Who Am I?

I'm endlessly fascinated by personality tests.  Call it a burning desire to figure out the how and why of who I am and what I do.  It's a struggle to understand, not only myself, but those around me.  I detest labels, because they tend to be superficial and not really get into the heart of who a person really is, but I do find that analysis of oneself (and those with whom one associates regularly) is not a bad thing. 

Personality tests are useful as springboards for understanding.  They should NEVER be used to pigeon-hole someone into being or acting any particular way.  The results of said tests are never the answers to who we are, but rather the introduction of further questions and avenues for self-discovery and growth.  And personality tests can help us to better understand why we respond to things and react to people the way we do.  If used correctly, they can be a means of developing greater understanding between people as we are capable of noting the similarities and differences between us and acting in grace accordingly.

One of the tests that is most familiar to the world is the Meyers-Briggs.  I've taken this several different times in my life and I call myself an XNFX.  The X means I fluctuate between the two sides of the spectrum in those categories, based on situation.  I have discovered that I'm very solidly in the NF category however, which means that I tend to be an emotionally driven person (which is in direct contrast to my highly logical husband).  The older I get the more I swing toward the Introvert side of the scale as well as the Perceiving side of the scale, but again, those are purely situational.

My favorite test is the Enneagram.  I actually took a full-day seminar on this at our church.  This is an intriguing test full of complexity.  If you do a full test (not the one linked here, but through an actual class), you learn about not only your main personality type, but also your wing (which is the type on either side of you that is higher and colors your main personality), but also the types that you may gravitate toward in times of either stress or peace.  There are healthy and unhealthy versions of each type of personality.  

And it's tough to boil down all the philosophy into a "simple" explanation.  However, the idea is that God is the perfection of all 9 personality types and (s)he has placed in all of us the capacity to exhibit all 9 types as well.  As we strive to grow and change in our lives, we are working toward a healthy balance in our personalities.  Of course, we're all human and therefore imperfect, so we tend toward one type more than others.

So here's the part that is even more fascinating to me.  When hubby and I were engaged, we took the tests the first time (simplified versions as part of our pre-marital counseling).  He came out a solid 9 and I came out a solid 1.  For years, we joked that I'm the manipulator and he's the doormat and we like it that way.  We took said seminar about 5-6 years ago and came out roughly the same.  Although, my 4 was only a few points behind my 1 (and not to get into all the theory and stuff, but 4 is where a 1 will go in times of stress apparently).

Now, here we are in 2008.  In the past couple weeks, I've taken the test twice... Both times I came out solidly 4.  In fact the first time I took it (online this time around), my 1 was non-existent.  It's like my creative and artsy side decided to put the smack-down on the perfectionist side of me, sending my sad little 1 limping and bruised to hide in a corner somewhere.

Now, what does that tell me?  I don't know.  Am I really changing?  I mean, people do change over time, but in reality, one's main personality type (as I understand it) shouldn't change -- not THAT much.  Did I do the test wrong?  The first two times?  The last two times?  Did I allow situations and circumstance to color my responses?

Or... am I really two people warring inside?  The inner poet and the inner perfectionist.  I think this is me.  I'm constantly struggling to balance the two.  I don't know how I fit into Enneagram theory anymore (surprise, surprise as none of these tests are ever simple... particularly for me).  I'm a 1 sometimes and a 4 sometimes, and maybe I'm about THIS close to having a multiple personality disorder?

Or maybe it just means I'll spend the rest of my life trying to figure me out, and frankly, that's okay with me.  Keeps life interesting.


Jason Kichline said...

I think that I have changed too. In fact a lot of people I work with have noted this and sometimes say "we want the old Jason back". But from my viewpoint I'm still "me", but maybe I'm being more true to myself.

In the last couple of weeks I talked to my mom about this because she and my dad are my source of wisdom, or at least to confirm mine. She has this theory that every 10-12 years our bodies or minds change so we are not the same. Huh. Buddahism believes that you can't step into the same river twice... In fact, you can't step into the same river once, because we are in a constant state of change. It is merely an illusion that we stay the same.

This is also a Christian belief too as many in the Bible had been changed, and even renamed by God to match their new personality.

Either way, welcome to the journey fellow piece of clay. We are being shaped slowly by the hands of our Maker into beautiful works of art, fired and decorated in due time.

Robbo said...

Welcome to the dark side! Revel in your Four-ness!

Seriously, it's a strange thing being a Four. I agree that personality tests don't define who we are but can help us understand ourselves (and to a degree others) better. So it's a weird thing for us Fours to understand ourselves better. We often don't like what we see. But I remind myself that this is how I was created, so there must be value in it. And there are thankfully times that I find my personality does help me to relate to the world and others.

I'm sure you're aware of all this (or at least becoming so), so I don't feel like I'm sharing anything new. But as someone who has been wrestling with his Four-ness for a long time, I'll say that you can come to embrace it—or at least live with it. Hmmm...wonder if this is like Paul's famous "thorn in the flesh"...

Nean said...

Rob~ I think the four is awesome! After all the very first personality of God that we're introduced to in the bible is the Creator of the Universe and we're made in her/his image, so... fours can't be all bad! :) I feel sort of honored to be here, really, I'm just confused at the inner struggle.

Jason~ I have been hearing all sorts of comments about the changes in me. Some say they "like the new Nean because she seems so much more alive" and others are wondering "where did Nean go?" I truly think that part of my issue is that I do have a bipolar disorder (even though it is mild), so it does make sense to me to have two sides constantly at war with one another and manifesting that way in my personality.

As confusing and frustrating as it can be to have two very distinct personalities, it does make me feel somewhat unique and interesting. I feel like I'll spend the rest of my life trying to figure all this out and never really get there... and I'm okay with this. In the same way I'm okay with not fully understanding God.

If I knew everything now, there'd be nothing left to challenge me and intrigue me. The magic and mystery would be gone. And as a four, I just can't handle that thought.

As a one, everyone else just hopes I don't come to a conclusion, because if I do... I'll be insufferable to anyone who didn't agree with me. :)

Reboloke said...

Personality tests are fascinating :-)

I had to check out the ones you linked to. I scored INFJ on the Meyers-Briggs (which I can't remember if is the same as when I've done it in the past), and my highest for the Enneagram was type 4, but I was more amused by the irony of which type I scored lowest on for that.

Nean said...

And you scored lowest on...?

Reboloke said...

Well I was saving that for my own blog, but I'm still trying to figure out how to make my new toy work, so it may take a while for me to actually post about it....

Elvin said...

Very interesting comments! I sure hope people change or else i'm not sure I could stand myself. I probably also would be even more depressed then I am some days because if people couldn't change their personallity then the main thrust of the gospel would be null and votd and the counseling/behavior field would be unnecessary as well which leaves me without a job!

Beate said...

Well, after reading your post I decided that I must take this enneagram test. I scored a SOLID 1. I must say that I really hoped that I was more creative than that :) I do have very high expectations and ideals, but I am really lacking in the self discipline department. If you don't think so I will allow you to take a look at my home...
My 1 does explain a lot though. Perhaps all of the pressure I feel from others may be somewhat internal. Hmmmm