I was feeling a bit stressed when my cell phone buzzed.
I gave it a brief glance thinking I wouldn’t answer. Then I noted that my 13-year old daughter was calling.
The clock showed 2:45, and she normally doesn’t call as soon as school lets out. I knew something had happened.
In that short span of time between noticing the caller i.d. and actually answering the phone, I racked my brain for what I had, or hadn’t, done that had caused my latest parenting fail.
I expected drama on the other end of the phone. Instead, I got excitement.
My daughter was actually bubbling over with enthusiasm.
“Mom, she said, “we took a personality test in class today, and I’m an INFJ.”
She then regaled me with the positive and negative traits of her personality.
I was impressed. She WAS describing herself.
When she finally took a breath, she asked, “What are you?”
While I’ve taken the Myers Briggs test on more than one occasion, I couldn’t answer her question.
“I don’t know.” I said.
She was silent for a moment then said, “I thought you’d taken this test before.”
“It’s complicated,” I said.
I thought that put the matter to rest, but as soon as I said goodbye, my phone started buzzing again.
This time, I was receiving a text message from my husband.
“Your daughter and I are diplomats and your son is a virtuoso. Me – INFP; S- ISTP; K – INFJ.”
Despite my busy day at work, I felt compelled to text back.
“You bunch of introverts,” I replied.
My husband’s response was predictable.
“What are you?”
I responded. “I forget.”
Here’s the thing. I hadn’t necessarily forgotten, I simply didn’t know.
On each occasion I’ve taken the Myers Briggs personality test, I’ve gotten a different answer.
That isn’t supposed to happen.
Personalities are supposed to be as stable as DNA. People are who they are. At least, they are who they are except for me.
While some people might think my inability to hold on to a defined personality means I’m unbalanced, I prefer to think that I’m a complicated individual who has a difficult time answering a question in a concrete manner.
There’s always an “it depends.” It depends on the situation. It depends on my mood. Mostly, it depends on how much attention I’m actually paying to the questions being asked. My mind has a tendency to wander when it comes to details.
My family wanted the details about my personality anyway.
I hadn’t even closed the garage door after arriving home from work when my daughter was already thrusting the computer at me. She insisted that I once again take the test.
As I did, she sat perched by my shoulder commenting on every answer.
The Question: “You usually think a lot before you speak.”
Me:” Disagree somewhat”
My daughter: “STRONGLY DISAGREE”
The Question: “You do not let your emotions show, even with close friends.”
Me: (I don’t have time to answer before my daughter yells).
My daughter: STRONGLY, STRONGLY, STRONGLY DISAGREE.
I began to think my daughter should just take the test for me, but instead we forged on together.
Later, I went back and took the test by myself. The result was the same.
For the moment, I’m an ENFP (Extraverted, Intuitive, Feeling, Perceiving). Apparently, that means I have “extraverted intuition with introverted feeling.”
I have absolutely no idea what that means.
I’m hoping my daughter, the INFJ (the Introverted, Intuitive, Feeling, Judging) can explain it to me.
If not, I may just have to continue to stumble through life just being myself.
That has, after all, worked fairly well for the past 48 years.
Trina Bartlett lives with her husband, Giles Snyder, their teenage son and daughter, two cats and one enormous German Shepherd. When she’s not being a mom, volunteering, writing, biking or walking the giant German Shepherd, Trina works full time as a director at a nonprofit, social service organization.