What’s your unfair advantage? (and how I read so much)

What’s your unfair advantage? (and how I read so much)

I’ve started combing through the survey responses (it’s still open, you can take it here), and was struck by one question that kept coming up over and over again: how do you read so much?

I’ve talked about this a little before: these are my best tips for making time to read in the midst of a busy life. While these tips—seize the moment, find a rhythm, always keep plenty of good books on hand—can help most people read more, they don’t truly explain how I manage to read so many books.

That’s because when it comes to reading, I have an unfair advantage.

I first heard the phrase “unfair advantage” in an early episode of the StartUp podcast, when a venture capitalist asked entrepreneur Alex Blumberg what it was that set him apart from his competition. Blumberg’s advantage—that he had 15 years’ experience working on Planet Money and This American Life, that he was a trusted, well-connected source—was unfair only in the sense that not everyone could have it.

An unfair advantage can’t be bought; it can’t be easily copied. It’s uniquely yours.

Back to reading. I’m a naturally fast reader; I always have been. I love story. I enjoy reading—it’s something that (usually) revives and refreshes me.

I live very close (and right next door for 15 years!) to an excellent library system.

I’ve been reading a hundred books a year for a very long time, which means that I’ve read a whole lot of books by now—many more than most people.

When I explain it like that, my advantage seems obvious. But I didn’t see it for a long time: it’s difficult to spot your own unfair advantage, because it’s so much a part of you. It’s not something that stands out—to you.

The only reason I spotted my own unfair advantage was the timing. I was recently helping a friend think through some big-picture issues with his business, and pointed out his unfair advantage. He couldn’t see it—he was too close to his work to realize how unique his advantage was—but it was crystal clear to me.

Pointing out his unfair advantage primed me to realize my own, as soon as I read those survey questions about reading.

Your unfair advantage can take limitless forms, and can be put to work in any way imaginable. (While this phrase is most often tossed around in career discussions, that’s just the beginning.)

It’s hard to spot your unfair advantage, because it’s such a part of who you are. To help you spot your own, here are some examples of what others’ unfair advantages look like: 

We’re remodeling our kitchen right now; our contractors gutted it while we were at the beach. Yesterday I met the son of the father-and-son operation for the first time: we chatted about remodeling, and how construction had always come easily to him. He credited his father for his good eye, strong skills, and broad experience—because he’d been helping him in one way or another since he was in grade school. Unfair advantage.

My mom knows every contractor in the city (or at least it feels that way), treats them well, and pays them promptly. Whenever I need a toilet fixed, a sink repaired, a tree limbed up, she tells me who to call. I get amazing service because they love my mom. Unfair advantage.

When a friend started a style blog and it took off immediately, she joked about how she was such a cliché—a style blogger married to a pro photographer. But there’s a reason so many successful style bloggers have boyfriends or besties that are photographers. Unfair advantage.

In a book I just finished, a character landed a job because of his obscure knowledge of 20th century literature, plus his punctual habits. Unfair advantage.

My friend makes amazing family scrapbooks. Her sister’s job is creating layouts for a scrapbooking company. Unfair advantage.

A fabulous interior designer planned out my living room—using cheap stuff from IKEA and a few investment pieces—for free. Because she’s my sister-in-law. Unfair advantage.

Your unfair advantage could be anything that sets you apart: a great sense of smell, an eye for detail, a brother who’s handy with tools. It could be your experience in the family business, your engineering degree, ability to thrive on only 6 hours of sleep each night. It could be your personality, your height, or your crazy family history.

If you’re like most people, you don’t have one unfair advantage—you have many. To put it to work for you, the first step is to spot it.

Do you know your unfair advantage? Tell us about it in comments.

Have you ever considered what your unfair advantage might be? Identify your unfair advantage and make the most of it.

96 comments | Comment

96 comments

  1. Ginger says:

    Love this! So true. We all have many, and it’s a great thing to remember to celebrate.

