Breaking Free.February 18, 2013 at 10:34 am | Posted in Career angst, Choosing Happiness., Cult of Personality, My life | 10 Comments
I have done some form of the Meyers-Briggs personality indicator maybe 4-5 times over the past 15 years. The full one in grad school, when I was getting my MBA. Some shorter forms of it a few times since then.
But every time I’ve done it, I’ve gotten fairly consistent results. I come up as an INTJ or ENTJ, depending on how sociable I was feeling when I took the test.
(For those of you who haven’t taken the test, the four indicators are Introvert/Extravert, Sensing/Intuitive, Thinker/Feeler, and Perceiver/Judger.)
Everyone around me – including Charlie, who’s done the Meyers-Briggs himself – has expressed surprise that I was typed that way.
Which, in retrospect, probably should have been clue. Because the thing is, for an INTJ/ENTJ, accounting is actually a pretty darn good career choice. But I feel like it’s ill-fitting, right? So maybe that’s a clue: I’m not actually that personality type.
Anyway. This week, I picked up some career books from the library. The first one – Do What You Are - is based on the Meyers Briggs personality indicator.
And though I didn’t really think I was different than the results I’ve always gotten, I decided to wipe the slate clean and start fresh – that is, break free of the EXPECTATION that I was a certain way.
It’s probably not surprising to YOU, my readers, that I came up with different results on the Meyers-Briggs this time. But I was completely gobsmacked. The type that I came up with? It’s ME. It’s the REAL me, not the me I want to be. Not the Me at Work.
Which, honestly, if I think about it – makes a TON of sense.
Nearly 20 years ago when Amy died, I made a decision: I could not be the person I was anymore. Why? Because I wasn’t a Responsible Person – when a person clearly needed me. I didn’t care enough about other people to reach out and help my cousin, who was clearly suffering. Amy reached out to me twice, and I did nothing to help. NOTHING.
Now, of course, I have perspective. And I understand the reality: her death wasn’t my fault. But back then, I believed that if I were a different, BETTER person, I might have saved her.
So I changed. I became Responsible. I modeled myself after my father; became organized, made decisions, worked my ass off to achieve success. Went to business school. Got my CPA. Forced myself to be the person I SHOULD have been; someone who would have helped her suicidal cousin.
But the thing is, I’m not really an INTJ. Not naturally, anyway. And the issues with my career, and my life, and happiness right now? Likely a result of trying to BE someone I’m not. Which, really, is kind of silly.
So it SHOULDN’T have been surprising, then, that I got a different result this time. ENTP. And the profile of my personality type is ME – to a tee.
The things that I have spent the past 20 years looking at as my weaknesses – the dislike of routines and predictable, the difficulty with details, the inattention to other people’s feelings, the need to debate, the need to change things up when I master a skill (what my father calls my inability to stick with something)…
It’s my PERSONALITY.
I’ve spent the past 20 years trying to be someone I’m not. I’ve been trying to CHANGE things that are fundamentally me, and being disappointed when I can’t FIX it.
It’s just shocking to me that a test in a book has made me realize this about myself. I mean, at some level I realized that I made choices about my life after Amy died. I suppose I just didn’t realize how far-reaching those changes were.
Anyway. I am excited about this discovery. For the first time, I feel like I’m breaking free of the idea of who I SHOULD be and focusing on who I AM.