Recently, I decided to take this little personality quiz I discovered on Danielle Bean’s website. I took the quiz once, saw my personality summed up in a few paragraphs and felt confused. No, that couldn’t be right. (Even though the summary described me to a tee.) So I took it again. And again.
I kept getting the same results.
So I Googled “personality quiz” and tried another version of the test with a completely different set of questions.
I seesawed between being identified as an ENFJ as in Extroverted Intuitive Feeling Judging, otherwise known as a teacher in the Idealist category and an INFJ as in Introverted Intuitive Feeling Judging, or The Advocate.
These results shouldn’t have come as a shock. I took a more thorough personality test in college and it yielded very similar results. At the time, I completed the test to validate my career path. It did – writing, counseling, nonprofit work, the arts, and a legal profession were all good matches for me and these were some of the jobs I was considering pursuing as a journalism major/theatre minor who spent a lot of time volunteering.
This time I was taking the test for a different reason. I wanted it to validate that I was “designed” to be a Catholic, homeschooling mom of lots of kids. I wanted it to “prove” that I was cut out for the job just like Danielle Bean, my own mom, and other moms I admire.
I sat down to take the test already knowing what I wanted the outcome to be. I figured that motherhood probably had changed me and I was no longer that organized, passionate, and sensitive little college girl.
But motherhood hasn’t changed my personality at all. I am what I am, and that’s why I started to panic. I wasn’t like those other über moms, after all. The four letters of my personality didn’t match theirs. What did that say about me? More to the point: What did that say about the kind of mom I am now and am always going to be?
More panic. My thoughts went something like this:
Whoa. Wait a minute. I’m supposed to be like them. I know I’m a newbie mom and all and they’re veterans compared to me, but I want to be like them. I want more kids, so I can’t be someone who likes order and wouldn’t be immediately or always be described as an introvert but would be an introvert at heart. Hey, I answered “yes” to enjoying solitary walks for goodness’ sake and I love solitary walks. Who doesn’t? Wish I had more time for them, as a matter of fact. I crave alone time to ponder life and its complexities. Oh, and I love sitting in cafés, sipping lattes and writing and being alone, not that I do that I do that all that much anymore. Writing in cafes has artsy written all over it. Oh, and like Amy Welborn wrote, I don’t feel alive unless I’ve had some alone time at the end of a long day of nursing, changing diapers, playing Memory, doing laundry, and being the hostess to a slew of imaginary friends. Don’t all moms feel that way – introverted or not? Don’t we all want just a few minutes to ourselves? And yeah, I like alone time, but I also like to be intellectual and to talk with grownups. Yeah, I am a bit on the chatty side with everybody, including the service man who recently came to check our oven – think he thought I was a little stir-crazy. But that’s more out of social awkwardness than a need to not be a wallflower. Come to think of it, I do like to speak in front of people and my voice really carries. But speaking in front of strangers is much more comforting than speaking in front of peers. Yes, I was a thespian in high school and sang in the church choir all through college, but that was because I could be someone else; I could break out of my own skin and become the butterfly instead of staying hidden in my chrysalis of comfort. My feelings can be extroverted. I wear my heart on my sleeve. That’s not bad, right? It comes from a desire to be authentic and to put it all out there because if you can’t love all of me, then I don’t want you to just love bits and parts of me. And you know, I don’t like talking on the phone. I hate ordering pizza. I get the butterflies before making the call. Not sure why. Just don’t like it. Never have. Ah-ha. More proof that Jung doesn’t really know me. Who does? I’m an enigma. I’m the solitary extrovert. Yes, that’s it. There’s hope. I can have lots of kiddos and be a good mom and be like Danielle Bean and the other Catholic moms I admire. I mean, I’m a writer, right? And everyone knows writers are weirdly introverted and prefer seclusion to constant company.
“What are you doing?” My husband interrupted my mental diarrhea.
“I’m analyzing my quiz results,” I said. “Will you take it for me, answering like you were me?”
“Wouldn’t it be fun if I took the quiz for you and you took it for me and then we could see how well we know one another?” And if you know something about me that I don’t…
“Women like quizzes,” he said, slightly smirking. (He did end up taking the quiz – just for himself though – and he was a solid Rational, an INTJ, also known as a Mastermind. Pity me. I am married to a Mastermind!)
“I don’t like this quiz,” I retorted.
And why not?
Because every day I am filled with uncertainties about this whole mothering gig and this quiz and its outcome were supposed to give me validation that I’m like other moms God has brought into my life whom I admire. Because I’ve been worried since many of the moms I strive to emulate seem to be more laid-back. These discrepancies between them and me and now seeing my “personality” laid out before me just added to this growing heap of self-doubt.
“You’re too hard on yourself,” the Mastermind, ruler of his emotions, told me. “Stop comparing yourself to others.” More sage advice from an INTJ who is known for his quiet confidence.
I’ve known for a while that I have a problem. You hear how we live in a celebrity worship culture where people idolize and desperately want the lives of the Jennifer Garners and J-Los of the world. But I can honestly say that these days I can look at all that delicious eye-candy while at the grocery store checkout and not covet their lives one bit. Usually I feel sorry for them and am really, really thankful that I don’t have their lives.
But I’ve got another problem. I’m dealing with a new kind of celebrity worship. I’ve been spending way too much time – time that would be far better spent praying – comparing myself to other moms I deem as models of motherhood. Then, if I notice disparities in how we parent or in our personalities, I start wishing I was more like them, or I feel like I just don’t measure up or I don’t have what it takes.
Yet, even as an idealist-not-always-rational-kind-of-gal, I know this is destructive thinking and that there’s no secret formula or certain four-letter personality combination that makes a good mom.
According to one of the many personality profiles I’ve obsessed over, aside from being charismatic, organized, and a “feeler,” I have a thinner psychological boundary than most and am risk for being hurt and take more of the burdens of others than I can bear. Point well taken.
I can’t read these other blogs or watch other women in my homeschool group and wonder why I’m not more like them. I can host a coronation of Catholic women and turn them into celebrities in my head. I can worship them instead of learning from them. I’ve got to stop worrying about what others think about me or why I can’t be more like So-and-So. I’m not “stuck” with the personality, bone structure, eye color, quirks, etc. God gave me – I’m blessed with them. Lent may be over, but it’s time I start fasting on comparing myself to others and look to God for wisdom and guidance. He can give me all the grace I need to make the most of my own temperament and tendencies. He can help me with the unique challenges I’ll face in motherhood with my very own and unique personality. I don’t need psychological mumbo-jumbo or the blogosphere to validate my worth. I need God.
Yeah, I’m an idealist. I’m always going to strive to be better and while I certainly can learn from great moms, the only real marker I should be regularly using to evaluate how well I’m doing in my mom/wife vocation is Jesus. As wonderful as Danielle Bean is, you don’t see people walking around with bracelets that ask, “What would Danielle Bean do?”
Jesus, I turn to you now and ask you for the wisdom and the grace to live a life that is pleasing to you. I am child of God. I am all that I am because of you. Help me to recognize that my personality and everything about me is your workmanship, a real blessing and not something I should try to change. Instead, I must recognize my limitations, my weaknesses and the challenges being “me” presents in my vocation and when I am working to improve my life or looking for grace or wisdom, I must turn to you. Finally, I trust that I belong to you and that the good work you have begun in me will be perfected – if I only invite you into my life. Amen.