I ran into some old papers last evening from a job I had over 20 years ago and included in them I found a personality test I had taken, a Myers Briggs test. I vaguely remember taking the test back in the day and the feeling of disdain I had for being placed in a defined box. The last sentence in the summary of the report states, “Leanne is a highly introverted individual who has mastered extrovert skills.”
My personality summary was defined as an INFJ type.
Now, I never cared about what an INFJ type was 20+ years ago, but I found another Myer Briggs test today, and I retook it. The results have not changed, the same four letters appeared to define my personality type, INFJ.
I feel like a completely different person who sees the world differently than I did 20+ years ago. Some people say it is a different chapter in their life, but I have always said it is like a different book altogether. I found it perplexing and curious that my psychological preferences and how I perceive the world around me has not changed and as I looked at these same four letters, INFJ, I decided I would look more into the meaning of these letters.
The Myer Briggs test was created in the 40s by Katherine Briggs and her daughter. The test was created based on Jung’s theory of psychological types. Jung had speculated that humans experience the world using four principle psychological functions; sensation, intuition, feeling, and thinking-and that one of these four functions is dominant for a person most of the time. Although still prevalent in the business world, the Myer Briggs test has been said to exhibit significant psychometric deficiencies with poor validity and poor reliability.
The I represents Introvert, N stands for Intuitive, F stands for Feeling, and the J stands for Judging. Now, I will not go into a long description of all of these because if you are curious about your own results, there are plenty of places you can take the test online and learn more (I will include some links below). However, what I found ultimately intriguing is the detailed description of my personality type, and how at home I felt reading words I struggle to find myself while describing my thoughts and feelings. My personality type is defined as a big complexity. According to the Myer’s Briggs, I use both the right and left side of the brain pretty equally which causes jumping between the analytical and the creative with almost every thought and interaction. There are dichotomies running rampant in this defined personality type:
- Wants to be alone (introvert) but wants to be with people, well the right people that is.
- Avoids being the center of attention but wants to be seen and recognized
- So genuinely interested in people and humanity are often mistaken as extroverts
- Battles between an internal brainstorm and the need for closure
- A chaotic, complex view of themselves but a very orderly view of the world
- Lives in a world of hidden meaning and possibilities but likes things neat and orderly
- Can be quite gullible; many INFJs build up a protective armor over the years to protect against this and being “used” by others, but yet we tend to want to connect with others.
You may be wondering, “why does any of this matter?” The brief answer is reading through all the different psychological preferences I began to get a sense that my chaotic, deep thinking, always thinking, need for order, curious in the realms of all things why are gifts. The constant tension between my imaginings, logic, and intuition allow for a greater and deeper connection with all things around me. My need to be alone contrasted with no desire for isolation broadens my sensitivity and inspiration. My abstract communication and deeply woven personality offer an unusually rich inner life and when expressed to and pondered by others can open up a connection within them as well. Although I am much more than my personality reading through the defined four letters and their descriptions, it did help me see the things I argue against as rather illuminating individual gifts. I feel like it opened my mindset to question perceived blind spots and consider what have been some long-standing frustrations as a possible personality tension rather than a shortcoming.
If you are interested in learning more, you can scoot over to the Official Myers Briggs website.
(photo by Markus Spiske)