Your alarm is ringing. The shower is running. Cars are speeding. People are passing. Your coffee is spilling. The meeting is starting. Your boss is waiting. The office is buzzing. Your husband is calling. Doors are slamming. Dinner is cooking. Wine is pouring. Sparks are flying. Seconds are passing. Minutes turn to hours. And hours to days. Days to weeks. Weeks to months. Time is passing. My head is spinning. And the game goes on.
But where were you in all of that? If I had to guess, my bet would be that you were the one spilling the coffee, running late to the office, racing home to cook dinner, drowning your day in wine, and trying to get to bed at a decent hour, all so that you could wake up five hours later to do it all again. Rinse, and repeat. But it doesn’t have to be this way.
Are you a slave to the world?
The majority of people that we encounter on a daily basis have become slaves to the world that society has built for us. Since elementary school, we have been confined by a set of rules that we are told we must follow in order to get ahead. If we don’t listen to the teacher in kindergarten, we don’t get to move on to first grade.
If we don’t follow the rules in first grade, we don’t go on to second. And so on, and so forth. But if we conform to the system and study hard enough, we may end up giving the valedictorian speech at our high school graduation, all while being showered in praise by the teachers, parents, and mentors who have guided us along the way.
The problem with grades is that they don’t follow us all the way through life. While a perfect grade point average in high school or college may make us feel like we are the best of the best, we are going to reach a point in our lives where convergent thinking is no longer rewarded.
After university, the rules that have constrained us for the first twenty-two years of our lives no longer set the framework that dictates who succeeds and who fails. It is at this point in our lives that the game changes. Yet, too many people continue trying to play the same game that they grew up playing, as it is the only game that they know how to play.
When we walk out of the gates on our last day of university, it is no longer convergence, but rather divergence that distinguishes the few from the many. Given that the efficiency of society relies upon conformity, we are often not exposed to the type of divergent thinking that is required to succeed in the later stages of our lives.
If schools were to teach us how to think divergently, we would start asking our teachers ‘why’ – and when brought to scale, this alone holds the potential to uproot the system in its entirety.
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Over time, it becomes second nature for the majority of children and young adults to conform to the rules of the system. They get so caught up in trying to reach the top that they lose the ability to seek out the blank space that exists beyond the world that they know. But for a select few, the idea of conforming eats away at us.
From the time that we are little, curiosity drives our everyday actions as we strive to understand all of the layers of the world that we find ourselves in. This desire to use our minds as a tool for deeper exploration follows us all the way through college — and when we receive our diplomas and are finally set free, we are given the opportunity to play our own game, a game in which divergence is rewarded.
Catalyst of Change
Rather than endorsing the conformity of society, the ability to think divergently gives us the opportunity to be the catalyst of change. We can see the world in a way that many others can’t — seeking out problems and building solutions to things that others did not even find to be problematic in the first place.
We may walk and talk like the convergent thinkers that surround us, but we are constantly challenging the assumptions that build the foundation for the world that we find ourselves in. When set in the right context, the ability to think divergently is the most valuable skill in the world, as it gives us one thing that others don’t have — the ability to implement change.
We are the ones who ensure the growth of the very society that constantly rejected us.
It is never too late to start thinking differently. Every one of us holds the power to use our imaginations as a tool to innovate — not only to change the world around us, but to change our own lives as well.
Just as with learning any new skill, it is going to take time to train your mind and body to use divergence to your advantage. Your imagination is your greatest gift, and once you are able to let your inner curiosity run wild, you will have all of the tools necessary to design the world that used to only exist in your dreams.
Identity Magazine is all about guiding women to discover their powers of Self-Acceptance, Appreciation, and Personal Achievement. We ask that every contributor and expert answer the Identity 5 questions in keeping with our theme. Their answers can be random and in the moment or they can be aligned with the current article they have written. In that way, and as a team, we hope to encourage and motivate each other, thus inspiring you to Get All A’s.
1. What have you accepted within your life, physically and/or mentally? Additionally, what are you still working on accepting? Now, we’re talking about resignation, rather stepping into, embraced, and owned.
I have accepted that I am an outlier. I have come to the realization that I think differently, and I am completely okay with that. In fact, I love it. Some people are simply content being observers to the world around them, while others are intent on changing it. Every day I work towards doing the latter, and I am passionate about helping as many people as possible to find it within themselves to do the same.
Yet, before we are able to change the world, we need to learn to step outside of our comfort zones and to think differently. I’m still working on accepting the fact that not everyone wants the same things in life, and that people need to consciously make the decision to train their minds to think divergently before they can implement change.
2. What have you learned to appreciate about yourself and/or within your life, physically and mentally? On the other hand OR in contrast, are there elements of who you are that you’re still working on appreciating?
I have learned to appreciate the act of creating for creating itself, and I have come to appreciate the freedom to express both my pain and passion through art, whether the medium of self-expression may be through acting, innovating, or writing.
3. What is one of your most rewarding achievements in life? Tell us not only what makes YOU most proud but also share the goals and dreams that you still have.
I’m not someone who likes to hinge on my achievements. I take more pride in the creative process in itself. I’m currently working on writing my first full fiction novel, so if I can get through the process and see it through to publication, that is definitely something that I will be proud of.
4. Of course, we all have imperfections, or so we think. In truth, we are all perfectly imperfect. What are your not-so-perfect ways? Likewise, what imperfections and quirks create who you are–your Identity?
I am an extremely passionate, driven person, but my imperfections are many. I wear so many different hats in life — from actor, to math geek, to entrepreneur — that I don’t tend to fit into a neat little box. No matter where I go, I never feel quite ‘right.’ I think that when people look at me, they often expect me to act or behave in a certain way, and then after meeting me, they realize that I’m a completely different person.
No matter what room I’m standing in or whom the audience happens to be that night, I don’t feel like I ever truly ‘fit in’, if there even is such a thing. For a long time, I tried to be the person that I thought people wanted me to be, but now I’m content with being exactly the person that I am, and I realize that there is never a reason to apologize for that.
5. “I Love My…” is an outlet for you to appreciate and express all the positive traits that make you…well…YOU! In fact, sharing what you love about yourself will make you smile, feel empowered, and uplift your spirit and soul. (We assure you!) Therefore, Identity challenges you to complete the phrase “I Love My…?”
I love my mind. I think that most people who meet me find that it is truly one of a kind. The gears in my mind are always turning. My mind goes to some crazy places, and in many ways, it is often uncontrollable. I am completely intrigued by the power of the mind, and I find great amusement in trying to see how far I can stretch my mind in any given direction.
There is always more to learn in this world, and I love my ability to soak up knowledge in one form, to toss it around in my mind for a while, and to spit it out in a completely different form. No matter how often people try to act like you, or dress like you, they will never be able to see the world exactly the way that you see it. Your perspective, your voice, and your mind is uniquely yours, and that is something that you should celebrate and explore every single day.