Are you a Rebel?

by Grace aka costofcollege

The start of the Totebag 30-Day Challenge seems an appropriate time to learn about Gretchen Rubin’s Four Tendencies and how they affect habits.

When we try to form a new habit, we’re setting an expectation for ourselves. Therefore, to change our habits, it’s crucial to understand how we respond to expectations.

I suggest you take this quiz before you read more.

Gretchen Rubin’s Quiz: The Four Tendencies

Are you an Upholder, Questioner, Obliger, or Rebel?

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Do you think the quiz reveals your tendencies?  Or is all this just a frivolous exercise in pseudo science?

If you’re participating in the Totebag 30-Day Challenge, go to the WEEK ONE page to check in.

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71 thoughts on “Are you a Rebel?

  1. I read this book last year on spring break and loved it. I am an upholder so 30 day challenges where I am accountable to others are perfect for me.

  2. I am a questioner. DS is definitely a rebel (sigh). DH is probably an upholder. Not sure about DD.

  3. I’m a Questioner. “question all expectations; they’ll meet an expectation if they think it makes sense” Sometimes (or often) my first response is to oppose something new.

  4. “DS is definitely a rebel (sigh).” — Yeah, I have one of those, too.

  5. I’m a Questioner. “question all expectations; they’ll meet an expectation if they think it makes sense” Sometimes (or often) my first response is to oppose something new.

    That would be me as well.

  6. I got Questioner, which is probably somewhat right – at least of the 4, it’s the closest. I do meet deadlines and obligations at work, but I do get really frustrated with requests that make no sense & tend to push back on them. I am not afraid of conflict nor would I categorize myself as a people-pleaser, but I’m definitely not a Rebel either.

  7. I have one kid that’s a questioner and one that is also an upholder. The questioner exhausts me. but I think it’s a really good trait.

  8. I got Obligator. I’m not sure that is always true, but is definitely true the past year – taking care of my mom and meeting other obligations, mainly kid-related. I think in more normal times, I am somewhere between a Questioner and Upholder. I agree with Ivy, in that external stuff – work or volunteer related that doesn’t have a clear purpose and fairly efficient purpose, I push back on. At the same time, I know inane requirements exist and I just go with the flow.

  9. I’m an obliger through and through.

    Which is also why I stress annual reviews – more expectations to uphold.

    I think the reason I resist inner expectations is that I hold myself to higher standards than I hold everyone else. So if I fail, I fail hard. I set myself up for failure. Then I figure I’ll fail, so I won’t do it, and poof, I fail.

    I need to re-train my brain on this one… I just haven’t figured out how and if I’ll be able to succeed.

  10. Questioner. Though at this stage of life, childcare, work, housework and sleep keep me busy that pushing back on nonessentials is a necessity.

    Finn, I’m off to a meeting. It appears that the four levels of management above me did not realize they were gating the future throughput of the fab when they let me (with nominal supervision) configure equipment.

  11. I got questioner which is fairly accurate. I tend to be more of an upholder when it comes to DD/DH, but that’s the exception.

    I won’t ask questions to exhaust someone because I might want to just get it done especially if I think it is a stupid request.

    I wish I had asked MORE questions of my contractor and “experts” when I went through my recent renovation because I think I made some bad decisions. I am trying to fix some of the issues now, but it is annoying and costly because some of this could have been avoided if I had been more of a questioner during that process.

  12. I got questioner, but I have serious issues with the quiz because my best answer for a lot of those questions was “none of the above.”

  13. I got Upholder.
    On deferring college for a year, I entered college but was burned out by high school exams. I focused more on my professional certificate and part time job in the “real world”. I deferred taking my graduating exams, since my whole college experience was very deary. I sort of took a gap year without a formal time off. A formal time off was just not done.

  14. I think it makes a lot of sense for Malia to take a year off if she can attend with less security by postponing a year. If it were me, I would enjoy the “benefits” of living in the Whitehouse for an extra five months because it is probably a once in a lifetime experience. I never knew that Sasha was a nickname for Natasha until I heard it this weekend.

  15. @ATM — I thought the same thing about DD’s comment!

    Many of the gap year programs are quite costly, but some kids simply work as well as travel or do other things so it can be a net zero cost. IMO many of the gap programs do a lot of hand holding, which may not serve to prepare a kid for college. It depends. Sometimes a kid just needs another year to mature.

