Pigeonholed by Personality

I’ve taken a variety of personality tests over the years. In a college course there was a test that matched personality traits to career options. I was down the middle on almost every single trait and got one career match: librarian.

Then in a graduate class I was auditing, we did the Myers-Briggs. In a similar result, I was right in the middle of two of the traits, giving me four possible outcomes rather than one distinct result. And I related to aspects of each of their descriptions.

Is my tendency to fall middle-of-the-road due to the fact that I’m the middle of seven children in my family of origin?

Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

Whether it’s birth order, love languages, or any of a variety of other schema it seems we humans (as least us WEIRD ones) spend a lot of time trying to understand ourselves and each other. It’s as if we’re looking for a magic key to open up the mysteries of knowledge of the human psyche. Oh, if I can figure out my number and his number, I’ll understand why we’re in conflict and solve the problems we have forever! You know what I’m talking about if you’ve ever taken an Enneagram inventory. I think I’m a seven with an eight wing, by the way.

Maybe it’s my “seek-new-experiences” seven-ness that makes me feel a little uneasy every time I try to find my “type”*. I don’t like being pigeonholed, pinned down to a very particular way of being. I want to remain a little mysterious, leave some room for the possibility of change. (You who are well-versed in such things are laughing right now at my very obvious display of a particular “type”, right?)

There have definitely been times that I’ve found a personality assessment to be helpful. I remember taking one as part of an employee training exercise that graphed people’s tendencies to be more task-oriented or people-oriented. I can definitely see my task-oriented nature affecting my parenting style, and wish time and time again that I was more naturally people-oriented!


What about you? Have you ever taken a personality assessment that just hit home and helped you to understand yourself and your relationships better? Or have you, like me, always been left feeling a little unsatisfied?

with love, Anita

*In contrast to my Enneagram seven, the Big Five assessment I just took this morning came out with this result: “typically doesn’t seek out new experiences”. What?!?

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