Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Alone + Easy Target

A few years ago, I took a Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) test.  You may not have been exposed to this particular test...which is supposed to measure "psychological preferences in how people perceive the world and make decisions." (thanks Wikipedia!)  In short, it gives you some insight into which one of sixteen basic categorial alternatives you fall into in four categories: introversion/extraversion, sensing/intuition, thinking/feeling and judging/perception. 

Using the letters E or I, S or N ("N" is for for intuition...since the "I" was obviously already being used), T or F and J or answered questions and then from the responses calculated a four letter little combination that was supposed to help you figure yourself out a little bit.  Assuming, of course, that you can keep the letters straight.  Exactly why taking this test is important...I can't say.  My best guess is that each of us goes through periods of cluelessness (some of us go through decades of it)...and this self-knowledge is supposed to help us relate to the world better.  Or something equally random.

Anyway, it was actually one of the five or so times that I've taken the test...and I've always received the same results with one exception...I ride the line between being an introvert and an extrovert.  However, the last two tests I've taken have put me in the "I" category.  As I've gotten older, I've realized that there is no "right" answer, though.   We just are what we are.

Yes, wanting to find the correct answer is almost always something I'll subconsciously try to do.  I've found that being the pleaser/first child/competitive person that I am (even if it appears to be hidden beneath thick layers of apathy, cynicism and snarkiness) - I will almost always try to win.  I'm not obnoxious about it most of the time, and when I think about what I am doing...I'll often stop myself.  "Dirty Santa" has been an annual epic nightmare for me because I will rarely if ever get the prize that I'd really actually use.  That whole "J" part of my score stands for "judging."  My brain tends to miss the whole "fun" of playing a game and goes into a dimension of practicality that is actually foreign to my normal life.  Door prizes drive me nuts too.  I will only win something if it is absolutely clear that I couldn't care less about whatever it is I just won.  

Having noted that, please excuse my pride in the fact that I noticed that only 1-2% of the population has my "type" - INTJ.  That either makes me"special" or "weird." I'm going with "special" as I get enough of being told I'm weird by my kids. 

The type is nicknamed "Masterminds" because those have the "unusual combination of imagination and reliability."  Cool. 

The odd thing to I'm sure a lot of people who know me to discover that I am actually an introvert.  At least on this measurement scale.  Supposedly, it only means that I "think-act-think" instead of "act-think-act" and that I need time by myself to recharge as opposed to needing to be with other people to rejuvenate. Those of you who have engaged me in conversation may beg to differ, here.  I'm afraid that this tendency is purely genetic and beyond my ability to control.  (Every female relative from my great-grandmother up has had the words  "_____ needs to learn when to quit talking..." written on some report card.)

This needing to recharge has been one of the most difficult things to explain to people.  Especially if you are as fond of overscheduling as I apparently am.  I grew up in a family of extroverts and honestly thought that I was one of the tribe.  To some degree I am.  I love being with other people and I honestly enjoy crowds on occasion.  On the other hand, I truly crave those times that I am alone and have no problem with eating in a restaurant alone or spending an entire day by myself scrapbooking and watching movies.

When the kids were little...I just wanted to go to the bathroom by myself.  My alone time was miniscule.

While being alone is not the same thing as being lonely...I suppose that it is really a matter of perspective.  I've actually known people who were lonely while surrounded by people.  I've also known people who aren't lonely even though they spend a lot of time by themselves.  Odd, isn't it?  Everyone sees the state of being alone differently...

Some believe that alone...means you are an easy target.  Others equate being alone with assuming that nobody cares.  Some see being stuck with their own company as a "Groundhog Day" kind of existence.

To me...alone means...I'm still up after everyone has gone to bed (except the college student who lives in a completely different time reality than the one I know.)  It means that there are no current demands on my time.  But most means that I have the chance to think about life instead of simply responding to it. 

The action of responding to life energizes some people.  (Obviously, people who are not me.)

Isn't that what makes life great, though?  The variety that we have in how we view and approach the world.  That someone actually took the time to sit down and consider sixteen different basic personality types.  Gee, I don't know about you...but there are some days when it is a gazillion degrees outside and I'm feeling a wee bit hormonal...that I might go through at least ten or twelve of those basic personality types.  Sometimes all sixteen.

For the most part, we need each other.  Where we are weak...someone else is strong.  Where we struggle...others excel.  Life is designed to be that way. 

Even when we think that we are alone...we really aren't.  Our lives are full of people whose lives we have intersected with at various points in time.  Which basically means...we are never alone.

Great, isn't it? 


  1. Because you & I met on Facebook, should tell you a lot about me also. I have the same thing. A friend of mine pointed it out to me one day, how I would go into weeks of doing nothing with family and friends. Not depressed just resting. And it is true! After, big events where I have to speak, direct or put together the event... I go of spend time with myself. I am in that mood right now. We just finished 40 Days for LIFE and God was wonderful in moving in the lives of everyone. 10 women chose LIFE instead of abortion for their babies. And while I enjoyed every minute, I am spending this month resting. So I completely understand!!!

  2. I went through a large portion of my life so engrossed in making sure I didn't screw up my one child's life. I took care of my husband along the way also and I worked. When I developed health issues 18 years or so ago, I really got left behind in the social arena as I was dropped by eveyone except my husband and daughter, Ed and Melody. All I had energy for then was them, but Melody says that was not a bad thing for her. But lately I have realized, there were actually high school classmates that wanted to reconnect and facebook started this connection for me in January. I'm so backward now, I'm not sure I can do it. I'll just pray!