Personality tests cannot help but be accurate representations of the present, but they cannot predict the future. That is what I absorbed from my recent re-taking of the MBTI test.
Yes, fellow absorbers. I heard recently that there was a new version of the MBTI test, which stands for the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. Some of my friends retook it for fun, so I figured, I’d do the same. Now, that said, I did not retake this test from the official MBTI website, because I didn’t feel like paying for it again. So I’m actually not entirely sure if the version I retook is the official new version or not. In fact, I don’t think I saw anywhere where the information indicated anything about a new version.
But, for the purposes of this episode, the newness of the test doesn’t matter, because, well, the result is different from before. I will link in the transcript to the site where I took the test. It’s called truity.com. If you find this episode interesting, you might wanna go there and take the test yourself. It’s not that long. Might take you about fifteen minutes or so. For the full report, you have to pay, but you can see the results, you know, the four-letter MBTI results, without paying. That was enough for me.
And it was enough for me because I could kind of predict that the test result would be different from many years ago. And this is where today’s theme comes in. Personality tests cannot help but be accurate representations of the present, but they cannot predict the future.
The way the MBTI test works, and many other similar personality tests work, is that they ask you a bunch of questions about how you are already behaving. For example, on the test I took, they might give you a statement like this: “Being around lots of people energizes me.” And then you choose between Very inaccurate, inaccurate, neutral, accurate, very accurate.
So, given this structure, I think it’s actually quite impossible for a test like this to be completely inaccurate. I mean, this is a very basic voting machine.
At this point, I will tell you how the test results are labeled for MBTI, specifically. MBTI is sometimes called something along the lines of “the sixteen personality test,” because, according to Wikipedia, quote, “The test attempts to assign a value to each of four categories: introversion or extraversion, sensing or intuition, thinking or feeling, and judging or perceiving. One letter from each category is taken to produce a four-letter test result, such as “INTJ” or “ESFP”.” End quote.
So for the first letter it’s I or E for introversion or extraversion.
For the second letter, it’s N or S for intuition or sensing.
For the third letter, it’s T or F for thinking or feeling.
For the fourth letter, it’s J or P for judging or perceiving.
So, going back to the voting machine idea: you raise your hand for extroversion and you get the E letter. You raise your hand for introversion and you get the I letter. Thus I think a test like this isn’t just useless categorizing if you’re trying to examine your current personality. Your current behavior. Your current state of mind.
However, does this test predict the future? Absolutely not. And I am living proof of this, because my personality, according to this test, changed within a period of, oh, I don’t know. Three or five years or so.
Let me tell you what I used to be. I used to be INTJ but borderline INFJ. And I say borderline T and F, because the test gives you the percentage of which side you lean toward. I was like… I don’t remember the exact number, but I was more dominantly T, but say, 55% T and 45% F. So it was borderline.
And my being INTJ with somewhat strong F tendencies made total sense. I mean, if you look at the questionnaire, whether you take it at the official site or at one of the many offshoot sites, you will see… I don’t think I can quote everything here, because it’s probably copyrighted and besides, it would take too long. But just by looking at the questionnaire, my being INTJ made total and absolute sense, because, as I said, the test is a reflection of the present. Of course it is accurate. This isn’t looking at the star formation at the time of your birth and trying to predict your future with it.
So, I wasn’t surprised. I mean, the test isn’t super granular either. There are only 16 personality types, and I think most people with some amount of metacognition would be able to predict their MBTI without taking the test. The test just confirms that prediction and then you sit there and go, “Ha! I know myself. Sort of.”
But the point of this episode isn’t that I was able to predict my personality type. The point is that my personality type isn’t INTJ anymore, and that personality tests therefore cannot help but be accurate representations of the present, but that they cannot predict the future.
See. A lot changed since three years ago, and even more changed since seven years ago. But in my personal case, I don’t think what changed was my core.
Okay, so, this topic could be a whole episode of its own: the question of: can your core actually change, or does your core only reveal itself over time? As in, does your core stay exactly the same while you deny it, and then when you accept it, it only looks like it changed because now you are more accepting of yourself? Or does it actually change?
I do not have a reliable answer to this question. I am guessing that this question has too much to do with free will. And I lean toward the idea that free will in the truest sense does not exist, and thus sometimes, I use the concept of free will interchangeably with the core. My so-called free will spontaneously manifests itself from my core. The core drives me. However, why certain things manifest themselves and other things do not, I do not know. So, I don’t know if the free will can be accurately called free. And in the same vein, it is unknowable for me whether the core changes or not.
