Personality

Today I came across 16 personalities, one of the many online Myer-Briggs-esque personality tests. If you’ve never come across one of these before, you respond to a number of situational questions with an answer on a scale from ‘strongly agree’ to ‘strongly disagree’. The questions represent four broad categories (or dichotomies), and your answers for questions of a certain category are meant to indicate the way your personality works.

I’ve done a few of these tests, and I usually don’t put much stock in the results, even if they’ve been fairly consistent in reporting my ‘type’. There often aren’t enough real world examples or to explain the personality types so that you can draw a conclusion about how well the type fits you.

In this case, the results do a great job of explaining the traits of the personality type, to an uncanny degree. I think we all feel our faults most sensitively (or is that just my personality?), and the ‘weaknesses’ of my personality type really hit home. For that reason alone I’m prepared to open myself up a bit to be influenced by whatever else my personality says about me.

Apparently I’m an INFJ personality type. That’s idealism and morality, paired with a dose of introversion and judgement based reasoning. The weaknesses of an INFJ personality are: sensitivity (yep), extremely private (yep), perfectionism (oh yes), the desperate need for a goal (ouch, too real) and the tendency to burn out (wow).

Reading on, the sections describing relationships, friendships and career all feel familiar and accurate. This extract from the career portion made my hair stand on end because it puts into words the frustrations I’ve been feeling:

… many INFJs struggle to begin a career early on because they see ten wildly different paths forward, each with its own intrinsic rewards, alluring but also heartbreaking, because each means abandoning so much else.

While of course no one can be distilled to one of 16 molds, if nothing else this is a great chance to reflect a bit on who I am. It can be had to describe or explain complicated feelings and motivations sometimes, so its refreshing (and creepy) to read words that resonate so well with the feelings I have.

Being in a ‘transitional period’ (i.e. unemployed, on an unfamiliar continent surrounded by unfamiliar languages), I certainly do a lot of reflection and dissection of the decisions that have shaped my life so far. If something like this personality indicator helps me understand myself a little better, or at least question myself with a little more structure and purpose, that can only be a good thing.

For the record, INFJs are the most uncommon personality type, apparently making up less than 3% of the population. The type supposedly includes such storied peers as Mother Theresa, Nelson Mandela … and Martin Luther King. Pressure much?


*Edit: At the end of the day, the site wants to make money by selling their premium product. Obviously you should take the results with a grain of salt. Whether the results are ‘real’ or just broad, familiar situations designed to evoke an emotional response (i.e. excellent marketing), treat them with as much skepticism as you think you should.

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