I was talking with a friend about Myers Brigg personalities the other day. He never took the test before, and I convinced him (possibly forced him) to take it on a website called 16Personalities, which offers a really thorough analysis of each personality type, and even assigns cool quotes and nicknames for each. While my friend took the test, I got excited for him. I couldn’t wait for his mindblowing moment when the website would detail everything about his strengths and weaknesses, dreams and motivations, and even how he functioned in the workplace, social spheres, and in his relationships. I thought it would be an enlightening experience, that he would learn something about himself afterwards. I got so excited that I decided to reread my own profile for fun, only to find that my profile didn’t really sound like me. Not anymore, at least.
I have almost always been an INFP, or as the website dubs it, “The Mediator.” It describes INFPs as:
- “true idealists,” always sees the good in people
- guided by their principals, likes to brood over life philosophies
- on a mission to do good
- having a “talent for self-expression,” particularly through the use of metaphors, or writing fiction
I felt estranged from this depiction of an INFP, not because it was so clearly off the mark, but because it seemed to be describing a younger version of me, a version I no longer identify with. It specifically reminded me of who I was in my early years of college, when I was super Christian. Back then, I believed in a Christian God and I believed that my goal in life was to be a “good person” according to this God’s standard (as directed to me by the church). As a result, I didn’t like badmouthing people. My friends called me lame for refusing to gossip, for nerding out over religion and philosophy instead. As a Christian, I felt motivated to go on mission trips, to volunteer at church, because I thought I should be spending my time doing what I can to serve God. I especially wrote a lot of fiction that either echoed a biblical story or conveyed some kind of Christian moral in my own way. I don’t know how to stress enough how dedicated I was to being “good” in the Christian sense. I was basically a Jesus wannabe, spewing parables I thought were important to people and thinking I was better than others for refusing to gossip and talk about “lowly things.”
Now, I feel like I’m completely the opposite. Rather than seeing the good in other people, I have a tendency to focus on their negatives, and I do my fair share of ranting about people I “hate” here and there. Rather than religion and philosophy, I like talking about pop culture and making dumb jokes while getting silly drunk on wine. Rather than going on mission trips or going to church, I spend my time just having fun with friends and family. I rarely write anymore, and if I do, I’m usually writing nonfiction/blog entries that discuss the little lessons I learn in my everyday life. I don’t really strive to be “good,” anymore, I don’t even know what that word means.
Of course, I know that not all INFPs are Jesus wannabes, and there are different ways to interpret the INFP personality type (any personality type really). But according to my 16Personalities profile, I think the basic point is that INFPs (among other types) are guided by some kind of desire to do good in the world for other people and for themselves. They are driven by their idealism. And although I’m glad I have matured a lot since my super Christian days, that I’ve dropped by “holier-than-thou” attitude and that I’ve withdrawn from an institution I no longer believe in, I realize now that I did lose something precious over the years. I lost my passion for goodness. I lost my passion to be good towards other people, to think how to be a good person in general, to live with some kind of purpose. And maybe as a result, I lost my motivation to write as much, to give as much, to care at all. I guess this whole time, I must have been subconsciously thinking to myself: if my writing, giving, or caring has no purpose, then why bother?
I retook the test a few times this week just to double check if I really still am an INFP. And according to 16Personalities, I still am. It’s silly though, really. The fact that I’m so dumbfounded over an online quiz result. As fun as Myers Brigg personality tests are, of course they’re never 100% accurate. And there are other aspects of the INFP personality profile that still apply to me (again, they do offer very thorough descriptions that go on for pages and pages). I know that these four letters “INFP” and what any website says about them don’t actually define me. We are all more complicated than any online test that claims to have pinpointed exactly who we are. But I do think this moment of disconnect I had with my own profile–a profile I have read multiple times, a profile that I completely agreed with years ago–did help me realize something new about myself. It helped shed a new light on my past self for me. I usually tend to dismiss my younger self as naive, innocent, and sometimes even stupid. Now, I realize that I had something when I was younger that I miss having now. It makes me appreciate who I used to be more. It makes me wonder if I believe in a purpose driven life anymore, and if I should now?