Do we define ourselves by our limitations?

We’re all different. Each one of us has things we do well and things we don’t. That’s what makes us unique. But do we sometimes hide behind what we see as our limitations?

When I work on characters for a science fiction or fantasy story, I sometimes start out by listing their attributes. I start with things like their height and physical description then move on to other characteristics. I think about the strengths that character has, along with some weaknesses. A well-rounded character will have both strengths and weaknesses. Sometimes, their weaknesses are actual limitations they must work around. The character’s struggle against them, can make the story better. Many times, the story can be more interesting as they find ways to work around those weaknesses.

We read stories to be drawn into situations where characters struggle. They must work to overcome challenges. Those challenges are sometimes related to the limitations the characters face. If the characters never fought against, or worked around, their limitations, would those stories be the same?

In the same way a character’s struggle to overcome their weaknesses and limitations can make a good story, our own work to overcome our weaknesses can make us better. Many times, we define ourselves by what we can’t do. But wouldn’t it be better to define ourselves by what we can do and find ways to work around our weaknesses?

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