For the Throne! (Aka: International Women’s Day)

Winter is here, people.

Those of you who know what I’m talking about are glancing at your calendars, counting how many days remain before the series finale of Game of Thrones — one of the most exciting TV shows of this decade. Who will be brutally murdered next? Who will sleep with who? Most importantly, who will take the throne and become king (or queen) of the seven kingdoms?

But that’s not really what I want to discuss. Today is International Women’s Day. All around the world, people are taking a moment to acknowledge women and the contributions we have made and continue to make to society. So it only made sense to take a look at the women of Game of Thrones. Why? Because their timeless archetypes are common among many women, young and old, throughout the globe.

Arya Stark

The tomboy, who eschews femininity in favor of wearing pants and wielding a sword. Later, we see in the character Brienne of Tarth, a glimpse of the great knight Arya could become in the future.

Sansa Stark

The feminine “good girl” princess, who dreams of marrying her fairy tale prince, Joffrey. When her prince turns out to be a sadistic monster, and the world turns harsh and cold, Sansa quickly grows up and develops an exterior of steel.

Catelyn Stark

Catelyn is deeply devoted to her husband and children, which is apparent in everything she says and does. Far from perfect, Catelyn struggles with her role as a stepmother to her husband’s bastard son, Jon Snow.

Cersei Lannister

The opportunist (some might say bitch), who will stop at nothing to get what she wants, for herself or for her children. Seduction, betrayal, and murder are only a means to an end for her.

Daenerys Targaryan

“Miss Independent.” Plays her role as the dutiful, obedient sister and wife until she figures out who she really is. Once she embraces her true self, her power is unstoppable. She gathers an army and pursues her goals relentlessly, all without having to rely on a man to rule at her side.

My personal favorite? The Khaleesi, Daenerys Targaryan. Not only is the badass Mother of Dragons born to be a queen and rule the seven kingdoms, but she is true to herself and always tries to be kind and just (though sometimes she fails). I identify strongly with her sense of independence.

Other women may read this and find that they identify more with the disillusioned princess, the tomboy, or the devoted wife and mother. But most of us may agree that we are multi-faceted. That many of us are sometimes the princess, and sometimes the tomboy, and sometimes the devoted wife and mother, and sometimes the bitch. Kind of the Game of Thrones version of the Breakfast Club archetypes.

But whatever type of woman you define yourself to be, and no matter who you are rooting for to take the throne at the end of the final season, I hope that today you will celebrate being a woman, or celebrate the women in your lives.

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.

 

Forever a Wallflower (aka Social Phobia vs. Shyness)

This week is filled with social obligations. There are kids’ soccer games to attend, Back-to-School night at my kids’ schools, and taking my daughter to a playdate at a friend’s house. Maybe these don’t sound like a big deal to a lot of people, but to me, they are a huge deal. My stomach feels twisted in knots. The very idea that I have to be around groups of people I don’t know makes me feel somewhat nauseous and dizzy. The idea of actually talking to people I don’t know makes my throat close up, until I feel like I can’t breathe. I have developed this awful habit of looking anywhere but directly at people, unconsciously discouraging them from talking to me. It is very hard to get to know anyone this way, believe me! Every now and then, someone will smile and say, “Hi, aren’t you so-and-so’s mom?” I can usually manage a smile and a quiet, “Yes, I’m Tiare. Nice to meet you.” But the conversation rarely ever gets beyond that.

Am I shy? Well, yes, I have nearly always been shy. Since childhood, I was the one sitting on the sidelines with her nose in a book, occasionally observing the world and people around her. When I had friends, I was not at all shy with them. But making friends has never come easily for me. In fact, recently, it has felt nearly impossible, as my shyness seems to have grown into something much larger than simple timidity. Could I be dealing with a social phobia? I wondered. Out of curiosity, I took an online assessment by the Social Anxiety Research Clinic at Columbia University, which assesses and rates anxiety according to the Liebowitz Social Anxiety Scale (LSAS-SR). I answered as honestly as I could, then submitted the assessment.

