Joshua Keel

Forget Personality Types and Be Yourself

May 9, 2019

I used to be obsessed with personality types. Jungian types, the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), the Big Five, and anything else I could get my hands on that claimed to shed light on who I was, and why.

I frequented Facebook groups, YouTube channels, paid for personality tests online, talked with type “experts”, and generally geeked out. I spent time mentally typing my coworkers, trying to understand why they were different from me and each other. I analyzed my friends and family. But most of all, I read descriptions of the INFP—my type—and tried to grok myself.

I worried about the negative aspects of the INFP type profiles, and bathed in the warmth of all the positive things we INFPs are so known for and good at.

But at some point, I realized my obsession with personality types, particularly my own, was holding me back from simply being me—complicated, messy human that I am. I don’t fit neatly into a box. None of us do. And as I found, reading a description of yourself and then trying to make your life somehow match that is exhausting and frustrating. And of course entirely unnecessary.

No online test can tell you who you are. You are unique. No one can give you the roadmap to your life. And there’s a truth more difficult to swallow, that fully knowing ourselves is nearly impossible. So much of our life is influenced by unconscious processes we obviously cannot be aware of. With that in mind, knowing ourselves becomes more of a constant discovery—a fresh knowing-of-the-moment—than some kind of permanent truth-finding mission.

Watch yourself unfold. Get to know that unfolding. The next step will become clear. You don’t need to know your “type” to find your way. Be guided by your own wisdom, and realize that no one has the answers. And one man’s answer is another man’s refuse.