Have you ever seen those circular personality wheels that, when the dots are connected, voila, you have, in your hand, a summary of your traits? And, in studying its components, we can clearly see our imbalances…our strengths and our weaknesses. One of the most prolific personality tests is the Myers-Briggs. According to this modality, all 7 billion of us trickle down to one of 16 personality types. It’s fascinating to take these quizzes and stare with astonishment, at the similarities of the results compared to our persona. Damn. THEY’RE GOOOOD. They just told you all about yourself and they were on point. All through the long description of your personality, you can’t help but acknowledge the accuracy. How do they DO this? While I will always give psychology credit where it’s due, this near-gimmick is something I refuse to praise. If you consider that you just spent an hour telling them about yourself, your preferences, your dislikes, your tolerance and impatience hypotheticals, your high-low maintenance scale, your emotional disclosure to any range of scenarios, it had BETTER resemble your traits or somebody’s losing their job! Seriously, where is the mystery for these professionals in spitting out a result that closely resonates with your personality? You gave them all the answers. A thesaurus and the ability to construct a sentence and, boom…they’ve categorized you! It’s not amazing. It’s paraphrasing all the information they asked for and, then, convincing you that your million complexities comprising your mental, emotional, spiritual and even physical being is simplistic and deducable. That it can be neatly categorized and labeled. You are not a bottle of bbq sauce. You aren’t that easy to figure out, cupcake. I don’t care who you are, how dull you feel you are as a human, how unremarkable you would describe your life, you are not, NOT, 4 letters of the alphabet, explained by a page of statements that, unsurprisingly, match exactly, your response to their seemingly random, unrelated inquiries. It was one big, “tell us the answers you are seeking” test. And, you did. And, they provided them. And, you see yourself in those statements. That you gave them. About yourself. In case we’re not clear, yet. If there are sixteen denominators for the human race, why can’t I even figure out what I want to eat when I’m famished? And, nothing in the little printout says that my personality can make me change my mind 6 times about attending an event if it’s gonna put me home past 10:30pm. I facepalm at my own quirks, lack motivation on the busiest days, struggle with making a definitive decision, and if I can’t pinpoint it, why would I trust a computer generated report about myself, with manipulated data. What’s the letter representing? I think these personality curiosities come from some bizarre polarity to be both unique and fit in. We want to be a slightly different shade of purple on the violet spectrum, but we sure as hell don’t want to be a green anomaly! Why? Why do we struggle with both fitting in and standing out? If there exists among us, anyone who is utterly perplexed by this analogy, let us study you. You owe it to the rest of us to unveil how you have achieved the seemingly unachievable. I have found, on my path to seeking my own truth, so many twists and turns inside myself that I am not the person I was a year ago. Hopefully, neither are you. For that would indicate arrested development. The medical term, not the series. When we really search our souls, when we consider our daily rituals and our quest for greatness, however that looks, do we truly crave categories? We tend to despise being classified as a “type.” Just the connotation is negative…”type.” I encourage you to shake off the types cast your direction, the ENTJ-LMNOPs, the circle that looks like a 3 year old connecting the dots and give up searching for a category to explain the traits that may even spark concern, they seem so rare. Throw a little party on the inside and accept your gifts, and the rarer the better. Do you know that, right now, there are hundreds of thousands of people taking a quiz to see which 80s song they are? You know I ain’t lyin’. To theses people- I’ll tell you what song you are; Stupid- by Garbage. Check. Annnd, check. I have toyed with the idea of putting out there my sacred practices- I am not disciplined in giving the time I know they deserve, and they’ve each been incredibly life changing. What’s more important are YOUR sacred practices on your path to truth. That is one thing I can say with surety: each path is so unique and each truth so personal that we often find ourselves utterly diverged from our fellow humans, we stand alone in dark valleys or we relish the solitude of an internal conquest that has elevated our vibes so high that we don’t bother trying to explain…no one would get it. And, they don’t need to. You do. Dig. Excavate. Turn over, uncover and expose all that is your authenticity. Do it with pride, gratitude- devoid of the need to fit in. Our very existence is validation that we belong here. In the words of Dr. Seuss, “Whether you like it or not, alone is something you’ll be quite a lot.” Embrace it. Put your back to the wind when you need to, then, bend and light a fire with the books and quizzes and printouts that have assigned you a label. Light your lamp and keep walking your path, no matter how narrow, no matter how solitary. You will doubtlessly arrive under the same sun as all those on different paths than you. But, nobody arrives at their truth while standing in the crowd. It is not only possible but vital that while you strive for connection with your humans, you also strive for balance in your journey. There is a reason we call it “lost in the crowd.” Trash the labels, the personality pigeon holes, the types…you’re a journey unfolding, everyday. And, if monotony and boredom has you seeking filler therapy with quizzes about yourself? You have unexplored territory, with deep waters and winding trails, where there lies more delicious questions to answers you still seek. Test your SELF, YOUR self. You’ll find the answers. Peace, Warriors.
What an awesome read. And so true. Early last year I requested our unit’s psychology team to administer another well known “trait identifying” exercise with me and my six-person team. You know, to help us understand each other better so we could be a more efficient, cohesive “team.” The results were that seven people had the same main trait. “Whoa! Wait a minute,” I thought to myself, “that can’t be right!” I could clearly see, on a daily basis, the different personalities in our office. ANNND, someone I have NOTHING in common with had all the same traits as me, in the same “order of prominence.” What a crock! That’s the day I stopped putting so much stock in those tests/exercises. Thanks for the confirmation!
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Thank you for the feeback, and a perfect example of my rant. We are all the same. We are not the same. Both are true…
This IS a great read. However, being in sales for 30+ years, the basics of these tests are somewhat true, our default characteristics perhaps. They helped me negotiate many sales because it helped me know what I was looking for from the other person, or rather, what they were looking for from me. I knew certain responses would elicit certain reactions when dealing with an introvert vs. extrovert or based on how intuitive a person seemed. I agree. I don’t fit into a box. Not on a day to day basis. Just on the flipside of this, there were times this training to recognize persoanility traits in others served me well (or perhaps I lost a sale or two based on presumptions?).
Love your perspective and as always, the way you transfer your thoughts to paper
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I definitely don’t discount your incredible ability to gain accounts, nor the validity of the personality tests. That you needed them to make the sale? Yeah.. maybe…My take remains that they absolutley SHOULD be on point. But, when you need an understanding of a client’s general characteristics, I see how printouts are definitely easier to access than directly questioning them. 😆