It's January, so that means a lot of people have been spending large amounts of time lately thinking about who they are, what their life looks like, what they wish their life looked like, and how to change what they're doing so that they can get wherever it is that they hope to be going. And I'm no different, especially with the long list of things that have come to the forefront for me as a result of my decision to begin attending weekly therapy sessions.
I've always been a woman of varied interests, and if you've known me in any capacity for any length of time, you'll already know that this is an inescapable truth. I love knitting and crocheting, music and movies, books and art. I love sculpting with clay. I love beading, and I've even handcrafted some truly beautiful pieces of jewelry over the years. I love words in all their forms, and have also dabbled in learning several different languages - none of which have been well-learned, due to lack of practice.
But who am I really, and how best do I figure that out?
I know my astrological sign, and I know what it means to be an Aquarius. I've made note over the years of the ways in which I fit (or don't fit) into the mold of what a traditional Aquarian is thought to be. I know that I'm an introvert, partly due to my genetic makeup and what that means for my personality, and partly due to my life circumstances and the resulting struggles with mental wellness. I know the truth behind my struggles with anxiety, panic, and depression, and I understand what those struggles mean in relation to my daily life and how I cope with the world at large.
I know that I am a Christian, and that spending a decade or so exploring alternative religions as a young woman has given me a much richer and deeper relationship with Christ - my Christianity is akin to having been through several alright-but-unsatisfying marriages, and then finally meeting THE ONE.
But how do all of these factors add up to who I am, truly? And what other ways are there for me to learn more about myself? I always loved astrology - I actually still do, and sometimes I'll seek out my daily horoscope just for fun. Now and then, I like playing around with Tarot cards, and I've even been known to blend meditation with my prayer life.
But is there more? Something deeper than astrology and more expansive than the introvert/extrovert debate? Sure there is - there's psychology, the study of the mind and how it relates to who a person is. There's the Jung typology test.
Recently I was reading a blog that mentioned this test, and I thought of all the times I've taken it before - and the varying results I've always had. At different points in my life I've tested somewhat differently on this scale, but some things have always remained the same, and I've almost always felt that my results were spot on. Perhaps sometimes I wasn't as honest with myself as I should have been, but the blog I was reading had me thinking that with everything going on lately, now might be a good time to reassess. I found 16personalities.com to be remarkably accurate and informative, and their test was both quick and decisive. The test itself is free, as are the emailed results, and they also have a page on their site that explains the theories behind the different personality types and how these theories work together to categorize humans into groups of ... whatever they are.
So I took the test, and wasn't at all surprised to be informed that I am in the "diplomat" category, and more specifically, a "mediator." Both of these titles fit perfectly with a girl who grew up in a series of rough environments, a girl who often felt discarded or unable to please those around her. They perfectly sum up what it means to me to have become a people pleaser in my early years - so much so that when I realized my first marriage was irreparable and I left my husband, my father's disappointment was all it took to send me running back. He was disappointed with this too, and I was crushed - that was the end of my need to please him, and the end of my inherent desire to seek approval from the people I loved. It was the beginning of being able to live for me, and yet.
A mediator, I am.
INFP. These are the letters that sum up my personality, the things that make me who and what I am on the inside, the things that impact my life and the lives of those around me on the outside. INFP. Introversion, Intuition, Feeling, Perception. According to 16 Personalities, I am a "true idealist," "always looking for the hint of good in even the worst of people." Check, and check. Also according to 16 Personalities, I "have an inner flame and passion that can truly shine." Yes, at times I suppose this can be true as well.
"Comprising just 4% of the population, the risk of feeling misunderstood is unfortunately high for the INFP personality type - but when they find like-minded people to spend their time with, the harmony they feel will be a fountain of joy and inspiration." - 16 Personalities, Mediator assessment.
For me, that's an eerily correct description of much of my life, both as a child and as an adult. I was one of the only kids I knew who liked books, who liked to stay in and read rather than going out to play. As a teen, I was the only person I knew who could sit at a computer screen for hours, making up stories. Later, I was the only person I knew who sought refuge from the world in a book of my own handwritten poems. I was a lone wolf. The only girl I knew who didn't think knitting and crochet were just for old women, the girl who most liked Home Ec in middle school. Between that and my home life, I was weird and I knew it - and I spent a lot of time feeling like an outcast. This didn't change in adult life either - I was a single mom for the first time by the time I was 21 years old, and this set me apart in some ways from the world around me. Although by this time I did have some friends in similar situations, it never escaped my notice that just forty minutes away, girls my same age were attending college classes, planning a future that hadn't started yet. And I was already worrying about the light bill, the grocery bill, the car payment. The cost of diapers. Over the years, these things (and others) have led to people assuming things about me and who I am that are incorrect, or at the very least, sometimes not entirely accurate. But, it is also true that when I have an opportunity to be surrounded by people who like the same things as I do or who have experienced similar circumstances ... I simply can't stop myself from feeling like a flower in bloom.
There's so much more to the results of this simple test, so much that relates to me on so many levels. I got just what I was looking for in this - a better understanding of myself now, because of who I've been and what I've been through at various points in my life. And I think you'll get that too, so if you're looking to know yourself a little better as we begin this new year, head on over to take the test for yourself, and don't forget to come back and share your results with me in the comments!