Us, the world, and the layers in-between

The last week of my life has been unusually centered around pushing things on those unfortunate enough to be in my vicinity. Two things to be exact. At first glance I deemed these things unrelated, but upon further reflection I’ve realized they’re actually quite intimately linked. And together they pose a compelling philosophical question.

The first thing I’ve been pushing is a website called 16personalities.com. Is it a glorified Myers-Briggs test? It is. But it’s beautifully designed, thoughtfully laid-out, incredibly insightful and it’s opened my world up suddenly and surprisingly.

Having been privy to several versions of this test over the years, I was wary of yet another one.

Just kidding. I’ve never clicked faster. I suppose I should mention I can never take enough personality tests.

*looks up from navel* Who, me?

But even if you don’t share this affinity, give it a whirl just to be sure (that is, if you haven’t already). Because all of us are fascinating creatures interacting with the world with a vastly different set of mental tools, and there is an ocean of understanding waiting to be explored within the pages of this site.

As I read through my results (INFJ), I felt giddy with existential excitement. Is there anything more euphoric than making the tiniest bit of sense of something as complex as human identity and the brain? The results felt creepily accurate.

Naturally, I immediately emailed my boyfriend, two closest friends, parents, and siblings begging them to take the test so I could read about theirs too. Pusher Extraordinaire. And to my utter delight, they all obliged with very little convincing.

I pulled some content from the “Parenting” section of both of my parents’ personality profiles (ENTJ and ENFJ) and sent them to my siblings for a blind test. Which one did they think was which? Their responses were both something to the effect of “that is insane!” Neither even felt compelled to actually point out the answer. It was that obvious.

If you were to ask me if I bought the $32 premium profile and then accidentally printed out the 100-page document at work, I’d plead the fifth and then go recycle something.

The second thing I’ve been pushing on people is going to shock no one vaguely familiar with this blog. And that is Hormonology. For those who are unaware, Hormonology is an app that explains in great detail how the female hormones responsible for your 28-day joyride might affect you depending on where you are in your cycle. Fairest of warnings: the app is heinous and horribly designed, but the content is there! #comicsans

I first wrote about it when my relationship with the app was in its infancy. I’d only had it a couple weeks. It told me I might feel foggy and I winked back. It told me I might feel forgetful and I blushed. But if those were our first dates we are surely living together by now. I’ve become intimately familiar with its contents and am still bowled over by the proverbial flashlight it’s pointed into the dark mysterious batcave that is my body.

And today, like so many days before it, I stood in the kitchen at work selling four of my colleagues on this app as if my life were on the line. And one of them already had it and another was male. I’m nothing if not committed.

They two remaining eligible victims promised to immediately download it. Potentially to get me to shut up.

What’s more? I’ve become something of a hormone consultant to my friends and family. Whether they ever wanted or asked for it remains to be determined. Suffice it to say, I’ve sent my sister her marching orders. She has 6 months to adjust her cycle so that her November wedding falls on her day 7. Trust me on this Kelly.

These companies, while approaching identity from different angles, are both helping me to further understand myself and the layer of interpretation that exists between me and the world. A layer neither I nor anyone can remove whether we’d like to or not. The former, 16personalities, points to my belief that we are all vastly different. The latter, Hormonology, points to my belief that we are all the same.

These beliefs stand in contrast with one another, but of course they can both be true and are. The human mind is a maze too intricate to be repeated across people, but too honed and evolved to be so different.

But even if we have the help of science to unpack the complexity, where do the biological and psychological explanations end and the personal responsibility start?

“I may as well just be a sack of hormones walking around. Am I even making my own decisions!?”

I was joking when I said it earlier today, but there was certainly a granule of real-life fear baked into it. It’s true, of course, that a reason (defined as “a cause, explanation, or justification for an action or event”) does not equate an excuse (“an attempt to lessen the blame attached to a fault or offense”), but it can certainly get blurry when it comes to the compulsions of our minds and bodies and what we decide to do with them. It can be tough to know how to turn this knowledge into power when our free-will is thrown into the mix.

For instance: if I, as an introvert, choose to avoid a social activity in favor or going home to work on a project, am I maximizing my strength or not pushing myself? I don’t always know the answer. So I’m left to wonder, a bit, about how I can best wield the knowledge these sites have afforded me. But the added context, whether easy to act upon or not, is nothing short of incredibly enlightening and this past week I’ve learned I’m nothing short of incredibly annoying about it.

Push push push. What can I say? I’m an INFJ! I want people to explore themselves!*

*reason or excuse? You be the judge.

