Tag Archives: myers briggs

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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MOP April 15: Tricking Myself into Getting Up Early

I have a bad habit of putting off my homework until the morning its due. I’ll start big projects early, but I won’t finish them until the last available morning.

Today was one such morning.

I didn’t have class until 10, but I got to school at 8, checked out the textbook I needed, and went to the rotunda to study. It’s usually difficult to get a study table, but at 8 am, with the morning sun streaming through the windows, I had the entire rotunda to myself.


Here’s the deal: I love studying in the mornings. I am more alert in the mornings than I am at any other time of day. Yes, I’m the perky annoying person who muses about the meaning of life before you’ve had your coffee. Sorry. We switch places in the afternoon, I promise.

But.

If I’m in bed and I don’t have to get up, I don’t. And if I should go to bed, but I don’t need to get up early, I keep reading. (I’ll blame it on the fact that I’m a perceiver, not a judger, on the Myers-Briggs scale.)

So. I keep putting off my assignments because it’s the best way to trick myself into getting up early.

If you’re wondering, “why don’t you just get up?? Why would you need to trick yourself?” Then you’re probably a judger. (In a Myers-Briggs way. Not in a scary Matthew 7:1 way.) I have to trick myself all the time. That’s part of the reason I’m (kind-of) into minimalism…it’s basically a way to trick myself into being cleaner and more organized. If you only have three things in a drawer it’s automatically organized no matter how haphazardly you toss them in.

However. If you are a fellow perceiver who has to trick yourself into doing things, have you found any wonderful ways of making yourself get up early that don’t involve deadlines?

Jenny’s last MOP post, about modesty, can be found here. Mom’s latest post about finding purpose in being scatterbrained can be found here. Jenny will post on Monday.