    A great many of we readers here have an automatic unfair advantage that we were born into a first-world country. That means that we’ll probably never worry about eating and shelter too much. It sounds trite, but it’s something a great many throughout the world and throughout history, haven’t had the luxury of being an automatic.

    It frees up our mind-space to think creatively, to enjoy family and happiness, to select which job we’d enjoy and be good at.

    What a fabulous exercise, not only in practicality, but in gratitude!

  2. Guest says:

    My brain processes all the time (which sometimes feels like a curse to be honest) and it processes very quickly. I read Emily Freeman’s post yesterday about slow processing and it reminded me that part of why I have experienced a lot of success in work and community is that fast processing. Right or wrong, the ability to quickly formulate and articulate ideas and thoughts is highly valued in business for sure and probably more broadly, society. Unfair advantage. I didn’t ask to be born with those abilities and I’ve never really done anything to hone them. They’ve just been there.

    Another that I would be remiss if I didn’t point out is growing up in a loving, safe, secure family that provided me with the foundation to question, to be confident enough to take risks, to know someone had (has!) my back as I went off into the world…gracious but that seems like the greatest of unfair (unearned) advantages as I get older and see how many people do not and did not have it. And always being surrounded by books and music and art to boot – I’m blessed indeed!

        • Anna says:

          Thanks for sharing the link. I had not read that article yet, but I am definitely a slow processor. For example, I read this post previously, but needed some time to think about what my advantage might be. I wouldn’t consider slow processing to be a disadvantage, though. I think it just depends on the situation.

      • Guest says:

        Michelle did below! It’s a great article. I have many friends and family members who are slow processors and add wonderful insight and wisdom to my life. I have seen, though, that slow processing isn’t something that is valued and is frankly, often seen as a detriment. But it can be their own unfair advantage in other situations! 🙂

        • Wendy says:

          Interesting! I work with two “fast processors” and I always feel dumb around them. I’m not, actually, but they can take in the information, process it, and make a decision before I have a chance to mull it over and weigh in, so I feel like I’m always following instead of getting a chance to make decisions and lead.

  3. Polly says:

    Yep, I feel that way about reading as well. I read fast, and I read a lot and they seem to go hand in hand. I also would rather read than most other hobbies, which I guess is an unfair advantage in that I’m not tempted to do other things instead (most of the time.) I was totally that kid who took her book outside to read under a tree during recess. And, yes, I’m grateful that I had a family and teachers that valued education and books. It’s so important to support programs for kids who don’t have those advantages.

    • I’m with you! I read fast and I’m not tempted by TV or knitting or other hobbies my friends use their free time for. I think it also helps that I function well with only 7 hours of sleep compared to my husband who needs eight and my best friend who needs 9. I read 3-4 books in a good week, fiction and nonfiction and I feel a little brain dead when I am out of a book to read!

  4. Ginger says:

    Still ruminating on this and it made me think of the fable Animal School by George Reavis.

    Of course, I’m thankful for a broad education that exposed me to a bit of everything, but sometimes we’re tempted to make kids specialize in things that don’t come naturally to them because of personality or experiences.

    Maybe some kids aren’t great readers but they can program a computer in lightening speed or whip up the most delicious omelet you’ve ever tasted.

    Here’s a link in case some haven’t read it, but I’m sure most of you will recognize the reminder that we don’t want a school of average ducks!

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/georgebradt/2011/12/07/lessons-from-the-animal-school-fable-in-leveraging-strengths/

  5. Hannah says:

    I have an “ear” for poetry, for all kinds of words, both in English and in other languages, because I am a classically trained cellist. I have been drowning in music, splashing around in it, since I was three. I can’t *not* hear things. This gives me an unfair advantage in my writing.