  16. I think it makes sense for Malia to take a gap year too. I don’t know anyone that did a gap year. Is this a way for affluent kids to decompress after their super high stakes high school experiences? I do have friends that took a year off after college to travel before getting their first real job and wish I had done something similar. They didn’t seem like they missed out on anything career wise by delaying for six months or a year.

  17. I find the quiz nonsensical, because there are almost no items to which I would not want to give the answer that makes me a Questioner. I might in reality be a Rebel who “passes” as an Obliger just enough of the time so that other people don’t notice. The only item I am clearly NOT is an Upholder. I grew up with Question Authority bumper stickers.

  18. I’m an obliger, as well. This is why the 30 day challenge is so great for me.

  19. Lauren, please tell us more so we can learn. However, I’ve seen that there will ALWAYS be regrets about renovation decisions. It always seem much clearer in hindsight.

  20. ^ And too much questioning often just delays things, makes things more costly, and pisses off the contractor. :)

  21. I am an upholder – I will often do the thing that doesn’t make any sense to get it done and off my plate. Pretty sure DH is a questioner/rebel hybrid (not a hoop jumper!).

  22. Yes, Lauren share! We’re getting ready to renovate our kitchen/family room and are having trouble deciding on going with a high end design build firm (with an eye popping estimate but we wouldn’t have to worry about anything) or a contractor that we’ve worked with before who is way less expensive but we have to be on him about details.

  23. This is a simple example, I added crown molding to DD’s new room. This was my first time with crown molding because other rooms in my house already have it. As soon as the weather got cold, cracks appeared all of the base boards, crown molding and even the new window trim.

    They came back to fix it, but the guy that fixed it was honest and told me that my contractor cheaped out and didn’t special order the longer pieces that wouldn’t have required so many seams. It was a difference of a FEW$ since it was simple molding. Who knew that there was so much to know about molding except the design??

    I intensely dislike my contractor for this and so many other reasons.

  24. I found I’m better able to handle inner expectations if I create lists to cross off. This works at my job, but has a 50% chance of working at home. I’m hoping the Do It Now challenge will improve the 50% at home.

    It’s just so easier to go “ah F-it” and watch TV…

    Lauren – when we had molding put in after the reno, they ordered 12 ft long pieces and cut to fit. I thought that would be the cheaper/easier way to go… Your story leads me to believe I’m wrong.

  25. I think it is easy to conflate questioning with confronting. I question things all the time, but I’m pretty confrontation averse.

    On the renovation, it sounds like you had a shitty contractor. I don’t think it is expected that you would question the length of crown molding strips that are placed in a project. You were hiring a professional who is purported to be an expert in those things. If nothing else, they should have given you the alternatives and let you make an informed decision.

  26. Atlanta – I have little lifetime experience with contractors, since I purchased my first and only home 8 1/2 years ago. But for the major bathroom reno I went with the fancy design eco-retrofit firm (I arranged for it in fall 2008, and they all had excess capacity because of the recession, so they took a small job, although not at a small price). There was a minor delay of course (I hired a designer at their recommendation who recommended an unsuitable shower design), so they had to order a lot of additional tile that was hung up on the docks because of insect quarantine. It wasn’t 100% perfect, only 97%, and the plumber was an arrogant a$$, but they made good and used only the best materials, and we had custom tile work from a “tile savant” they knew how to manage who had few teeth and fewer words. I never tell people the price because they think I am a fool. But since this is our forever home (at least until we can’t manage) and I use the master bath umpteen times a day and the full bath in the basement means our kids come to visit many times a year, I am happy. When I did the kitchen years later I went with a national refacing firm – Camry with trim package, not Merc E Class like the bathrooms, and that was also a good choice.

  27. Rhode, I think that is the way to go. My contractor let the guys that were doing the work buy off the shelf short pieces that didn’t fit, and there are a lot of seams.

  28. I never equated “gap year” with “really expensive trip that few families can afford”. I always thought of it as some time off from school to work, save some money, and travel a little if you are so inclined. Some kids just need an extra year to grow up to be ready for college. I wish I had done it because I was an immature (emotionally) 17 when I started college, and I think I would have benefited tremendously from waiting a year.

  29. PTM – I would suggest a modest sized climate controlled storage room. There is no reason to part with stuff you care about, but you really don’t need most of it in direct line of sight. If you can figure out one where organized crime keeps stuff, you might try that. Security and deterrence is usually extra good, although one of the biggest Boston area bank vault heists (many years ago) was related to the clientele.

