Wednesday, July 20, 2016

A Puzzle of Pieces

Puzzle pieces By liza31337

A friend of mine observed that I am great at puzzles, as long as I am not one of the pieces.

I get lost all of the time.  Maybe lost is the wrong word.  I need visual reference points or very clear directions while driving, otherwise I get turned around and take the wrong turns.  My sense of direction without a clear view of visual cues that I can recognize is horrible.

Most of the time I require and desire context, I want to see the whole picture before I make decisions and choices about the details.  I have defined myself as a field dependent learner.  However, I do not really fit the traditional definition of a field dependent thinker.

According to the research, first published by Herman Witkin in 1962, and since expounded upon countless times, field dependent thinkers rely more on concrete contexts and details, they tend to be more social, and require more external feedback and stimuli.  These can all be true for me, especially the part about being sensitive to criticism.  It has taken me years to work through carrying my father's criticisms with me everywhere I go.  I have gotten a lot better at caring less about what other people think, a lot better.  I am also very social.  These generalizations fit me.

According to the research, field independent thinkers rely more on abstract concepts, tend to be less social, tend to self-structure situations, and be interested in new concepts for their own sake.  Interestingly enough, I fit many of these definitions as well.  I love analysis and abstract thought, I can definitely self-structure situations - I was an only child until I was 12 years old and spent hours on my own in imaginary play.  And, I love new concepts and ideas for the sake of the idea and concept itself.  I really don't fit neatly into either of these categories.

We rely on generalizations, on categories, to define our world, and sometimes (or many times) the people around us in our world.  Each person fits into a few of the categories we have set to define our world: women/man, black/white/Asian/Mexican/Indian, employed/unemployed, rich/middle class/poor, hard working/procrastinating, field dependent/independent.

But not one person is truly defined by any one of these generalizations.  Not one person fits neatly into any of these categories, really.  Even what may seem to be the clearest distinction between people, gender, is a complicated social marker, with varying degrees of inclusion, of mutual agreement on what makes a man, or a woman.

We are each a piece in the puzzle, and together, as we fit in, as we arrange our identities and our actions, our lives and our living spaces, to include and accommodate, to embrace and involve the people who we depend on in our lives, we form a beautiful puzzle.  Although from a far it looks like one whole image, one neat general category, in reality our puzzle is still made up of individual unique pieces, each independently unique and interconnectedly dependent on each other piece.

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