Category Archives: Random

Why Personality Tests Always Misdiagnose Me

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I struggled through years of taking personality tests that gave me absurd results. They told me I was an ENFP, a Sanguine, a 9 on the Enneagram, and then I’d read the description for what “I was” and it never sounded anything like me.

“Don’t overthink it. Go with your gut,” people told me. So I’d take another one, get similarly silly results, and roll my eyes in frustration and annoyance.

I assumed that the problem was the false dichotomy of the questions. “Do you enjoy parties, or would you rather stay at home in your PJ’s?” they would ask. Can’t someone legitimately enjoy both?

I wrote a slightly rant-ey blog post about it, and all the Myers-Briggs-obsessed people came swarming out of the woodwork, insisting that I must give it another try, and I need to make sure I don’t overthink the answers, and I will get it figured out and feel so understood.

I thought they’d completely missed the point of the post.

It was inescapable, though. Once the personality people have you in their sights, they don’t let you go until they figure out what you are. During a sleepover with my friend Sarah Beth, we read over brief descriptions of every. single. one. of the 16 Myers Briggs types, until we landed on one that actually sounded a little bit like me: The INTP.

“The INTP personality type is fairly rare, making up only three percent of the population, which is definitely a good thing for them, as there’s nothing they’d be more unhappy about than being ‘common,'” we read out loud from the 16 Personalities website. Then we burst into gales of laughter. Finally, a personality description that fit me.

Once I’d “found myself,” so to speak, I became one of those personality people who tries to type everyone they meet. My friend Esta and I talked endlessly of personalities, typing all of our family and friends. Then we moved on to the Enneagram. Tests once again epicly failed me, but again, after studying the different types and discussing it with Esta I figured out that I’m a 5.

Last Wednesday I was at the ACE teacher convention, and I was listening to a talk on how to handle stress based on your personality type. The first thing the speaker did was have us take a short, 6-question test to figure out what Enneagram type we were. “Now don’t overthink it!” she said, pulling the quiz up on the screen.

For the first time, I was taking a personality test backwards, knowing the outcome before I’d even completed the questions. I saw the difference between what I knew my answers were and what my quick, automatic responses might have been. And suddenly I saw the problem. The reason I always got misdiagnosed.

I LISTENED TO THE PEOPLE WHO TOLD ME NOT TO OVERTHINK IT.

And you know what?

Every single person who ever told me not to overthink it was a Feeler, not a Thinker, on the Myers Briggs scale.

For example, one question asked, “What is your biggest fear?” Of the nine options, three stood out to me: not being loved, being overwhelmed, and being abandoned. I don’t like being overwhelmed, I don’t like it when people march off and abandon me, and of course not being loved sounds pretty nasty. In an effort to not overthink it, I probably would have scribbled down “being abandoned” and moved on.

However, after pondering it for quite some time, I realized that while abandonment and not being loved sound like they’d be nasty if they happened, I’m never actually afraid that they will happen. Ever.

But once, when I was sick with West Nile, I mustered up my strength and tried to go to a youth event. There was a fog in my head, and people were talking and laughing and I couldn’t follow the conversations or figure out what was going on. And it was awful.

That night I lay awake, terrified to my core that this would be my life. “I’m afraid of not being able to process amazing things as they happen.” I wrote in the dark corners of my diary.

I was afraid of being overwhelmed. But when that question popped up on the screen,  my “gut” didn’t immediately know that I’m afraid of being overwhelmed. I had to think about it for a while. Remember the incident. Recall that it was being overwhelmed that I was afraid of, even though I didn’t call it that.

So, the final point I will leave you with is this: If the results of your personality tests don’t make sense, try overthinking it.

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Stop Being Spooky, LinkedIn

I have a very weird story about LinkedIn that has puzzled me for three years.

It actually began six years ago, when I started my very first term of college ever, at Bridgewater College in Virginia. Bridgewater required that every student take a class called “Personal Development Portfolio.” It was kind-of a weird class. We read Siddhartha, and the Sermon on the Mount, and a lot of random philosophers.

