Matt recently took a free online Myers-Briggs personality test for fun. Free means not as exhaustive as the real thing that a trained psychologist might administer, but he was still a little spooked by the uncanny description the test spat back out at him upon completion. If you're familiar with Myers-Briggs, it breaks personality types down into 16 different categories; more accurate tests give a percentage of which characteristics are strongest, but even the freebie online test assigned a personality type. Matt is an ISTJ. I cannot fathom why we would need to spend a penny to have a more accurate test result.
ISTJs are faithful, logical, organized, sensible, and earnest traditionalists who enjoy keeping their lives and environments well-regulated. Typically reserved and serious individuals, they earn success through their thoroughness and extraordinary dependability. They are capable of shutting out distractions in order to take a practical, logical approach to their endeavors, and are able to make the tough decisions that other types avoid. Realistic and responsible, ISTJs are often seen as worker bees striving steadily toward their goals.
It goes on for a while, being eerie and accurate about many things. This particular passage is my favorite, because it confirms a well-known personality trait of Matt, aka The Sunbeam of Knowledge:
ISTJs respect facts. They hold a tremendous store of data within themselves, gathered through their Sensing function. They may have difficulty valuing a theory or idea that differs from their own perspective.
Of course once he shared his results I had to go take a free online Myers-Briggs test, too. Apparently I am an ENFP. Hold on, look at that again:
I S T J
E N F P
That right there is the dictionary definition of polar opposites.
Some of my results:
People with the ENFP personality type tend to be curious, idealistic...they seek meaning and are very interested in other people’s motives, seeing life as a big, complex puzzle where everything is connected. Not surprisingly, ENFPs tend to be very insightful and empathic individuals...
ENFP personalities are usually characterized by high levels of enthusiasm, especially when it comes to things that spark their imagination – in such cases, ENFPs can be very energetic and convincing, able to easily convince other people to join their cause. Ironically, this trait can also turn against the ENFP, when they suddenly find themselves in the center of the stage, being seen as leaders and inspiring gurus by other people. ENFPs strive to be independent and, unsurprisingly, do not always welcome such attention.
ENFPs are also likely to have difficulties dealing with routine, administrative matters. They are more interested in freedom and inspiration than security and stability, and this attitude is usually clearly visible – an ENFP would rather try to come up with an interesting solution or an idea, no matter how difficult that is, than deal with simple yet boring tasks.
Ha ha ha. Busted.
Finally, ENFPs are non-conformists, following their own path and trusting their intuition. Their talents are numerous, but they all rely on the ENFP being given enough freedom. People with this personality type can quickly become impatient and dejected if they get stuck in a boring role, unable to freely express themselves – but when the ENFP finally finds their place in the world, their imagination, empathy and courage are likely to produce incredible results.
Very interesting indeed, but wait! There's more! Matt was reading more about all of this and came upon a list of good jobs for the various personality types; he emailed it to me, but I made a little graphic because I have other things to do:
Anyway. We've been rental-house-hunting in earnest over the last week for next summer's move to Montgomery, Alabama. It occurred to me today after all the ISTJ-ENFP fun we've been having that our approach to house-hunting is very much shaped by our personality type. For example:
Me: Look at the charming old 1920 house bathed in sunshine!
Matt: Cracked foundation! Frankenheating radiator system! Weird closets!
Me: Well, that one has a pool, wouldn't that would be an awfully fun way to spend free time together in the summer?
Matt: researching researching researching pool chemicals
Me: If we had that house our furniture would go here, here, here and here. And our pictures there, there, and there. But if we had this house, our furniture would go here, here, and here. And our pictures there, there, and there. But then there's also that other house... [repeat 550 times daily]
Matt: Here's what x house costs over the course of a year.
You get the idea. It's all right there in the free online personality test summaries.
Even though we might drive each other crazy sometimes with our, uhm, unique perspectives on the world, at the end of the day we've always managed to pick the right home for us. I always (though occasionally begrudgingly) know that Matt's attention to detail and unflagging persistence when it comes to making the dependable choice serves us well. He always (though occasionally begrudgingly) knows that I can see things will be OK—or not OK—and that my intuition about such things is usually pretty accurate. He saved us from a glorious but fatally flawed old house on Pebrican Avenue in Cheyenne years ago, and I rightly convinced him that the 1938 House in Arlington would charm us and put us in the mix of some really valuable opportunities. We were both right. Maybe therein lies the explanation: in houses and life, we know when to back off and when to dig in, and when to admit to being too ISTJ-y or ENFP-y and agree to see things another way. Most of the time.