A while back, maybe ten years ago, I took a book-based version of the Myers-Briggs personality test. I'm pretty sure I came out INFP: Introverted iNtuitive Feeling Perceiving. "The Idealist." According to the Myers-Briggs website, that means: "Loyal to their values and to people who are important to them. Want an external life that is congruent with their values. Curious, quick to see possibilities, can be catalysts for implementing ideas. Seek to understand people and to help them fulfill their potential. Adaptable, flexible, and accepting unless a value is threatened." That sounds like me at least in part.
This came up today in my monthly Questing meeting (see #106), when I was complaining—yet again—about how hard it is to be stinking disciplined. Dear Wendy pointed out that she and I are both NFP (she's extroverted, so ENFP: "Warmly enthusiastic and imaginative. Sees life as full of possibilities.
Makes connections between events and information very quickly,
and confidently proceeds based on the patterns seen"), and that perhaps it's simply not in our general constitution to be organized and structured.
I so often forget that about ourselves, us humans: we're all different, even as we all of us share traits and similarities. Some of us, for example, really need structure; others of us thrive through improvisation.
(Indeed, one of my failings, though I try to stay on top of this, is that I think everyone else in the world is just like me!!!! Not so. No doubt just as well.)
When I got home, not remembering if INFP was correct for me—and mind you, I have no doubt changed just a tad in the past ten years—I sought out an online version of the test. This time I came out ISTP: Introverted, obServant (Sensing in the M-B formula), Thinking (vs. Feeling—but only barely), Prospecting (Perceiving in M-B, vs. Judgmental). Strongly introverted, and even more strongly prospecting—the latter meaning, "very good at improvising and spotting opportunities. [Prospectors] tend to be flexible, relaxed nonconformists who prefer keeping their options open."
Oh. Well then. That explains the discipline thing.
ISTPs are dubbed "Virtuosos" and, for the record, make up only 5 percent of the population. "ISTP women are especially rare, and the typical gender roles that
society tends to expect can be a poor fit—they'll often be seen as
tomboys from a young age." What doesn't fit me is that ISTPs are often engineers and mechanics; they like to get their hands dirty, pulling things apart and putting them back together. Does book arts qualify?
I also came out strongly assertive (A)—which I don't really identify with. But the alternative is "turbulent"—like, unsure, always questioning, which I definitely am not. I am confident when I step up of my own free will to tackle a problem. I expect most people think of me as self-assured. I do not worry. Maybe I'm confusing assertion with leadership, which, now that I look, is embodied in ENTJ: my opposite! so yeah, you can be assertive without being a leader type.
When I take these sorts of tests, I can easily overanalyze (which must be T—and I actually identify more with T than with F, so what's up there?). For example, I might strongly agree or disagree with a statement depending on whatever context I dream up in response. Argue an ethical point with someone? Well, if it's X, who I feel a certain intimacy with, sure! If it's Y, who I don't know except from playing volleyball with him, no way! How do I generalize?
I can't! I'm a relativist!
I'm pretty sure relativism goes on the prospecting plane (i.e., not judgmental).
Anyway. I'm not sure I can make any sense of all these letters, traits, or responses to life. But I do know that I am very different from many people I know, and I'm very similar to others. And to most everyone else: somewhere in between. These sixteen "personality traits" may be the beginning of a key to what that's all about.
And one of these days, I'll share my thoughts about astrology.