An Important Word on Personality Tests - Darling Magazine
Article originally written for and published by Darling Magazine here.
Have you ever taken a personality test?
In a random Google search, I found over thirty, free online personality tests. Overwhelming, to say the least. Why did I type the words “best personality test” into Google search in the first place? I think it is because the person I see in the mirror can sometimes still feel like a mystery, and I want to know her better than I do. This clarity and understanding is what personality tests promise, and it is something we are all after.
There is no question that this generation is interested, perhaps even obsessed, with knowing where they best fit. It does not take more than a minute of mindless scrolling on Facebook for a personality test to be presented. Some are helpful, while other tests are just clickbait, sucking each victim into their baseless assumptions. Titles like “What Your Favorite Food Says About Your Personality,” and “This 4-Question Quiz Will Tell You If You Are Happy” are everywhere you look. What’s worse: They can be taken seriously.
It’s clear, more than ever, that getting ahold of who we really are is the desire of many — especially during a time when it seems not much else can be controlled.
Of course, there is nothing wrong with this.
Knowing oneself is a powerful thing. Personality tests are incredibly helpful tools for discovering why we do what we do, how we interact with others, and the lives we prefer living. I remember, years ago, the first time I took an official Myers-Briggs Personality Test. My results were just a few letters (INFJ for the curious), or so I thought. As I began reading the explanation of my results, I for Introverted, N for Intuitive, F for Feeling, and J for Judging … I felt understood.
Through this test, I was given the language for not only understanding myself in a deeper way, but helping others to do the same. I began exploring what careers and personality types I would be most compatible with. I discovered the common fears people with the same results experience. I uncovered a whole new, and foreign world of personality placement. The more I searched, and the more I learned, the feeling of understanding slowly morphed into feeling a bit confined.
What at first was just a tool, though, eventually turned into a label.
This label started to feel more like a box, and I began to quietly doubt some decisions, friendships, and directions I had chosen. Here is the problem with that: Those things were good for me. Yet, because they did not “fit” into my personality description, I began to doubt more than ever, if I knew myself as much as I hoped I did. After taking a breath and a few steps away from this results-based approach, I learned something.
I am more than just a type.
I am not just my perspective. Human beings are complex, and an online test does not sum us up. We are not just our personality test results. In fact, because we are human, we are constantly changing and growing. Our test results change and the way we approach life does, too. Why do we insist on treating ourselves and one another like we are static — fixed, changeless, without movement? The lessons we learn do not have to become walls, boxing us in. Instead, let’s treat those moments of understanding like doors to walk through. If learning about ourselves through personality tests can teach us anything, it is that there is still so much yet to be discovered.
Drake Baer from Business Insider said, “I prefer to not just look at the traits we have but the deeds we do, the projects we pursue, as more of a fruitful inroad into human personality.” Personality test results are just a few bricks in the building of the lives we want. Ultimately, who we are is seen in how we treat ourselves and the world around us.
Sometimes, life calls for a shift in our normal approach so that we can really succeed. An extroverted person may need to be introverted for a time in order to prepare for a big exam. This does not define them. A naturally-spontaneous person may need to pull in the reins a bit and become more structured to accommodate a new baby. This will only serve them.
Taking a personality test is doing yourself a favor. It can help answer hard questions about why you do what you do, and it can add to your overall self-awareness — an underrated and invaluable trait. But let us not become too quick to sum ourselves up in a few letters, or assume that our test results completely define who we are. What we need and how we’re inclined as human beings is just as important as how we treat others and the ways we extend ourselves and embrace change.
Take hold of the tools offered to you in life, but every now then, feel free to put them back in the shed and get out and live. And don’t fret, how much you know about the show Friends, will not have a direct hand in how well you perform in your next interview. Only you do.
What do you think? Are personality tests given too much authority?