personality profile stuff
I've always been fascinated by personality profiles and tests and such. They're a great way to learn about oneself and what one's inherent biases and tendencies are. I can remember being into that and reading good books on it and stuff, but that was years ago. But I've been hearing more talk about them in my circles recently that has rekindled my interest.
So I figured I'd go to some sites and try that Myers-Briggs thing again, for the first time in 10 years (since Governor's School). I do remember the last time I took it -- actually it's the only other time I can remember -- that I was very strongly INTJ in all four categories, and the description of the stereotypical quiet, confident/arrogant, aloof scientist fit like a glove. But I just took the test three times, twice here (not back to back, of course) and once here, and wound up with ISTJ, ISTP, and INTP. I'm still heavily inclined (80-90%) toward Introversion and Thinking, so no surprises there. But the other two categories are practically toss-ups now, obviously, and the descriptions seem to be consistent in that for all four I match up well with some parts and not so well or not at all with others.*
Not sure what to think of that, and I won't go too deep into the minutia of each type or category, but in general it seems that my shift in recent years toward a laid-back approach favoring freedom and spontaneity over a structured and orderly (and boring, or so I think now) lifestyle has been a major factor, since that desire seems to be tied to the Sensing category. I've also tried hard recently to be more open and genuine, and to a lesser extent kind, in dealing with people, which also seems to match up more with the "new" types and definitely is not at all an INTJ attribute. So I see that as a good thing and a sign that maybe my efforts are bearing some fruit in the way of social skills and interpersonal relationships. I sure don't feel that way now, but looking back I can see that.
Perhaps what hit the most dead-on, though, was a bit from the INTP profile about how our kind is haunted often by a fear of making the wrong decision or things not turning out, or something to that extent. (I tried to retake the test to get the exact quote but got ISTP instead.) Maybe this is 20-20 hindsight here, but now that I think about it that's perhaps my biggest change stemming from my coming into adulthood. My former general take of "just stay on track and things will work out the way I want them to" has been replaced by more of a "take the right action at the right time and don't screw up anymore" approach and, at times, a desire to force circumstances to work the way I think they ought to.
I think this tendency was always kinda there but just didn't reveal itself as much when I was younger because my life was relatively easy and most things seemed to go the way I wanted or expected. But, as they say, everyone must confront reality eventually, and the onset of my college years and the myraid of struggles they brought, and the continuation of a lot of that, has produced a noticeable shift in my personality and thinking patterns. Maybe it's made me seem like more of a pessimist or more jaded in some ways, and yet more hopeful in others, but I'd argue that's basically because I now have to think about and wrestle with big stuff that I was never really concerned with before.
Overall, it's interesting and encouraging to see such a shift. I see it as a good thing because there's a lot I don't like about my personality and would like to change to the extent I still can. I've often read and still believe that the older we get the harder it is to change such traits, and that one's basic personality profile is pretty much set in stone by his early twenties.** This has been proven repeatedly and I don't doubt it, but there's also plenty of room for learning to play to strengths and avoid or work around limitations. What I'd really like to do is take the full-blown test again, not an abbreviated internet version, and see how those results turn out.
*As a quick check I skimmed through a few other profiles and they didn't appear to resemble me at all, so this isn't one of those fishy "any type can more or less match up with any person" things, like that astrological powers crap or something. Plus, the hit-or-miss specifics in each type are telling.
**Others I know disagree with me on this. It came up just this past week at our Bible study and I suspect it will continue to come up. As I understand it, their argument is that Christ changes hearts and thus personalities can change radically as the Spirit works in and through us. This is true and it's a good point, but how radically? The "through" part is key. We have all been gifted in certain ways and God will work through those gifts. I can't think of any example of an adult's personality changing dramatically for any reason, and I don't see any reason to expect that or think it would ever happen. God isn't going to reinvent people into some perfect, warm-and-fuzzy "Christian superman" personality type. That's not to say we can't learn how to use what we've been given differently or have a whole new approach to things, but in general, we are who we are. That core of our personality is ingrained in who we are and isn't going to change. God will work through that, not around it.