Alright, I’ll admit it. I’m a fan of personality tests. For someone who spent a large part of her childhood pondering identity questions, it’s no surprise that I would. Sometime during my first year in college, I started procrastinating from doing my assignments by poking around personality quizzes and tests. I also figured that they might be able to help me figure out what I wanted to do after college.
The Myers Briggs was the one that made the most sense to me and the one I was familiar with. A mentor who was a career counselor had us, students, take it the summer after my third year in high school. The test stated that I was an INFP and suggested that I look into Creative Writing or Social work as a major. Having grown up in a household (and culture) that didn’t value Writing or the Arts as a viable career path and believing that Counseling might not make me enough money to support myself, I put it at the back of my mind and forgot about it.
My third year in college, a series of conversations with a friend of mine who had just recently discovered the test re-awakened a desire to take the test again. She found out she was an INTJ type and talked to me about how much sense it made for her. We talked at length about how knowing other people’s types helped us understand why they said certain things or responded to a situation in a specific way. Being one to obsess about things I was interested in, I plunged (back) in headfirst into learning about the Myers Briggs test, Isabel Myers and her intent behind the test and everything else I could get my hands on. Once again, I came out as an INFP. With the amount of knowledge I amassed, I could have easily written a Masters-level thesis paper. I spent every waking moment thinking about what I was learning.
This time, there was an emotional attachment to the test result. Simply put, I hated it. I wanted to be like my friend. INTJ. Strong, Decisive.Rational. I wanted to be a Mastermind. Instead, I was…a Healer? a Dreamer? I didn’t want to believe it though the signs were all there. Who wants to be known as the most idealistic of idealists? Who wants to be known as overly sensitive or unable to effectively use Logic? My friend, the INTJ, pointed out the amazing people who were put in the category of famous INFPS. “Look, William Shakespeare, J.D Salinger, C.S Lewis! They even put Mary, the mother of Jesus and Princess Diana in the same category as you!!!”
I wasn’t impressed. I wanted to be in the same category as natural leaders, natural extroverts and people who could easily carry out tasks for ideation to implementation without getting distracted. I read some more and was convinced the test was wrong. The next school year, I took a Career Counseling class where we had to take the test again. Once again, I was given the same result. I could no longer escape it. The more I talked with my friend though, the more I started to notice where we complimented each other. Our relationship had its rocky moments but we both learned quite a bit from each other. She helped me make tough decisions and I helped her see different sides of a situation. I found my intuition to be useful to her and she found me asking questions about how not to take everything so seriously.
Almost three years later, I can say I’m comfortable with being an INFP and can recognize someone else who is, from a mile away 🙂 . I’m still learning to trust my intuition and to be comfortable making un-popular decisions because they feel more authentic. I’ve learned to use the word “Feel” with other NFs and to replace it with “Think” when I’m with NTs. I realized that there are ways to learn to be less over-sensitive, less flighty and to focus more on the details.
Most importantly, I’ve learned that it’s okay to say to the world that you’re a work in progress and to every day, work to be better than you were yesterday.