  6. sb says:

    This is so true! My unfair advantage is that I love to read and I really, truly love the quiet. So many of my friends struggle to “make time for stillness” and seem to think, somehow, that they are at a disadvantage because they never get to read or “rest”. Of course, the reality is that they love the activity – they thrive on energetic kids and cleaning projects and their “rest” simply looks different. I love the idea of learning to embrace your unfair advantage and rejoice in that of others. Thanks for this!

  7. Anung V says:

    I read really fast too. My husband has no idea how I can read 3-4 books a week and be able to discuss all in-depth, while he barely gets one in a week. But I had to work hard for it. Up until 7th grade I was several years behind in my reading level. But it took one book (and allowing me to choose what I read) that clicked it for me.

    One advantage I have is that I know when most sales will go on for any retailer in the Twin Cities. That goes for clothes, furniture, and groceries. But this is a combination of years in retail for me and several friends. I haven’t bought anything full price in years.

    Also, being half Asian, I know almost every (southeast) Asian in the area. I’m either related to them, they are friends with one family member, or are connected through the Buddhist Temple my parents help to run. Need your car fix? I know someone. Insurance? Movers? Cop? Land to go hunting on? I can find someone.

  8. Shelley says:

    Funny you should mention this because I was actually wondering how many books you do read in a year or month. It’s just fun to know & I can’t quite tell from your Goodreads account. I read just over a hundred a year also. I think, like you said, you sort of get into a rhythm with reading. A book, or my kindle, is what I naturally reach for when I have a few extra minutes. I don’t watch a lot of TV, so most evenings I read. When I’m waiting on kids, I read. If I have extra time on a weekend morning, I read. It’s sort of programmed into me. It’s my rhythm. It’s my coping method. It recharges me. It’s my go-to. I’ve always been this way, so I guess it’s my unfair advantage.

    • Alicia says:

      I’ve recently realized that reading is my coping mechanism, too. I’m up to about 55 books read this year so far. I’ve worried that it was unhealthy, to spend so much time in my own world in a book, but it truly does help bring me back to life. As long as I’m not running away from anything, it’s one of the best coping mechanisms around! And I have this blog to thank for bringing me back to joy-filled reading. Thanks, Anne, and fellow readers!

  9. Joy says:

    An interesting concept. I will have to think about it for a bit, although my ability to read quickly and have several books going at once without being confused is definitely one of my unfair advantages. I just seem to be made that way and it is handy as an educator and librarian.

    I plan on spending some time thinking about what some of my other unfair advantages are. Thanks for the idea.

  10. Allison says:

    This is a fabulous post and something I need to think about more. However, off the top of my head, I know some of my unfair advantages are: I love being alone, so journaling/reading/self-examination/prayer/Scripture reading all are deep loves of mine; I didn’t know this for a long time, but family trials and suffering have given me insight I never would have had otherwise; I am a quick thinker.

    All of these are “unfair advantages” only if I use these to make not only myself better, but the lives of those around me better too.

    I’m eager to see what others have to say on this topic!

  11. Karlyne says:

    Some friends and I were sitting around one afternoon discussing what our talents were, the one thing we were good at with little effort, and what immediately popped into my head was “reading fast”. The funniest answer, by the way, was “yelling at my kids”…

  12. Melissa says:

    I loved this post, but I am really struggling with my unfair advantage. I am going to have to think on that! It is so easy for me to see those things in other people, but I often struggle to notice those things in myself.

  13. Deborah says:

    An unfair advantage that immediately comes to mind is early exposure to a second language. I know some folks who speak three or four languages because of early, prolonged exposure. It would be extremely difficult for a monolingual adult to achieve the same feat.

  14. J says:

    My children and I are able to go to many museums, plays and events for free in Chicago. My unfair advantage is that my husband works in sales downtown and has TONS of connections. This benefit definitely makes up for his not for profit salary!

  15. Guest says:

    A list of unfair advantages is really a list of blessings. You can divide up all of your “unfair advantages” into many different categories (job, family, upbringing, spirituality, physical traits, possessions, education level, etc..) Thanks for this wake up call to how truly blessed I am!

