Friday, April 20, 2012

A Small Identity Crisis

As part of our pre-marriage counseling, the Grige and I took the Myers-Briggs test and discussed our types and how they impact our communication with our counselor. The Grige and I have taken M-B before (or at least the free online versions) and I always come out as an INFJ. Well, this time, my results indicated that I was an ISFJ. This makes a lot of sense – “N” indicates “intuitive”. Intuitive people like abstract concepts and don’t always operate well with schedule or reality. They’re dreamers and innovators and forward thinkers and they never do things the same way twice.  “S”, on the other hand, indicates “sensing”. Sensing people are careful observers, calculators and have a love of the concrete. Given my addiction to spreadsheets and schedules, it’s not surprising that I’m an “S”. The Grige is and always has been an ENTP (for those of you whose alphabet skills are sharp, you’ll notice that we’re opposites in EVERY CATEGORY). This will make for a very “exciting” marriage, but more on that later.

I didn’t think too much about researching my “new” personality type until last weekend. It sounded like me, so I wasn’t too worried. Since I’m in the process of grudgingly applying for jobs in STL, I thought it might be a smart idea to read up on the characteristics of my type and see what kind of jobs I might be well suited for. Boy was I shocked. I’m not even going to talk about the job recommendations, because I’m still trying to wrap my head around them.
I can describe the feeling I felt while looking at the rest of the description and list of famous people who are ISFJs as similar to what I felt when the sorting hat app on facebook kept putting me in f*cking Hufflepuff house.  I get it – loyalty, friendship, whatever. It’s basically just another word for frumpy in my dictionary. My apologies to Cedric Diggory. Two from the list that stuck out initially are Porky pig and President William Taft. That’s right folks! I can now compare myself to an animated pig and the president who got stuck in the bathtub due to his portly size. O.J. Simpson is on there too. Awesome.

I try to think of it more like the Honey Badger.....

I always love the personality comparisons with Shakespeare characters because the bard’s characters are so richly developed. It is fun to re-read the plays and examine their behavior, especially since the circumstances are so extreme. It really gives you a great idea picture of the actual functions of these traits. Unfortunately, ISFJs in Shakespeare provide little inspiration. In fact, I think they might be my three most hated characters ever: Bianca from The Taming of the Shrew, Hero from Much Ado About Nothing, and Ophelia from Hamlet.
Seriously? UGH. My inner feminist just threw up. While not evil, these ladies are pretty much useless except for plot development. They are your typical damsels in distress, and I’ve always seen them as literary tools to provide a lame-o backdrop for stronger female characters like Katherina in Taming and Beatrice in Much Ado.

In Much Ado, Benedick sums up my opinions of Hero perfectly: Why, i' faith, methinks she's too low for a high praise, too brown for a fair praise and too little for a great praise: only this commendation I can afford her, that were she other than she is, she were unhandsome; and being no other but as she is, I do not like her.” In other words, she’s not really worth noting – dry, white toast at its’ finest. She doesn’t do much except get woo’d by a war hero and faint at the appropriate moments.  Even her lover, Claudio, can’t offer higher praise than “she is the sweetest lady that ever I looked on”. So there’s a plus. She’s sweet and she’s pretty and she’s chaste (though she doesn’t put up much of an argument when her chastity is questioned. She lets others do that for her).
A Lovely still from the film adaption featuring DENZEL as Don Pedro! In case you are able to tear your eyes away from him, Hero is the cranky looking one with dark hair.

Thankfully, Bianca from The Taming, has a little more sauce. She’s boy –crazy, coquettish and manipulative. However, She does manage to actually take action for herself, unlike helpless hero, when she elopes. While manipulation is really the only tool Bianca would have had to assert herself in the period, I think Katherina’s agency is more appealing. She’s stubborn, unconventional and honest.  When I try to imagine myself as an angry, conniving little social climber like Bianca, my skin sort of starts to crawl.

Maybe she's just whelmed?
Come on, you knew you were thinking it too....
And then there is Ophelia. Hamlet is not my strongest play, so you’ll have to bear with me on the analysis. It’s my first impression that Ophelia is just another fainter, static and one-dimensional, though her psychosis is a bit more intriguing. Shakespeare uses her as a tool to emphasize Hamlet’s reactions to all women, and to create some pathos, since she’s so representative of innocence.  Ophelia is extremely frail and totally incapable of coping with the events around her, which are admittedly pretty tragic. At her best, she’s just a canvas of goodness for the world to paint evil on. She does not attempt to adapt or fight back. Not a great way to live, if you ask me.
So my project for the next week or so will be to re-read these plays, perhaps watch the movie adaptions (if I can get the Grige to relinquish the remote for long enough) and try to find something I can relate to in Shakespeare’s lovely ladies. Stay tuned for the flip side. Hopefully….


1 comment:

  1. I saw this on Twitter today, it's from the Harvard Business Journal. It's great little piece on communication, which is applicable of course to BUSINESS, but I found it really helpful in thinking about how T and I communicate, which is not always the best because we have different styles.