I was talking to a lovely friend today about the Myers Briggs Personality Typing. I mentioned that since the very first time I took it as a graduate (far too many) years ago until now, I haven’t changed at all. But is it beneficial to be labelled and boxed into an identity?
Since then, my perception of myself has changed significantly. As an IT graduate, being ‘typed’ INFJ – someone more likely to be a counsellor or a nun than a corporate executive – was disturbing. And shocking. To think I spent three years at university for an unsuitable career was preposterous! So I fought against it… initially. I do remember talking to a very close friend about 2 weeks into my role as a graduate and telling them I didn’t think I wanted to do that for the rest of my life. But I was hardly going to stop.
Now, of course, it makes perfect sense. Ahh, the beauty of hindsight! Of course IT wasn’t the right fit for me – in the way that I worked in the field back then anyway. Never feeling satisfied, I spent 10 years searching for what I wanted to be ‘when I grew up’. I was afraid I would spend another three years at university only to end up in the same position.
Although in general I dislike using labels, I am odds with it. That’s because using labels can be so very helpful in finding your tribe and understanding yourself. I’ve seen many of my clients – and myself – find great relief in knowing there are other people in the same situation. It is somewhat comforting and brings a sense of belonging.
Thinking back, I wonder what might have been if I had taken the Myers Briggs Personality Test as a teenager. Before I decided on my High School Certificate subjects. Would I have taken the same career path? Would I have taken it as my identity?
My labels, my identity
Today, I know that I’m a true INFJ, I’m an empath, I’m an indigo and I think so very differently to (almost) everyone I know. But knowing there are other INFJ’s, other empaths, other indigos and other radical thinkers out there makes me feel less alien. (I’ve even met a few who are all of the above who, not surprisingly have become my closest friends).
Sure, labels can be portrayed as ‘putting people in rigid boxes’. But for me, I’m just happy my box isn’t empty.