Monday, April 18, 2011

Embracing My Inner Square

When I was a freshman in high school, I took a Myers-Briggs personality test in my psychology class.  What a perfect way to indulge my characteristically self-centered, ultra-introspective fourteen-year-old self!  The results indicated that I was an ENFP ("The Inspirer").  According to the ENFP description, I was a "people person" who was exciting, fun, and socially intuitive.  I was passionate, warm, and easily able to envision possibilities.  I liked that label and wore it as a badge of honor throughout high school.

The funny thing was, the label didn't fit me at all.  I enjoy being with people, but I find most social situations to be enervating, not energizing, and I'm very awkward with people I don't know.  I enjoy a good time -- but my idea of fun is playing Catch Phrase or watching She's the Man with some close friends, nothing too adventurous.  Even when I am deeply committed to an idea or cause, I have a very difficult time exhibiting enthusiasm for it.  Although I dearly love my family, I am not especially gushy or demonstrative about it.  And I'm the last human being in the world that you'd call an "idea person."  How in the world could I be an ENFP?  Years later, I realized that I had only scored that type because I'd wanted to -- I desired to be comfortable in social situations, attuned to my own emotions and those of others, warm, enthusiastic, a beacon of joy!  I answered those questions as the girl I wanted to be, not the girl I really was.

I recently took another Myers-Briggs test online (I'm pretty sure it was the same one), being brutally honest with myself.  My result?  ISTJ, the exact opposite of what I scored all those years back.  The ISTJ is (according to the only site I've read so far) known as "The Duty Fulfiller."  Good grief, how boring!  No wonder I wanted to be the exact opposite.  Who wants to be known as the drab, dull, dependable duty-fulfiller?  Who wants to be introverted, quiet, legalistic, and conventional?  Who wants to be predictable and boring?

It turns out that Myers-Briggs has been found to be unreliable and mostly invalid (only the extroversion/introversion portion seems to hold water).  So it seems that I need not feel constrained by the ISTJ label.  Rightfully so, I'd say: it's fairly accurate, but there are some significant discrepancies (I'm not all that organized, I'm not that emotionless, etc.).  However, I'm still willing to embrace the idea of myself as a duty-fulfiller. Yes, it may conjure up images of lil' weez just plugging away, cooking, cleaning, tending to Baby Girl, putting away laundry, getting into the kitchen to make my husband a sandwich*, being the ultimate square.  But that's just fine.  I love my duties as a wife and mother.  Of course, they aren't all of what I do, they don't completely define me...but frankly, they're most of who I am, and who I want to be.

Please don't think that I'm suggesting that only my four-sided personality type is capable of being a duty-fulfiller (or that wife/mother duties are the only ones out there)!  That would be as ridiculous as saying that I, as a decided non-ENFP, was incapable of inspiring people.
The shirt reads "Bringing Trash Back."
Clearly false.  We all can inspire, we can all do our duty.  Even when my duty is my daughter's doody.

And, reigning in the silliness for just a second, I'd like to conclude with one of my favorite parts of the Universal Prayer:
I want to do what you ask of me:
In the way you ask,
For as long as you ask,
Because you ask it.

*jk lol...not that I wouldn't, but in fact I couldn't, as we have no bread.


  1. We look at the Myers-Briggs a lot in my counseling classes, I think mine fits me pretty well (INFJ- The Protector) but my husband scores the exact opposite of me! For counseling, we have talked about how this helps understand an individual at that exact moment in their life. It's not an accurate test to classify their personality across their lifetime. If you ever have a chance, the MMPI is a fun one to take (I'm not sure if there are free versions,) but this is considered to be a more accurate inventory of personality.

    That pic of you is quite fun! You're definitely not a "square."

  2. I am an INTJ, I think. I actually have always had trouble pinning down whether I was a J or a P. Now that I'm older and wiser and more 'me' than I was in high school - I'm leaning towards a J.
    We're pretty close! That must explain why we get along so well!

    On another note - on Holland's career personality theory I'm a CIA - also the most boring. I have an entire book on Holland's theory from one of my classes and in the back is an index for each personality type with a listing of all the jobs that personality is a good fit for. I think my type had like 3 jobs.

  3. Oh and because I suck at remembering to finish my post - the site you got the posters from has a bunch of xkcd comics under my type. And, well, I guess I identify with them and that must be why I find it frickin' hilarious.

  4. I am an INFJ -- the ultimate square peg, according to that site. It feels about right. :)

    I just read your about me page, and I really like it! I'm glad I found your blog.

    My husband is an ISTJ and I think it serves him well as a lawyer. He's sorta square, but since I'm a square peg, it all works out. ;)

  5. Ashley, that's really interesting! Thinking of the MB personality type as a "snapshot" makes a lot more sense. I will have to check out the MMPI. And thank you :) I think I have some "square" moments, but overall I'd like to think of myself as at least a *little* bit fun.

    Lindsy, that's awesome that we are so close! It does make sense. LOVE xkcd! I think you were the one to introduce me to them, wayyyy back in the deay.

    Thank you, Sarah! I'm thrilled to have found your blog as well. And it sounds like you and your husband fit just right. :)