Who are you?
What combination of temperament, character qualities, eccentricities, strengths, likes, and interests makes you uniquely you?
Why am I asking?
Because this world is full of pressures trying to make you somebody else. Whole magazines and websites are devoted to information on how you should look, think and behave. Every movie, TV show, and advertisement is subtly—or not so subtly—attempting to squeeze you into a mold of their choosing.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be a clone defined by an impersonal media, nor do I want to be a “fake Lisa” defined by well-meaning friends who have their own vision of who I should be.
I want to be plain old me. No frills. 100% genuine. Lisa.
I am a combination of many facets, including personality, learning styles, life experiences, and interests. The more clearly I understand my true self, the more I can fight against the bombardment trying to force me into some other mold and become the fullest, best version of who I was meant to be.
The same is true of you.
The rest of this post, and the next one, will help you figure some of those things out.
What’s the point?
- To gain a deeper understanding of what makes us tick, and where some of preferences, idiosyncrasies and strengths come from
- To affirm that we are unique, and that our particular characteristics are just as normal as others
- To appreciate that other people learn, think, and react to life differently than we do, and it’s OK.
Now that we’ve cleared that up it’s time to begin. Throughout the following questions, focus on the main answers, the ones that describe you most of the time, in normal daily life situations. I’ve created this Who Am I worksheet to help you keep track of the answers.
Step One: The Obvious Stuff
Think about your three main spheres of life: Home life, work life, and activities (such as hobbies or volunteer efforts). List the primary “hats” you wear (ie mother, teacher), your main skills (recordkeeping, playing the piano, decorating, organizing), and your primary interests (reading, baking, playing tennis)
Don’t make a comprehensive list. Focus on the most important ones at this stage of your life.
Once you’ve gotten that off your chest, it’s time to delve a little deeper…
Step Two: Personality and Temperament
Your personality is made up of two parts, temperament and character. Temperament is the collection of in-born traits or inclinations (your nature side, or your brain’s hardware). Character is the habits and attitudes you have developed (your nurture side, or your brain’s software). In other words, you can change your character, but you can’t change your temperament.
What’s your temperament?
Over the years, psychologists have developed various systems to identify and define temperaments. Two tools I have found helpful are the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® and the Keirsey Temperament Sorter, both of which use a questionnaire to determine which of sixteen temperament types best describes you. You can try an online version, or download a paper version. In either case, once you’ve finished the questions you will end up with a four-letter result. Mine is INTJ.
Now comes the important part. Write down a least five phrases or statements from the descriptions that most resonate with you.
For example, I learned:
- Only about 0.8% of women share my temperament type, which explains why I sometimes feel so different from everybody else.
- INTJs are both pragmatic and imaginative. This combination always seemed contradictory, but in fact it is perfectly normal for my type.
- INTJs are not impressed by titles, social conventions, or traditions. Aha. This little factoid explains why I care so little about things like celebrities and have no problem axing “the way we’ve always done it” if something more logical or efficient will work instead.
Now you try. What information hit home to you? Write it down on the Who Am I worksheet.
Whew! Had enough navel-gazing for one day?
Before you quit, take a moment to ponder the following:
- What did I learn about my temperament that explains why I do certain things?
- What new insight will help me extend grace to myself or others?
- Where might I be trying to be someone I’m not?
Want more info?
This site goes into greater detail on your type, including pages on how you it affects your career, relationships, and parenting.
If you want to go more in-depth about understanding your temperament, you can take more comprehensive tests, but they are not free. Visit the official websites for details.