Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Weekly Update: 10-13-15 Personality Types

After feeling my energy reserves drain away from the flurry of activity last week, I ended up taking Friday off and luxuriating in the freedom of doing nothing! In this case, "doing nothing" meant looking up Myers-Briggs Personality Types.

This could be considered research, in a way. After all, as a writer, I tend to be drawn to personalities and how people tick. I need to understand how my characters function and why they make the decisions that they make.

But who am I kidding? I was looking up stuff about my own type because it was fun.

The way it works is that you evaluate yourself based on two polar personality traits: Extrovert (E) versus Introvert (I), Sensor (S) versus iNtuitive (N), Thinker (T) versus Feeler (F), and Judger (J) versus Perceiver (F). You then put the four letters together and get your personality. In my case, I'm an INFP--Introvert, iNtuitive, Feeler, Perceiver, sometimes nicknamed as a Healer or Idealist.

"Healers (INFPs) present a calm and serene face to the world, and can seem shy, even distant around others. But inside they're anything but serene, having a capacity for personal caring rarely found in the other types. Healers care deeply about the inner life of a few special persons, or about a favorite cause in the world at large. And their great passion is to heal the conflicts that trouble individuals, or that divide groups, and thus to bring wholeness, or health, to themselves, their loved ones, and their community."

--David Keirsey, Please Understand Me II http://www.keirsey.com/4temps/healer.asp

None of this is all that new to me. My dad (who's an INTJ) had typed me as early as 6th grade. The first time I learned I was an extreme feeler and idealist, I cried, because it was such an awful, uncool thing to be. I wanted to be smart and tough, not emotional and wishy-washy. (By the way, anyone who suggests I'm stupid will get their nose snapped off, I'm telling you right now!)

Sometimes I still hate the way my tendencies keep me from doing more. As a Perceiver, for example, I like to play first, work later, and I struggle with discipline and organization. (Not that half my friends believe it; they think I'm hard-working and on top of things. Pah!)

I don't think of personality as being a destiny. You can improve your weaknesses. The problem is, it's hard. It chews away precious willpower and energy. When I'm working as a substitute, for example, I need to be a bit more extroverted (E) and disciplined (J) than I prefer. I feel like I can keep it up for a while, but when I get home, I collapse into a powder-puff heap.

Sometimes I'm so hard on myself for not being what I'm not, I don't really appreciate what I am. Does that make sense? I sort of undervalue my natural strengths and overvalue the qualities I don't have in abundance. For example, one time, a student came up and said she really appreciated how nice of a substitute I was, not like her teacher, who she thought was "scary." But I translated "being nice" as "being soft and easily taken advantage of" and secretly wished I could be one of those scary teachers.

After all, I am an INFP
But on the whole, I really like being who I am, because I get along with myself so well. When I read personality books, I think about how my mind ticks. I feel sad about my weaknesses (impractical, takes things personally, hard to get to know), but I feel grateful for my strengths (open-minded and flexible, very creative, passionate and energetic). It makes me ponder how others see me and how I see myself.

If you want to know your type, this quick free test is useful: http://www.16personalities.com/free-personality-test

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