Was I born a Hummingbird – already driven by my curiosity? Maybe. And then, perhaps, my nurturing years honed that aspect of my SELF.
What I do believe is that of the 5 BIG personality trait spectrums Hummingbirds fall under “openness to new experience” rather than those who are dogmatic and closed to new experience (or change). Whereas with the other 4 BIG personality trait spectrums my current observation is that Hummingbirds could be anywhere on them. We could be introvert or extrovert, collaborative or competitive, conscientious or spontaneous, emotionally stable or neurotic.
Openness to new experiences is the defining personality characteristic of a Hummingbird.
So, what might the early life of a Hummingbird resemble? Journey with me to discover how my experience unfolds:
I am born in Kawakawa, New Zealand to parents who had migrated from England 2 years previously and who teach at the local secondary school. It is a small rural town where the railway line goes up the centre of the road. Everywhere we go people know my parents. I am 14 months old and my parents bring home my sister. She spends much of her first months in plaster whilst they sort out her dislocated hips. We move homes to live in the new house my parents build. I am 41 months and my parents bring home my brother. Plans begin for us all to go back to England to ‘visit’ for a year. I have no clear memories of any of this.
My first memories are during that year in England. I am 4.5 years old when we arrive in the middle of winter and I start school in Leeds, the city where my mother grew up. The classroom has a little play house inside. On my first day I am allowed to play in it whilst the other children are doing a lesson. After a while I am bored and look out of the small window at the other children in the classroom. I am unable to open the door from the inside. I spend the time watching the others. I make no noise. At the end of the day when all the children are sitting on the mat in front of her the teacher suddenly asks where I am. Everyone turns to look at me in the little house. I wave.
I am 6.5 years old and we are back in New Zealand, living in Hawke’s Bay. I am starting my 4th school because we have just changed towns to live in a bigger house. My parents are trying to convince the school that I should be placed a year ahead of my ‘age’ year due to the amount of education I’ve already received having started school 8 months earlier than other Kiwi’s when I was in England. The school refuses. The only concession they make is allowing me to source books from the ‘big kids library’. I repeat a year of education and start cruising intellectually.
I am 8 years old and am sitting in the headmaster’s office in tears. I have just been sent to his office for being rude to my teacher. The headmaster says to me ‘if you don’t stop crying you’ll stay here all afternoon’. I instantly stop. My parents are in Wellington and have been for weeks. My father came home from a hockey game feeling unwell. He was rushed to hospital and is now in another city (5 hours away) undergoing open heart surgery. My siblings and I have been farmed out to family and friends for the duration. It turns out my father has a genetic syndrome called ‘Marfan’ that is a connective tissue disorder. As there is a 50:50 chance each time a child is born that they will have inherited the syndrome the three of us are checked out by a cardiologist. We have all lucked into the side with the genetic mutation. We start the roller coaster of constantly learning something new about this genetic syndrome.
I am 10 years old and am flying up from Brownies to Guides. I was a sixer at Brownies. My mother and sister are at the ceremony. I feel so proud. I love Girl Guides because we are always learning something new and do a wide range of activities every time we go. Other interests have included swimming and gymnastics so far. The latter only lasted a few weeks. My non-school days are filled with walking the dog with my siblings (somewhere different every time), playing in our yard, exploring the local region with my family and reading. Lots of reading. I remember one time we were visiting friends for the day who had 2 children our age. My mother hunted me down in the quiet spot I had found to read, removed the book from my hands and turfed me outside with the admonition “go and PLAY”.
I am 14 years old, we moved to Auckland (largest city in NZ) a year ago and it is the end of my first year at secondary school. I am standing on a slope between two blocks of classrooms. It is lunch time. Throughout the year I have painfully learnt that the social strata of the school is built around cliques of similarly minded young people – the rugby heads, the athletes, the goths, the metalers, the geeks etc. I belong to none of these groups. I circulate during breaks speaking with each of my friends who are scattered across a wide range of interests. However, at this moment I am having an epiphany. I have a crush on Matthew who is two years ahead of me and I am incredibly shy about it. I suddenly realise that if I am going to be like by people (aka boys) I need to be outgoing. My world shifts on it’s axle.
