I try to retake the Myer's Briggs personality test about once a year. It was always something I did to label myself and because everyone else did it, but for a while I didn't fully understand what all the letters meant. Yes, "I" for introvert, "E" for extrovert, but the combination of letters that followed seemed abstract and I never took the time to dive into them. I'd heard the backlash, too, about how you can't pigeonhole people, and that by giving them a four to five letter label you can limit their perception of themselves, thus limiting their growth.
To me, this is going to happen even without a 12 minute questionnaire. I'm someone who loves to hear other people's perceptions of me. I think it's a words of affirmation thing. That, and I just care too much about what other people think. But while I sometimes take these attributes people assign to me at face value, lately I've been learning to become more skeptical. To try someone's removable filter on for a moment before I decide whether or not to permanently adhere it to my vision.
And that's why I like to retake the test - it shows how much or little progress I've made in one area or another. It's watching the dial of the past year shift right before my eyes, and it's another chance for me to try that filter on. It's like an essay question in school: Is the following assessment correct in its robotic evaluation of your personality and traits? Why or why not?
The past year has been a whirlwind. This time a year ago I was coming home crying every day because I was being used in my relationship, I was stuck in a town I had never wanted to live in, I had a small group of friends who told me they didn't trust me, and I had absolutely no direction on where I wanted to take my career.
Now, I can say that I lived in another country for five months while traveling solo to another for a week, I live on my own in a city that I love, I've found new hobbies and feel myself really settling in as a freelance designer, and I'm cultivating deep, personal relationships with those around me.
A total 360, in the best way possible. So when I sat down to click through the questions on 16personalities.com, I was hoping--praying, even--that my INFJ-T would change. It had to, there's no way I was the same today as I was a year and half ago when I took the test last. I had grown, and I knew it. But when I clicked submit and saw those same five letters, my heart sank a little. Still INFJ-T? But how? I mean I love that little wizard guy they made my icon, but really?
Here's the catch though - a lot actually had changed. I'm not saying that the Myer's Briggs is an exact science (because it's not), but if we're treating those percentages like they're real, here's what's changed:
Introvert vs. Extrovert
RESULT: I am 13% more extroverted, meaning I've become more social and feel less drained from social situations.
APPLICATION: I still, of course, pride myself on being introverted. But I've become more comfortable in social situations--a benefit of traveling solo--and less worried about what strangers might think of me. This analysis is also mirrored in the "T" part of my type.
Intuitive vs. Observant
RESULT: I am 10% more Intuitive, meaning I'm more open minded and imaginative about ideas.
APPLICATION: I'm really happy that this seems to be shifting, because I remember being in high school and being so close minded about my beliefs that I was unable to admit if I was wrong. Now, I like to explore what I don't know and see all perspectives. Basically I just try to armchair expert everyone's childhood and past to understand why they are the way they are, so this analysis makes sense.
Feeling vs. Thinking
RESULT: I am 2% more feeling, meaning I'm more sensitive and empathetic.
APPLICATION: I feel like if I took this test ten times in a row the feeling vs. intuition will slide to and fro without really any significant change. However, this is something I want to work on. I do love that I'm empathetic, but my fatal flaw of believing the best in people means I have a hard time being realistic and setting boundaries. This is a prime example of where if you're observant and tuned into your own self, these letter's can actually help to guide to a better version of yourself, as cliche as it may sound.
Judging vs. Prospecting
RESULT: I am 6% more judging, meaning I'm becoming more sure of myself.
APPLICATION: This one is interesting, because if I was more prospecting that would mean that I've become a bit more go with the flow. Which I think that I have, and it's interesting that judging and intuitive both went up, and those seem to be kind of opposite traits. But as I've been stepping into adulthood, I've seen how I'm able to decide what's best for myself a bit better, cut off people who are unhealthy, and certainly value stability.
Turbulent vs. Assertive
RESULT: I am 18% less turbulent, meaning I'm less self-conscious.
APPLICATION: This is an example of what we call growth. I've seen how I've become more level-headed and more okay with failure when it happens. I'm more comfortable talking to new people or going somewhere new by myself.
So all of this is good and fine and technical, but here's what it really means:
It means that in a year, I am more social and engaged with the world around me, more comfortable with myself, and happier to be recognizing the changes needed in my life. I'm still an INFJ-T, but I'm a happier and more self aware INFJ-T. Which is just about the best kind of change I could ask for.