  16. This is a lot to think about. In a good way. 😉 The first unfair advantage that I can think of is having my husband/best friend work from home with flexible hours. While I try not to take too much advantage of his flexibility, it is so nice not to have to rush our mornings and I can usually count on some help with the kids while I make dinner because when he gets off at 5 or 5:30, he just has to walk in from his office in the woods. Unfair advantage for moms wrangling kids during the witching hour.

  17. I love this concept, too! I have the unfair advantage of living near a college with amazing scholarships and low tuition. It’s just a 45 minute drive, and it works great for me. I also have the unfair advantage of a pretty good short-term memory. So cramming for tests is a somewhat viable option . . .

  18. Nancy says:

    I have many unfair advantages. I am an excellent reader who reads between the lines and into the levels. I love English writers for learning new words. These advantages are mine because I read two daily newspapers as a child. Still read our local paper and the Sunday NY Times. I was always in the library since first grade. I thank all my teachers and professors.
    I am very organized, oldest girl in a large family.
    I have lived in many states. I went to Europe four times. I love the BBC.
    I went to college when I was forty. What a blast.

  19. Traci says:

    This is a great post, and I can’t wait to talk about it over dinner with my husband this evening. I’ll spend the afternoon trying to peg his unfair advantages and get his insight on mine.

    Off the top of my head, the one I can think of is a rather unfair unfair advantage: I’m able to hear what people are trying to say, their intent, quite easily. My now-estranged father spent my childhood yelling at me and/or lecturing me for hours, all using terrible words & abusive language. Unfair to be certain, but through that, I developed the ability to “get” someone’s point whether they’re being kind or rude or quiet or loud; it doesn’t seem to matter to my brain. I’m thankful for that ability but would’ve preferred another route to get to it! 🙂

    • Guest says:

      Your positivity about a really awful situation is inspiring. I would say that is a gift but I won’t say it’s an unfair advantage because you EARNED it through those years. Good on you for becoming better and not bitter from your childhood!

  20. Rachel says:

    Ooh, this is interesting to think about. I often get compliments on my home decor–my mom is an interior designer so she helps me out a ton, plus I get her furniture/decor hand-me-downs when she switches things up. Huge unfair advantage. We’re switching locations for my husband’s business and have gotten questions from friends in the profession about how we are able to do it so inexpensively–between my mom doing the design work, my accountant dad helping with numbers, a contractor brother helping with remodeling, and a graphic designer sister helping with signage . . . we’ve had many unfair advantages helping out.

  21. jen says:

    This is something I’ve never thought about before and I’m having trouble figuring out my own. One I can see is that I have a very good eye for color. This has never come into play in any jobs I’ve had, but it is an advantage with my art/craft hobbies.
    It also makes me think about what kind of unfair advantages my kids might have. Not that we can necessarily manufacture these for our kids, but I think that by homeschooling I’m giving my kids the ability to spend tons of time on their passions.

  22. Alexis says:

    I never had one advantage in my entire life.,I think people that do are over indulged and privaliged.,how easy life must be !!!! The rest of us have great difficulties with everything in life, we have to fight for every scrap and never receive help from anyone.

    • Shelley says:

      Hmm…I think you might need to broaden your term of advantage and your understanding of others because EVERYONE has difficulties in life, they just aren’t always apparent to others. And perhaps think through little bits of gratitude that you might have received along the way and are now overlooking.

      • Karlyne says:

        I’m so sorry that you’ve gone through so much that is terrible, and I’m sorry that you think you’ve been misunderstood. But mostly I’m sorry that you feel that the world is a horrible place without one redeeming feature, that you feel no one ever helped you or wanted you. Only you can know for sure that this is the truth. Only you can know what to do about it. Again, I’m sorry that you feel so hated.

