I miss making videos, so I decided to make one. This is Jenny and I chatting about our recent thrift store hauls.
I miss making videos, so I decided to make one. This is Jenny and I chatting about our recent thrift store hauls.
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.
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?
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.
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.”
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:
And I had only one response:
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.)