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We are thankful to be welcome on these lands in friendship. The lands we are situated on are covered by the Williams Treaties and are the traditional territory of the Mississaugas, a branch of the greater Anishinaabeg Nation, including Algonquin, Ojibway, Odawa and Pottawatomi. These lands remain home to many Indigenous nations and peoples.

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This history is something we are all affected by because we are all treaty people in Canada. We all have a shared history to reflect on, and each of us is affected by this history in different ways. Our past defines our present, but if we move forward as friends and allies, then it does not have to define our future.

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Putting the YOU in university: Securing your identity/style

November 24, 2021

You’ve finally made it to part five! If you’re tallying it up in your head and can’t seem to recall the other four parts of this series, read the introduction Putting the YOU in university: Making the most out of your experience. Each part is linked there for easy reading!

Style is one of the hardest things to teach. As a matter of fact, it’s more or less a way of life. I’ve noticed here that people try to force themselves to learn a lifestyle that’s not organic to them. This stems from the misconception that style can be learned and taught when rather it is something that is developed inwardly. 

Since there are many categories of style and identity I could explore to help people understand what works best for them, I’ll stick with one of my favourite ones: the four temperaments; Sanguine, Choleric, Phlegmatic, Melancholic. 

My goal is to explain what these personality types are in layman terms so you can see which end of the spectrum you lean most strongly towards. Then you can begin to take practical steps to develop your character for your benefit by playing to your strengths and not spending as much time focusing on your weaknesses. 

Disclaimer: The percentages you see beside the temperaments are simply my estimations. I wasn’t able to find a concrete survey to back this up, but I’m predicting the reality to not be too far from this.

Choleric (10%)

 [Famous Examples: Plato, Michael Jordan, Marty Byrde - from ‘Ozark’]

I often do not come across choleric people but when I do it’s usually easy to tell. They tend to be very decisive, determined and demanding. This direct-minded group of people love when things get done and aren’t fans of beating around the bush. They sometimes appear defiant and ‘cold’ but don’t let appearance deceive you. They’re usually on a mission and are true to their word. 

A common strength of choleric people is their ability to think quickly and on their feet and take charge of situations when necessary. They have strong willpower and that’s why most people tend to see them as ‘natural leaders’ (although I feel any of the 4 temperances can be an effective leader depending on how you maximize your abilities). A practical way to use this to your benefit would be to set out clear goals you want to achieve during the school year and have faith in your abilities to do so. 9 out of 10 times you always end up achieving it when you have a clear accountability system in place.

A common weakness would be the inability to empathize. This is where you need to be more open to taking advice from others instead of trying to be fully independent. Oftentimes the drive to be goal-oriented can distract one from seeing the bigger picture and this is where it can be easy to fall short.

Sanguine (30%) 

via GIPHY

[Famous Examples: Elvis Presley, Donald Trump, Kevin Hart, Mark Cuban] 

Sanguines are normally the easiest to spot. Most times it just comes down to who the loudest in the room is. But let’s not linger on this easy stereotype. Let’s see some other characteristics of sanguines. Sanguines tend to be inspiring, impulsive and popular. They are really good at developing relationships, expressing their feelings and are great at working with others since they tend to get along with everyone. They might sometimes appear impulsive and unfocused but once again, don’t be deceived by this. It’s very easy for a sanguine to still thrive in their schoolwork or whatever work they’re doing while still having fun. 

A common strength of such a person is that they are not afraid to ask for help when they need it. If a sanguine is stuck on a question during a tutorial session, they won’t hesitate to raise their hand to ask the TA for help or even ask the person sitting next to them even if they are a complete stranger. Another great one I’ve noticed is their amazing flexibility and adaptability. Since sanguines are usually in good spirits, it is not uncommon to see them get over tough phases pretty quickly and continue doing what they need to do. While a sanguine might be particularly bummed by having to stay at home during the quarantine period, you can bet they will be the most creative set of people in terms of finding ways to be productive and do something to entertain themselves. A practical way to use this skill would be to develop solid relationships with TA’s, professors, and counsellors because you will always put yourself in a position to receive great advice and when you do receive it, you can rest assured that you will get it done so your reputation can remain intact. 

Common weaknesses would be the fear of missing out, indecisiveness, and overtalking. While a standard sanguine might be able to do well in school while still having fun, it is not uncommon to see the longing to have fun get the better of them. This is where they’ll have to be intentional about doing things in moderation so they don’t get distracted. As for indecisiveness, knowing that they can potentially do so many things at once can also work against them. This might often result in not honouring commitments because they have too much on their plate, being late for appointments, or even forgetting to complete a task because they’re juggling multiple things. The solution to this would be to practice self-control. While you have the potential to multitask, resist the urge to do so. Focus on quality over quantity (doing a few things well vs doing many things ‘just ok’). Finally, overtalking is one thing I must point out as you can’t listen and talk at the same time. You don’t learn as much when you’re the one doing all the talking so don’t forget to actively work at withholding the urge to say something and give others the chance to speak so you can learn new information. It’ll go a long way! 

