(Don’t) Know Thy Self

When I first started playing music, I knew right from the start that I would learn so much about myself through exploration, song-writing, performing, and so many other areas that come from being a musician. In the four and a half years that I’ve been performing my own music, I’ve come to understand so much about my personality, my likes and dislikes, and what I’m capable of.

But I’m still not done learning about myself. I’m in my late-twenties and I still can’t easily describe myself when someone asks me to tell them about myself. Aside from the obvious argument that it’s never easy to describe oneself, the point is that I’m still learning things about myself and how I interact with people (and the world, at large).

Recently, I took the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator where one of the exercises is to self-assess based on a list of personality traits and then compare that to an assessment tool which forces the subject to chose between a pair of (apparently) equal choices. For example, “do you trust your feelings or your reason?” Eventually, the tool spits out a bunch of letters that indicate your “type” (with the caveat that the tool isn’t necessarily “right”, but rather an alternative assessment). When I assessed myself, I thought I was an ISTJ but the assessment tool found that I was an INFJ, or Introversion (I), Intuition (N), Feeling (F), Judging (J). If you want more information on what the hell that means, go here.

To paraphrase, these are the findings of the tool, I am:

Idealistic

Sensitive to the needs of others

Highly creative and artistic

Reserved

Focused on the future

Private

Values close, deep relationships

Enjoys thinking about the meaning of life

 

Similarly, I took the StrengthsFinder assessment which does essentially the same thing as the Myers-Briggs but instead of spitting out letters, it spits out these adjectives.

Input- People who are especially talented in the Input theme have a craving to know more. Often they like to collect and archive all kinds of information.

Intellection- People who are especially talented in the Intellection theme are characterized by their intellectual activity. They are introspective and appreciate intellectual discussions.

Ideation- People who are especially talented in the Ideation theme are fascinated by ideas. They are able to find connections between seemingly disparate phenomena.

Learner- People who are especially talented in the Learner theme have a great desire to learn and want to continuously improve. In particular, the process of learning, rather than the outcome, excites them.

Achiever- People who are especially talented in the Achiever theme have a great deal of stamina and work hard. They take great satisfaction from being busy and productive.

Now, I don’t believe that everything the tools tell me are truth, let alone will remain constant. They don’t make that assertion either. In fact, some people might argue that these assessment tools are akin to astrology (if astrology were a bit more scientific a study). But what both tools do is provide an insight into what a person’s inclinations and proclivities are based on a measurable system. It gives a new perspective and lens to view yourself and learn about life. I learned that I may be inclined to be a “big picture” person and very sensitive to how people perceive what I do and say. It gives me a new way to see how I interact with other people who may not be like me at all. And really, that’s invaluable information even if it’s not true.

So the challenge is this: get a new perspective on yourself from someone/something else as often as you can. You don’t have to believe everything they say about you, but take it in and don’t argue. But at the very least, consider it and how that may influence how you interact with yourself, the people around you, and the rest of the world. You might just learn something.

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