Friday, March 30, 2007

Choice Rhymes With Voice. (Choose Rhymes With Booze.)

Psycho-Babble Alert! REPEAT- Psycho-Babble Alert!

Babble Alert ORANGE: Proceed with extreme caution!!!

I have taken loads of personality batteries, indicators ("It's positive! I DO have a personality!"), tests, etc. over my lifetime and I don't know if this is just a universal feeling, but none of them really seem to capture the Real Me. I can see where they are coming from in what they summarize in their conclusions/scoring sections, but I don't feel like I could put what it says there on a business card to hand out as a pocket-guide to Kari.

I realize that the point of these tests is to lend insight, not to be a one-stop shop for self-actualization. I get that (what with being a psych major and all). They have the feel of a vertical vivisection of the human body- there’s different stuff in each slice, you can’t see the whole from assumptions made by observing them (especially if you get one of the middle pieces with no legs- ooh, or and end piece that’s just all arm!), and man, they can be really icky.

The one test that I feel came the closest to putting the Real Me on paper was the Birkman profile I took 2 years ago. It's a combination of a tests like the MMPI, the Meyers-Briggs Type Indicator or Kiersey Temperament Sorter and a sprinkle of the Strong Interest Inventory. Total black-sheep test of the hard-core psych community- it has an enormous database they compare and calculate against, loads of metrics, algorithms and zany generators that basically create a clinical summary. No clinician required.

What I found the most impressive was that Birkman hid no weaknesses when it came to categorizing me - I am VERY a lot of things. I have the pre-disposition for what it takes to excel in the Arts, but also Science, Medical Professions and strangely enough Administration. Among the career recommendations (of which there are six pages) are Psychologist, Career Counselor (oh, irony), College Professor, Controller, Nurse, Software Sales, Bank Manager, Bookkeeper, Fire/EMS, Geologist, Computer Programmer, Agriculture, Craftsman. Basically, my mom was right - I can be anything I want to. Categorically, I am uncategorizable. Call me your friendly neighborhood Renaissance Woman.

I keep my Birkman results with me in my planner because I read that strange auto-biography every few weeks. I don't look to the words on the page to tell me who I am- I have a respectable sense of self. I'm not reading to fuel my ego, even though it is like mirror-gazing to an extent. I read it mostly to marvel in how complex people are in general, so much so that it takes 35 pages just to scratch the surface. I also read to remind me that no matter how much it can measure, compare, compute, analyze and trend, it is missing one very important element - that squirmy, slippery, evasive little spark that makes us who we are inside.

I chose at will and sometimes at whim what I am and what defines me- IT Professional? Sure. Maybe today. But, some days I'm off to save civilization, one person at a time. Other days I am that photographer that yearns to show her eye for the world. Sometimes I throw myself to the other side of that camera, too, just for grins (no pun intended). When inspired, I have been known to sell frozen water to Alaskan Natives, or baby slings to frazzled moms. Then there are the days that I am completely content and even driven to do abso-freaking-lutely nothing at all, whatsoever, thankyouverymuch.

I celebrate choice. I just HATE to choose.

Besides, who says we have to choose, anyway? Them? Bah, what do they know.

1 comment:

Jesse said...

I consider all personality tests to be complete junk. Unless, of course, they arrive via email and have a minimum of 37 lines of >>> forwards at the beginning. Those are real. Obviously.