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.

Not weakness.

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.

Are.

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.

Stay tuned.

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10 Comments »

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  1. Good for you! It does sound like you’ve long pushed yourself to be someone you aren’t. I look forward to following your discovery!

  2. That is really really neat. And exciting!
    xoxo
    T.

  3. So, when you wrote your last post about your career, I was thinking that you should take some kind of assessment test. And then I thought that was a silly suggestion and I shouldn’t say it. πŸ™‚

    But since you mentioned it – I took one my senior year in h.s. that was specifically career focused. I think it was the Differential Aptitude Test? Anyway, I found it in my basement recently and was shocked to find that 17 years later, a majority of the careers it suggested were ones I’ve actually done and enjoyed. I just promised another friend I’d look for something in the same place in my basement, so I will look for that test while I’m at it and confirm that that’s what it’s really called. And I’ll let you know.

    Anyway, this sounds like a really good start!

    • I was wrong. It was the Meyers Briggs that told me the career choices. The Differential Aptitude Test just told me I was good at math & liked social services.

  4. Don;t I remember you writing that your parents always were upset about you debating and arguing over rules? Just means maybe you should be a lawyer? Would you consider changing careers?

    I am an INFP. Writing, psychology, and counseling are supposed to be good career choices, so being a behavioral health nurse who writes on the side sounds like a good match.

  5. Love that you’ve discovered this about yourself! I find Meyers-Briggs to be eerily accurate (actual INTJ here, sigh!) and lately I’ve been using it as a way of explaining myself to my husband — I’d love to be a lighter, less obsessive person, but personality, as you note, is forever. Luckily, the traits that drive my husband nuts make me very good at my job. Really hoping you find your perfect career path now that you know which direction to look! I changed careers (drastic huge change involving more school) at 32. Best decision I ever made. My “aha!” moment came while leafing through “What Color is Your Parachute.”

  6. Yay for insight, yay for introspection, yay for getting you right, yay for becoming comfortable in the skin you really wear.

  7. I am still a little surprised. I would not have pegged you for an E. πŸ™‚ But you do seem to be not-J-enough for your current career. I love those sorts of tools (you should read Motherstyles now because it uses M-B to talk about your parenting style) but at the same time I need to keep reminding myself that it’s a continuum, that a P can have J-like moments when things are too far towards the extreme, an E can get overwhelmed by social contact eventually, etc. So you have to also think beyond the four letters which reference a tipping point on the M-B scale and think about your own, personal tipping-points. (I imagine being an accountant would tax the J out of even some J’s – so you’d want to be pretty well out there and not just say it’s ok – I’m a J.) And of course watering down to 16 character types is giving pretty broad brush strokes, too, but it’s a great tool for getting you to look at things in a different light.

    Definitely try to get hold of that book (I think I’ve recommended it to you before so ignore if you’ve already read it – recommendation was originally from Miss E).

  8. I never stop being amazed at the journey you are on. I read the personality profile you linked and even though I only know you through your blog, it really sounded like the you that comes through here.

  9. I’m so late with this, but I just sat down at a keyboard for the first time in forever πŸ™‚ I’m an ISTJ, and I was almost an accountant – I ended up an engineer with a job that is as (or more) finicky than accounting. I can imagine if you are NOT this personality type, this kind of work can be excruciating to deal with on a daily basis.


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