Melancholic (35%) 


[Famous Examples: ‘The Thinker by Auguste Rodin]

Look at the image above. That is who a melancholic person is. At least that’s who they tend to be. These kinds of people tend not to rush into things. They can best be described as cautious, competent, and contemplative. If you were to trust anyone with the passcode to your safe, choose this person. Melancholics are very good at ‘cutting through the noise’ and seeing the big picture as well as the deeper meaning behind scenarios. They can be very tactical and organized about how they go about their business and this is why every organization loves to have someone like this in their administration. They ask all the right questions, but people often mistake them for being cold or emotionless. There is a fair chance they’re probably deep in thought most times you come across them. 

A common strength of these people is their organization. This is one of the glaring secrets to their success. While some others may tend to act based on impulse, passion, and/or emotion, these people are careful about the steps they take and they have a reason for the things they do. If this is you, continue to use this in your school life and be proud of it. Embrace it as it will help you complete all your tasks on time and even keep those around you in check when they get distracted. Everyone loves that friend who reminds them about an assignment that’s due when they forgot. Another one would be their willingness to work hard for their goals. Latch onto this and strive for excellence in all the little tasks you’re given. Don’t ever feel like anything is too insignificant to put in the effort. You know you can put in the effort if you want so you might as well do so. 

There are three common weaknesses I’ll point out that I’ve noticed. Overthinking, over-Meticulousness, and over-judgmentalism. Overthinking or analysis paralysis as I like to call it is pretty self-explanatory. While it is good to plan ahead for situations and be prepared, this can often lead to the downfall of melancholics because they often abstain from taking the first step to doing things when they’re not fully certain of the outcome. A good way to overcome this is to delegate some decisions to a trusted person occasionally. You’re thinking of a good movie to watch but are overthinking the options. Call up your sibling and ask them to give a suggestion and go with whatever they say. The risk is very low here. For more high-risk situations, follow your instinct sometimes. Come to the unsettling realization that not every decision will be the best one ever made so be open to making mistakes (good mistakes though). Over-Meticulousness links to the previous point in the sense that you might be afraid of making mistakes so you try to dot every “I” and cross every “T” available. This could mean you try to understand every single topic you’re taught in-depth instead of working at understanding the necessary information for the sake of time. Preventing this usually comes from experience and training your instincts. Over time you’ll be able to consciously know when you’re delving into the world of TMI (too much information) or not. Finally, being over-judgmental can easily cause a melancholic person to become overly independent because they feel they can’t afford to trust anyone since everyone always disappoints. This is where one would have to develop a forgiving and understanding heart and understand that nobody is perfect and even they commit blunders occasionally. This will allow one to work with others better and receive the help they need since no person is an island.

Phlegmatic (25%) 

If there was one human who will bring peace to any setting, it would most likely be a Phlegmatic. They don’t thrive in conflict. They don’t thrive in noise, as a matter of fact, they are usually the world’s greatest observers. They take in information quite well but aren’t often fond of expressing their emotions, although they do care a lot about people. If you’re looking for a great eye-witness, look for a phlegmatic. When you hang around such a person, you know you’re going to experience peace. 

A common strength I’ve observed is their efficiency. Due to the amount of focus and discipline they possess, they tend to always think of a way to do things quicker and better, especially because they don’t like stress. This can be beneficial in school, as productivity is one thing students tend to struggle with. If you feel like you’re the person who is always one step ahead in terms of finishing the assignments and knowing when the next thing due is, be proud of yourself. Never feel like you’re being extra. Because of the easy-going nature of phlegmatics, they tend not to have as many conflicts in their lives compared to the other personality types. If that’s the case, you might want to be the catalyst for peace amongst your social groups by always allowing yourself to be a helping hand to those who need you the most. You most likely have clarity of mind, and can easily spot loopholes in conflicting situations and easily solve them. Use your strength to your advantage and you might just end up being a mini counsellor for your friends. Everyone needs that, although don’t act as though you are an almighty being and go around trying to fix everybody! Some things are just way out of our control and when you learn this skill of discernment, you’ll avoid hot water very often. 

On the flip side, the perfectionist nature of phlegmatics often causes them to be resistant to change. If something is working one way, why would I want to change it? While that is true, it should be understood that sometimes to take 3 steps forward you might need to take a step back and that is something that usually doesn’t sit well with this personality type. A recent example would be the COVID-19 pandemic. While some personality types would easily embrace the element of change that it brings with different learning conditions, phlegmatics might find it a bit hard to adjust and might even want to force their old mannerisms into a new system as much as they can. A good way to avoid this would be to learn from a trusted friend or colleague. The process of opening up your mind to new ways of doing things is scary, but when you consciously choose to follow the lead of someone else who is confident and competent, it will be a much easier transition. So if you’re not comfortable studying in your living room, ask your friend who is good at it to give you tips on how they are able to do it so well. 

Conclusion

Although there were a plethora of points raised in this very long article, there is one knot that ties everything together; everything starts with you. Before any of this can be a reality, you will need to do some soul searching to identify areas you can improve and areas you are doing well in. That’s the beauty of the human brain. In the areas you are thriving in, learn how you can do it better. In the areas you are struggling with, learn from someone who is thriving at it, so you can understand how to improve.

Shalom