The reason I still, personally, think that my core probably didn’t change and it’s just my behavior changing, is that in my case, my denial of myself used to be so intense. What changed wasn’t my core in this specific case. What changed was my interpretation of my core and my surroundings. And that is why the MBTI test results are different now. Not because I actually changed in the core sense, but because I did change in the superficial behavior sense. And obviously, since the MBTI test can only reflect my behavior after they have occurred, the test cannot have predicted how my personality type might have changed now compared to seven years ago.
Why am I saying all this? Well, because sometimes, the reliance on these tests is so intense that people don’t take this for fun. They actually think that this snapshot of someone’s personality at a given time and place means something concrete that can be applied throughout spacetime. They think the test tells them about their core. And I’m saying: no, that’s not possible. My personality type changed and it did so in a completely predictable manner, because I am aware of how my behavior changed in the past three, five, seven years.
Okay, so, you know what changed?
Of all these letters—I versus E; S versus N.; T versus F; P versus J—the letter that is most fundamental, in my opinion, in that it is the most conspicuous signal toward the outside world, has changed.
Namely, I am now considered extraverted instead of introverted.
Not just that, I am 59% extraverted and only 41% introverted. That’s not borderline territory anymore, I think.
Yup. So I’m officially ENTJ now, according to the MBTI test. Extraverted. Can you believe it? Wow.
By the way, I am also 33% sensing and 67% intuitive, so, apparently, way way way more intuitive than sensing.
And instead of being borderline T and F like I used to be, now I am 61% thinking and 39% feeling. I wonder what changed there. Did my feeling just… seep out of me? Am I too jaded? I don’t know.
Lastly, I am 47% perceiving and 53% judging. This is actually the aspect where I used to lean way more toward judging, but now it’s almost borderline. If I had answered a couple of questions differently, I might have been a P not a J, which is interesting.
So, see, a lot of things changed. My behavior changed, and thus these test results are different. But my core? My core remained the same, at least in the past seven years or so. I remember this very clearly because in the past seven years I was laser-focused on a few unchanging things in my life.
If you aren’t interested in my personal life, you can probably stop listening at this point. But for those of you who are interested, I’ll tell you about what changed that made this test think that I’m extraverted instead of introverted. Emphasis on THINK. Because I am still introverted, for sure. Not as much as before, which is also related to all the life changes that I will talk about, but that’s still not because my core changed. My core doesn’t think in simplistic terms like introversion and extraverion. My core doesn’t sit there and think: being introverted is my true nature. I don’t think anybody’s core could be that shallow. That’s such a boring way to label oneself. But the outward manifestation of the core can very well be either introvrted or extraverted.
Anyway. Personal stuff starts here. And for those who are interested, I will tell you my Hogwarts house at the end of this episode. My house also changed recently. Surprise, surprise. Funny, because Hogwarts houses are… I mean… you get to go to school once. Makes you really think about the drawbacks of labeling children so early.
So. Now that you’ve had the chance to decide if you want to know more about me or not, let me get to the heart of the matter.
What changed in my life is that I now spend most of my time on things that I actually desire. That is the one big change that makes me seem extraverted to this test.
Basically, now I don’t spend 8 hours a day at a useless job that I hate and then 3 hours in commute. Oh, the road rage I used to feel was immense. The sense of self-loathing, because I knew that this cushy corporate job was worthless, was immense. It is so strange how much people can get paid to do useless shit. Seriously. It’s obscene. Funny thing is, I didn’t have insomnia back then. After work, all I did was sleep, because I hated myself. I slept a lot. A lot.
Compare this to my life now. I don’t have an employer to cater to. Instead, I attempt to cater to a million readers and a million listeners. Ha! I wish. That’s the ideal scenario anyway. And in trying to cater to millions, what do I do? I cater to myself.
I think this is the only way: for me to put myself first and through that, I can reach millions, maybe.
This is because I believe that anything explicitly targeting a million people becomes dangerously propagandistic—the type of propaganda that claims that it’s for the greater good when it’s actually the greatest evil—or it becomes so wishy-washy that it loses all effect. I genuinely believe that if anybody wants to reach millions, they need to focus on themselves. This is why the most personal songs, the most vulnerable lyrics, the most outrageous paintings, the most daring sports moves touch our hearts, instead of some bureaucratic, replicable, replaceable bullshittery.