  30. Meme – we’re leaning towards the contractor we’ve used for a bathroom because the quotes for just the kitchen from the design build places have been $90K (and this is a 12 x 16 kitchen so not huge). I think labor has come up so much in price because of demand. We know that the guy we’ve used before has great tile, electrical and plumbers but he is less than detailed about trim and his cabinet maker is ok but good enough (but I think we’d be ok with that because DH is great at stuff like that and can fix it).

  31. I am also an obliger. I expected to be questioner because I have a knee-jerk tendency to fact check everything I hear. I am much more diligent with external expectations than my own, though.

    I only knew one person my age who took a gap year, and she did Outward bound. I think something like that actually would have been very good for my daughter. My brother took a low-rent gap year after my parents cut him off after years of drinking his way through college, and not doing much else. After his year as dishwasher at Chilis, he came back on his own dime and excelled. College was much cheaper and much more forgiving back then.

  32. I got questioner – and that describes me to a tee. I think I sometimes drive my co workers nuts by my habit of questioning everything. I cannot abide silly decisions and in particular, I can’t stand having work dumped on me without a clear rationale, which happens all the time.

  33. Questioner– which doesn’t surprise me at all. Rubin gives all sorts of examples of people who can only stick to their goals if they have someone else to check in with, and that’s definitely not me. Once I decide to do something I am upholder-like about it, but I’m really careful about making any additional commitments. This is probably why I’m sort of waffling on the “do it now” challenge. It sounds great, but do I want to do something every day? Do I want to have to check in? Would it be better if I didn’t? So I hybridize and waffle and still get more done than I would without the challenge, but I still don’t fully buy in. Which is kind of funny.

  34. There are two kinds of gap years, in my mind. There is the classic kind that rich kids take, where they are either decompressing, or gaining enough maturity to go to college. Back in my day, that might have meant a Eurail pass, but now that is too mundane so it probably means a year of volun-tourism in some exotic but poor locale.

    Then, there are the kids who spend a year working to make enough money to offset loans for college, or who drop out for a couple of years in the middle because they can’t afford school. I have seen these kids many tmes. It is usually a bad but necessary thing. I was just counseling a student the other day who is close to failing an upper division CS course she is taking. Evidently she had taken the introductory sequence, then had to quit for a couple of years to save up more money, and then had come back last fall. She has been struggling ever since because she forgot everything from the introductory courses. I think the right thing would have been for her to start reviewing the summer before, to get back up to speed, but like many 20 year olds, she didn’t have the awareness to know to do that.

    As for Malia, she should relax and enjoy her time remaining in the White House. I am sure that is far more educational than a year at Harvard, seriously

  35. I’m reading the Boys in the Boat right now, and I want to thank you all for the recommendation. Speaking of that second kind of “gap year” and the kids who had to work their way through!

  36. There are a lot of gap year options that didn’t exist when I was finishing high school – I think. Perhaps it is easier to find them. I think it is a fairly recent change that Americans can get visas to work legally in parts of the EU and Australia. I would love it if my kids wanted to work on a ranch for a few months, or Au Pair somewhere. While there can be significant initial costs (a few thousand for fees, plane tickets, etc.), these are paid opportunities and they can make up the money.

    Interexchange is a company we have hired Au Pairs through, and one of the big non profits in the field.

  37. Although I am an upholder, I am pretty ruthless about setting boundaries, and have zero problem telling people no (so I think there’s some latent questioner in there). It’s just that once I have committed, I am all in (opposite of Tulip!).

  38. “Once I decide to do something I am upholder-like about it, but I’m really careful about making any additional commitments. This is probably why I’m sort of waffling on the “do it now” challenge. It sounds great, but do I want to do something every day? Do I want to have to check in? Would it be better if I didn’t? So I hybridize and waffle and still get more done than I would without the challenge, but I still don’t fully buy in. Which is kind of funny.”

    This is 100% me too.

    “I never equated “gap year” with “really expensive trip that few families can afford”. I always thought of it as some time off from school to work, save some money, and travel a little if you are so inclined. Some kids just need an extra year to grow up to be ready for college. I wish I had done it because I was an immature (emotionally) 17 when I started college, and I think I would have benefited tremendously from waiting a year.”

    Until recently, this is what I pictured too. I think my brother would have really benefited from taking a year off. He struggled in college mightily & never finished after many stops & starts. A year or two would have helped I think because once he started, he was in the hole already.