      • Jennifer says:

        I’m sorry for what hardships you may have endured but, by your previous post, you are judging people you don’t even know just because they can find some good in their life, they see as an advantage. Just because someone has felt some sort of small advantage in their life by no means makes them overindulged or privileged as you put it. Perhaps you misunderstand when someone says advantage, they aren’t talking about having tons of money, perfect family or friends, it’s just about finding something about yourself that you think has made you a better person. My life is by no means easy, I have a debilitating disease, since birth, that will one day be terminal, re-occuring cancer and other related illnesses, but I can still see the advantages in my life. A supportive family that has helped me through my illnesses, are why I am still living. That’s just one advantage I can take from my difficult life. I’m sorry you are struggling now, and must be in the depths of your heartache, but please try to remember that everyone has difficulties, and the biggest advantage I take away from my struggles is having compassion for anyone, despite what someone is going through, I hope they will some day be able to move through their struggles and come out stronger on the other side. As I hope you can. Keep your heart open, someone will be there to lend a hand if you let them see you.

    • Karlyne says:

      Life is often hard, but when you say that you never received any help at all, you’re forgetting things. Someone fed you as a child, or you wouldn’t be here now, for instance. Maybe the food wasn’t very good, but it was enough to keep you alive, right? You could have been thrown into a dumpster or left in a closet until you died of hunger and thirst. I know, these seem drastic, but they’re truthful situations for some people, children who didn’t get to grow up. So you do have some advantages; you just have to think of them!

    • ann says:

      I bet you have a strong sense of compassion and empathy for someone who is going through hard times, maybe when others aren’t even aware of that person’s suffering. I bet you earned that ability through your own suffering. My unfair advantage is being able to see good in people. I think I gained it through having to work hard to get others to see good in me.

  23. Michelle Owings-Christian says:

    I believe my unfair advantages are two-fold. First — I never had a moment when I doubted the fact that my parents loved me totally, completely, unconditionally, no matter what. That didn’t mean they didn’t get angry when I did something stupid. That didn’t mean they always agreed with how I chose to live my life. In spite of differences, they loved me, and I knew it. (They have passed — and they still love me, and care for me — just in different ways now.)

    Second — I love language. I think words have such power, and it is worth the time to find the word that fits perfectly in any situation. I can write and make people understand my emotions, my thoughts, my dreams.

  24. KR says:

    I am sometimes thought of as too direct, but professionally this tends to show up as someone who articulates ideas very clearly and crisply, which has always been an advantage for me. Maybe this unfair advantage comes from natural language skills, but I think it was honed on my brother, who has Aspergers. Those who know Aspies know how literal you must sometimes be when communicating with them. I was the kid sister who tried to pave a smoother way for him in social situations outside the home.

  25. Bev says:

    My best “unfair advantage” was when I applied for an ESL job after I remarried and moved to a new town. I have taught in the NWT in a native community. The new town was near a reserve. I got the job – over many more. Thankfully.

  26. Heather says:

    Thanks for this thought provoking and positive post! Makes me feel like I have some super powers. I take those advantages for granted instead of maximizing them! Thank you!

  27. I think it’s interesting to ponder what is an “unfair” advantage and what comes from doing a lot of something (and hence getting better at it). I write incredibly fast, but I think that comes from writing a lot over the years. I read fast too, but I read a lot, and hence it gets easier to read fast. An advantage may be a slight inclination honed through a lot of time and effort.

  28. Jennifer says:

    I am a good test taker. I don’t have a lot of test anxiety either. I was able to attend a first rate college even though I didn’t always work as hard as I could have and while I majored in something I love (art), I have been able to use that degree and the name recognition of the school to open doors in a career very far from my major. I love this post. I have always been taught that with privilege comes responsibility. I want my children to know that too. We will talk about this at dinner tonight for sure!

  29. MK says:

    I did storytelling in speech in high school; I placed first or near it in most of my meets and was often told that I had “such gentle voices” for my characters. It definitely comes in handy in reading aloud and keeping my brood engaged in the story 😉 We’re just dipping our toes into homeschooling kindergarten this year, but I can tell that there is a love of story in this house that will make my job quite a bit easier than it might have been otherwise.

