Opinion: A farewell to all my old selves

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Opinion: A farewell to all my old selves

Hannah Denne, Staff Writer

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If you had a conversation with me around this time last year, you probably had to hear me talk about personality typing. On Dec. 11 last year, I broke my leg right before finals week – resulting in an extended, painful, and relatively boring Christmas break due to the fact that I had to get a surgery and then recover from it the entire time until we got back to school. I spent a lot of my time on the couch downstairs on my phone, just trying to pass the time – as I couldn’t get up or do anything else but read or watch television. I became obsessed with researching my Myers-Briggs personality type, INTJ (introverted, intuitive, thinking, and judging).

Myers-Briggs is a system of 16 personality types, each comprised of four letters. The options are Introvert vs. Extrovert, iNtuitive vs. Sensing, Thinking vs. Feeling, and Judging vs. Perceiving. Together these letters can create 16 different combinations (like INTJ, ESFP, ENFJ, etc.), each describing a fairly specific type of person. On sites like Pinterest or Tumblr, users create text posts about the various personality types, exploring deeper the way they react to certain things or making jokes and attributing each type to different traits. Topics such as ideal careers and perfect romantic pairings are all explored, and for someone interested in learning more about themselves, finding your 4-letter type is just the tip of the iceberg.

On the 16personalities website, it describes how you might say something like: “Wow, I’ve never felt so understood before!” after finding your type, and – although cliche – I definitely felt that way. INTJ is a highly uncommon personality type, especially among women, and I liked to feel like a lot of the things I didn’t love so much about myself or my personality were justified, because other people felt that way, too.

INTJs are known for being more logical than emotional, something not stereotypical of women. I’m also an introvert, which makes me a little more closed off as it is. During a time of utter gross-ness and putting myself down and spending a lot of time by myself, it was good to learn about myself as a person, and I accepted a lot about my personality that I hadn’t been okay with or, in some cases, even noticed before.

Throughout the year that would follow, my personality type became my identity… in a different way than just meaning that it described my personality. I felt very attached to the title INTJ. In the type description, INTJ’s are described on the 16personalities website as “simultaneously the most starry-eyed idealists and the bitterest of cynics”, something I often used to describe myself, as I liked the language and it felt like something interesting to tell people to give some insight about myself.

I obsessively researched celebrities who shared my personality type (Jay-Z, Ashley Olsen, Jane Austen) as well as fictional characters (Elphaba from “Wicked”, Stiles from “Teen Wolf”, Sherlock from the BBC series of the same name). It felt cool to think of myself as someone similar to people I admired or liked, or people who were successful.

I compiled a list of the personality types of people around me as well, researching their types to compare against my own and rationalize ways that they acted or ways that I interacted with them or they interacted with each other. It became sort of limiting – I would see friendships fail and attribute it to the fact that their personality types were naturally incompatible. It was just written in the stars, I supposed.

However, just a few days ago I retook the Myers-Briggs test, confident I would again get INTJ just as I had multiple times in the past.

This time, however, I received the result of INTP (introverted, intuitive, thinking, perceiving) – only slightly different, but not quite the same.

I started to read up on INTPs and realized it did seem pretty accurate to me – possibly more so than INTJ.

This might not seem like a big deal, but it shook me up a little bit. Where INTJs were more strict and unemotional, INTPs are a bit more childlike and loving, if still reserved. Both types are similar in a lot of ways, INTPs simply being a bit more free than INTJs.

Of course this meant that I would have to do more research and find new celebrities and fictional characters, but after a bit of denial, I realized I wasn’t that bothered.

I’ve gone through several stages trying to learn about who I am. When I was younger, it was learning about not forcing myself to act too much like everyone around me, and becoming alright with the fact that I liked more solitary activities and not as many classically fun ones, and being an INTJ told me I wasn’t boring and I wasn’t alone, so I clung to that.

Rather than simply being born with one personality and growing up stuck in it, I think personalities ebb and flow as time goes along.

INTP isn’t all that different from INTJ, but it is a little freer emotionally. If my younger years were the years of learning how to be okay with being more serious, this year has been the year of learning how to be fun. I’m still uptight, and I still cling more to facts and analytics and concrete things I can look at and prove (like personality type tests), I also have learned how to let myself go and be silly; to wear onesies to school or play the male antagonist in the school play in front of everyone, and not worry how it affected people’s image of me. I look to the future with the hope of continuing to change and grow and letting my old selves go, but I know it’ll be okay even if I don’t. I am who I am.

And for now, I’m going to go research INTP fictional characters, so I can have that to identify with. Because today that’s who I am.