  39. WCE, good luck. Is it overall a good thing, i.e., they want to increase output of your fab?

  40. I don’t think there are a lot of kids who are doing “voluntourism” for their gap years — they have already gotten into college, so there is no one left to impress. The expensive option noted in the NYT (Where there be dragons) seems lovely – an expenseive, hand held study abroad program, with a focus on language and home-stays. Seems superior to the vast majority of college study abroad programs. Also, cheaper than paying tuition at most schools ($15k). If I had a child genuinely interested in such a thing, seems like a good way to go somewhere and really experience it.

    I am pretty sure that eurail passes have never come in a “one year” denomination. Back in my day, no one was one-year rail trip. My BFF and I went for two months after we graduated high school – stopping with a few random people we were connected to, and a whole lot of cheap hostels. We never met any Americans our age (18).

  41. Re voluntourinsm – the last letter in this set of letters extolling gap years sure looks like it to me
    “To the Editor: Taking a gap year in Urubamba, Peru, was the best decision of my life. I was one of 28 volunteers on Princeton University’s Bridge Year Program, which allows incoming freshmen to defer their admission to take an international gap year. Program participants spend nine months living with a local family, taking language classes and working with local nonprofits.”

    http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/20/opinion/studying-abroad-in-a-linked-world.html

    As for numbers – I am sure the number of students taking forced gap years for financial reasons far outnumbers those who have the luxury of doing Princeton’s Bridge Year Program. But the fact that schools like Princeton sponsor these programs tell me that there are enough students who still want to do voluntourism in their gap year.

  42. I’m an upholder. I just finished reading the book this quiz comes from “Better than Before.” I really liked the book. It’s helpful for understanding yourself and others better and how different habit strategies work.

  43. One of our relatives had a daughter who started with a trip to the home country – sort of discover your roots type thing. She travelled mostly to areas that her parents had friends/relatives. She extended her stay for more time than her parents anticipated. At last they told her that they would not wire her money. She came home and went from an education degree to teaching yoga and dance. The girl had never shown an interest in these two areas at all prior to the trip. It was interesting seeing how immigrant parents handled the situation – it was such a balance between discover yourself vs. get a job/no more money for you/don’t go anywhere else in the home country/you are costing us enough.

  44. Thought I would be an upholder based on the diagram; turns out I am a questioner.

    But I would have been an upholder 20 years ago. No doubt about that.

  45. My BFF and I went for two months after we graduated high school – stopping with a few random people we were connected to, and a whole lot of cheap hostels.

    That sounds perfect to me. Voulentourism seems like something where you’re not really adding any value above what could have been done if you’d just donated the money and stayed home.

  46. I came out as questioner, for what that’s worth. Like others, I found there were several questions with no good answer.

  47. I had not heard of a gap year here in the US, but had read about them in other countries. The only people I knew who were planning to go to college, but did not go right away were those who couldn’t afford tuition and worked a year as many hours as they could get to pad their bank account. I think that a gap year that is meaningful is as much a search as college selection or finding a job. It also means another year on the payroll of Mom and Dad as all of these seem to have only a limited income to the student.

    My DD#1 is doing very little this summer in terms of planned activiites – the only real one is a language emersion trip with her school. She is working on a large scout project, will make a couple of college visits, will travel with a friend, getting enough driving hours in to qualify and pass the driving test, and will have homework related to her AP classes for next year. After lots of discussion with teachers, other students and the guidance office we signed off on more than 3 AP courses. With that workload ahead of her, I think a fairly relaxing summer is not a bad plan.

  48. Based on the diagram I guessed I was either an Upholder or Obliger. The quiz says Upholder, which I basically agree with, but I also felt like there were several questions where none of the answers given were particularly applicable. And a few of them I randomly selected between one of several answers that sort of, but didn’t really, describe me.

    In any event, my personality is absolutely to be a rule-follower, and my upbringing reinforced that trait.

  49. Just looking at the diagram, I would think I’m somewhere between Questioner and Upholder. I tend to follow rules unless they clearly don’t make sense.

    The quiz labeled me as a Questioner.

  50. To maximize the number of students it can serve, BYU-Idaho has 3 annual terms and students can typically enroll for only 2 of them. The other term they work and possibly take a class or two at their local community college. It’s not quite a gap year, but I talked with my babysitter about how she would have to plan her engineering schedule carefully if she wanted to graduate as soon as possible.

