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!
7 thoughts on “Did You Know You Might Really Be Divergent?”
What interesting points! In the attempt to think critically about the questions you pose, I can only guess that I possess a little of both sides. There are times for technical derring-do, but I also tinker with baking recipes to often (but not always) disastrous results.
I’d like to tout the brilliance of balance and that creativity can be learned, but I think there are limits, too. You have to have a certain “capacity” for these things and that’s probably genes, or at least something that’s developed early, early in life and never again if missed. Or maybe not! People are surprising, so much more so in the individual sense than when they are grouped together.
I don’t know whether it’s surprising or not that you and your husband are opposites. Perhaps that’s why you make such a great team. In times of great difficulty, your creative ideas offer some foundation for his logical path(s). Why, I bet the same is true for successful, professional groups. (But I don’t know anything about that stuff.)
I struggle with math, but I’d like to think that the people who don’t are rare. At one point in my life, I got mad about being …ignorant? about math in general and that emotional turn made it a little easier to focus on it. Or, I guess, at last, the desire was there to sit and pay attention. While math may be linear, the stuff that it talks about doesn’t have to be. …But that’s an allusion to more complicated fields of the stuff, but, if it helps, math is like the imagination of the physical world. There’s a little bit of it in everything and whether you understand it or love it or neither, you use it, even if you don’t know that you’re using it. (You don’t have to love it, kids, but don’t be afraid of it!)
As for confinement, haha! I thought I was the only one! I call it “Caged Animal Syndrome” because I just pace and pace and pace. For some reason though, it’s only a problem when I know that I cannot leave, since it’s class, church, etc. When I’m writing in the morning or passing out in front of the TV at night, it doesn’t bother me at all.
And while I will agree that some technical instructions are technical for a reason, that doesn’t mean they’re set in stone. It’s still guidelines. If you’re smart or creative enough, or both as things grow in complexity, then a super-technical set of instructions is more for learning the basics and expansion from there is up to you! In the baking example, I struggle with making cinnamon rolls, the world’s most beloved (or mine, at least) baked good. I can make cinnamon rolls the same as everyone else by following the recipe, but I like a dough to age and develop flavor, or turn “sour.” This changes the recipe (and the consistency), so instructions are useless, I had to learn how to handle yeast, storage, compensations, etc. …Aheh, and it’s still a process, they aren’t perfect, but they aren’t the same as everyone else’s.
I’ve never tried “Bees! Live!” that’s the best thing I’ve ever heard! =) I had “Raccoon Theatre” for a while, but sadly, that pack moved on. They sure were characters! As for problem solving, that depends on the nature of the problem. If it’s one that I have to solve mentally, it might never get done for all the possibilities (or fear). But if it’s a physical problem, or something I have to tackle with my hands, well, I guess the problem ends when one of my solutions work. But that usually prompts more thinking, so maybe that’s the cycle…
I don’t know! What a great way to start the day, though! Thanks for your points and questions, forgive me for rambling, but what fun!
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I loved your comment! It’s definitely amazing to study the inner workings of the human mind! I believe that understanding ourselves, and why we do what we do, is key to unlocking new potential. From the comment above, I can definitely tell that you have a great balance of creative and analytical thinking in your life! Thanks for reading, and sharing your thoughts! I look forward to checking out your blog, as well!
Peace, love, & literature,
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Haha, it’s a disaster! Run! =) I think, more importantly, it was nice to see someone else thinking about these things, too.
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I’m curious, Michelle… You allude to feeling trapped when tethered to one place. Does this include other situations for you, too? I know it’s a bit of a personal question, but I’m just wondering whether you had the same feelings when going for a job or considering marriage…? Or do you experience these differently?
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I absolutely feel trapped when it comes to my day job. I think that stems back to it’s not what I really love to do- writing, so I feel rather boxed in as I am not really free to be creative at all from 8:30-5:30 M-F. As far as my marriage goes, I have never felt more free. It all has to do with my husband, though. When I was dating early in college, the thought of even being in a relationship with one of those guys made me feel like I was suffocating. But with my husband, it’s like I am completely free to be exactly who I am, and I know that I have someone who accepts me for me and loves my oddities. He is incredibly supportive of every dream that I have, and encourages me not to limit myself. The concept of marriage never felt confining when it involved being married to him. I hope that answers your question, and helps you in your journey!
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Yeah, thanks for your thoughts, Michelle! Sounds like you’re really enjoying your journey and hope you get to spend more time writing.
Not sure if it’s helpful, but we downsized some years ago, so now we need to work less. I have been working on my writing projects from home for the past year now so count myself as very lucky. However, if we were still in our old life, we’d still be paying a mortgage on a home with more rooms than we needed.
The thought of being stuck in a full-time job I hate isn’t something I relish, so if I need to earn more money, I’ll most likely go back to ‘temping’ again.
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