My family has been taking a lot of personality tests lately. Guided by the kids and some silly online quizzes, I now know which Simpsons, Big Bang Theory, Downton Abbey, and Hunger Games character I am. I also know which Disney Princess I most emulate. My daughter, who is…headstrong…keeps trying to retake the quizzes and manipulate them to get the results she wants. But the facts don’t lie, and she’s always rerouted to her true persona.
The truth is, most people have a personality type that they gravitate to. This idea is the basis for Veronica Roth’s exciting dystopian YA novel, DIVERGENT (Katherine Tegen Books, May 2011).
From Veronica Roth’s website:
“In Beatrice Prior’s dystopian Chicago, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue—Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is—she can’t have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself. During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles to determine who her friends really are. But Tris also has a secret, one she’s kept hidden from everyone because she’s been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers a growing conflict that threatens to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves… or it might destroy her.”
Yes, there’s a quiz for that. I took it, and found out that in Roth’s future world, I would be in Abnegation. No surprise. My family also fell along their party lines. (Pretty glad we don’t live in that society, as factions don’t mix, and I’d miss them!).
I’m fairly sure if we were all sorted today, Abnegation would be full of a lot of mothers. For most moms, giving selflessly feels natural, and right. It’s just what we moms do. But as the book points out, it can be dangerous to be only one thing, and to have only one way of living. If we are truly selfless all of the time, we’re going to end up in a big pile of dusty cranky resentment.
This year I’ve challenged myself to expand my giving, but just as importantly, to be more giving to myself. The three categories I’m working on are:
Big Ways to Give
This one includes things like monetary gifts, reaching beyond our country’s borders, and giving my time more freely.
Little Ways to Give
This is the one that’s easiest and I’m having the most fun with. This category is includes anything free, like smiling at a scowling person, or watering the plants in a household overrun by twin one-year-olds.
Giving to self
Okay, maybe this one is the most fun. You just have to get over that initial twinge of guilt. With practice, I am finding out that focusing on this category makes me much more likely to be able to participate in the Big and Little gives. (I know, duh.)
DIVERGENT is a great reminder that it’s dangerous to be just one thing. We all have the capacity to be intelligent, selfless, peaceful, brave, and honest. But if we’re always giving to others, it will be very hard to find that balance. So, for anyone waiting for a sign from the universe to take that class, that weekend away, that evening for yourself…this is it! Go for it! The people you care for will be better for it, and so will you.