    Finn, it’s a good thing that they want to increase fab capacity except for the contract track engineer. In short, the industry doesn’t make 200 mm tracks that will match the capacity of a 300 mm stepper. Firing the contract track engineer for incompetence will not change that. Note that the area of a 300 mm diameter circle is over twice the area of a 200 mm diameter circle, and that affects the number of fields the stepper has to step. I hope we now return to our regularly scheduled programming.

  51. “As soon as the weather got cold, cracks appeared all of the base boards, crown molding and even the new window trim.”

    When the weather got cold, you probably turned on your heating system, dropping the humidity, causing wood to shrink, opening up gaps. That’s an inherent problem with wood, although it can be mitigated, e.g., using kiln-dried wood, wood with tight grain and/or quartersawn, which expands/contracts less, but is more expensive.

    Using longer pieces of molding wouldn’t necessarily reduce this problem; while there would be more joints to open up, the amount of shrinkage over a given amount of molding would be about the same either way, so fewer joints would mean bigger gaps at each joint.

    If the moldings are painted, a material other than wood, e.g., PVC or plaster, could be used, eliminating this problem.

  52. WCE, is the desire to increase capacity by moving from 200mm to 300mm wafers?

  53. I’m a questioner.
    Finn +1. To be extra safe, do the work in the winter and store the wood in the heated house for several days so that it acclimates / shrinks. Years ago, DH and I painted a wood paneled room in the summer. Lo and behold, when winter came, vertical, unpainted narrow stripes appeared throughout the room as the wood contracted from the heat. We wound up removing the paneling anyway a few years later.

  54. “gap-year students tend to be more affluent”

    I’m guessing that the use of the term, gap year, tends to be used more by the affluent to describe it than by those whose decision to take a year to work and save money because of financial necessity.

    Back in my day, it wasn’t uncommon for guys (it seemed to mostly be guys) to take a year or two right after HS to work afternoon evening jobs, often in restaurants, and surf most mornings. Some of them were also saving for college.

    And while it not be considered a true gap year, what was really common was kids staying home for a year or two while working full time and going to the local CC for a class or two per semester to save money, then transferring to flagship U.

  55. Finn, we’re staying 200 mm. A track doesn’t change its speed based on the area of the wafer. A stepper does. The managers have a finance viewpoint, but I think the finance viewpoint is going to lose to my geometry viewpoint, unless someone else has a brilliant solution.

  56. Off Topic, FYI, Amazon has temporarily dropped prices on some of its tablets.

  57. WCE, am I correct in assuming the track is what does the spinning, baking, etching, stripping, etc? I.e., everything except aligning and exposing?

  58. “his cabinet maker is ok but good enough”

    Could you use the same GC but get your cabinets elsewhere? E.g., Home Depot?

  59. “I’m guessing that the use of the term, gap year, tends to be used more by the affluent to describe it than by those whose decision to take a year to work and save money because of financial necessity.”

    Good point.

    We had painted moldings and paneled doors that shrank, leaving gaps and unpainted strips on our doors. The molding is fabricated material, not wood, but it still shrank.

    I agree that you have to rely on the contractor for things like selecting the longer lengths of molding. In practice, this doesn’t always work.

  60. “And while it not be considered a true gap year, what was really common was kids staying home for a year or two while working full time and going to the local CC for a class or two per semester to save money, then transferring to flagship U.”

    Yeah, there is a lot of this too. Or at least at the local commuter state university and then transferring to the flagship to complete the degree. I’ve seen a lot of that in both my family and my IL’s.

  61. Trying hard to be obliging.
    Any suggestions for a gift for someone who usually plants annuals around their pool, but has just had the whole planting area ripped up because retaining walls on two sides of the pool had to be taken down–the dirt behind them stayed in place, thank goodness–and replaced with new walls that won’t crack? Around $20 would be good.

  62. So there’s no bed to plant the annuals in until after the new walls are built? Maybe an attractive planter? (that can be moved when needed)

  63. Finn – yes we could do that. We’re leaning towards the contractor we’ve used before and just hiring an architect and kitchen designer. I think I basically know what I want after trying various options in room planning software. It will be more work for me but since I like that stuff it will probably be fun. And with him we have chosen to do some of the finishing stuff ourselves in the past (molding/painting) to save money. And I can probably get a screened in porch in addition to the kitchen/family room if I use him so that’s tilting things in his favor as well.

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