There were only about ten students in the class, and for some reason the other students really disliked me. One day we had to take a bus somewhere and do a service project, and no one let me sit by them, which was the kind of weird petty thing that happened in books but that I’d never actually seen in real life.

To be honest, it was the first time in my life that I’d ever felt disliked, and it was kinda tough because I didn’t know what I was doing wrong (though looking back I have a few guesses). Now, granted, I’m sure it wasn’t literally the first time anyone had ever disliked me, but it was the first time the dislike was obvious enough for an oblivious person like me to notice it.

I only went to Bridgewater College for one term, and then I moved back to Oregon and went to community college, which was, to be honest, a much less snobby and entitled environment.

Three years ago I took a journalism class. The teacher required us, as part of the class, to set up a LinkedIn profile.

In my profile I said that I went to Bridgewater College in 2010, but that’s the only info I disclosed about my time there.

Imagine my surprise, then, when LinkedIn sent me an email suggesting I connect with, of all people, a girl that had been in that class. One of the one’s who’d disliked me. We didn’t have any connections in common. We hadn’t had any contact with each other since I’d left. Yet there she was.

This has continued to happen throughout the past three years. One by one, LinkedIn has sent me emails with the LinkedIn profiles of various members of that class, trying to get me to connect. I  just got another one this morning.

I don’t get it.

Besides the people in that one tiny class, no one else from Bridgewater College has ever been suggested to me as a connection.

No one from that class has mutual connections with me.

No one else has ever been suggested to me as a possible connection unless we already have some mutual connections.

After I left Bridgewater, I had no connection anywhere on the internet with anyone from that class.

I just don’t get it.

While I was attending that class I did, once, send an email to the whole class through my personal email. But surely LinkedIn doesn’t have access to my email records? And if they do, wouldn’t I get connection suggestions about the gazillions of other people I’ve emailed in the past six years?

I am completely baffled.

MOP April 19: Things in Unexpected Places

Today my friends and I hung out because it was Ashlie’s birthday, and we had a conversation that went something like this:

Ashlie: It’s cold in here. Why is it so cold in here?

Anna: I’ve heard that restaurants keep things cold so that you’ll eat more to burn more calories to keep you warm.

Ashlie: Did you know that fast food places purposefully make the music loud so that customers will leave and they can usher people through faster?

Mandy: If you want to go to a place that’s nice and quiet you should go to Coldstone Creamery.

Me: I want to go to Coldstone sometime. I have lots of gift cards.

And by “lots” I meant two. One that someone gave me , and one that I found long ago while cleaning the school at the end of the year.

Mandy: Why don’t you use them?

Me: I just don’t get to Coldstone since the one in Albany shut down.

Anna: (Wistfully) I had a Coldstone gift card once. It was for, like, $20. But then I lost it.

Me: (Offhandedly) Oh, did you lose it at school?

Anna: Yeah.

Me: Really? I have it right here.

I reached into my wallet and pulled out the gift card.

Anna: What? But I lost it, like, four or five years ago.

Me: Yeah, I think it was about four or five years ago that I found it.

Anna: But you don’t understand. I looked and looked for it. I prayed and prayed about it. Even Chaz knows about it.

Chaz being her husband of less than a year.

Me: Well, here it is.

Anna: No, I can’t take it!

Me: What? Of course you can. It’s yours.

Anna: You have to blog about this.

So I took her advice.

 

The Fall and Rise of “LOL”

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When acronyms became “cool” for texting and instant messaging, I was relatively unimpressed. We’d used acronyms in my house for years. “MIHAPOB” for “may I have a piece of bread,” “YNTM” for “you’re not the mom,” “TCB” for “then come back,” etc etc.

I suppose the first time I realized acronyms were entering the popular vernacular was when I was about eleven or twelve and read an American Girl Magazine article about instant messaging. We still had dial-up, so instant messenger was unattainable, but as an avid e-mailer the idea of it fascinated me.

I read the list of popular IM acronums. “TTYL” means “talk to you later.” “BRB” means “be right back.” “LOL” means “laugh out loud.”

