Tuesday, October 26, 2010

I or E?

I am a big fan of using Myers-Briggs personality types.  I first got tested in university at around 20 and came out as an ENTP meaing I am Extroverted, iNtuitive, Thinking, Perceiving.  These in order mean that I like lots of people and exciting social situations, I tend to look at the big picture and like ideas more than details, I use rational thought and logic rather than feelings to make decisions and that I tend to be spontaneous and like flexibility rather than scheduling.  At the time I read the description of the ENTP and was astounded at how well it fit my personality, particularly little quirks that I only really noticed once the personality test remarked on them.  I read over the other types and found that ENTJ was fairly close but none of the other descriptions were at all correct - I was an ENT? for sure.

Having just spent more than a year at home as a homemaker I have begun to question that evaluation.  One might think that a social person who loves new people and groups would go completely bonkers sitting alone in an apartment for 8 hours a day but I have not felt that at all.  I have no desire to head out and join groups, meet people and be sociable aside from meeting up with my established friends here and there.  Nothing socially has changed for me from the times when I was a salesperson dealing with new people all day every day, which is strange because I expected that a salesperson might need some alone time after work while a homemaker would be busting at the seams to get out and get some people time.  I think perhaps the sorts of people I was around during my university days really warped my answers to these questions and made me out to be something other than what I am.

While I do very much enjoy time with a few friends I really don't like going out to meet people.  Small talk makes me insane and mostly I just want to be left alone when I end up at a party.  Often people figure I must be unhappy or lonely when I sit in a corner but generally I just prefer to sit and think about numbers instead of meet new people.  When I was younger, prior to university, I found things much more difficult and felt like the world just didn't contain people who understood me.  When I got to university and found a group of people that thought like me and who understood me (to a degree...) I became drastically more sociable with them in particular but never really had much desire to meet all kinds of other people.  I think that intense desire to be around these people who made me feel so much better really made me believe that I was a social creature when in fact my tendencies really lie elsewhere.  It seems strange that an introvert would enjoy sales but I think my view of that situation was really quite different than most; I saw each sale as a game to win, a puzzle to solve, rather than a friend to be made so it wasn't really social.

Realistically I am not E or I to any extreme degree.  There are always shades of grey and that is clearly one of them; I can deal with a sales career so I am obviously not an extreme Introvert but I can deal with being at home all the time by myself so I am obviously not an extreme Extrovert either.  Nonetheless my understanding has shifted and when I took the test again today I tested out as an I, rather than E.  This reminds me a bit of the time I spent convincing Hobo that he was a T instead of an F.  For a long time he was sure he was a Feeler, but eventually I managed to convince him that he really belonged to team evil - Thinkers.  Strangely I even remember the exact moment I finally got him to admit I was right.  It is strange how strongly we cling to these definitions of self we find out in the world; we seem to take them and make the definition part of ourselves.


  1. I love taking tests like these, and go back every year or two to a Myers-Briggs style one. I've been pretty markedly INTJ every time.

  2. I really love personality tests, but they are very consistently dead wrong about me. They usually have really bad proxies for the things they are trying to get at.

    By reading descriptions of what the personality types mean, I am clearly an INTJ. Reading questions that attempt to determine where I fit in, I very consistently answer them to indicate the opposite of what they intend because of how the question is phrased, and end up testing as XXXP.