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My First Personality Type, & Doubling Down on Good Stuff

Wednesday January 20, 2021

Back in the early 2000s I had my first experience with personality type. Together with a group of my peers, I sorted out some cards, attempting to identify my True Colors.

Along with the colors were shown various visual props.

For example, on the Green card there was a microscope, a computer, maybe a math textbook. Those things absolutely called my name. Especially sitting there, in a social situation, staring at this amazing nerd’s bedroom, with a 1990s computer—I could just tell. Man I would have teleported into that room right at that moment, if I could.

On the Blue card, a painter’s canvas, a guitar, some other stuff like that. This also called my name.

On the Orange card, a kayak, a soccer ball. I got where they were going with this, and I wanted to claim it, but I looked around at my Orange friends and just couldn’t get there. They were probably like Neon Orange or something. A bit extreme—meanwhile I’m just over here daydreaming about my favorite MS-DOS GUI. Low key, right.

And finally, turning to the Gold card, there was a day planner, an alarm clock set to 4:30 a.m., a checklist, a bullwhip, a referee’s whistle, a stepladder, a portable loudspeaker…

(I am totally joking about all those Gold things. Pretty sure the day planner was there though.)

Anyway, our trainer had us pick out TWO cards, in priority order. One that’s most like us, and then the next one that’s next-most like us. OK, fine. I picked out Green and then Blue. And I went to sit with the Greens.

There were like five of us greens in a room of about 50 people. lol. (BTW this is still true for me when I train on temperament or four-letter type. The NTs are really rare unless the audience is literally engineers or something. There is also usually a moment when I want to turn to the NTs and say, “hey, wanna get out of here?”)

Then the trainer explained:

The FIRST card is you just being your normal self [or something like that, it was a pretty breezy presentation given to university kids].

The SECOND card you picked is probably what you become when you get stressed out, or tired.

Whaat….! You should have heard the gasps. This was really mind-expanding stuff, for a lot of us. For me it seemed immediately valid on its face. I was shocked that someone had figured this out.

Objective, Yep, That’s Us

As I was looking up the True Colors system while writing this post, I was amused to find the Wikipedia article basically having a debate with itself in the “Scientific basis” section.

First there’s one paragraph explaining some kind of roughly-correlating studies and stuff, hedge hedge hedge.

Then comes the following paragraph, which basically lights the first paragraph on fire and shoves it out the window:

However, the research was performed by an 11-year True Colors Certified Trainer, the research was not published in a peer-reviewed journal, and there are no published replications.

Well! I won’t be studying THIS system then, I thought.

But too late, I had already studied it years ago, and it was really neat!

This brings me back to subjectivity. Because objectivity…how to put this.

Objectivity is having a crisis these days. Not the replication crisis itself. But the idea of objectivity. It’s just having an awkward time. I’m not sure how this situation came about, but it’s like: Here comes objectivity walking down the runway, wearing a brand new set of designer clothes, but it looks as if objectivity’s sibling, subjectivity is the one who did all the clothes shopping. Something’s just off.

And it just feels strange to see objectivity on a runway, right? Runways are about individuals. Individuals are a subjectivity thing. What…is this? Could it be that what we’re looking for is quality, instead of dolled-up quantity?

And wow, subjectivity is absolutely at critically under-hyped levels these days, maybe even moreso if you’re a TJ personality type. Subjectivity probably gave way too much of their clothes allowance to the objective sibling so this runway thing could not be a disaster, maybe.

Related, here’s what I really wish I had done, back in the early 2000s:

I wish I had recognized a very subjectively-interesting thing and just kept taking it deeper.

I didn’t do that with personality type at the time, but I was fascinated, and it took me another 10 years or so before I really took it deeper, and the benefits were amazing.

Speaking of fascination, currently on my radar, apart from some of the more “objective” stuff, we find these ZANY things:

  • Astrology (turns out I had my sign wrong for YEARS. WTF, big three)
  • Numerology
  • Yoga
  • Martial Arts

Now, if you’re thinking, “whoa there, Yoga and Martial Arts are NOT ZANY,” then I guess I have to say “EXACTLY,” because people usually think of their subjective-favorite-part of those things as the non-zany part. And they derive some concrete benefit from it.

But Yoga and Martial Arts actually kind of are objectively zany in lots of other ways, and the subjective factor often makes the difference! So my theory is that this is definitely true of Astrology and Numerology. Something weird is up, but also the subject can probably handle the weird stuff just fine, and filter it out, or whatever.

Moving forward then, here’s the thing: I am excited to find new ways to design a tolerance for good-but-unscientific stuff. Sure. But I’m even more excited to take more risks and dive deep into new things that seem interesting. It may save me a lot of time down the road.

Not that I have that much time today…

Anyway, a bit of a walk down memory lane with this post. How did you first learn about your personality characteristics? What was your first “wow” moment? Email’s in the sidebar.

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Own your procrastination with Whole Productivity, a new system → Get my free INTJ COVID-19 Guide → Explore your gifts with my INTJ Workbook → Other Publications → ...and the fake word of the hour: "Hoanest." Pretty sure it has to do with lack of emotional control.

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