If this site is not evidence of how much I love the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), I don’t know what is!
But believe it or not, I did not come out of the womb knowing about MBTI. In fact, I never took a psychology class in high school or college (that’s where a lot of people first encounter it) and I never was exposed to it at work either!
So, how did I find out about it?
Well, that story is simple, actually, but it’s the timing of it that made it so perfect…
I was back home in California after a year of internships in Florida for a certain magical theme park company. And to be honest, back in California was not where I had ever imagined I would be.
After graduating college, I made up my mind that I was going to work at the most magical place on Earth forever and live happily ever after.
But as anyone working in 2008-2009 knows, that was a rough year for the US economy and for a lot of businesses.
Companies were laying off people left and right — the company I interned with was no exception — and people were NOT looking to hire. It was an awful time to be a new grad.
Because of the lack of opportunities in Florida, I came back to California to figure out my next steps.
But to be honest, I was kind of ashamed because I was moving back in with my mom. Although it’s become more normal in the past few years because of the economy, it was never something that my generation expected to do. We believed that if we got our college degrees, we’d find well-paying jobs that were fulfilling and of course, be living on our own. We didn’t foresee that circumstances would be much different than what we were raised to expect.
Even though I knew I needed to adapt, I still felt really lost and like I was having a quarter-life crisis. I didn’t know what I wanted anymore and I didn’t know how to figure it out. What was I supposed to do next?
Or actually, enter an e-mail sent to me by one of my best friends from college. It was simple and was along the lines of: “Hey, have you ever taken the Myers-Briggs?” along with a link to a free assessment online.
I actually kind of didn’t want to do it — I mean, what was Myers-Briggs anyway? It sounded kind of boring.
But I figured I would at least check it out.
So, I did it and the assessment didn’t take too long — about 10 or 15 minutes — and I got my results with that four-letter code:
When I read the one-sentence description on the site, it didn’t really say much. It actually was much less satisfying than results from other quizzes online I had taken, like “Which Hogwarts House Do You Belong In?” or “Which European City Are You?”
But because it had come from my friend — and she had seemed excited about it — I knew there had to be more to it. And so I Googled it.
The first description I came upon was from Personality Page and from the beginning, I was hooked…
“ENFPs are warm, enthusiastic people, typically very bright and full of potential. They live in the world of possibilities, and can become very passionate and excited about things. Their enthusiasm lends them the ability to inspire and motivate others, more so than we see in other types. They can talk their way in or out of anything. They love life, seeing it as a special gift, and strive to make the most out of it.”
After those words, I had to keep reading! And I couldn’t believe it! With each word I read, it was like I was reading someone who knew me — and perhaps better than I knew myself! Or at least, not in a way that had ever been articulated to me.
My friend ended up getting a very enthusiastic e-mail from me (think LOTS of bold emphasis and exclamation points) because I was so excited and happy and mind-blown… I honestly felt like I could cry.
Why was my reaction so emotional?
My whole life, I had believed that there was one way to be a good person. There were certain traits that my family embraced and those were mirrored by society. I’m talking about things like: being good with math and science, understanding finances, always being on-time, being organized, planning things out with lots of detail, having clear goals with linear progression. And these things translated to being: responsible, successful, smart, and admirable. To not be those things was to be a “mess” and pretty much be useless.
So, when I saw myself through the eyes of Myers-Briggs, I suddenly realized that all these things that I had been trying to fix my entire life were not necessarily bad things!
They were just different traits! What I had seen my entire life as horrible flaws and embarrassing short-comings that I needed to change were turned upside-down. Suddenly I saw myself as creative and flexible and fluid and open. And it dawned on me that it was a different way of still being responsible, successful, smart, and admirable.
I love Myers-Briggs because it opened my eyes to myself.
Since then, it’s been such an interesting journey — one of really learning to love and embrace who I am. It’s not always the easiest, especially because ENFPs can be considered non-traditional by society or even “flakes” or “flighty.” We can be hard to understand based on our actions alone — they may not seem to make logical sense, but if you understand that we live our lives from a values standpoint, it starts to come together.
But Myers-Briggs has been helpful in so many ways!
Honestly, Myers-Briggs is like a gift because once you understand it, you can begin to understand the world through 15 other perspectives.
Before I learned about it, I knew people were different from me but I couldn’t quite express how. I knew that my mom and I always seemed to butt heads, but I didn’t know why. Once I found out her Myers-Briggs type, it suddenly made sense to me. Besides learning that we were pretty much opposites in our world views, I was able to begin healing from things I had misinterpreted during my childhood and adolescence. As a “Feeler,” I constantly felt criticized and took everything personally. I thought I was never good enough. But learning that my mom is a “Thinker,” I realized that her “cold” remarks weren’t intended to hurt me. Her comments didn’t necessarily reflect how she felt about me as a person — and coming to that revelation has made Myers-Briggs invaluable to me.
But what about other personality type systems?
Listen, I know that there are other personality inventories out there and there are strong arguments for them — and there are also strong arguments against MBTI. And, being real, I really love some of others, too (and I plan on exploring more systems in the future). I definitely believe that different systems provide different kinds of insights and honestly, so many of them can be used together to help us to better understand ourselves, our relationships, and just people in general.
But! I will always hold a special place in my heart for Myers-Briggs. It’s so practical, easy to understand, and it’s fun, too! It can be such a helpful tool — especially for people who feel misunderstood, like they don’t fit in, or if they feel a little lost in life. It’s also great to use if there’s someone in your life that you’re struggling to understand or get along with or that you may want to help but don’t know how. And I don’t even need to mention how it can be helpful for teams or in a professional environment — Myers-Briggs is an organizational favorite.
After six years, I absolutely love it still, love talking to my friends about it, and am obviously passionate enough about it to make a blog about it.
So, tell me: what’s your Myers-Briggs story?
And if you’re still wondering what the heck the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator actually is or where to take the test, check out the following posts: What is the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator? and Where to Take a Free Assessment.