Wait, what?

How was “LOL” a thing? When in real life do people actually say “laugh out loud?” How often do they actually laugh out loud when reading instant messages?

It was stupid, and I was sure it would blow over.

Eventually we got DSL internet and I downloaded instant messeger. My friends began texting. Xanga happened. Facebook. And still, people said “LOL.” What was wrong with them?

I stubbornly stuck to “ha ha.” Every once in a while I switched it up with a “bwa ha ha.” NEVER “ba ha ha.” That was almost as bad as “LOL,” in my opinion.

I suppose my resolve began to crack when I started literally laughing out loud at things on Facebook, and wanting to let people know the extent of how hilarious they were. So I would say, “literal LOL.” That’s not so bad, right?

Well recently, in the past few months or so, I realized that my infrequent “literal LOL”s were morphing into not-so-infrequent straight-up “LOL”s.

I had finally succumbed to the hated acronym that wouldn’t die.

I had lost. I’m sorry, teenage self that wanted so desperately to be different. I have become one of “them.”

And then, I started reading articles like this:

Facebook Says ‘Haha’ is Popular and ‘LOL’ is Outdated.

And I had only one response:

“LOL”

 

What We Do for Extra Credit

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I gotta say, dressing up and lip-syncing to “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” is the weirdest thing I’ve ever done for extra credit.

I posted this picture on Facebook and multiple people asked me for the full story. Goodness. How do I even begin to explain that class?

I guess I should have known what I was getting into. After all, I did go online and register for a class called “Small Group Communication.” But see, by the time I got around to registering, classes had mostly filled up, and I was blindly clicking on anything that fulfilled my graduation requirements.

It didn’t really occur to me until the first day of class that I had just signed up for lots and lots of group work. (Which, if you have ever been to college, you know can be ab-so-lute-lee brutal.)

This class though. About 1/3 of it is lecture, and the other 2/3 is group activity. One day your team is stacking oddly-shaped blocks. One day you’re trying to come up with a solution to the feral cat problem, while trying to ignore the team behind you telling each other wild stories about their aunt’s friend’s cat who mated with a bobcat and had a half-bobcat kitten. One day you’re crawling on the floor trying to get through a desk-and-string maze.

Let’s just say, I’ve gotten to know these classmates better than I usually get to know my classmates.

On Friday, my teacher pulled out the ULTIMATE class activity. Unlike other class activities, this was actually worth something. If your team got 1800 points, you would get 10 points of extra credit.

There were five rounds. Three were played Friday, and the last two were played today.

Now, I should probably add that for nearly all of the games, tests, assignments, etc, our class is divided into three teams. There is my team, “The Emilys,” which consists of me, two other girls named “Emily,” a guy named Marcus (who interestingly enough is married to a girl named Emily), and a girl named Grace. The remaining 7 girls in the class have a team, and the remaining 4 boys in the class have a team.

Round 1, each team randomly drew a card. The cards were worth an arbitrary number of points. My team got negative points. Lucky us. The boys got the most points, so they got to choose a team to humiliate. They choose us. We had to hum “The Star Spangled Banner.”

Rounds 2 and 3 were also mostly based on chance, and involved drawing cards. My team wasn’t particularly lucky. The girls got “humiliated” and had to do the bunny hop. The boys got “humiliated” and had to crow like a rooster for a minute and a half.

Just another day in a small group communication class.

Anyway, just before class was out, my teacher pulled up a song on youtube:

“On Monday,” she said, “your team will lip-sync to this song. Teams that do well in this exercise often bring props and costumes. Goodbye, have a good weekend.”

“How badly do you want to win this thing?” Marcus asked us.

“Really bad! I can make a lion mane! Can I be the lead singer? I have an African shirt!” I said.

I love this kind of thing. Not gonna lie. And furthermore, it seemed like we were finally going to get a chance to gain points based on effort, not luck.

So, I made a lion mane that weekend. I listened to “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” over and over until I had all the lyrics memorized. I dug in the attic this morning until I found an African shirt. I tried it on, and it fit, but I couldn’t get it off so I wore it all day.

