Monday, August 22, 2011

I'm A Great Big Orange and I Won't Apologize For It!

I once had a wonderful instructor who taught university classes designed to update and upgrade our teaching skills. He gave us a number of personality tests and during one of these sessions he spoke about the general population, specific characterisitics, career groups and "norms".

With each new test, he would chuckle, look at me and shake his head. I became concerned. It didn't appear to be a malicious look. He would then go on to discuss the results with the group. What he said sounded much like this, "Many people are balanced with an equal number of characteristics in each of the four categories of the graph. Some have the bulk of their traits in 3 of 4 categories. Then there's the odd one, who has most of HER characteristics almost exclusively in one quadrant, with only a sprinkling in the other three areas." Again, I got "the look" out of the corner of his eye. My worst fear was soon realized. I was "HER". In my perception, this labelled me as some kind of weirdo global thinker, with an uneven, distorted graph and no potential as a successful human. I was embarassed. I wanted to sink into my chair and disappear. I viewed this result as a major personal flaw.

One test that springs to mind is the colour personality test where we found ourselves classified as green, blue, gold or orange. My classmates generally fell into the first three categories. A large percentage were "gold" as are many teachers we were told. Gold personalities are organized, sequencial and task oriented.

I was "orange". After explaining the fairly normal traits of the first three colours, along with their optimal career choices, the instructor came to "orange". "Only about one in one hundred people is classified as orange. In fact, we have only one in this class", he said, once again smiling my way.

I soon learned that "oranges" are presumed different. A few characteristics of these people include: thinking outside the box, creativity; being adventurous, being light hearted, agreeable and flamboyant; thriving on human social contact, socializing and planning events; tolerant and accepting of others just the way they are; a free spirit who doesn't like to be tied down; living life based on instinct; always looking toward the next challenge or next great adventure; determined, competitive, restless and impatient with others who do not have this need; preferring to explore the outer world rather than inner world.

So far, it doesn't sound too bad does it? Well, here are the rest of the qualities, or lack thereof.

Housekeeping may not be that important (See June 13, 2010 blog, "Dust Bunnies Are Perfect for Making Whimsical Table Centrepieces ); loves having fun and doesn't like the mundane, monotonous, repetitious; impatient; indecisive (my preferred expressions are "it doesn't matter" and "I don't care" because generally, it doesn't and I don't); inconsistent and unpredictable; practical joker; self centred (can't help it I'm an only child); undisciplined; ignoring rules and deadlines (too busy being creative and living life); lacking structure, and finally, impulsive. There seem to be a lot of  "in", "im" and "un" prefixes there. 

Over the years, I have learned to celebrate my unique orangeness and have tried to compensate for many of my orange shortcomings. I make lists and calendars, much as a gold personality type would automatically do. I leave cues for myself around the house as a visual reminder of an action that needs to be taken or work that isn't complete. I do not enjoy these strategies, but realize that in order for me to be a functional human, they need to be taken. I do the best I can.

I've changed as much as I plan to in these 60 years and I find it stressful to remember to do what many people do automatically. In fact, I was pleased to be able to "loosen up" and revert to my natural self after retirement.

Currently, I am sitting in the midst of what some would consider chaos. I emptied and vacuumed the kitchen drawers. While doing that, I remembered that I needed to water the plants. I attended to the plants, and then realized I had forgotten to put water into my CPAP machine. I headed for the basement to get distilled water and wandered into my office to check on some documents. The garbage pail was overflowing so I picked it up to take to the trash. On my way, I opened the garage door, then took the water to the bedroom. I looked in the closet for something to wear. I rejected a few items and tossed them on the bed. As I went to brush my teeth, I realized that the bathroom needed some attention and I cleaned the sink. Remembering the garbage, I left the cleaning materials and headed for the open garage with the trash. When I returned, I checked my email and decided to write a blog.  And so it goes...not one room is completely tidy at the moment. It will all be done later today. What's my hurry? I'm retired.

Oh, and lest I forget, what happened with all the courses I was taking? I got high marks, upgraded my standing and the instructor hired me to work for him. It turned out that I was not flawed at all. I was in fact, unforgettable and fabulous!

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