  30. Dana says:

    My unfair advantage is similar to yours, Anne. I was blessed to be born into a family of teachers, professors, readers and writers., so my affinity for reading and language is from my gene pool. It also helped that my mom rewarded us with books rather than treats, took us to the library every week and established a reading hour for us each afternoon. I , too, am a fast reader. I also have a love and knack for language, rhyme, alliteration, metaphor and word play which I think comes from all of the reading. I can create short poems, songs and word plays off the top of my head. This was an advantage when I was a teacher. It is a great help now that I am a writer. I can “hear” when something sounds right… or not.

    I also have a keen eye for color, line, symmetry and so on which comes from my dad who was an artist. He taught me to really look at things and notice subtleties that others miss. Being visually attentive has helped me in many areas, including social situations.

  31. Katherine says:

    I love being at home and puttering around my house. Huge advantage during this stage of life, as a mostly-SAHM with two napping kids. We are homebound a lot!

  32. Alyssa says:

    It took me a long time to figure out that a lot of the bloggers with the ridiculously amazing photos and designs and social media savvy are either photographers or designers or social media experts (or are married to one), or have some other sort of blogging-friendly background or expertise. It doesn’t necessarily help me to know this, but it does makes me feel like less of a loser to know they have an advantage of sorts and aren’t just starting from zero like me. 🙂

    As for my unfair advantage, well, it’s sort of a disadvantage. I’ve always been very “well-rounded.” I’m pretty good at a lot of things and have a zillion interests, and while that sounds great on paper (and was helpful during the college application process), it’s kind of frustrating in reality. Everything I read is all about finding a niche and specializing and being great at one thing instead of good at a lot of things, but I just…can’t. I’m hoping my well-roundedness will serve me well at some point and turn into an actual advantage, but for now it’s hard to see.

    • Andi says:

      Alyssa,

      Oh, I have this same “unfair advantage” (are you by any chance an ENFP??). It is an annoying advantage. The good thing is that I’ve been able to try and quickly excel at many things. I’ve managed to succeed in two separate careers that are notoriously difficult to break into and and then succeed. However, as I enter my 40’s, I see that I’ve tried so many things, but I’m not focused at all. I sort of kick myself for not sticking with a few things. Perhaps our ability to know ourself, is our “Unfair Advantage”?
      I recently listened to a portion of Shonda Rhimes’s book “Year of Yes”. She has a whole section about being a doer. Don’t be a dreamer, be a doer. I used to be a huge doer, and now I’ve turned into a dreamer. I’m working on getting my doer eyes back. Even if I don’t focus on one thing, to simply get back to trying different things.
      But, it’s hard.

  33. Reading is my unfair advantage too. Must be why we get along so well! But I’ll be pondering what other unfair advantages I have. It’s an interesting spin.

  34. Karen says:

    Ok, this may sound a little weird, but my “unfair advantage” is my ability to nap. I’m not kidding! When I’m tired I can take a short nap, and then I feel extremely refreshed. I’m talking about 5 minute naps! These naps are so short that my husband calls them “kitty naps” instead of cat naps.

  35. Courtney P says:

    When it comes to reading, I think I have a few unfair advantages. My very first is being raised in a family of readers. Not just my immediate family either. My extended family loves to read. My grandmother has Sunday dinner every week, going on 35 years now, and it’s like an unofficial book club. My grandmother, aunts, and cousins all constantly swap books and chat about them. Growing up in that environment, you couldn’t help but want to read. I don’t live nearby anymore, but I love that I can still connect with them via a conversation about a book. I treasure all of those dinners as well, for the family time, but also that belonging and connection brought about from reading.

