I recently took this quiz, which tells me I’m a Spontaneous Idealist (capital “S,” capital “I”). Consider yourself privileged; sharing such knowledge is offering you a profound window into the deepest mysteries of my soul. The Internet profile tells you both my strengths and weaknesses; if you’re planning to “Ocean’s Eleven” me, I’ve provided you with all the tools. Spontaneous Idealists are “creative, lively and open-minded persons. They are humorous and dispose of a contagious zest for life. Their enthusiasm and sparkling energy inspires others and sweeps them along. They enjoy being together with other people and often have an uncanny intuition for their motivations and potential.”
If you think I sound like the coolest person ever, don’t be fooled. Every profile somehow manages to make your personality sound like the epitome of personhood. Trust me. I checked them all, searching for the “Ho-hum Pessimist,” but apparently the nice term for that is “Reliable Realist,” and they are “down-to-earth and responsible-minded.” I’m fairly certain that Spontaneous Idealist, in layman’s terms, can be translated as “Impulsive Delusional Person.”
Beyond their ability to reveal matters of grave importance like my Middle Earthen race (Ent) or my Friends personality twin (Rachel, really?), Internet quizzes most often send me spiraling into a vortex of introspection. These introspective vortex spirals usually manifest themselves into verbal tidal waves, due to my compulsive need to process everything aloud.
In short, I think too much and I talk too much, or, from a Spontaneous Idealist’s perspective: I am a deeply insightful and thoughtful communicator.
So when I obtained this quiz result, I asked myself and everyone else in the immediate vicinity with at least one functioning ear, what it means to be a “spontaneous idealist,” because, as it turns out, the explicit in-depth summary provided on the web page isn’t enough for me.
Well, I own a thesaurus, and a brain, so I can break this down. If we translate “Spontaneous” as “Incredibly Able Procrastinator,” I’ll buy that. I do not like to prepare for things and I am an adrenaline junkie for making everything up as I go along. What? Shopping for Christmas presents?? Why shop for Christmas presents when I can scrounge through the basement for spray paint and paper clips at 3 am on Christmas morning to fashion handmade Precious Moments iHomes for every member of the family??!! MACGYVER WHO?
As for the “Idealist” part, they’ve got me pinned. Numbering among my favorite books are such classics as Peter Pan, Little Women, Anne of Green Gables, The Fellowship of the Ring, The Secret Garden, Bridge to Terabithia, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, The Book of Three, and most other books that are the lifeblood of nine-year-old girls the world over.
And I believed in those books with the whole of my heart, my head, and every other internal organ that could conceivably be fixed to an emotion. I really, really did. Had a strange, freckled boy showed up at my bedside in the middle of the night and told me that he could teach me how to fly, I would have taken the leap out the window without pinching myself once. I saw bed sheets as ball gowns and garbage heaps as island plunder far beyond the age of social suitability. I lived my childhood ready for someone to show up with a map, or a key, or a sword, to place some item in my hands that would tell me what I already knew… that this was it. This was the adventure that everyone’s life is eventually about.
No doubt you Reliable Realists out there are incredibly concerned for my well-being. You can’t just jump out windows because tiny freckled boys tell you that they’ll teach you to fly! That’s how people get into trouble with LSD! You’re absolutely right, Reliable Realists. I could easily have broken several arms jumping out those windows, or gotten tetanus from a broken-down washing machine that I pretended was a pirate ship. I could have gotten kidnapped by any old person who claimed to be my spirit guide. I could have been embarrassed to admit that at twelve years old that I still looked twice into every doorway, certain that on one of those glances, I’d be staring up into a different sky of stars.
Or even worse, I could have been disappointed.
What happened to that little girl when she never learned to fly, when she began to fear she was too old to stumble through her refrigerator into another world, when Christmas presents stopped being about magic and started being about Meijer cards, when she turned eighteen without a single wizard sage darkening her doorstep?
Well, she just had to start believing in something else. And she does, in lots of things. And just as fiercely as she believed in fairies and Gilbert Blythe.
Now hang with me, Reliable Realists, and everyone who hates when things get sappy. It’s about to get mildly sappy, but hey, it’s Christmas Eve. Tolerate my shmultz for a minute, in the spirit of Christmas (fully aware of the irony here).
I know that at the heart of all those stories I always loved, there were bigger things to believe in. This is sort of every English teacher’s basic claim about the benefit of literature, right? Wonder still exists without flight. Loyalty isn’t reserved for hobbits. And, it turns out, Christmas is less about Mariah Carey and more about God Incarnate. The belief is worthwhile because of what it leads to.
I guess, in some ways, I’m becoming a Realist when it comes to my Idealism, because I’ve grown more and more to believe that belief itself is just fairy dust unless I do something about it. Faith might be sometimes about waiting for miracles, but hey, don’t forget about tomorrow, because the Miracle came. Faith yields action. And with all of our realists and idealists and Self-Motivated Go-Getters and Scrappy Sallies, we have the potential to do so much. I want to join the Peace Corps. I want to stand on a picket line. I want to be a part of offering every person access to education… But maybe the realist is getting away from me here.
My grandma passed away a few months ago at the age of 93, turning the last page of a long, beautiful life on Earth. After an incredible amount of gathering and cataloguing on the part of one of my dad’s sisters, all of us were left on Saturday with the task of sifting through Grace Boersma’s remaining possessions. Recipes and blankets and photographs are the appendices of the story of one woman’s life. And she kept every birth announcement, wedding invitation, eighth grade graduation program, Mother’s Day card, and prom picture from eight children, twenty-nine grandchildren, and thirty-three great-grand-children. There was a small piece of paper, covered in red crayon by my father in 1965. “I love you Mother. Kenny B.” And she kept it. There’s a story there, and something to believe in there. And so much room for something to do.
Tomorrow, we will hear stories that begin with Ceasar issuing a census decree. People ride on donkeys and shepherds sit around and people grumble waiting in line for a bed. A baby is born, and when that baby becomes a man, he is a realist who provides thousands of hungry people with food and an idealist who meets with people in their homes when he has the power to thunder his message from the mountain, doesn’t he? My grandma believed in that man, and so does this Spontaneous Idealist. And he doesn’t disappoint.
A Merry Christmas, I believe, is in order.
Lauren (Boersma) Harris (’13) is a spontaneous, idealistic, independent, fierce, over-thinking, damaged, adventurous, ordinary megalomaniac with a healthy sense of self-worth and a high word count. She has been a teacher both indoors and outdoors; she loves improvised comedy, backpacking, and writing, even when it’s required.