Risk. That is at the core of what people enjoy, I believe. It is at the core of what I enjoy. Is this person taking a risk? Usually you can just feel it, if an artist, an athlete, or a creative businessperson is 100% in it with pure sheer joy. Yes, they also do it for other people, but first and foremost, they do it for themselves. Nobody wants to hear a singer who whines on stage about how they want to please their audience. The only way to please the audience is for the singer to be themselves, as much as they can.
Because of this, now I look inward. Or attempt to. The irony is that as a result of the inward observation, I appear more extraverted. This podcast, for example. I pull stuff from my innards and put it out there. That’s what this podcast is. Same with everything else I do. So, the test results aren’t surprising at all.
By the way, according to the myersbriggs.org website, based on the MBTI test results from 1972 through 2002, the most common personality type is ISFJ, at 13.8%. The second most common personality type is ESFJ, at 12.3%. So SFJs, overall, are a very common combination.
Now, the four personality types that take up the lowest percentage, with each taking up less than 3% are:
So, I went from one rare personality type to an even rarer personality type. I don’t know if that’s good or bad or if it doesn’t matter.
All this said, I still have a so-called “day job” that doesn’t really happen during the day. I do it when I want. I mean, there are deadlines and such, but I don’t go into an office, I don’t commute, I don’t interact with people other than a few emails here and there. So, the effect of my day job on my life is small. So, even though I still do some things that others dictate to some extent, in terms of deadlines and content, I don’t mind. Sometimes it’s good to do brainless work, and, yes, definitely, the work I do at my day job is utterly brainless compared to what I do for myself under this name. That is why that work doesn’t get a nice symbolic pseudonym. That work gets attached to my legal name, which, since birth, never got to do what it wanted. It’s just not possible with legal names, to manage them the way you want to.
So, due to this one big change in my life—that I don’t work a corporate job anymore—I am behaving completely differently, and many smaller changes happened. A lot of my priorities now revolve around saving time. You know, that was one of the saddest things when I used to have a corporate job—that I wanted time to pass by quickly. Now, I don’t have enough time in the world. I don’t even want to travel and experience things. I used to want to do that, because that was the only way to feel alive, but now I sit there and think, “How would going somewhere and subjecting myself to the injustices of the TSA and then being pushed this way and that way by a bunch of fellow tourists be any more enjoyable than telling stories from the comfort of my desk?”
Not to say that you shouldn’t like traveling. You can like whatever you like. I’ve traveled enough since childhood, and I just… I don’t see the point anymore. If I go somewhere, I want to go there for a reason. Well, although, there is one valid reason to go somewhere, occasionally. It’s because when I’m too set in my routines, I will stop seeing new things. So, I don’t know. Maybe I’ll start traveling again. Maybe if I travel with intention, I will enjoy the trip. And even the TSA.
Anyway, the smaller changes that happened due to the big change include this podcast, my Korean podcast, my blog, my Korean blog, my newsletter [this one exists no more! for now], my Korean newsletter, and all the fiction I output in English and Korean.
And, scarily enough, I predict that in 2023 some even more extraverted events will happen. This is assuming that the best-case scenario will work out. We’ll see how things actually go, but for now, I’m optimistic. At some point, more extraversion will become inevitable. I just don’t know yet in which exact way. And the world is changing. It seems that, I am hoping, that the old guard of social media is dying its slow death. Interesting times.
This test is fun, this MBTI test. It’s not that long. I suggest you take it. And as you go through significant life changes, maybe retake the free version in three years, in five years. The test won’t predict your future, but it will show you a highly simplified snapshot of who you are at any given timespace. And you can draw various conclusions from the results.
First of all, you are who you are. No personality type is better than another. I believe very few things that have to do with labels work like that. They’re useful for bureaucracies but utterly useless for individuals living actual lives. It isn’t possible to categorize the entire world’s population into just 16 personality types and over-imbue the results with meaning.
The second conclusion you can draw from a test like this is whether you were able to predict your personality type or not. That could be a shorthand indication of your present level of metacognition. In my case, I still don’t know why I am considered heavily on the T side instead of F side. Why am I not borderline anymore? So strange.
And the last conclusion you can draw from a test like this, when you take it multiple times, is the direction: whether you are becoming who you want to be or need to be. Although no personality type is better than another, maybe you have a burning desire to be a certain way. For example, if you want to be a musician, even when you are introverted, I think you might benefit from adopting tendencies that can trick this test into thinking that you’re extraverted. Maybe the time will come when you have to decide between staying in the introverted zone versus leaving it and at least acting more extraverted, occasionally. In which case, this test will, as it did in my case, show you whether you’ve changed or not. I think it’s a handy tool in that regard.
Lastly, let me finally tell you my Hogwarts house—or rather, houses. Because, as I said, this changed.
