully addressing their physical clutter issues.

    Glad you are learning more about yourself and enjoying life more!

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  11. Deni

    05/23/2016

    I loved this post, Andrea! I took the quiz, thinking I was such a mix of things that wouldn’t be able to be deciphered. I was quite shocked at how accurate the results were. I would love to see more posts like this 🙂

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    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Deni! It’s crazy how accurate those descriptions are! Glad you took the test 🙂

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  12. Lynn

    05/23/2016

    Terrific post! I have learned in the last few years that I was an introvert-never really understanding what it meant. It explains why I don’t have the need to go out every night or every week and enjoy time with my friends in small groups and gatherings.

    Thanks for all you do!

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    Andrea Reply:

    I know — people rarely believe me when I say I’m introverted because they think it means someone who stays inside all day and has no social skills. Obviously, I don’t say inside all day and (if you ask me) I’d say I have decadent social skills. We just get drained faster when we’re with people, whereas an extrovert ramps up and gets energized being around people all day long.

    I just wish more people understood how they function best — they would most likely be so much happier.

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  13. Christine @ The (mostly) Simple Life

    05/23/2016

    In the last few years I’ve really became more comfortable with who I am. I’m quite introverted and like most things in my life to be simple (including food and clothing). This differs a lot from many of the people around me who often don’t understand why I wouldn’t want to be out doing all kinds of activities from sun up to sun down. But I’m OK with that. I think the myers briggs personality test is really interesting and gave me some insight into why I do the things I do. I’m an INFJ.

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    Andrea Reply:

    yes! I wish everyone would take the Myers Briggs test just to know more about how their brains work and why they do (or don’t do) the things they do.

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