Monday, November 12, 2007

Tomorrow the World

Four or five years ago, in a valiant/desperate attempt to figure out what, exactly, I was going to do with my life, I took an afternoon off practicing and skulked over to my college's career center. The career counselor, who had lank blond hair and looked as if she'd survived a couple of valiant/desperate attempts herself, listened to me babble for ten minutes, covered up a yawn, and then, having clearly pegged me as 100% out to lunch, sat me down with a personality test.

It was one of those tests that slaps a label on you, labels being your ticket, in theory, to smoother operation and better tech support. It was, in fact, the Myers-Briggs, a personality test of blissfully marginal validity that was developed in WWII to help women find their place in the workforce. The Myers-Briggs charts your location along four personality dimensions, thereby dividing the population pie into sixteen (unequal) slices, each with its own flavor and texture. I can think of any number of important personality variables overlooked by the Myers-Briggs (snarkiness, irritability, appreciation for cheese), but I suppose Myers and Briggs had to start somewhere, and where they started was with the following four dichotomies:

1) Introversion vs. Extroversion (I or E)
2) Concrete vs. Abstract (S or N)
3) Analytical vs. Emotional (T or F)
4) Judging vs. Perceiving (J or P)

Those of you who know me can probably guess which side of each fence I came down on; suffice to say that I ended up on a pie slice some snarky, irritable, cheese-hating pop Psychologist nicknamed "The Mastermind." Apparently, I am a frustrated evil genius.

With no career trajectory. Thanks, career center.

But never mind. What I really want to talk about here is variable number 4. In case you were deprived of all your senses in a terrible moon buggy accident, I'm a J. J for judgemental. As in, wow, that sucked. Or, I like the grey one. Or, George W. Bush is suffering from subtle neurological damage, most likely due to long-term abuse of alcohol, and anyone who votes for him is a moronic moron.

In short, I have the instincts of a gun-toting, brow-beating, bible-thumping televangelist. Or a five-year-old. This isn't something I needed the Myers-Briggs to tell me; I've known it for years. And for years, likewise, I've been trying to chip away at it, striving to be less judgemental, more accepting, more laid back.

Only here's the scary thing: I'm actually succeeding. The older I get, the more I reserve judgment. So I'm still not exactly hoarding it in the back of the cupboard, or stashing it in the piggy bank for a rainy day, but I'm no longer so quick to take it out and (silently) whap people over the head with it, either. Cheating? Prevaricating? Voting for Ron Paul? How can I condemn you out of hand if I don't know, really deep down, what I would do in your place?

This is either a sign of increasing humanity or deteriorating moral fiber, and I wish I knew which.

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