What My Birthday Reveals About My True Personality and Destiny (Because A Book Told Me So)

I’m not into astrology. I mean what I should say is, I don’t believe in it, but I think it’s fun and can provide harmless and old-fashioned entertainment. Last month, I was in a used bookstore (naturally) and stumbled upon this: The Element Encyclopedia Of Birthdays. I turned the page to my birthday, and OMG – it was so accurate it was freaky. I mean normally horoscopes are vague so they can fit almost anyone, but almost everything about this – down to specific events was my life and my personality. So weird… So you know I had to buy it. I mean it was spot on. Here is what it had to say.

the_element_encyclopedia_of_birthdays

July 28: The Independent Spirit

People born on July 28 are fiercely independent and competitive. They love to work independently, and although they have superb communication skills they prefer to lead by example than by hollow words. They relish testing themselves against challenges and their urge to win is so powerful that they find it almost impossible to admit defeat.

Yes, yes and yes! Boy, did this book peg me. I am always on it about: actions speak louder than words. I don’t like people telling me they’ll do something, I just want them to do it. I live the same way. I don’t make promises, I just come through. And when I do promise… well you get the idea. People say I’m a natural leader, but honestly that makes me a tad uncomfortable. I just keep on doing me and doing what I feel strongly about.

As far as competitive – they don’t know the half of it! I am always in competition with myself. Oh story! When I was eight, I took the California Achievement Test and was in the 99 percentile in every subject. I could not let go of the fact that I was not in the 100 percentile. I went on and on, trying to convince my teacher to let me retake it, and she insisted there was no 100 percentile, which I tried to poke holes in and interrogated her like I was a prosecutor. I then had to research whether there was a 100 percentile or not by going to the library and looking up books on college statistics. Again, I was eight, and this was 1992. Yeah, I’m not a perfectionist at all…

I have written several blogs about just how competitive I am (Healthy Competition) or about setting crazy goals for myself (Reevaluating and Setting Goals – My New Year’s Tradition). And I do that. I have thirty goals, each one difficult on its own that I try to achieve every day and evaluate myself on weekly and monthly intervals not only to make sure I am achieving all of them, but my progress or lack-of is keeping my life in balance so I don’t fixate on just one area of my life (health, career, personal, family, etc.). You have to admit, that’s a tad more than just Type-A…

The dominating characteristic of these people at first appears to be an urge to win at all costs, but this competitive streak is fueled by their intense desire to appear self-reliant. From an early age this independent spirit will probably have manifested itself in a refusal to conform or acknowledge authority they do not respect, and throughout their lives they will always value independence of thought and action above all else.

I’m definitely not a win-at-all costs person. I believe in fairness, even playing fields and just going all in. If you’re second, then you’re second. But I do hate being second. The rest of this – again understatement. The first time I was called defiant was when I was five years old. I was defending my friend’s yard by keeping watch over it, just like she asked me to. The neighbor her parents asked to watch the place did not like me patrolling their yard every hour, but I refused to stop. As I got older, I would challenge teachers that made homophobic comments or did other things I disagreed with. I would put them on the spot and challenge them if I felt they were wrong. I did this to any adult really. Most of the adults in my biological family were pretty terrible (abusive, violent, or worse) so I didn’t give a damn about how old someone was. I didn’t believe in respecting my elders – everyone had to earn my respect regardless of their age or position.

And in terms of conforming – well let’s just say I march to my own drum in almost everything – my clothes, my tastes, my attitudes towards parenting or maintaining healthy relationships… I am my own self, and that person is hardly mainstream…

Other people tend to be awed by this self-assurance and although it can lead people born on this day to considerable achievements it can also lead to loneliness, and ultimately disappointment. This is because the admiration that these people earn for their courage, confidence and willingness to break new ground is merely admiration; what they crave is the affection of others. There is often a reason for this lack. The single-minded, independent and combative approach that they are characterized by is, unfortunately, more likely to alienate those they seek to impress, who perceive them as being selfish or lacking in consideration for others. This is unfair as they can be kind, generous, intuitive and warm; but until they forge lasting emotional connections with others, their creativity and potential may be misunderstood.

