Nature vs. nurture. That is always the dilemma, right? Were you predisposed to be the way you are, or did your conditions shape into what makes you, you? Whether creativity can be learned, or it is something your born with, it is so much more than a singular talent or “gift”. It is so deep inside of everything that you are, that it changes how you see the world, and live your life.
You have probably read the books, seen the movies, or at least heard of the popular Divergent series, by Veronica Roth. The series is centered around the concept that everyone fits into a certain category, which they call factions. Each faction is characterized by a way of thinking and personality, and every citizen is tested to evaluate which faction they belong in by how they respond to stimuli. Do they outsmart the attacking dog, fight it, try to make peace with it? You are either daring and courageous, or smart and cold. And so forth, and so on. The “divergent” aspect comes in when the heroine (Tris) is tested, and she doesn’t just fit into one of these factions, but all of them. While this book is classified as YA Fiction, there is more truth behind this than you think.
Did you know that being divergent is a real thing? The theory of Divergent and Convergent Thinking centers around how the brain reacts to an obstacle or problem. Divergent thinking explores almost all the possible solutions to a problem to generate creative ideas. Convergent thinking is much more direct, and focuses strictly on the “correct” answer. It’s easy to see where Veronica Roth got her title. Tris obviously uses divergent thinking when faced with a problem. Instead of just using one method of problem solving, she often uses a combination of techniques, to create her own solutions.
My life isn’t quite as riveting as the plight of Beatrice Prior, in the Divergent series, but I can definitely relate to her. I can’t remember ever thinking in a straight forward manner about anything, it’s always “what could I make with this, or turn this into” or “what are the different ways I could solve this problem?”. On the other end of the spectrum, my husband is definitely a convergent thinker, and goes for the most direct, and “correct” solution, while I think around the problem. We make a great team, to be honest. And while I enjoy the dream sequence that is my thought process, it does come with certain challenges. If you relate more to the divergent side of thinking, here are some things you might find challenging as well:
Numbers don’t give way to much interpretation. The answer is either right or it is wrong. Give me a Dickens’ book and I can show you every literary device, and plot point, but stick me in PreCal, and I will break out in a sweat. Growing up, math was always the most difficult subject for me. I did fairly well in school with it through the years, but I had to work a lot harder than I did at everything else.
2. Being confined to a particular place for long periods of time
It’s not that I don’t have a decent attention span, because I do, but if I am confined to a singular place for long periods of time, I begin to feel trapped. Whether it’s because I am not free to create, or simply because I have wanderlust, I’m not exactly sure. All I know is that I have never been truly happy when I am tethered to a space with no project to keep me innovating.
3. Following very technical instructions
You don’t want to eat my cupcakes, cakes, pies, or cookies. Baking is a very exact science, and recipes are there for a reason. But some way or another, my divergent mind always thinks that I can come up with a different, and new recipe. That’s how you end up with cupcake goo. Baking is just a small example, but I have struggled with sticking to super technical instructions on a number of occasions. My mind just begins to wonder how I could create a new solution to whatever I am doing. Sometimes, this way of problem solving yields great results, and others, well… that’s where the cupcake goo comes in.
How do you process the world around you? Is a flower a flower, or is it a stage for the brand new production of “Bees! Live!”? Is problem solving linear, or more like a spider web jutting out in a thousand different directions? I would love to hear how your mind works, and your thoughts!
If you would like to research divergent, and convergent thinking more, there are many awesome articles on this subject! I will post a few links, below!