MBTI: TMI? Or not enough?


As I take another look at these results, I think of the part in ‘Religulous‘ when Bill Maher talks about having been ideologically vulnerable in the past:

When I was 17,
my first girlfriend dumped me,

and I was sad in a way
I'd never been sad.

You know,
your first dumping is the worst.

And at that point,
you're very vulnerable

to any sort of connection

with, you know--

I didn't get like Jesus-religious,

but I did think a force out there

was communicating to me
through song lyrics or--

numerology I was
very interested in for a while.

You said you were groping
for something at that time.

You know, you make up
an imaginary friend who loves you,

is sympathetic to you
and has a plan for you.

It's much more important.
He didn't have to love me, God,

He just had
to be working for me.

(script-o-rama.com [Religulous])

…and I try to tell myself that I’m not doing the same thing right now. I know I’m not imagining that every song has a message for me, or getting into numerology, but those are both things I’ve done in the past, whilst annoyingly depressed and immensely confused on many levels. Disappointingly, the so-called answers I found in those two things in particular were promptly replaced tenfold with doubts whenever I thought about them in depth.

Being someone who always wants an answer, no matter how stupid, I find myself asking a lot of stupid questions. I’ve always thought that the stupidest question is the one that goes unasked, but of course I’d say that. Despite this, I’m now shamelessly asking a lot of stupid questions, of myself and the world at large. I’m pretty sure the stupidest one is: why me? There’s no clear-cut answer to this question, and I know this. It just smacks of vagueness and some kind of victim complex. But I’ll still try to sniff something out, like a lethargic bloodhound who eats their own sick, just to throw it up again. I’m sure it’s just as frustrating and gross to be around.

And so, in the ever-shifting tide that is my sense of self, I’m grasping at these personality test results, in much the same way that I once cared about horoscopes or religious scripture or cartomancy. I happen to like the MBTI one most, as I’m sure a lot of people might do. I’m sure the other tests have their value, but probably only as entertainment. The basis this test has in Jungian theory allays any concerns of plausibility as far as I’m concerned. I might be wrong, but I’m far too much in need of self-knowledge and self-belief that I am willing to ignore that possibility, at least for now. One day, I’ll probably find myself going on about how reducing people to sixteen main personality types is a painfully errant and myopic thing to do, but today is not that day.

Still, I can’t help but feel like I’m reading through these statements and attaching too much meaning to them – like how someone would call themselves a Sassy Scorpio or a Laid-back Libra or something like that. Every time I find myself surprised at how on-the-nose my results are, I subsequently wonder if I’m not just giving into some kind of confirmation fallacy. Then, as I find myself reading about how “my type” leans heavily towards self-doubt, I start screaming inside. Choke down another paradox. Scream again.

Go outside. Be alone. Find somewhere quiet. Think.

Why am I giving myself so much shit over the fact that I want to believe in something? Honestly, why am I being so fucking mean to myself? If anyone else came to me with this problem, I’d hardly treat them like an idiot, not like how I do to myself. So, I think I’d better start treating myself a bit like a friend, and not some kind of annoying little douche who just needs to get over themselves and their own bullshit. What would I say to a friend, while being friendly?

> Hey, Ilene. I’m distraught and everything feels empty and pointless. I’m trying to believe in myself and it isn’t working. What do you believe in, that brings you comfort? Could you recommend something, please? – Friend

> hey, friend. shit, that’s heavy. not sure what to recommend, if anything. gotta ask though – what’s wrong? you’re clearly not feeling too good. wanna spill? – Ilene

And, much like Maher, I’ve made an imaginary friend. I’m not sure if they love me or are sympathetic to me, but they are working for me. It’s part of myself that I’ve assigned a voice to, if only for a short instance. And it makes me feel less like I’m a pile of hot garbage without leaning too hard on anyone else, so, almost tacitly, I’m in favour.

It just involves me being nicer to myself, in this moment. Let’s see how I go with that. If it goes badly, I’m sure I’ll move on to the five-factor model. Or red licorice. Or Futurism. Or something. Hopefully I won’t bully myself for it, but rather examine why I am so confused and tentatively idealistic.

Difficult, but a worthy task, I suppose.