I used to be a big believer in “personality tests.” Myers-Briggs, color preferences, the ennegram, even the oldest personality test of them all, astrological signs, I used to give most if not all of them some weight, some preference. Some sort of “truth.”
The truth is, your personality changes over time. You aren’t the same person you were twenty years ago. You may not even be the same person you were five years ago. And to me, that’s a good thing. I wouldn’t want to be the same Man that I was twenty years ago, or even five years ago for that matter. I’ve grown, I’ve changed, I’ve gained wisdom. I hope you have too.
What is our fascination with personality tests? Why are we so eager to pigeon-hole ourselves and others into categories and “types?” I understand that a lot of it is our wanting to create order out of chaos, to feel “safe and certain” in our ascertations of others. To feel confident in our “diagnosing” others. To make sense of our world.
But stop and think about this for a moment:
When you are eager to take the next “personality test,” what are you really doing?
You are catering to your own ego and possible narcissism for one. You are wanting to be validated, heard, and understood. You are hoping and wanting to know that someone, anyone, “gets you.” You are wanting to validate your own conceptions of who you are. To prove it to yourself that you are who you think you are, because somebody wrote about it and it “fits” you.
Another thing you are doing is this:
You are looking to someone else to define you. Even to judge you. You are looking to someone else to tell you who you are, because you don’t know who you are. You are looking for an “expert” to tell you about you. Because you don’t know, or you’re not sure. Or even the possibility that you don’t like who you are. You are looking for something outside of you to tell you who you are and why you do the things you do. Whatever happened to you being the best judge of you?
“Oh! I’m an ESTJ! That’s why I do the shit I do! Oh! I’m a Virgo! That’s why I do the shit I do!”
Let’s cut to the chase okay?
You do the things you do because you want to. You do the things you do because they are what you know. You do the things you do because someone else taught you this is what you should do. You do the things you do for approval and validation, to fit in. But at the end of the day, you do them because you want to. Those things serve you somehow.
You take the personality tests because you want to. It’s easier to blame the stars, your type, or your sun sign for your behavior. It’s easier to shift the blame for your decisions instead of owning it and doing something different, because different is scary, and sometimes different is hard.
It’s amazing to me how quickly we will pick up a book, look up our horoscopes, or fill out some multiple choice test and let someone else decide who we are. Have you ever stopped and asked yourself: “Did the person who wrote this book, wrote this horoscope, created this test, did they just make this stuff up? Did they just pull shit out of their ass to make a buck?”
Maybe they did, maybe they didn’t. Either way their answers as to who you are, are based on their experiences and knowledge, not yours. “Know thyself” indeed.
Think about it another way:
Every day you get up and go do whatever it is that you’re going to do, whether it’s work, raising a family, going to school, whatever. And every person you meet, every person you come into contact with, has a different perception of who you are. Your friends, your family, your co-workers, your boss, all of them have a different perception of who you are. They may be able to agree on certain physical traits like your height, your eye and hair color, they may get into the ballpark when it comes to your age and your weight. They will probably be in agreement when it comes to the clothes you wear and what those articles of clothing signify, but they don’t really know you. Except for what you show them and what you tell them. And you created that. All of it.
You are a different person when you are in front of your family. You are a different person in front of your boss. You are a different person in front of your friends. You are a different person in front of your lover. If that is the case, why are we so eager to have someone else tell us who we are, to define us for us? Why do we do that? We are we so eager and willing to hand over our concept of identity to someone else?