I am not my personality type

Hand up if you’ve ever taken one of those Myers-Briggs online personality tests. If you haven’t, well, today is your day! There are quite a few out there, some (really) long and others relatively short, but as far as I’m concerned, if the questions are answered honestly, the result is always the same. Try this one, by humanmetrics: Take the test.

I’m an INTJ – Introvert, iNtuitive, Thinking, Judging. This means that, among other things, I “appear to project an aura of ‘definiteness’, of self-confidence. This self-confidence, sometimes mistaken for simple arrogance by the less decisive, is actually of a very specific rather than a general nature; its source lies in the specialized knowledge systems that most INTJs start building at an early age. When it comes to their own areas of expertise – and INTJs can have several – they will be able to tell you almost immediately whether or not they can help you, and if so, how. INTJs know what they know, and perhaps still more importantly, they know what they don’t know”.
Does this sound like me? I guess you wouldn’t know if you haven’t met me.

I’m also a Cancer. I don’t believe in horoscopes, but when I heard that my personality could be because or thanks to my date of birth, I wanted to know more. “A family man at heart, your Cancer loves children, roots, and sees home as a haven. When traveling he is prone to get homesick, even in this day and age. A water sign, Cancer is highly emotional and sympathetic. He can be moody. The changing moods of Cancers are one of their greatest charms, and as mutable as the natural landscape. If is raining, you still know the sun will be out soon. Although they are worriers, they have kind and giving temperaments. Cancers also have excellent memories, so anything special that you do for him won’t be forgotten.” (Source: astrologyzone.com)

So basically, as an INTJ Cancer, I’m a self-confident, highly emotional, sympathetic and moody man. Okay.

I’ve always loved anything that can help me understand people, behaviour and society – when I grow up, I’m going to study psychology and sociology. I love figuring out people, but I also like learning about myself… and I just don’t go to the Internet for that. My friends, my family and people I like to hang out with often give me clues of what type of person they see me as. Funny. Sarcastic. Mean. Cheeky. Goofy. Smart. Brave. Blunt. Umuzungu mu mutwe (white/western mind). Snobish. Stubborn. Narcissic. Vain. Naive… some which I think are true, others, er, not really.
Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about, not who we are, but about how we behave once we’re informed that we behave, or are supposed to behave in a certain manner, by a friend, a human behaviour expert, or an astrologer.

I was talking to this girl the other day, asking simple questions about her occupation, her life… you know, the questions you ask someone you don’t know quite well yet; but the woman was just being funny, giving me riddled answers and saying things I couldn’t quite understand, on purpose. So I was like (sarcastically), you’re a mysterious woman ey? She was like, yeah, I’m an enigma. But I was like, Nope! You’re not! You’re just trying to act special, but there’s really nothing enigmatic about hiding info that I can find on your Facebook profile. I assume that someone had told her she’s puzzle or something, which made her feel “special” when, in fact, there’s nothing to be proud about being difficult and unable to communicate clearly.

This experience and some others have made me realise that a lot of people – especially “kids” my age who have been exposed to western cultures – flaunt their personality flaws instead of working to fix them.
I’m loud. I don’t mince my words. I’m rude. I have a dirty sense of humour. I get pissed off easily. I have trust issues. I only care about the money. I’m the baddest bitch you’ll ever meet (like what does this even mean?). I ain’t gat time for… These are things I’ve heard or read people say about themselves, snapping their fingers like they’re the next big thing after cookies and cream ice cream. And then they say things like, deal with it! This is who I am! It’s take it or leave it! Really though?

Imagine I decided not to do anything about my mood swings (I’ve learnt to keep them inside), just because some astrology convention somewhere decided that just because I was born between June 21st and July 22nd, I’m supposed to be moody (regardless of where I was born and brought up, and the fact that my mother wasn’t the type to entertain moody children), what kind of person would I be? Imagine I started behaving like a Mr Know-It-All, just because Myers-Briggs claim I am?
I’m not dismissing the accuracy of personality types, or even what people tell us about ourselves; rather, I’m asking, what happened to striving to become better people?

I think I’m starting to understand why relationships (and not just romantic ones) fail a lot these days, and many people are unhappy. We want others to accept us “as we are” but we will make no effort to improve ourselves for them. Compromise is a word that doesn’t exist in our dictionnaries anymore. We “love” people for what they give us – their patience with our sh*t, but never think about lightening the weight we put on their shoulders; or at the very least, expressing our gratitude for their love and support. And then we get surprised and angry when people get tired one day, and just leave?

I read somewhere that INTJs “are insensitive; not good at expressing feelings and affections; have a tendency to believe they’re always right; tend to respond to conflict with logic and reason, rather than the desired emotional support; and tend to hold back parts of themselves”. Am I going to sit back and be like, hey, this is who I am! No! I’m going to take whatever of those things are true (some are, and some WERE) and work on them! Because that’s what a grown sensible man is supposed to do!

If anything, my “personality type” is just a list of things I may be good at (let’s not take anything for granted), and red signs I need to look out for and avoid by all means necessary… by the Grace of God.

“Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did.” (1 John 2: 6 NIV)
I wonder what personality type Jesus was.

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