By Laura Moore
A very real, living, breathing part of me is imaginative, creative and free-spirited, while an equally real part of me is driven, rigid and focused on production.
The creative side of me wants time to reflect, opportunities to play with ideas, and permission to be free from timelines and schedules. She wants to theorize and philosophize, imagine, ponder, brainstorm and create. But the task-master side of me wants efficiency, purpose and prolific products. She wants to make lists, check off items from that list, and be able to point to tangible, visible or readily discernible results.
Much like they are in the outer world, those two sides of me have been engaged in an epic internal battle for as long as I can recall. One side postures as superior; the other side rolls her eyes. One side creates something beautiful; the other side points to a sink full of dishes.
When strangers ask me to choose, I feel like a sell out. Type A often seems to be the most desirable response because it suggests that I am a hardworking girl of high ambition. But the intuitive, creative type B persona often feels more comfortable, like the outfit I want to persistently pull up and over my skin.
When I take the online tests, I get mixed results. Dr. Meyer Friedman's test reveals a 4/10, barely landing me in Type B territory. He is the doctor who officially coined the phrases to help people determine whether or not they were at risk for heart disease, but he only asks 10 questions. This test modified by the Jenkins Activity Survey, asks 20 questions and scores me at a 262, securely placing me in type A territory. And this one, by PsychTests AIM Inc., asks 73 questions. Similar to the first test, my answers navigate me pretty darn close to center, but with this one, I lean a little more to the A side.
The results tell me what I already know: I am both feisty and reflective, competitive and collaborative, fast and slow, driven and imaginative. I am a talker and a listener, a planner and an impulsive responder, a striver and a helper. I am, as my friend Anna always says, in fifth gear or park. And because I am all of those things, I do not land squarely anywhere.
When I read personality descriptors, I find myself spread between a lot of spaces. The only way I can choose a box is by compromising my truth. No one place feels decidedly me, so I often look for hybrid narratives. The Myers Briggs Test seems to offer more gray space than the Type A/Type B test, but even then, sometimes when I take it I'm a "P" and other times, I'm a "J." Sometimes I'm an "I" and sometimes I'm an "E." And generally speaking, I'm an "N" and an "F," but depending on my mood and the circumstances in my life when I answer the questions, I occasionally find out that on that particular day, I'm an "S" or a "T."
So when I read my results along side others, and I hear them say, "wow that is sooooo me," sometimes I feel lonely. Society has trained all of us to find solace in easy-to-follow answers, clear-cut descriptors and identifiable labels, and I suspect this is because crisp clarity is easier to manage, easier to explain and easier to understand than chaos. Our mind works better in boxes, even if our hearts don't fit inside, and for that reason, we tend to tuck the nebulous, complicated things into the back left corner of life's little closet.
But I know there are many other people, like me, who don't always fit into labels. There are many other people who battle opposing forces. Who feel the compulsion to schedule and the desire to be free, who set measurable goals and get lost in lofty dreams, who call forth the artist in their free time, and the task master when they go to work. People who are sometimes happy to shoulder the pressure on the ball field and sometimes happy to hide in a corner and read. People who don't fit into any of the options we give them, and consequently find themselves with a foot in many different worlds.
And so today, I raise my coffee mug to the non-boxers. To the people who write their own rules. To the people with checklists and easels. To the people who smell the roses and walk like New Yorkers. To the people with pink hair and pearls. To the people who forge their own path, invent their own truth and skip to the beat of their own drum.
You may not be able to determine whether or not your personality puts you at risk for heart disease, but on behalf of chaos lovers everywhere, I urge you to keep flaunting your sassy, un-boxable self.