I am 16 years old and we are staying the weekend with our cousins. It is Saturday night and I am talking with Nicola who is a year younger than me. She and my sister have spent the evening sharing stories with each other about all the parties and fun they have been enjoying in our separate towns. I have listened. I am outside the high school party scene. I say to Nicola; “there is a part of me that wants to do what you guys do, but mostly I want to be me. And I like different things.” Even in the midst of the angst of being a teenager and the peer pressure to ‘fit in’ I wanted to do my own thing. Fly swiftly from one interest to another.
I am 17 years old and it is the end of the first day of my final year at secondary school. I will be finishing my 7th school this year. I am at the bus stop waiting to go home and am talking effervescently with other students I know from the church youth group I co-lead. My siblings are there too. We are laughing and joking around whilst we wait. I find out 12 years later that this moment was absolutely pivotal to a young woman who was sitting in the bus stop at the end of her very first day at secondary school. She had an epiphany that if she was going to be successful in life she needed to be more like this whirling friendly red-headed dervish that had leapt to life in her space on a day filled with new experiences for her.
I am 18 years old and am taking a gap year between secondary school and University to earn money to pay for my fees. I work as a teller in a bank, specifically choosing a role that I know will have no long term interest for me. It is an introduction to being professional, work bullying, work friendships, building customer relationships and sexual harassment. A third of the way through the year I get glandular fever which wipes me out for 6 weeks. I am burning my candle at both ends and in the middle. Outside of work I am co-leading two youth groups across a wide range of activities. My evenings and weekends are full.
I am 19 years old when I move out of my parent’s place to go to University in Hamilton (a 2 hour drive away). Throughout secondary school I had changed my mind and my courses to fit in with different career options. First I was going to be a teacher. Then an interpreter. Then a travel agent. And finally, having observed a court in session I decided to be a lawyer. I choose Waikato Law School because it is brand new. I am a founding student. The few people I do know on campus are now a year ahead of me at University. I sit quietly outside the building clutching the bright red pre-read material. A woman introduces herself to me. Her name is Beth-Anne, she was born and raised in Panama to parents of English and New Zealand descent. She moved to NZ when she was 15 years old. We are inseparable for 4 years at law school.
I am 22 years old and it is the final year for my bachelor’s degree. I was released the day before following an overnight stay in hospital because my heart had gone out of rhythm. I have worked through the night completing an essay that is due now. The telephone goes. It is my family to tell me that my Father is dying from Marfan’s related complications. My world tilts sideways. I struggle to hold on as my friends rally. Tamie arrives to drive me at speed straight to the hospital. The next year is something of a blur as we all grieve in our own ways. I change churches to receive support from those who know what loss is. My nephew is born. In the darkness he is a blazing ray of light. I continue to work part-time, be involved in a vast array of activities and try to focus on my study. Somehow through the love and support of Beth-Anne and Benesia I complete my Bachelor Degree in Laws.
I have just had my 25th birthday. I am standing in a court room. I am dressed in a black cape with a white wig on my head. I am being sworn in as a Barrister & Solicitor of the High Court of New Zealand. Jono is the solicitor standing as my witness. My mother, sister and nephew are in the public gallery. My nephew gets to hold the gammel. The gaping hole which is where my father should be remains empty. I am living in Auckland with a group of friends in a run down house. I am studying for a Master’s in Social Work. I am working part-time as a waitress. Beth-Anne has moved to Panama. Tamie has moved to Australia. My future opportunities lie brightly before me on the horizon. There is no hiding it now – having gone to 7 schools and 2 universities, lived in 14 homes across 6 urban centres, worked in 7 jobs and pursued multiple interests …
I am an adult, I am a Hummingbird.
And I wonder, are you one too? Let me know in the comments below.