Unfortunately, the girls all showed up with jungle-animal costumes and choreographed dance moves. They were awarded 750 points, while my team got 500. The boys completely winged it, using the chalkboard eraser as their “microphone” and slapping it periodically to release a dramatic cloud of white fog. They got 25o points.

We went into the last round with the girls sitting pretty, and the boys and us duking it out for the remaining points. This also involved a complicated system of drawing playing cards, in which we were, once again, quite unlucky.

The story ends sadly: Everyone got their 1800 points, with the 10 points of extra credit, except my team.

Yep. That spectacular lion mane was all for nothing.

Now, throughout all of this none of us could figure out what the point was. All our games and activities are supposed to teach valuable truths about small groups, but what do playing cards and lip-syncing have to do with anything we’ve been studying?

“Now,” said my teacher, as my team slumped dejectedly in our chairs at the end of the game, a discarded lion mane on the desk. “That exercise was about power.”

Class was over.

“We’ll talk about it more on Wednesday,” she said.

So. I memorized a song, made a lion mane, and wore an African shirt all day until my Mom helped me wiggle out of it when I got home. And I got no extra credit. However, not to worry! I learned all about power! At least, I will on Wednesday.

ETA: My mom read this and said it comes across like a very juvenile exercise, and will make people question why on EARTH I am paying good money to take classes like this.

Fair enough. It was a juvenile exercise. However, I have to say, as strange as this class is it is oddly effective. I’m guessing, as far as retention goes, I’ll remember what I learned in this class much longer than in my lecture classes, because I’ll have these unique activities to tie the concepts to. (And also, this is by far the silliest thing we’ve done so far. So there’s that.)

About Last Blog Post, and Other Things

Okay, I have a few topics to cover today. I have homework to do but I feel like doing a blog post instead, so I’ll indulge myself. 🙂

Topic #1: My Latest Blog Post

First let me say that yes, I am aware that I misspelled “obsession” as “obession” in the title of my blog post. I found it humorous and ironic, but I was kind of annoyed that, even when I fixed it on my blog, the misspelling lived a long un-fixable life on Facebook. I imagined that everyone saw it but couldn’t point it out for fear of coming across as a fake intellectual. 😀

The blog post had one of the most interesting responses I have ever received. Some of the response was expected, and some was quite unexpected.

My post perched on the edge of devaluing education and intelligence in general. I toyed with the idea of putting in lots of disclaimers about how important education is, and how I think intelligence is a worthy thing to aspire to, but in the end I didn’t because that wasn’t what the blog post was about.

I expected this to slightly bother some people who really do value intelligence, and like to read and share things that make them think. I thought I might make them paranoid that their very real aspirations to learn more would be perceived as “fake.” And I did get a little of that, though not as much as I was afraid I might.

So maybe I’ll add one disclaimer: I you are a “fake intellectual” at heart but are sharing things that are actually interesting and bring more information to the world as a whole, while being respectful to those who disagree with you, then great. I don’t like “fakeness,” but I do think good things can come from a place of fakeness. For instance, being kind to someone you don’t like.

However, things that establish your intelligence primarily by labeling an entire group of people as “stupid” have got to go.

There were, however, two very unexpected responses that pleased me immensely.

First, several people admitted that the post hit really close to home for them. I don’t think you guys understand how rare this is. We have a tendency to construct a reality around ourselves, applaud the things that fit this reality, and squirm away silently from the things that don’t. I don’t think I have EVER written something that said, essentially, “you’re doing something wrong,” and had the response be, “oh, you’re right, I am.”

In fact, I don’t know if I have ever responded this way to something I read. The things that actually change my mind usually happen from a slow chipping away at existing ideas. Or, if I do suddenly realize that I’m wrong, I don’t usually have the guts to advertise it.

The other thing that surprised/pleased me was that I got a few private messages about the post.

I’ve often wondered about how the dynamics of blogging (especially blogging about controversy) would change if the only “commenting” option were to message the author directly. Now, I know what you’re thinking. “You should just try it! Disable comments! Tell people not to comment!”

