The fall of 2001, I sat in an auditorium with a number two pencil in my hand and a frozen, concerned look on my face. I was a baby freshman at Lipscomb University taking the Myers Briggs personality exam. It was a ‘psychometric questionnaire’, they said, as I continued to twirl the pencil between my two fingers pretending to know what that meant. I would spend the next hour having no idea how to answer the following questions: “You are usually the first to react to a sudden event, such as the telephone ringing or unexpected question.” Yes or No. “You are more interested in a general idea than in the details of its realization.” Yes or No. “You often think about humankind and its destiny.” Yes or No.
Oh my goodness, I DON’T KNOW.
INFP. That was my final diagnosis. The exam identifies extraversion vs. introversion, sensing vs. intuition, thinking vs. feeling, judging vs. perceiving. So I was an 18-year-old introverted, intuitive, feeling perceiver.
I was given a sheet of paper with my results and their explanation. Apparently, I was a dreamer and hard on myself. Check, double check. One article I read described INFPs as ‘healer idealists’–perhaps their spirit animal is a unicorn. Part of it was spot on and other aspects completely off. The one section of the results that I found most interesting and helpful was the graph which showed where you were tested in each category’s spectrum; I was almost directly in the middle of the E/I, S/N, and J/P scales. And I had undeniably weighed in favor of feeling rather than thinking. It’s as if 4 out of 7 days I’m an intuitive, perceiving introvert and 7 out of 7 I’m a feeler. Seems about right. Aspects of our personality fluctuate, dominate or shy away due to mood, energy, and circumstance. Others are formed in cement.
Eleven years later, a few weeks before I would graduate from a different college with an entirely different degree, I had a brand new number two pencil in my hand and a far more relaxed expression as I re-took the Myers Briggs exam. I knew the kind of questions that were coming; I just didn’t really care. ENFP. My feelings remained cemented, and the same three categories threaded the center of the spectrum with the scale tipping to my more extroverted tendencies that day.
Perhaps a more telling, delightful test would examine different spectrums. It would ask a myriad of random questions that would somehow answer the following:
1. More influential: The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air or Boy Meets World?
2. Thai food or pizza for dinner?
3. British or American literature?
4. Would you rather be Sydney Bristow or Lorelai Gilmore?
5. Who would protect you if you were in a movie and needed to be protected: Denzel Washington or Liam Neeson?
6. Mountains or ocean?
I know, these are pretty impossible decisions. But that’s why there’s a spectrum. There may be one cement (um, hello, Denzel), but all the others would just wax and wane. FTALDM. That would be me most days. But today I’m feeling a little more FTASDO. Turns out I completely wander the center line of Sydney vs. Lorelai and Mountains vs. Ocean.
And that’s one of the most magical things about New Zealand: it weaves between mountains and ocean with such effortless beauty. I really was so sad to turn our backs on the South with their fiords and mystery. But then we made it to Golden Bay and then Abel Tasman and now the Bay of Plenty. There was seafood and starry nights at first. They effectively wooed us away from the bewitching mountains of the South. But then there were baby seals with their Japanese anime eyes. And oh my stars, they turned our hearts into mashed potatoes.
So now that the seal pup is my spirit animal and kayaking my preferred method to pack in gear, I can say with confidence that the ocean has won this second half of our Kiwi adventure. Perhaps I underestimated its intoxication.
After three weeks of aggressive exploration, we have developed a grand lack of ambition. And it feels so good. We will take our lazy bones and soak them in thermal pools, play in Hobbit holes, walk along beaches, read things, and maybe do one more kayaking trip. That’s if we don’t succumb to apathetic bliss.
Now I know that most of our family and friends are dealing with hateful weather, so feel free to not like me anymore for the following photos.
Wharariki Beach, Golden Bay / Tuesday, February 17, 2015
Abel Tasman National Park / February 18-20, 2015
Tongariro National Park / February 22-24, 2015
Rotorua & Waikite Valley Thermal Pools / February 24-26, 2015