Understanding self

I've always been intrigued by personality tests. Over the years, I, like so many people, found myself in settings where I had to take some form of personality test. It seems that, as of lately, I've really been able to become more self-aware because of them. Part of this, I think, is because at MCC (or at least because of specific co-workers), I am given the space to tap into my personality strengths and not see them as weaknesses. This has helped me a lot, especially as an introvert working in the world of development and fundraising.

I usually tell people that I am an extreme introvert. Then immediately after that I feel as if I suddenly become apologetic or have the need to explain that being an introvert doesn't mean I cannot function in social situations. I don't say "extreme" in the I am going to be a hermit in the woods type of way. I mean it in the sense that it does not take long for meetings or social activities to exhaust me. All of the things I enjoy doing are, generally speaking, solo activities - writing, painting, photography, gardening, reading, cooking, etc. I really have to "pump" myself up to talk to people I don't know, and in development work, that is practically every day.

For introverts, I think it becomes a life-long process of accepting that being who we are is okay. This is sometimes hard to do, especially in a culture that seems to be geared towards extroverts. Often, especially in my development roll at work, I struggle with this need to prove to myself that I can be bold and assertive, although, deep down, I know this is pretty counter to my personality. (I recently watched most of this TED talk about introverts. It's pretty long, that's way I said "most of it.")

I think a lot of these personality tests leading to real self-discovery came when I had to the take the Enneagram test during orientation with Radical Journey. I came out as a 4, or an individualist. This was the first time that I had taken a test like this that seems to really ring true to who I was. It was also the first time I took a test with people with whom I'd be interacting a lot in South Africa. That experience with Radical Journey was the starting point. 

This past Christmastime,  I was with Levent's family. Levent's mom, Shirley, loves to discuss personality types, especially in regards to the myers-briggs test. I was pretty intrigued with this conversations (especially when it lead us to this  Myers-Briggs animal personality test on Buzzfeed) and later, when we were at my parent's house, it helped me identify the different personality traits in my own family. It is actually pretty eye opening and helps me understand how I and others around me experience the world. (FYI, on this test, I am the deer and I am dating a cat. Funny how that worked out).

Recently, for the MCC Thrift Shop leadership development training I was a part in Akron, we took the Strengths Finder test. (I remember taking this my first year at Bluffton, but I cannot remember how I came out). This time, I came out as Harmony, Empathy, Developer, Achiever, and Belief. I still have a lot to learn about what these means, especially since I don't really know what it means that harmony is my top strength. (I am super conflict avoidance too... so I don't know what that means). Yet, it really helped me understand the achiever side of me, especially in the work place and why I get bored and frustrated very easily in meetings where we talk about big ideas without any "first-step," practical type of plans. I can now name that, which is helpful.

All of these tests and the conversations that surrounded them have really been helpful for me in understanding myself and accepting it. I may be introverted and quiet, but I am completely fine with that because that also means that I am reflective, observant, creative, and authentic. I might not function in the same way as my co-workers or those around me, but I am coming to see how that is more than fine.

If you read more about 4's on the ennegram, it talks about how 4's tend to have chronically low self-esteem and have the need to be seen as unique, (which is probably why I needed to write this entire post in the first place). But I am slowly overcoming that, thanks to all of these opportunities I've had to explore and accept the person I am. And that, my friends, is so life-giving.