The possible scores were:                  0-30 SAD unlikely

                                                                30-60 SAD probable

                                                                60-90 SAD very probable

                                                                Score 90 or higher SAD extremely probable

My score? 102. Interesting. So now I am not only shy, but frightened to death of people.

The other day, I discovered a fabulous new iPhone app, called SAM.  ,developed by the University of the West of England to help people to manage their anxiety. Here is what it looks like:

iPhone Screenshot 1iPhone Screenshot 2iPhone Screenshot 4

I have been using it lately to help me to manage and track my anxiety. It has been a surprisingly helpful tool – like an imaginary friend or therapist in my pocket, reminding me to breathe through my panic attacks, and slowing down the world for a moment while I regain perspective.

Now I know, SAM is only a tool, and not a true treatment for anxiety. Talking to a real therapist or friend would probably help, too. But there lies the paradox – finding either would mean talking to people. Ugh.

My Zodiac Playlist

12 Signs of the Zodiac People in my extended family take astrology very seriously. So seriously, in fact, that I remember being punished as a child for being too noisy while the daily horoscopes were being read on the radio. Many of my relatives, including my mother and sisters, believe that there exists a very real and powerful connection between the alignment of the stars and occurrences in the real world. They also believe that the time of year in which a person is born affects that person’s personality and character.

“Oh how sweet – a little Sagittarius! They are so much fun!” my sisters cooed when one of my sons was born near December. And then, “Uh-oh, look out! Cancer babies are moody,” they warned when my third child was born one July. I just rolled my eyes. Really, even though my Sagittarius son is actually the happy-go-lucky playful type, and even if my little Cancer is the moody male version of a drama queen, I still think that star signs and horoscopes are a bunch of superstitious hooey.

“That’s because you’re a Virgo,” my mother and siblings tell me whenever I dismiss the zodiac as ridiculous pseudoscience.

Is it?

Apparently we Virgos like fields of wheat, because we are so natural and earthy.

Apparently we Virgos like fields of wheat, because we are so natural and earthy.

Well, according to the internet, Virgos are critical, fussy, down-to-earth, sensible, reasonable, practical, analytical, creative, distant, nature-lovers, aloof, shy, intelligent, prudish, earthy, perfectionists, organized, imaginative, insightful, and shrewd. See? That doesn’t describe me at all. Okay fine – it describes me to a tee (except, perhaps, for the organized part). But still, I find the whole thing silly, especially when people feel compelled to check their horoscopes before making decisions about who to love or where to go or whether to leave the house that day.

Maybe I am not being very kind, looking down on the beliefs of my extended family, and of so many people around the world. This is something that I have observed: people just need something to believe in. Whether they turn their beliefs toward God, toward humanity, or toward the alignment of the stars, I suppose it is not up to me to judge them for that faith, no matter how unbelievable I may find it. Isn’t that so Virgo of me?

virgo14

My Zodiac Playlist

Capricorn (Dec 22 – Jan 19) Money (Pink Floyd)

Aquarius  (January 20 – Feb 18) – Aquarius/Let the Sun Shine in (Hair by James Rado & Gerome Ragni)

Pisces (Feb 19 – March 20) – The Joker (Steve Miller Band)

Aries (March 21 – April 19) – We Are Young (Fun. ft. Janelle Moráe)

Taurus (April 20 – May 20) – Our House (Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young)

Gemini (May 21 – June 20) – I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For (U2)

Cancer (June 21 – July 20) – Bitch (Meredith Brooks)

Leo (July 23 – Aug 22) – All Star (Smash Mouth)

Virgo (August 23 – Sept. 22) Down to Earth (Peter Gabriel)

Libra (Sept 23 – Oct. 22) Peaceful Easy Feeling (The Eagles)

Scorpio (Oct 23 – Nov 21) Superman (It’s Not Easy) – (Five for Fighting)

Sagittarius (Nov 22 – Dec  21) Pocketful of Sunshine (Natasha Bedingfield)

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.