Well, the thing is, many people depend on Facebook to see my posts, and if no one comments on Facebook not nearly as many of my friends will see that I’ve even posted. Yeah, stupid Facebook algorithms. Oh well. I really do like comments, so I don’t mind.

However, private messages are also very nice. So, if you have something to say about my post that you don’t necessarily want to make open to general discussion, feel free to message me on Facebook or send me an email. But also, comment. Either one works. (Or both.)

Topic #2: Contact Information

I added a “contact” tab for that exact reason. My email address has always lurked somewhere around the blog, but I decided to lodge it in an easy-to-find location.

Topic #3: About Me

I keep clicking on the blog links of people who comment on or like my posts, and then being disappointed to find that they have little-to-no “about me” information.

Well hello kettle, my name is pot, because I also have little-to-no “about me” information. You’d think that if I’m narcissistic enough to blog about myself I’d take pleasure in constructing a lengthy essay about who I am. But it still feels weird.

Any help from you on this matter would be appreciated. How do you decide how to describe yourself? When you read the “about me” page of bloggers, what info are you hoping to find?

Fame, and idolatry, and Zayn Malik, and God, and me.

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Today when I got on twitter I saw that the BIG NEWS of the moment was that Zayn Malik, one of the members of the popular boy band One Direction, was quitting the band. Big deal, right? I’ve often wondered how someone with any musical integrity at all could be in a band that is only popular because the members are cute and the music is manufactured by professionals who know how to craft bubblegum pop to appeal to the masses.

If you have ever heard a sermon on modern-day idolatry, I’m sure you’ve heard celebrities mentioned. A number of people, both Christian and secular alike, are disturbed by the way people treat celebrities as gods.

As I read through the comments bemoaning Zane’s departure, however, I realized that treating celebrities like gods extends beyond mere worship.

Have you ever noticed that people often get the idea that God owes us something, whether it be a happy life, a job that we enjoy, or a romantic partner? In a similar way, people get the idea that celebrities owe them something.

Over an over I saw the same disturbing type of comment. “How dare he leave the band? How dare he not give me my favorite music? How dare he not be the person I want him to be?”

In general, I try to spend as little time as possible thinking about people like Zayn. This struck a nerve with me though, and suddenly I was having flashbacks to a year ago, at Sharon Mennonite Bible Institute (SMBI), when I was first struck by a large-scale feeling of not living up to what strangers expected me to be.

I don’t claim to be a celebrity by any stretch of the imagination. In Oregon, isolated from the Mennonite world at large, I rarely meet strangers who know me through my writing. But at SMBI, five out of the fifty students admitted to me that they were big fans of my blog.

Now, five might not sound like many. But that was 10% of the student body, and SMBI provides as smooth of a cross-section of Mennonites as you’re likely to get. And that scared the heebie-jeebies out of me.

Those were just my hard-core fans. Multiple other people knew who I was, similar to the eerie way Mennonites always seem to know who Hans Mast is even if they don’t know much about him. All three of my roommates later admitted to knowing who I was before they met me, and, worst of all…

I wasn’t like they expected me to be.

I am perfectly fine with being the unexpected Mennonite you’re just not quite sure about. If you’re not in my family or my community, and if you’re not my God, I never thought I owed you anything.

I never thought you expected me to owe you anything.

Let me just clarify: My roommates were all lovely ladies and we had great fun together. Sooner or later I was bound to find out that I have an audience, and that the audience has expectations, and that it is impossible for me to meet those expectations.

All the same, it was very painful, and I have had a hard time writing for an audience since then.

Recently I’ve begun to feel that God wants me to write more, and if it weren’t for that, I wouldn’t be writing this post. I think it’s time to get over my fear of being idolized, and embrace the blessing of actually having an audience.

At the same time, I have a plea for you readers: Please remember that people you have never met are humans too, whether they be your favorite author, an annoying celebrity, or a little blogger with only a few hundred subscribers.

Idealizing someone, even that Christian writer who inspires you to follow Jesus with your whole heart, is very often a form of idolatry.