    I’m also currently at an advantage because I’m stuck at home, recovering from a knee operation. It’s temporary, but I’m crossing books off my tbr list like mad! I’m four weeks into my recovery and I’m on book 10.

    Finally, I read fast and would rather read than do much else. My kids are learning to love reading because they see me reading all the time.

  36. Jamie says:

    I, too, was raised to value education and the arts. Encouraged to think through why others act as they do, and supported in every endeavor by my parents. In addition, I have been invested in by so, so many people. In college I was challenged to take community seriously. Things are possible in community that aren’t possible on your own. Also? Things stick in my brain. Not usually practical things, but what I read, what others tell me, sermons or talks I’ve heard. This is good and hard, but can be an unfair advantage in relationships, work, writing, and life.

  37. You bring up a point we talked a lot about in my AmeriCorps training as AmeriCorps really focuses on helping those in need. We talked about how many middle class people have friends and family that could help them in times of need where many of the most poor in this country do not. That alone is one huge unfair advantage.

    I know I have thousands of unfair advantages. Like you, I also read very quickly, and I work two part time jobs and have no children so I have lots of time to devote to reading. This post was a great reminder to look for those unfair advantages and use them wisely.

  38. Kerri says:

    I was thinking about this some more and wondered if the personalities of people’s children are also “unfair advantages.” While there’s a huge nature/nurture debate to avoid, I do see that some of my friends have children who, for example, are naturally inclined to sit quietly and engage in independent activities (like coloring, reading, playing legos, etc.) while others have children who seem incredibly high-needs and are always making mischief of trying to get others to play with them or entertain them. Some of this was visible from infancy so I don’t think it is entirely attributable their parenting styles. It seems easier for some parents to “get stuff done” than others!

  39. Teresa says:

    Something about the term “unfair advantage” makes me a little queasy. In our family, we sometimes point out another person’s “superpower”, which is basically the same thing.

  40. Hannah Beth Reid says:

    My unfair advantage is my parents living near by and very willing to help with my children. Example: when I wanted to help a friend decorate for an event at church, my mother took my three young children to her house for the afternoon, freeing me to do something I love (and don’t get to do much of) and be helpful. This is only a small example of the opportunities I am able to have because I have free, willing and super available help with my children. Unfair advantage, but I appreciate it!

  41. Wendy says:

    I remember the dedication in Graceling saying something along the lines of the author’s parents’ graces being “awesome meatballs” and “finding lost keys, glasses, etc.” It really is fun to think of these things, whether they are our Graces, unfair advantages, or secret superpowers. Reading quickly is definitely my most noted trait. I think my natural optimism is also an advantage. It not only helps me face the world in general, it helps me live with myself when I do badly–“I’ll try again tomorrow and do better!” Being the youngest child in my family also created my ability to accept help. I don’t think I’m selfish or entitled–I don’t expect other people to help me–but if they offer out of true kindness, I am comfortable accepting it.

  42. Stacie says:

    Can the ability to recite lyrics from Disney movies instantaneously be considered an unfair advantage? Just asking 😉

  43. Lisa says:

    I have had numerable tragedies in my life, starting with the death of my father in a train accident when I was 4. My mother’s remarriage, ongoing molestation for years, my mother’s abandonment of me to my abuser. Very Poor, not much to eat. Divorce, remarriage, lost of my step-daughter to cancer, lost of my mother, my step-dad, a “short term addiction”, a Serious heart condition and open heart surgery for my little son, and my own cancer diagnosis last year of which I am recovered. I am also a Critical Care RN and have seen many many tragedies and deaths throughout my career. My unfair advantage? Because of all that I have always known I could not make it on my own and have stayed closed to God FOR SURVIVAL! I am literally a desperate woman. I lean heavy on him and He never fails. As a result. You could light a bomb in my face and i would step around it and continue on with what needs to be done. Not bragging believe me! I would rather brag about any thing else! That is just how it has worked out. Believe me I am not obsessed with death, nor do I want to die. But I look forward to the rest that will be mine in heaven. Kind of deep but You Asked lol !