I agree with this mostly. I think the only thing I disagree with is that I never saw myself as trying to impress others. I did things because I felt strongly about whatever I did – I fought for causes I believed in. I did things the way I did them – because it was the most effective. Whatever anyone else thought about my actions or methods or motives – whatever. But I do know that in college and before, I was definitely seen as single-minded or combative in my approach more often than not. But because most of this had to do with activist causes (LGBT rights, domestic violence, victim’s rights, child abuse, homelessness) I doubt anything I did seemed selfish, more like short-sighted. To say I had meaningful relationships in high school, college and graduate school besides a few close friendships would be laughable. I had a few close friends and a lot of casual friends who were not meaningful (this is all platonic btw). And as far as my love life was concerned – it was just one disaster (Dog! Cough, cough.) after another.

So, they’ve been pretty on the ball so far, but here is where it gets seriously creepy…

Fortunately, from the age of twenty-five there are opportunities for them to become more discriminating, practical and thoughtful with their time and energy, as well as the image they present to others. If they can take advantage of these opportunities to let others see what a modest, thoughtful and generous person they are, this will assure their popularity and affectionate recognition they need to truly enjoy their undoubted talents and seemingly endless winning streak.

Yeah, that was just freaky. I died on my 25th birthday. Yeah, like I actually died. And for the next year I fought like hell to keep from dying again. (Rare autoimmune disease and heart infection simultaneously – meaning chemo, dialysis, practically living in a hospital…) To say the experience changed me would be yet another understatement. It didn’t change who I was per say, but it allowed me to grow up in a year what would have otherwise taken a decade. And it changed how I felt about myself, and loved myself. And it changed how I saw the world. I met my husband the following year, and I’ll be honest – if I had met him any earlier, I’m not sure we would have connected. I wasn’t in the right headspace.

I’m told I am modest, mostly because I always doubt myself and my abilities – I am my own harshest critic. I don’t expect perfection from others, but I certainly expect it from myself. But I don’t care about popularity because I don’t know what to do with it. I’d rather do nice things for others without them necessarily knowing it was me.

I’m not even going to touch the “winning streak” comment…

Last but not least from the book…

Your greatest challenge is: Asking others for help.

Definitely! And knowing it is my greatest challenge doesn’t seem to change my ability to ask for help. I’m stubborn or proud or something…

The Way Forward Is… to understand that working cooperatively toward a goal with people you trust does not weaken your position, it strengthens it.

I love working by myself, but I have never had an issue working in groups – though sometimes I do clash with the way the leader of said group wants to deal with things…

On the Dark Side: Insensitive, detached, selfish.

This is where I disagree, and it isn’t because I think I’m so wonderful. “Insensitive” and “selfish” just don’t fit my bill of personality problems. I’ve been accused of lectured about being a “martyr” many times about many things. Anyone who knows me knows I tend to be too selfless and not take care of myself or put me first when it’s necessary. I care too much about other people’s feelings or how they might feel 24/7. So like I said, those two traits just aren’t me.

Possible substitutes? Stubborn, proud, and at times condescending. Impatient with impossibly high expectations at times. Is that enough? But “detached” fits the bill for sure. My friends and husband call it – hyper-rational, so I’d be one hell of a diplomat. But more than just being objective, I feel like my past experiences with abuse, violence and medical problems have caused me to put up walls. I never really feel like I’m a part of something, even if people try to include me. I feel like my own category – something else entirely.

At Your Best: Resolute, independent, dynamic.

We’ve covered the independence, and I agree with the others. I make decisions that need to be made, but while I act resolute, I’m usually always second-guessing myself (even if other people would never guess I was). I’ve affected a lot of change, and people tell me I’m a force (many people over the years) – like a sledgehammer (husband) or a hurricane (all of my besties have at one time called me this). I’m an activist, on the frontlines and I don’t believe in doing anything halfway. And maybe it’s my inner redhead, maybe it’s my former life as a street kid (I never did drugs, but came from a violent home, so the streets were simply safer – I put myself through high school, college and graduate school on my own) or other past experiences, but I can be ferocious when I need to be. And while I have quite a bark, my bite is just as bad, if I need to go there…


So yeah, this book nailed me. So much that I thought, “Oh my God, this might be totally legit!” So my husband and I flipped to his birthday, November 4. Basically, the entire thing talked about how a person born on this day struggles with being all about the shock value and they need to stop being controversial just for the sake of being controversial. Being provocative, inappropriate and manipulative was all mentioned… My husband is a major pacifist. He is soft-spoken and has a difficult time being critical of anyone or anything, even in a constructive way. He never pushes for what he really wants and always goes along with everyone else. He has a problem never saying no. So obviously, while mine was scary-accurate, my husband’s was scary-inaccurate. Well, we’ve always been opposites, so I guess this is just one more thing…

The book did nail me though, so you know I bought it! It’s now in its forever-home in my office. 😉

-DMW

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