Have you ever stopped to wonder how others would describe you? How they talk about you to those they know? Attractive. Intelligent. Kind. Weird. Reserved. Dangerous. What are the words that they use? Has that question ever crossed your mind? It has mine – many times. Ever since I started working outside the home and became a part of a work-team, I have often wondered how they describe me. Was I the know-it-all girl that didn’t say much? Or was I the reliable one who was reserved and hard to get to know? Or was I the strange bird who didn’t fit anywhere and whom no one could figure out? One day, I got a glimpse at how one person described me to others who didn’t know me. It was along the lines of: “She’s quiet and reserved, but with time she opens up.” So that’s how they perceive me: quiet and reserved. Ok, that is better than the description I had gotten a couple years earlier of being the tall redheaded girl with a ponytail. (For the record, my hair is a non-descript blonde color. Not red.) But was that the only way I was described? Things have a way of coming full-circle at my workplace, and I have received some pretty strange questions that have led me to believe that they talked about me quite a bit; or at least way too much for my comfort. But were any of their perceptions correct? Did they accurately describe me? Most of the time, I didn’t feel as though they got me right. Like the time my boss told me I was low-key and not prone to being emotional or temperamental. At that point, I confess, I laughed at the description. I have a temper something awful and I am most certainly not low-key. As we say in my family, “I just play one on TV.” But he insisted he was right in his perception of me. However, I knew that’s not who I really was.
Often there is quite a difference in how people perceive us and how we actually are. Businesses, colleges, and other people push us to take these “personality tests” to find out who we “really are.” I’ve often gotten to the end of one of those tests and sat there thinking: “Some of it is right, but it is not me dead on.” Why is that? I answered all of the questions as honestly and accurately as possible. And yet, I’m getting a “not-quite” personality result. So, one day, I had my mother – the person who knows me best – take the test for me. The result was accurate. Well, that’s strange. I recorded my result and her result. Then I had her take the test for herself. And then I took it for her. We got two different results. My result for her was the accurate one. Hmm, that is peculiar. So, I contacted my dad to find out his personality type. Then Mom and I took the test for him. Again, they were two different results. And again, the one we took was more accurate than the one he took himself. At this point, I took the results I had and laid them out to see if there was a pattern. And what do you know, but that there was! Every one of us switched two letters between profiles. For example, I am really INTJ, but when I take the test the result is ISFJ. I swapped out my iNtuitive and Thinking for Sensing and Feeling.
So I started thinking about it. What was my second “fake” personality there for? Was it just my mind playing tricks on me or was it there for a purpose? That’s when I went back to how my coworkers describe me. It seemed so close and yet something was off, just like my “fake” personality. Was that it? Did I live in this other personality when I was at work? I took a closer look. The personality and my coworkers’ words lined up. They were one and the same. So, people who don’t know me very well or who I don’t trust yet see this other personality. That makes the ISFJ my “professional” personality, so to speak. The outside world that I come into contact with on a surface level sees a façade of the real me in this other personality. It’s not really “betraying” my real self since I still hold onto my Introvert and Judging qualities. Rather, I have developed myself to put forward a personality which I think is more acceptable for the circles that I am in. If I were to be my true INTJ self, it wouldn’t be acceptable in those circles. They would not be able to handle it. Therefore, in a “professional” setting: at work, at a rabbit show, in a club meeting, at the farmer’s market, at church with the entire church (not the individuals that I have a personal relationship with); I am my “professional” personality, the ISFJ – the Defender. And at home with my family or close friends, I am free to be my real personality, the INTJ – the Architect. So when someone says, “Hey, you’re really low-key;” they’re not mistaken. My “professional” personality is really low-key, but the real me is not. I choose to present to the world an image of a person that I like and feel comfortable introducing other people to. And that just so happens to be the same as my mom’s real personality; the one I get to see every day.
So, this is me. Who are you?