Saturday, January 12, 2013


I recently finished a one week Appraisal and Testing course, and as part of the course, I took multiple self-inventories.  I learned that I'm an ENFJ, within the normal range of mental health (the "normal" range has some girth on it), and that my conflict management style is collaboration.  I am a huge fan of taking personality inventories and tests because I can make my mind up easily and like to talk about myself.  Huge fandom aside, It occurred to me as I was taking the inventories (test implies that there is one "correct" answer, so typically anything based on personal preference is an inventory.  I apologize you just had to read that anal bitch sentence) how absurd the entire exercise is.  There are over 7 billion people on the planet; how can anyone expect to classify all 7 billion neatly into 16 Myers Briggs types?

I understand that these standardized inventories and standardized tests are based on research and observation and that no one test is meant to paint a holistic picture of a human being.  It seems to me, however, that there are even more "tests" we inflict upon ourselves and others that are not standardized and have no basis other than our own fears and ignorances.  For example, this morning I did the daily "Annie's Self-Worth" test.  It consists of me looking in the mirror and deciding if I'm attractive.  Today, consistent with most days, I decided I looked bloated and my nose is too big.  Thus, I failed and conclude myself to be a person who is less worthy than others.  Less worthy of love.  How many times have I conducted this test?  Why am I trying to classify myself in the first place?  How many times have we looked at each other and performed tests; fat or skinny?  Pretty or ugly?  Kind or mean? Someone I can be friends with or someone I should avoid?

We all do it.   And I don't mean that it's not valuable to use our best judgement, especially when it comes to trusting others.   I do think, however, it's important to examine our criteria.  What kind of person do you want to be and are your tests helping you get there?