I hate boxes.
Well, sometimes anyway. Literal cardboard constructions that help you move items to and fro are excellent, but figurative boxes, constructed of binaries and dichotomies and expectations, terrify me.
I don’t want to get put in one of those boxes.
Every YouthWorks employee fills out an “Abrreviated Me” shortly after they are hired. It operates as a “get-to-know-you” sheet for your supervisor and contains all your basic personal information, questions about your favorite candies and TV shows, and a myriad of other trivia that a supervisor could possibly want to know about their understudy. But while most questions don’t irk me whatsoever, I’ve stared frustratingly at one question: “introvert or extrovert?”
This question terrifies me. There are qualities about me that are like an extrovert, but I also have traits of an introvert. I lean extrovert as I recharge by being social, but I much prefer close company to large groups. Similarly, I enjoy mind meeting new people, but to some degree can be tiring. The minute details of extroversion and introversion would continue to blur the lines of my identity and leave me an enigma. Consequently, no matter what I respond, my answer may be misleading.
If I answer extrovert there will be unexpected qualities of my character that were not anticipated, and so is true if I answer introvert.
This year I dropped introversion/extroversion conversation. I answered “ambivert” this year.
But that is just one box to escape. The Myers-Briggs personality contains three more dichotomies to avoid, and endless more that society would prescribe to individuals. Thinking of feeling? Sensing or intuition? Judging or perception? Oy vey!
We could admit that no person falls to the polar extremes of these dichotomies. No peoples exist with complete dominance of thinking over feeling or intuition over sensing. People are far more complex than the sixteen boxes we’ve constructed to organize a population. There is some degree of balance to each person’s personality and consequently an infinite number of unique boxes that people could be place in.
Personally, I could find a home in many of the boxes personalities defined by Myers-Briggs. I have feet in many boxes. Why would I sit down in a single box and submit to a myopia of personality when I can stand and see myself and the world for the complexity and individuality inherent within?
I don’t want to be told which box I fit in or subversively shoved into. I want to discover who I am and create my own box!
In his Patheos.com article “Magic and Myers-Briggs,” Marc Barnes states:
There is an infinite, qualitative difference between what we usually do and who we are. The test-result gives us the former, but can never give us the latter. I believe we suffer from an inordinate desire to ignore this fact. If the test can give us who we are, we can be freed from the responsibility of becoming who we are. Our identity will be told to us. Gone then, the crisis of the American denizen, who is without God, estranged from family, frightened of marriage, hollowed of culture, free from gender, ignorant of history, bored of patriotism, skeptical of ideology, divorced from the land and otherwise speedily running out of any identity-forming values. No longer is he reduced to a stutter over that question of personal identity — who are you? Now, through the test, he may answer in confidence, “told” with authority that he is a heterosexual, a moderate-conservative, an ENFP, a gift-giver and a bi-romantic tactile-learner with ADD and an IQ hardly worth mentioning.
Myers-Briggs does very little for us. It may tell us about ourselves, but in a very simplistic and narrow-minded construction. It may tell us about ourselves, but only in terms of what we are usually like. It may tell us what we are like, but ultimately only feeds us back our answers in a new form. It cannot tell us who we are. It cannot impart to us hopes and dreams, passions, romances or friendships.
But it can stifle those hopes and dreams and passions. It can create a self-fulfilling prophecy though as we buy into our man-made identity. As one learns that they “are” an extrovert, they may self-analyze and begin to act more like an extrovert under the ruse that that is “who they are.”
Lately Zimbio quizzes have risen to the forefront of my News Feed. Zimbio creates quizzes based on the Myers-Briggs and will match your personality type to the personality type of a character in a television show or movie. All of sudden I can find out characters “I am” from the Walking Dead, Mean Girls, Game of Thrones, Big Bang Theory, Toy Story, X-Men and countless more productions.
Ironic, really. I can be told who I am like, without ever really knowing who I am.
But I want to discover who I am, not who I am like. I want to write my own story, be my own character, and step outside of these boxes!
So get to know people, not boxes. Make your own box. Be unique.
Discover who you are.