  44. This is such a great post and blog. I’ll be coming back. 🙂

    I have many “unfair disadvantages” like many of you. I can learn languages really quickly and easily. I am a creative spirit and love to cook, so I don’t follow recipes just go with the flow. And food turns out amazing. People are always asking me for recipes which I can’t write because I cook on a whim. :/ I also read a lot and quickly and read many books at the same time. I am also a fast processor, but have learned to slow down in recent years. I homeschool my kids so I have the unfair disadvantage of being an avid learner.

  45. carey says:

    My unfair advantage is this: I grew up in a family where everyone cooks *something*. Whether fish or game or pasta or a mean salad, everyone in my family knows how to cook because we always have. We have watched our mothers, grandmothers, grandfather, great-grandfathers. We learned cooking lessons early in life. And I can’t prove it, but I think being of French descent helps somehow. So when it comes to cooking, there is nothing that intimidates me. I’m not a professional chef, don’t care to be, but I love to cook and it comes naturally.

  46. Anna says:

    I love to read, too, and am faster than average, but not super fast. I think my unfair advantage is that I am at naturally pretty good at things involved in being a stay-at-home mom, now including homeschooling. What some people see as challenging, I typically enjoy. Another is that I’m good at reading context or non-verbal communication. My husband is better at picking up other languages than me, but there are some conversations where I have a better idea of what is going on, because of the context and non-verbal clues. This can be a disadvantage, as I can be overly sensitive to other people’s feelings and moods, which sometimes stresses me out. I’m mostly getting better about this as I get older.

  47. Shar says:

    I know I am late on this post, very late, but it took me some time to come up with what my unfair advantages are. But with reflection, I realized that I have quite a few. My husband is in the military and has unique medical training that makes him a one man, gun-toting, full staff emergency room. My father in law is a pharmacist. Between the two of them, we are medically covered. My college roommate is an optometrist and we have many other doctors, nurses, and pharmacists in our extended family. My sister does hair, one brother sells cars, another underwrites insurance. People are always looking for a hair dresser, doctor, insurance broker and I never have to. Between my husband and I, we have a ton of hobbies, jacks of all trades, if you will. Sewing, mechanic work, canning, welding, crochet and knitting, guitar, sheet metal fabrication, carving and wood working, knife making, an affinity for cooking, baking, brewing and grilling, and avid DIYers. When you’ve lived all over the US and Europe, you can’t always find what you need, so you make it yourself. This has also brought many unexpected people into our lives, once word of mouth that my husband or myself can help them do something or teach them how.

  48. My unfair advantage is my dad is an airline pilot! My whole family has flown for free my entire life. Now that I’m adult, I can’t fly completely free but I can still fly standby very cheaply. It’s only been since I’ve become an adult that I’ve realized how unusual this is and what a HUGE perk it’s been!

    • Amelia says:

      Me too! It’s a weird experience to always be analyzing the world around you and seeing its problems and knowing you don’t fit quite so neatly in it, but once you realize you’re just a sort of rare type, suddenly you can deal with it. (At least that’s how it was for me. Learning my enneagram type also clarified a lot of things for me.)

  49. Brandyn says:

    This is such an interesting question.
    1) I’m fast reader. I work 50-60 hrs/week and still read 75-100 new books a year. That doesn’t include rereads. I was blessed with parents who both loved to read so I desperately wanted to also.
    2) I can skim data at work, and what I’m looking for seems to jump out at me. I actually think this is a side effect how much I read/speed reading.
    3) My brother was a mover for 5 summers in college so I never have to pay for moving services.
    4) I work in a male dominated field, but since I’m 5’10” I don’t experience as much second guessing and condescension as other women I work with. I think not literally being looked down on reduces being talked down too. Not necessarily a “unfair advantage” though. Sort of a mitigating factor for challenging situations.

Comments are closed.