How big is your cube?

Last night, I went to a party hosted by two of my friends. It was wonderful. There was great food, lots of wine, Monopoly, Cards Against Humanity, and some pretty top-notch karaoke (Backstreet Boys, anyone?)

Early on in the evening, my friend Arpan offered to walk a few of us through a personality test / visualization exercise called "The Cube." I love stuff like this. (I'm going to do my best to lay out details, or you can walk through a slightly different version by clicking here). As you walk through the exercise, you could say out loud what you see, write down what you see, or even draw a picture of what you see.

Let's begin:


Close your eyes. Imagine you are in a desert. In the desert, you see a cube. How big is the cube? Is it transparent, or opaque? How is it positioned - resting on one side, on the tip, at an angle, floating?

Go towards the cube. You see then that there is also a ladder. How big is the ladder? Where is it positioned in relation to the cube?

Now imagine you are climbing up the ladder. What happens next?

Next, imagine that you see a horse coming across the desert towards you. What does the horse look like? How big is it?

The horse stops a short distance away from you. What is it doing now?

You start to move towards the horse. How does it react?

You get up to the horse. What happens next?

Open your eyes.


If you played along, you're probably wondering what it all means. And it was really interesting listening to my friends' responses, which in many ways were so different from my own. So let's dive in to the interpretation bit:

1) The cube represents your ego.
- So this was especially interesting because everyone else in the room described the cube as much bigger than them (one friend even said it was "as big as the Pyramids"), whereas mine was much smaller than I am: about the size of a Rubik's cube. So if you have a big cube, you're probably a confident person; if it's small, you're likely modest.
- Similarly, if it's transparent, you perceive yourself as easy to read and honest; if it's opaque, you see yourself as harder to read. (Mine was made of glass.)
- The cube's positioning represents how secure you are with yourself: if it's sitting on one side, like mine was, you're comfortable with who you are; if it's perched on an edge or tip, you're less secure.

2) The ladder represents your career.
- Mine was - similar to my cube - super-tiny, and exactly the same size as one of the sides of the cube, leaning right up against it, suggesting my career is very tied to my ego/who I am. One of my other friends, for instance, described the ladder stretching far above his cube, suggesting it's bigger than who he sees himself as.
- Once you start climbing the ladder, that represents how you approach your career. Do you keep climbing up and up? Do you stop at a certain point? One friend described using it to climb onto the top of her cube, and then somehow ending up inside the cube (so, she was inside her own ego, which is getting too deep for me). Personally (after I imagined myself shrinking down to the size of my mini-cube), I climbed up onto my cube, and then turned in a circle on myself, looking out at my surroundings. I think this actually represents quite well the point that I'm at currently: feeling like I've gone as far as I can go on this current type of career, and scanning the horizon to see what's next.

3) The horse represents your ideal partner.
- If it's a big, strong horse, your ideal partner is someone who works hard and takes matters into his/her own hands. If it's smaller or more delicate, your ideal partner is more on the sensitive side. Mine was a sleek palomino stallion that galloped straight towards me across the desert, in what I perceived to be a coming-to-save-me manner, though saving me from what, I'm not sure exactly.
- The interaction with your horse is also important. Mine stopped in place, but restlessly so, tossing his mane and stamping its hooves. As I got closer to it, it eyed me somewhat warily and waited for me to make the next move. Then it cautiously extended its nose, and I pressed my hand to it. Then finally, I moved in close, put my arms around it, and hugged it. And it hugged me back, circling my body with its neck and laying its head on my back. This actually resonates with me because I've always imagined my ideal partner as someone who would in some way send me the message that "everything is ok," and a profound hug seems like the perfect way to convey that. It reminds me of a quote I love: "One day, someone is going to hug you so tight, that all of your broken pieces fit back together."


Whether you believe in this type of exercise or not, take any value away from it or not, I do think it's always good to challenge ourselves in new ways and to at least try, in the spirit of trying to know ourselves better. We'll never have a relationship with anyone more important than the one we'll have with ourselves, and if improving that means I need to climb a few glass cubes in the desert and hug a few horses, then I am all for it.

And ultimately - while this isn't officially part of the exercise, I think it can also come down to how we feel. When I was standing on my cube, when I was looking around that desert, when I felt the weight of the horse's head on my back as it held me - that all felt real, and strong, and good. More of that, please.