Is anyone else getting tired of articles explaining how introverts are entitled to blow off plans last-minute and not pick up the phone because it’s draining for them?
How about intuitives in the MBTI system who have decided they’re intellectually superior to others and ought to be treated accordingly?
Even as someone who spends a borderline obsessive amount of time writing about personality systems, I’m ready to admit it: We’re taking things too damn far.
We need to stop treating our personalities like prophecies.
Being an introvert doesn’t mean you can constantly dodge your phone calls and cancel plans last minute, any more than being an extrovert means that you can regularly skip work to attend parties because socializing gives you energy.
Being an adult means doing things that don’t energize us sometimes, because we have commitments and responsibilities to uphold.
I am a perceiver in the Myers-Briggs personality system, which stereotypically means that I do things on my own schedule and don’t like adhering to strict plans. But guess what? I’m also an adult with a full-time job. So every morning at 7am, my alarm clock goes off and I get my ass to work on time.
Does that energize me? No. I’d much rather wake up whenever the inspiration to wake up hits me and then waltz into work when the perfect mood strikes. But adhering to a routine happens to be a necessary component of being an adult. So I suck it up and do it anyway.
Because personalities are not excuses for poor behavior. They are not get-out-of-jail-free cards for the things that we don’t want to do.
Your personality is a measure of what naturally interests you and gives you energy. It’s not a list of things that you are capable and incapable of doing.
Introverts can pick up the phone. Extroverts can shut up and listen. Thinkers can develop emotional awareness. Feelers can learn to reason logically.
Your personality is not a barrier to behaving like a responsible adult. The only barrier to that is self-indulgence.
Here’s the truth about personality: knowing your natural inclinations is self-awareness. Learning to manage and transcend them when necessary is maturation.
Knowing you’re a thinker who is not naturally in tune with the feelings of others is self-awareness. Choosing to make an effort to consider others’ feelings despite that is maturation.
Knowing you’re a feeler who experiences strong emotional reactions is self-awareness. Learning to manage and regulate those emotional reactions when you need to is maturity.
Knowing you’re an introvert who gets drained through extensive social interaction is self-awareness. Structuring your life so that you’re able to uphold your commitments and responsibilities in a way that doesn’t over-tax you is maturation.
Knowing you’re an extrovert who thrives on social interaction is self-awareness. Learning to give others the space and privacy they need (even if you don’t need it) is maturation.
At the end of the day, your personality says almost nothing about your ability to engage in almost any behavior.
Introverts can show the hell up. Extroverts can let other people have the spotlight. Sensors can see the big picture. Intuitives can focus on the details. Thinkers can show compassion. Feelers can reason. Judgers can compromise. Perceivers can commit.
You may choose to only indulge the behaviors that come naturally to you and bring you the most energy, but to do so in situations in which your behavior negatively impacts others (or yourself) is to deliberately choose a childish response to an adult issue.
Personalities are not prophecies.
They are tools for self-awareness.
And whether you choose to grow or limit yourself through your understanding of your personality type says a lot more about you than your personality type itself ever has or will.