So, I grew up with Harry Potter. Eh, I adore Harry Potter, the series. I find him the character obnoxious, but I adore the series, because. do you know why?
Because I am a Slytherin. I have been a Slytherin for decades, and I probably will always consider myself a Slytherin, but you know what happened recently? The Pottermore sorting hat test told me that I’m a Slytherin no more. Now it considers me a Ravenclaw.
Unbelievable. Although, it’s more believable than me being a Gryffindor or Hufflepuff. Yeah, if I’m gonna have a second house, then it was bound to be Ravenclaw.
And this sorting hat test is also something you can do just for fun. I think the reaction to the test tells you more about a person than the actual test, because the difference between a test like MBTI and the sorting hat test is that the latter is probably done by people who love the Harry Potter series. So those people have certain expectations related to their self-image. There are seven books, multiple films, a play—maybe there are multiple plays—numerous games, and who knows what else, all tied to this one giant story. I think where people place themselves within a story like this is in and of itself interesting.
And here’s a bonus bonus category I belong to. I am a pisces by birth, legally speaking.Both my lunar calendar birthday and solar calendar birthday fall during this pisces period, which I guess sort of matters because my lunar calendar birthday is the one I use for legal purposes. Why? Because of school. I was one of the youngest in my class in Korea because I entered the school system with my lunar birthday, not the solar birthday.
But meanwhile, my chosen birthday is April 4th 2012. That was the date I decided that I would write, and I did. 7 years after that initial chosen birth, I published my first book in 2019. That book, by the way, doesn’t exist anymore, because I followed all stupid so-called rules made by people who don’t actually write, but instead survive by telling the wannabes how not to write. One day, I may take the same premise and write a new book. That might be a reincarnation event.
For now, the earliest book I have out has been out since July 7th 2019. Yes, I like these dates, April 4th, July 7th. They keep things simple. Nobody is confused.
Why am I saying all this? According to my chosen birthday, I am an aries.
What does this mean? I don’t know. I have no clue about zodiac signs. Maybe you do. Maybe you know what it means that I chose ariesness over piscesness.
So. At any rate. Regardless of all these zodiac signs, Hogwarts houses, and even personality tests that cannot be inaccurate because they’re just a compilation of your recent actions.
Here are the questions to ask yourself.
What narrative are you telling yourself?
Are you happy with the result of your narrative?
Even if not everything goes according to plan, because that’s near-impossible, even so, are you happy with who you are?
Equally importantly, are you with the people who make you be the version of you you want for yourself?
Conversely, did you release the people who prevent you from being the version of you you want for yourself?
And it’s critical to accept that release doesn’t mean these people are worthless in an absolute sense. To think that way is actually to think of oneself in really delusional grandiose terms. Just because they’re not part of my life, they’re worthless in the absolute sense? Gods, no. Release truly is release. You release yourself and the other person from each other.
I could never have done what I am doing now—which isn’t much, but still way more than what I used to do—without my friends by my side. And the only reason they are by my side now is that I released old connections. There has to be space for new things to settle in.
So, are you making space for the things you desire, or are you filling every little void inside you and around you out of fear that it will be left empty forever?
I say, better to leave some parts of yourself empty than to fill it with things and especially people who don’t belong there.
Think about who you want in your life to be who you want to be. Then think about who you must become to be with that person. This is because it does help to have someone who looks in the same direction as us. It is possible to go alone and in many cases my default mode is to go alone, but that doesn’t mean I ignore the possibility of synergy. I leave spaces empty so that at some point that space can be filled with specific things and people. It’s not with the intent to leave those spaces empty forever.
This is difficult—both finding things and especially people you want in your life, and also, leaving space empty for them to be with you. But, I say, better die trying than dying having never tried.
And now that I’ve uttered some weirdly motivational pep talky stuff, I’ll make things worse:
Love yourselves, folks. The world is huge, so if you love yourself, there’s got to be someone else who also loves you. The space you left empty will go to the people who belong there. And they will give space for you to stay.
- Where I took my free MBTI test
- MBTI test, according to Wikipedia
- Percentage of each personality type
- my Korean podcast, 아임 드리밍
- my English blog
- my Korean blog
- my newsletter — this one exists no more! (for now)
- my Korean newsletter
- My fiction in English
- My fiction in Korean
- We Really Don’t Know – Brian Claxton
- River – Onyx Music
- The Swindler – The Original Orchestra
- Sunshine Cereal – Rex Banner
Everything I do is organized here:
© 2022 Ithaka O.