I’m a Unicorn, not a Villain (aka: Musings of a Mastermind)

Want to know a secret about me?

I was not always an INTJ.

Gasp! Impossible! I know, right? After all, I have taken the MBTI (Meyer-Briggs Type Indicator) multiple times, on multiple websites, and even in paper form. I once even paid to have my results summed up by an MBTI certified psychologist. And every single time, at least, throughout the past decade, I have scored the same. INTJ.  Introverted Intuitive Thinking Judging. AKA The Mastermind. AKA The Systems Builder. AKA The Psychopath. 

Okay, not really that last one. But there is a disturbing number of villains associated with my MBTI type. Or rather, people who appear to be villainous until you get to know them better. https://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Myers-Briggs_Type_Indicator/INTJ . (Also note the  curiously low number of females on this list).

Female MBTI Personality Types

Once upon a time, though, I was not an INTJ. I took the test when I was around 22 years old, a preschool teacher, young traditional wife, aspiring mother, and conservative super-Christian. Back in those days, I was still super-social, with a wide circle of friends, and plenty of parties and get-togethers on the calendar. I even used to throw parties. I played Bunko, sold Tupperware, and went to scrapbooking socials.

In other words, I used to be a totally different person than I am today.

When I took the MBTI for the first time in the late 1990s, I wasn’t even close to an INTJ. I forget the type, but it was associated with being warm, caring, and nurturing. It was a highly typical female personality. I may have still been an introvert, I don’t know. But my profile didn’t look anything like it does now.

So what does that mean? Does it mean that the MBTI is bullshit, as VICE so eloquently summed it up?   Some say that the tool is invalid for categorizing unchanging personality traits, because a person’s mood can affect his or her answers, or because the person may be one way in the workplace, but exhibit different traits outside of work. And yet, the tool continues to be used widely by therapists, potential employers, educators, and more.

Or maybe the tool itself is functional, but a person’s personality traits are not as unchangeable as we once thought. Perhaps environment, trauma, and other life circumstances can impact different parts of our personality. After all, I was not always an unsociable cave-dweller. I did not always live inside my own mind, putting pieces together and creating systems.

And yet, here I am.

I recently tried Good & Co., a popular career app that offers multiple quizzes to help you discover more about your personality, and to match you with companies. The first couple of quizzes yielded predictable results: I was a Mastermind. I was a Unicorn. No kidding. But then, as I took more tests, the results began to change:

Tiare's Good&Co Profile

 

Excuse me? An Advocate? Sociable? How and when did this happen? Maybe my personality at work is nothing like my personality outside of work. Or maybe I just happen to be the kind of INTJ who generally gets along well with people and likes to be kind and altruistic. Or maybe personality is far too multi-faceted to be neatly divided into little labeled boxes.

And maybe I am thinking about all of this in a very INTJ way.

 

Plotting My World Takeover (The Secret Life of an INTJ)

There are questions which we all ask ourselves which are perhaps an essential part of being human. Who am I? What is my purpose in life? How can I give back to the world? How do I fit into society? Even when we think we know the answers to these questions, our lives change, circumstances change, and we begin to ask the same questions again.

Many of us turn to pop psychology for the answer. Yes, I’ll admit it, for a while, I was a Facebook survey addict. Hey don’t judge me – a lot of you took those quizzes, too. Which Book Character Would You Be? What’s Your Social I.Q.? How Well Would You Survive the Zombie Apocalypse? (Okay, really, why are people on the internet so obsessed with zombies? Is it because we all fear that deep down, we are all zombies? Hmm…a topic for a later blog post, perhaps).

Not very long ago, I was able to complete an actual personality test – the Briggs-Meyer Type Indicator (MBTI) Assessment. The one that many employers have their employees take in order to weed out who will do well in management positions based on their personalities. Just a theory. For those of you living in caves, the MBTI is a questionnaire developed in the 1960s by Katharine Cook Briggs and Isabel Briggs Myers. It consists of about a zillion questions which, after compiled, can be used to place you into your very own little personality box, neatly labeled and sorted into groups of people with similar personality traits, based on the theories of psychologist Carl Jung. Ha! And you thought you were an original.

Your Briggs-Meyer personality type is comprised of four letters, each representing one of the eight preferences: Introvert or Extrovert, Sensing or Intuition, Thinking or Feeling, and Judging or Perceiving. These preferences are combined to produce one of sixteen neatly packaged personality types. Some of these types, such as ISFJ or ESFJ, are quite popular, shared by 9-14% of the US population.

I, however, am an INTJ. Not only is this personality type somewhat rare (about 2% of the population), but the nickname for this type is The Mastermind. What immediately jumps to my mind, of course, is some mad scientist working feverishly in his lab, creating evil potions to take over the world. Really. The antagonist is almost always an INTJ. Don’t believe me? Try a Google Image Search for INTJ and tell me what you find.

Oh great. I’ll just bet that Voldemort was an INTJ. Probably Hitler, too.

Words that summarize a person with the INTJ personality type: Highly independent, analytical, creative, pragmatic, insightful, unsociable, reserved, cold, perfectionist, strategist. Yikes! That sounds like Voldemort. Even worse, that really does sound like me. I guess being a teacher of young children was not the best career path for someone like me. Maybe it’s time to start plotting my world takeover.