We're all bent on getting our own answers in a world fraught with questions and the remedies others impose on us. To be certain, we are hungry for answers both about our own psychology and about the individual thoughts and ideas that underly it.
At the same time, while most of our questions certainly trace back to our own brains alone, we tend to seek solutions primarily from other sources, such as family, friends, journals, or daytime TV. One long-trusted window into our inner workings is the beloved Personality Test.
Perhaps a product of an underlying feeling that personal intuitions about ourselves must be false or that a better psychological expert exists, our desire to grab at others' explanations of our unique behavior appears somewhat fishy.
This is not to say that partaking of external psychological help or insight of any kind is fruitless. On the contrary, my personality reading of ISFJ (Introvert, Sensing, Feeling, Judging) was pretty nearly right on, especially considering there were 16 available options.
It's true, I am "very supportive," "loyal and hardworking," "imaginative and observant." And I can let my perhaps excessive altruism and tendency to overload myself get the best of me sometimes. But what isn't true is that I define myself solely by these and like characteristics.
I would never describe myself as a "sentinel," constantly keeping watch on the sidelines of the doers and winners in life. While I may be more cautious and hesitant in forming my words and entering a new environment relative to others, I am most definitely a go-getter in my own right, most notably at times when I approach a friend who needs a hand or take the initiative in the oft-terrifying internship search. :) Particularly devoid of any sort of standard measure for comparison as to "how comfortable you are at the center of attention" or "how flexible you are," this and most other tests of inner soul are inherently flawed.
As much as I enjoy quantifying and structuring abstractions to the best of my ability, personality is not a stable measure, but a dynamic phenomenon that we can never fully measure at all.
So next time anyone tells you, "You'll never make it as a lawyer because you're too sensitive" or "You'll never understand my feelings because you're too analytical," go ahead and tell them the only label you're espousing is that of an open mind, a forgiving heart, and venturing spirit. It's survival of the fittest, baby, so while you're over there counting your problems, I'll be here deleting mine.
Stay humble and warm out there, everyone!
Fur pullover: ON SALE at Banana Republic. Pants: Currently 40% off with Code ENJOY at Ann Taylor. :) Bag: Michael Kors (old). Shoes: H&M (old).
All photos by Eric Pan.