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Insight: I stopped letting my Myers-Briggs test define me

'Humans are multi-dimensional, and a set of letters doesn't completely encompass a lifetime of experience.'

salazar_balasubramanian_48_myers briggs
"Though personality tests may be fun to take, don't let them define who you are." Illustration published Thursday, April 8, 2021.

I've always been a fan of personality quizzes, they are the best kind of mindless fun. I love being able to waste time answering questions ranging from my truest motivations to my clothing preferences. 

My history with personality quizzes stems from Buzzfeed and the many times it told me "It's Time To Discover Your Chicken Sandwich Personality" or to "Build An Outfit From Hollister And We'll Tell You How Popular You Were In Middle School." 

So when I found a so-called legitimate test based on "the theory of psychological types" that could tell me things about myself I never knew, I was all in.

I was 13 years old when I was introduced to the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator in the form of the 16personalities quiz — a personality quiz wrapped up nicely with color-coded visuals and cute avatars. 

The Myers-Briggs test helps narrow down personality and identity under four categories: introversion (I) or extraversion (E), sensing (S) or intuition (N), thinking (T) or feeling (F), judging (J) or perceiving (P). A combination of the first letter from each of these categories assigns a specific type, such as ISTJ and ENFJ. 

Beyond being assigned to a combination of letters, finding out what the 16personality quiz said about me personally was a bonus. I tended to put myself in a box and formulate my personality based on certain defining factors, my Myers-Briggs being one of them.

So I took my test with the utmost care and precision, and once I got my newfound title of INFJ, or "the advocate," I wore that title with pride.

At the time, this categorization was perfectly accurate. I was — or at least felt like I should have been — an idealist who stood up for others when it was time, according to my Myers-Briggs.

A small part of me knew that I didn't fully embody everything an INFJ was, but I also lived my life in absolutes. My only option at that point was to completely adopt that mindset and fully live like "the advocate" by approaching life with a sense of deep thoughtfulness and imagination. 

I would retake the test, paranoid I wouldn't get the same results as last time. 

And after a certain point, I would respond the way I thought I should. This isn't to say that I never answered honestly, but after reading I had the rarest personality type, I wanted to keep that streak.

A few years and identity crises later, I took the test again. 

I took it with low stakes, more of a "we'll see what happens" mindset, and that changed everything. This time around, my result was ISFJ.

I like to consider this the transitional stage when I finally started to accept myself without any expectations. This was only a small shift, but emotionally I had jumped a huge hurdle. 

Unlike years prior, I wasn't as concerned with defining myself solely by a quiz. I had nothing to fixate on, and therefore nothing to be disappointed by. 

A few months later, I had to take the 16personalities quiz for a class, and my type changed again — now, I am an ISFP. 

I'm at a point where this result doesn't mean as much to me as it used to. I'm still just as fascinated by what each personality type can say about a person, but really it's just curiosity. 

Of course, this curiosity comes in part because I love learning more about myself and others. While personality quizzes can be great bonding activities, they shouldn't be taken too seriously. 

They are not the ultimate authority on your identity and you don't have to be exactly what your 16personalities says you should be. 

People can grow and can change. Humans are multi-dimensional, and a set of letters can't completely encompass a lifetime of experience.

As fun as I think personality tests are, there was a time I took them a little more seriously than I should have. Although my self-perception wasn't completely anchored to what a website described me as, I gave the test a little bit too much weight. 

I don't know if this new outcome will stick. But I do know that I enjoy seeing what famous people or fictional characters I share a personality with. 

Reach the reporter at and follow @sophiabala1101 on Twitter. 

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Sophia BalasubramanianDiversity Officer

Sophia Balasubramanian currently serves as the Diversity Officer for the State Press. She previously worked on the Echo as an editor and reporter.

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