My eldest, Fynn, recently devoured The Hunger Games and then The Divergent novel series—both dystopian futuristic stories in which female heroines save the world from oppression. We watched the movies together.
Fynn asked me which faction I would most fit into—they took a quiz online that placed them in the Dauntless faction. I’ve felt challenged by fear much of my life so I certainly did not align with Dauntless. Their question prompted me to contemplate the concept of being Dauntless—fearless, determined, resolute, indomitable—and how it applies to ‘real’ life.
1. showing fearlessness and determination.
synonyms: fearless, determined, resolute, indomitable, intrepid, doughty, plucky, spirited, mettlesome;
undaunted, undismayed, unflinching, unshrinking, bold, audacious, valiant, brave, courageous, daring;
informal gutsy, gutty, spunky, feisty, skookum
“only the most dauntless were selected for this dangerous expedition”
The Divergent Factions
In Divergent… The society defines its citizens by their social and personality-related affiliation with five different factions, which removes the threat of anyone exercising independent will and threatening the population’s safety. Beatrice Prior, who later changes her name to Tris, an Abnegation-born and Dauntless transfer, must figure out her life as a Divergent, while concealing her true nature, and living with the danger of being killed if it is discovered by the Erudite and Dauntless leaders. Source: Wikipedia
The 5 factions are:
- Dauntless (the brave who are cruel)
- Amity (the peaceful who are passive)
- Erudite (the intelligent who are power-hungry and vain)
- Abnegation (the selfless who are stifling)
- Candor (the honest who are inconsiderate)
- We know what’s good. And what’s bad.
- We know who’s good. And who’s bad.
- We know who will win. And who will lose.
In ‘real’ life, we tend to experience far more ambiguity, open to interpretation:
- The world is complex.
- We must daily navigate uncertainty.
- There is no obvious foe. People show us their depth of complexity.
- The rules of the game are not often apparent enough to define how to win or lose.
I don’t fear my inability to save the world through Herculean tasks like conquering He Who Must Not Be Named; I fear my inability to conquer my own fear enough to complete my ‘To Do’ List and my ‘To Be’ List before I die.
For most of us, being dauntless is more about:
- Undauntedly tackling cleaning out the basement.
- Unflinchingly stepping on the bathroom scale.
- Unreservedly giving up booze for Lent.
- Unshrinkingly facing the same dirty dishes, after cooking the same meals, day after day after day, with minimal complaining.
Even Downton Abby, a favourite series we watched devotedly, but with a completely different scenario (historical fiction drama versus sci-fi action), plays out like one giant highlights real in which the tedium of life happens “off-stage” while we as viewers flit effortlessly from one relevant scene to the next, spanning entire epic eras, like WWI, in a few episodes.
In real life, Bravery lies in:
- Fearlessly facing the tedious tasks and the monotonous moments, with patience and optimism.
- Resolutely choosing happiness now, amongst the piles of laundry and the unmade beds.
- Determinately winning the internal mental battles that no one sees.
- Persevering through daily trials with minimal drama, perhaps even with grace.
- Battling boredom by voluntarily choosing to stretch further, reach higher, even though watching TV would be more comfortable.
- Privately setting personal goals and working to achieve them without anyone actually knowing or caring—and still feeling victorious.
- Courageously continuing despite a complete lack of outward evidence that you should.
- Forgiving yourself when you fail, no matter how privately or publicly, and trying again.
- Loving yourself now, before you’ve won.
Many people settle for fumbling their way through life with minimal suffering and fail. Becoming dauntless lies in wanting more and choosing to pursue it—no matter how small the steps or how slow the progress—with faith, determination, perseverance, and forgiveness.