I’ve been accused of being a very negative person, someone who always has something critical to say and never likes anything. A few people have used the words “negative,” others have used “melancholy” or “moody.” Some even go as far as “pessimist.”
It’s true that I’m not a happy-go-lucky person who praises everything and accepts the world for all its beauty. But I have always been an observer, never a leader or participant. An observer whose upbringing and particular skills just happened to lead to a very opinionated, moody woman who has a knack for understanding the way people think by dissecting their actions into tiny pieces. I guess you could say it’s rationalizing, but an important note is this: just because I have the ability to understand why/how anyone could do anything, does not mean I agree with their actions nor does it change my opinion about the action. But it does mean that I am rarely surprised. It also means I spend lots of time, many times unconsciously out of habit, examining how and why people tick.
The bad thing about understanding everyone is that it’s kind of depressing after a while. So yes, I probably am melancholy and moody by nature, simply because all the observing I do and all the actions I come to understand (combined with my inherit personality) tend to make me feel a little heavy in the soul. But I am not a pessimist! A pessimist is defined as someone who “always expects the worst out of every situation” or “believes in the ultimate triumph of evil over good.” I don’t actually believe that or think that way. But I’m not the opposite of that either. So what am I?
I’m trying very hard to think of a word that cumulatively describes me. I don’t think there is one, not for me or anyone else. So I went searching online for a way to “dumb down” who I am and how I think into a few helpful phrases. After a while, I came across Carl Jung’s Psychological Types. You’re probably already aware of these theories because from them was born two of the most commonly used words that we use to describe personality types today: extrovert and introvert. And you’ve probably heard of the test that identifies your personality type: the Myer Briggs. I think I took this several years ago in high school but I actually don’t think I knew myself well enough then to accurately answer the questions.
I’m going to explain briefly how these psychological types work because 1) I like this stuff and 2) I like to be thorough for anyone interested in learning. If you don’t care, just skip this paragraph. Jung believed there are 2 basic human functions: how we take in information (or, how we “perceive things”) and how we make decisions. He also believed within these two categories, there are two ways of functioning: we can perceive information via our sense or intuition and we can make decisions based on objective logic or subjective feelings. It’s important to note that one person does not embody one complex; we can bounce back and forth between many of them at different times in our life but usually, there is a dominant function on which we operate regularly. And from there, Jung concluded that people are either “extraverted” or “introverted” in their dominate function. He originally concluded there were 8 personality types but his students expanded on his work and produced today’s number, which is 16.
I took versions of this test online, a few different ones so I could get a good look at “who I really am.” Amazingly, even though the questions varied and some overlapped, I got the same score each time: INTJ: introvert (moderately over extrovert), intuitive (slightly over sensing), thinking (moderately over feeling) and judging (distinctly over perceiving). After examining the true meaning behind each of these, I would say I probably agree:
- Introvert: I am reflective & reserved, I’m comfortable being alone, I prefer to know a few people well, I can spend too much time reflecting and don’t move into action quickly, I sometimes forget to check with the outside world to see if my ideas really fit the experience
- Intuitive (this is a perceiving function): I solve problems by leaping between different ideas & possibilities, I am interested in doing new & different things, I like to see the big picture rather than find out the facts, I trust impressions/symbols/metaphors more than what I actually experience, but sometimes I can think too much on possibilities & not enough on realities
- Thinking (this is a decision making function): I believe telling the truth is more important than being tactful, I notice inconsistencies and they bother me, I look for logical explanations and solutions, I like to analyze pros & cons and then be consistent & logical in deciding, sometimes I miss/don’t value the “people part” of the situation and can seem too task oriented or uncaring
- Judging (NOT to be confused with judgmental; they are two separate things in this case): This means I use my decision making function (ie, thinking) to make decisions in my life (rather than using my perceiving function, intuition). I appear orderly and like to have things settled and planned, I appear to be task oriented and like to make lists of things to do, I get my work done before playing and avoid procrastination, sometimes if I focus too much on the goal I can miss new information.
Quick shout out to the INTJs out there! WHOOP WHOOP!
In reality, I already knew these traits existed in myself. But it is nice (and guilty pleasure-ish) to research and find a quick way to sum up the complexity of your personality. To be more accurate, I probably consist of something more along these lines:
Me = INTJ + (variable factors/sanity level) – alcohol consumption
The more interesting part of this research project is finding who else has my complexes:
Isaac Newton, Karl Marx, Friedrich Nietzsche, Mark Zuckerberg, Augustus Caesar, C.S. Lewis, Steven Hawking …(apparently INTJ is more popular in males than females… also higher IQ has been established for those in my category too, woo hoo!)… Elisabeth the First, Jane Austen, Ayn Rand, Kate Blanchett (theeerrrrrre we go, represent ladies!). It is interesting when reading my group because there are a ton of no-nonsense, talented minds who I actually respect (there are also many dictators and fascist leaders like Hitler; that must be my German side coming out…)