Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Let’s Go Bowling Dude: Interpreting the Meijer-Briggs Test

 Once a year, I like to take the Meijer-Briggs Personality Test, just to check and see if I’m holding steady.  I assume that if and when I make my psychotic break with reality, my personality type will shift a little bit.  Majoring in psychology during college taught me to adore self-evaluation.  Gawd I was good.  Nice bedside manner.  Made the best safe space with my warm and inviting: “Tell me what you are feeling?”  But if you ask me, you should never trust a former pysch major.  The truth is, most people like myself, majored in psychology because we’re all messed up, like the zombies in The Night of the Living Dead.  

For years now, every single time I take the Meijer-Briggs my results read: INFJ (Introverted, Intuitive, Feeling, Judging).  Out of all the Briggs personality types, INFJs are the smallest bracket, which means I’m a special brand of crazy.  According to David W. Keirsey’s career mapping of the Meijer-Briggs types, I should have become a counselor, not a historian.  This might explain why dear, old Dr. John Lakey, at the University of Evansville, simply refused to accept I wasn’t pursuing a PhD in clinical psychology during my senior year of college.  Even after I had accepted a scholarship and tuition waver from Indiana State University’s history department, Lakey kept insisting I go reconsider.   Might also explain why other academics give me a strange look when I say things like: “Yes, but emotionally, how are you processing?”  It doesn’t matter.  Finish your damn research, write your stupid dissertation, and move on.

After getting my test results, the next question I must ask myself is: What the hell does an INFJ look like?  Well, according to most sources we are intense (fair enough), perfectionistic (sometimes), determined (usually), insightful (that’s generous), hard working (can be), idealistic (always), empathetic (with those I love), and able to grasp abstract concepts easily (sure).  Who doesn’t want to be an INFJ?  We’re AWESOME.  One website claimed Jesus, Gandhi, and Luke Skywalker were all INFJs.  My question is: When, in between Bethlehem and Calvary, did our Lord take the Meijer-Briggs?  But before you feel bad for not being one or think I’m an asshole for bragging, there a downside to being an INFJ.  Along with those positive traits, INFJs are sarcastic, biting, quick tempered, irrational, obsessive, judgmental, unforgiving, unrealistic, and less than self-aware.  Yeah, that about covers it.

One article nailed my interpersonal relationship style perfectly: Because of their refined intuition, INFJ personalities harbor an inherent suspicion about the people in their world. While they exhibit a generous affability amongst those they know well, they're innately apprehensive around new people. As such, they select their friends carefully, after significant time spent observing them and interacting with them. That said, once INFJs befriend a person, the bond is typically long-lasting and the connection is a deep one.”  Example: I love my adviser dearly, but for the first two years I knew him, I’d walk into his office, stare at him, say little to nothing, and leave.  You can never be sure with new people.  They might get you!  Takes time to know.  Or as my friend Maggie Ringe (a solid and sane ISTJ: Introverted, Sensing, Thinking, and Judging) has said:

“You’re irrational, obsessive, and highly effusive, but we love you anyway because you know it and compensate with anyone you care about.  But with other people, you can become Walter Sobchak: “OVER THE LINE SMOKEY!  MARK IT ZERO!”  
Yeeeaahhah…in all honesty, I can imagine situations where I’d pull a gun in a bowling alley, work Vietnam into a eulogy, or jump out of a moving vehicle if I thought it was part of the plan.
Another website claimed: “INFJs have great depth of personality - intricately and deeply woven, mysterious, and highly complex, sometimes puzzling even themselves.”  What does that even mean? I’m the Grinch?: “He puzzled and puzzled till his puzzler was sore.  Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before.”  Wonderful…
Now, to compound this problem, each time I take the Meijer-Briggs, I earn moderate scores for Judging, Introversion, and Intuition but Feeling is THROUGH the roof.  This time I scored: I: 33%; N: 50%, F: 88%: J: 44%.  This means rather than calmly looking at facts and making my decisions, my emotions win the race by a country mile.  True enough, so, I do work to compensate.  I keep rational people on speed dial, like Maggie.  She knows if my text begins: “I need to ask you a stupid question” to contact me ASAP or the crazy might start leaking out everywhere and at an inconvenient time.  When you run on nothing but "strongly expressive feeling" (Did I fail to mention that my tests always come up expressive?), the concept of playing things close to the cuff is not a part of your worldview or perspective which explains the following conversation between a rational, calculating introvert and a throw caution to the wind, melodramatic disaster-magnet: 

Maggie: “Its like, some days, you wake up and decide: ‘Hum, I think I’ll just toss everything on the table and see what happens.’  I always think this is part of your ‘Fight to the DEATH’ mentality but during battle you’re calculating.  When it comes to your darkest emotions and inner ruminations, you barely ponder the matter before you pull the trigger.”

Me, normally hugging a giant Evian water bottle and wearing a slightly crazed look: “If I don’t admit what I feel, I’ll explode.  There will be pieces of me scattered from South Bend to Lexington.  You’ve cleaned up messes before.  Do you WANT me to explode?  Am I WRONG?”

Maggie: “No Walter, you’re not wrong.  You’re just an asshole…but you’re our asshole so we love you anyway.”

So what is an I-N-SUPER F-J to do?  In my opinion, the Walters of the world, like myself, have no other alternative but to sit as calmly as we can manage, laugh at the fucking toe, and drink our coffee.  Let's go bowling Dude!

*Note: If you'd like to take the Meijer-Briggs click here.


**Off topic, but am I the only one who misses Disney's Dtv

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