10 thoughts on “Us, the world, and the layers in-between

  1. I find this ironic and maybe you won’t feel the same way, but I thought I’d share anyway. I’m excited that you posted this– I get way too excited about personality tests. The past couple weeks I’ve been slightly (and I say that delicately) obsessed with the 16personalities, even before reading this, and I too have asked my boyfriend and family to participate. I found it funny reading through this, ’cause I’m an INFJ too, and was nodding throughout this entire post. Point being, without knowing you, we have been going through the same thoughts lately and I feel like we are similar in many ways. And not just concluding that from this post, I’ve been reading your blog for a while. We are all made so differently but I do believe there is a lot of similarities among people as well. Loved this post.

    Like

    • Fellow INFJJJJJJJJ. Wait…have you realized how many INFJ forums and blogs and websites there are? I feel I’ve just peeled back a layer of the world that was constantly confusing me. I love that you love it too! We could probably talk about this for about 37 hours. It doesn’t get old. Did you get the premium profile? I’ve been reading it slowly over the past week because it’s a lot to take in. What’s your boyfriend’s type (if you care to share)? I’ve started to also become super interested in pairings and how they work. Either way thanks so much for writing to me! ~Kindred spirits~

      Like

      • I haven’t dove into blogs and websites yet but I can see where the rest of my night is going! I didn’t get the premium profile but I’m considering it now… since I’ve only heard good things… and I’m obsessed. My boyfriend is a ENTP. We get along really well until we both have a differing opinions towards something. Oops. And I don’t mean we get into nasty fights or anything, we just both have strong view points. It’s actually kind of funny now that I’m typing it out. What’s your boyfriend?

        Like

      • My obsession is starting to become a little unhealthy. I woke up in the middle of the night and googled LouisCK mbti. Like. WHY. I’m buying this book (http://www.amazon.com/Gifts-Differing-Understanding-Personality-Type/dp/089106074X) because I want to be able to identify people more easily and further understand the idiosyncrasies of the types and how they interact. I’m drawn to the idea of putting some structure around the vastness of personality differences, but I have to be careful to not let it make me narrow-minded. I know two people with the same type can be completely different. Hitler and Ghandi were both INFJs. WHOOPS!
        ENTP and INFJ are supposed to be a good match! My boyfriend is ISFJ, so we share the IxFJ traits (probably why the day to day is very easy for us), but I live more in the theoretical world and him in the physical. We don’t necessarily have the differing opinions/strong viewpoint thing you brought up (probably the result of two xNxx together!…I don’t know if I’ve ever had an xNxx boyfriend…hmm), ours is more that he has limits in terms of discussing theory. He’ll indulge me often but has to have the energy for it, whereas it comes very naturally to me and it’s where I’m most comfortable.

        Like

  2. Haley, I am back from reading your blog all the way through. First of all, you are a great writer, second of all I haven’t been excited about a (not just) fashion blog in a really long time, after being obsessed with them years ago (I even wrote my thesis on them). Seriously (maybe since we are the same age you know what I mean), finding those early blogs almost 10 years ago was such a revelation, not to mention the Teen Vogue forums before, around 2003, where people typed up their outfits, those were the times! Since then I fell out of love with fashion a little, but your blog still gave me a bit of that old tingle (pervy on/not on purpose?). So yeah, thanks, keep on being awesome and I will keep on reading.

    Like

    • I totally remember those early days! And I’ve definitely felt that same disenchantment with the way so many fashion blogs are run now so I’m beyond thrilled to represent a departure from that for you. I’m not wearing the coolest shit or writing stuff that’s ultimately that marketable, so I’m really glad to get a few relateable readers any way. Quality over quantity! *insert praying emoji that’s actually a high-five emoji* Thanks so much for the comment, I don’t even need coffee now! You’re the best!

      Like

  3. Same here! Looked into this a few months ago whilst waiting for my daughter to finish her ballet class (as you do) and was hooked. I bombarded the rest of my family with messages about doing it, and they didn’t seem to enjoy the process as much as I did. I found out I was and INFP which is similar group to yours.
    L💜ve everything about your site by the way.

    Like

    • INFP huh? That’s my mom! You guys are more laidback than me. I envy that. Also do you know Merlin Mann? I thought of him when you said “as you do” the way you did. Either way, thank you for the comment and for reading. I’m always honored!

      Like

  4. No I haven’t, but I’m from the UK, we have an odd sense of humour. My mum is an ESFJ and the write up was so right.
    Your welcome- it’s a great read and it’s nice to know other people think the same as you- or at least similarish!

    Like

  5. I got INFJ as well! Weirdly enough I used to be really into this stuff right before college and would get INTJ/INTP. I’d like to think my liberal arts coursework altered my mindset, I do think I “grew up” a lot within my college years. I also totally have that book you bought (Gifts Differing) from that Myers-Briggs obsession phase.

    During that phase I went to used bookstores and bought a couple books with personality tests…that were already filled out. Maybe I’m just nosy but it was interesting to see how these completely strangers answered and which results they received. I guess nowadays you don’t need that when you have the internet. You could probably find a Buzzfeed article or two on “You’ll Never Believe What Personality Type These Strangers Are (bonus: watch them interact!)”

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s