I don’t know who I am


I’ve always wanted to fit perfectly into a box.

A category. A stereotype. An exact definition of me. A tomboy or a girly-girl. A jock or a nerd. If I could just discover who I was, I could shout it from the rooftops. I could proclaim it to the world.

But I could never fully identify with any of the categories. I’m torn, half of my personality in one box, half in another.

Personality tests were a stark reminder of this infuriating inconsistency. In theory, I adored them. I absolutely delighted in scouring through magazines to find a good personality test, because who could deny the opportunity to discover what their favorite color says about their personality.

But nearly every time without fail, I found myself in the same exact position. I was almost completely split between two or three answers, and I couldn’t fully identify with any of them.

My relationship with personality tests evolved over the short years between my early childhood and the beginning of my high school career. I’ve become possibly even more obsessed with analyzing not only my own personality but others’ as well. This led to my discovery of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI).

The MBTI classifies people with a four-letter combination that defines how they understand the world around them and make decisions. There are several online tests and charts that can be used to determine someone’s type.

The Neris Type Explorer test on 16personalities.com is one of the more popular versions. It takes around twelve minutes to answer all the questions, and you receive an accurate typing at the end, with pages of explanation behind that type.

In a nearly manic attempt to assure myself of who I am, I’ve taken the test at least ten times. Every time I’ve received the same four-letter combination, ENFP, an enthusiastic, creative, and sociable personality type.

Discovering this about myself, and finally being able to give an explanation to why I acted, felt, and thought the way I did, was like reaching the culmination of a years-long journey. And perhaps even better, I could use my newfound knowledge to find other people whose thought processes and decision-making methods were like mine.

I suddenly felt not so alone anymore. Other people interacted with the world the same way I did; I wasn’t crazy. Regardless of how annoyingly cliche it sounds, I really felt like I had finally found myself.

I fit into a perfect little box; until I didn’t. In a state of boredom, I retook the test just a few days ago and found myself completely shocked as a different personality type appeared on my screen. It was an incredibly minuscule and ridiculous problem for me to suddenly find myself reeling at.

There was only a letter difference, but it was enough. Because as I researched and analyzed this difference to determine whether or not it was a fluke, I realized that once again I was split. I wasn’t one way or another. This letter difference explained how I made decisions; it was a simple matter of either analyzing the data or trusting my gut. 

But I was both. Sometimes I made decisions based on past experiences and reliable data, and sometimes I trusted my gut instinct. And as aware as I was that this wasn’t a big deal, I still hated it. I felt like I wasn’t quite myself, like I’d changed.

I know I’m not alone. It’s a human tendency to crave understanding, to desperately seek out an explanation for who we are. The problem is that nobody is a perfect fit for any category, no matter what it is. Everybody is a brilliant mixture of millions of different traits. We can type ourselves and place ourselves in categories with people who are similar to us, but there will always be differences. There will always be little flukes and inconsistencies and even changes in personality.

We don’t need to fit into a category to know who we are.

I think I’m still struggling with that. I know that it’s true, but I still crave to fit perfectly into a box. It scares me because I want to know who I am. And that seems harder when I realize that I can’t have a test tell me who I am. I have to figure that out on my own.

So who am I?

I’m inconsistent, a walking contradiction. I care so deeply and genuinely for the people in my life, but sometimes I’m not so great at expressing it. I’m passionate about my ideas and interests. All of my emotions are blindingly intense; I cry easily, when I’m happy, sad, or just plain overwhelmed.

I’m loud and talkative; I want to share my endless, crazy ideas. I’m easily embarrassed, and I overthink every minor interaction. I am easily stressed, and I procrastinate the most insignificant of tasks. I’m enthusiastic and bubbly, even when I’m complaining. I love life, and I want to explore it all. I hate mundane tasks and crave adventure.

Most importantly, though, I’m me. I’m still discovering exactly what that looks like, but I have a pretty good idea so far.

I’ve always wanted to fit into a box. But that’s just not possible. And I think I might be okay with that.