Friday, September 12, 2014

On Identity and Myers-Briggs Personality Types

For those of you who do not know, I have somewhat recently truly begun college.

A prominent topic so far, I have discovered, is the matter of identity, especially in my mandatory First Year Seminar class.  (Basically, it's a class designed to help freshmen settle into life at college; it's tied into our advising.)  As part of the program, we take various quizzes to determine various aspects of our personality.

We had been given a lecture at freshman orientation by the Dean of Psychology, who talked a great deal about identity, and how it is common to have "identity crises," and that we grow from them, and, while these crises are scary when they happen, ultimately they are nothing to fear.  She also spoke about not having identity crises frequently almost as a bad thing, as our "identities" being "stagnant" would not help us grow as a person.  Or something like that.  Anyway, I felt rather annoyed by that at the time, as I did not think any identity crises whatsoever would be in my near future, or ever.  I thought I knew and was content entirely with what I was.

How wrong I was!  Within the first few weeks, we were instructed to take a Myers-Briggs personality test.  Now, I have taken a Myers-Briggs personality test before, and have come up with INFP, and have been almost entirely satisfied by that answer.  Part of me was worried it was wrong, however much I thought it fit me, and as I was happy to identify as an INFP, I forwent taking the test again, until it was required of me in that class.

I came up as an INTP.  One letter off.  Oh crisis!  I didn't want to be an INTP...I wanted to get the result of INFP!  INFP's were sweet and cuddly in my mind...they love many and are loved by all.  INTP's were somewhat cold and harsh...standoffish.  Viewed somewhat as general jerks.  Who would want to be that?

I tried to remind myself of what I had told someone else having a similar crisis about getting a different result than formerly for the Myers-Briggs test not a month before.  "It's just stereotypes...sometimes stereotypes for one will apply to you, and sometimes for others, even ones you've never been associated.  It's okay!  You are a unique human being."  But it wasn't working.  Even worse, I thought about how also not a month before, I had mentally degraded someone for identifying with both letters on a given category.  "Choose one or the other," I thought to myself about them.  "You can't have both, you stupid!"  And then there I was, the stupid one...realizing how well INTP fit me, but remembering how well INFP also fit me.

I still feel foolish for identifying with both.  But some measure of peace is brought by a thought presented in a different talk.  For some of the letter categories in Myers-Briggs personalities, it is not uncommon for people to have aspects of both, and even to very closely straddle the line between the two.  So perhaps I am an INT/FP.  I turn into an INFP whenever I am in a jubilant mood, which, depending on the week, can be extremely often, but INTP is my default form.

I suppose it's silly that this matters so much to me.  But to me, a Myers-Briggs personality type is a relatively important part of my identity.  That may and likely will change later, but for's part of me.