I started a relationship in the winter/spring of 2015. Everyone knows the beginning of a relationship is an exciting time. It's the time when you get to try to "figure the other person out". I tend to be especially cerebral and like to REALLY figure the other person out. Those wiser than I will tell you that these calculations are not important and a successful romantic relationship is about love and a feeling in your heart, not a match making formula. But, one of my fallbacks in life is trying to control my own destiny (which is quite ironic when you think about the theme of these writings), and part of that is calculating if my mate is "the one". So, during this time of getting to know the other person (a.k.a. the inquisition), I thought it would be "fun" to have my love take some personality tests. In the beginning of the relationship, partners tend to be very willing to appease their new friend so he obliged, but repeatedly told me that he could "not be put in a box". One of the tests I told him would be oh-so-fun to take was the Enneagram personality type test. When I took the test, I was a type 7 (naturally) which the Enneagram calls "The Adventurer", fitting. When he took the test, his results indicated a type 9, "The Challenger" (also very fitting).
The reason I tell this story is because Patrick was right, no one can be put in a box. Although reading about The Challenger prepared me for some future debates (a.k.a. fights) we would have, he is so much more than The Challenger, and I am so much more than The Adventurer (regardless of how much I enjoy that title).
I remember taking the Myers-Briggs personality test in high school. That day in religion class, we learned who was introverted, extroverted, intuitive, sensory, a thinker, a feeler, a judger, and a perceiver. After answering many questions and getting our specific combination of personality traits, we received a detailed description of our personality overview. For many of us, reading the overview was similar to reading a daily horoscope that was totally spot-on. As we read through our overviews, the girls in class could be overheard saying things like, "Wow, this is totally me." or "Get out of my head." At the end of the overview, there was a list of careers for which each personality type would be best suited. While a personality type test can be extremely helpful to someone who wants to better understand themselves, identifying wholeheartedly with one personality type can be dangerous. For instance, there was nothing at the end of my overview that mentioned a prosperous career in blog writing about oceanic conservation? Weird...
Especially for high school girls, there can be comfort in having a title, role, or concise identity (in other words, there can be comfort in putting yourself into a box). However, the dangers that come with identifying as one thing include ignoring grey areas. There is safety in type-casting yourself but in doing so, there's a risk of losing part of yourself, including those beautiful grey areas. An example would be, if someone identifies as a scientist, they may be less likely to explore some of the metaphysical interests they have out of fear of neglecting the integrity of who they identify as. By neglecting their interests in metaphysics, the scientist never grows into their full potential. On the same token, individuals may steer away from certain practices in fear of being identified as one thing, instead of as the dynamic being they know themselves to be.
A more specific example would be an individual who fears carrying a Nalgene bottle because they do not want to be labeled as a hippie who may or may not shave their underarms. Or, someone may avoid speaking out about recycling because they do not want to be labeled as a liberal, a title that is in huge opposition with their political views. Then, there are the individuals who wear the titles "environmentalist", "hippie", and "liberal" as badges of honor. This can be just as dangerous. Why? Because when they encounter someone who is drinking from a non-reusable plastic container or who chucks said plastic container right in the trash can, instead of the recycle bin, these individuals who are so passionately "for the planet" may confront the plastic-bearing, non-recycler in a hostile or judgmental way. By wearing a title, they may feel a certain responsibility to turn their passion into persecution of others.
With labeling, we cannot move forward as quickly as we can from a place of being outside of "the box". We can reach more individuals from a place that does not come with a label. Perhaps the person who does not recycle simply does not understand that an average water bottle takes 450 years to degrade. Perhaps the best way to reach them is by explaining, with love, that their non-reusable water bottle could sit in the ocean for 450 years before it degrades, instead of making a deeper divide between environmentalist and right-wing-devil-child. Perhaps right-wing-devil-child would be more perceptive to left-wing-good-for-nothing-vagabond if they came from a place of nonduality and focused on their commonalities, like sharing resources.
Moral of the story: Personality type tests can help you understand yourself or your mate, but steer clear from identifying as one thing or another. The truth is, no one can be put in a box because everyone has lived a unique experience. The great thing about this is that at the same time, we have all lived the same experience because we are all experiencing the same pulls and pushes from our planet that we all inhabit. Mind blown?
Please use the comments section below to let me know what you think the ups and downs of labeling can be in terms of finding yourself and relating to others.
If you don't know, now you know...
The ocean covers more than 70 percent of the surface of our planet. It's hard to imagine, but about 97 percent of the Earth's water can be found in our oceans. Of the tiny percentage that's not in the ocean, about two percent is frozen up in glaciers and ice caps.
At least 8 million tons of plastics are dumped into our oceans each year.
Sources: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration & National Geographic
What I ate for breakfast today:
In keeping with the theme of be-7 and connecting us all through common ritual, I will always share what I had for breakfast (my favorite meal of the day) on the day I wrote a certain post. If it features someone else, you will get to hear what they ate. Who knows, you could even get some ideas to shake your morning routine up a bit?
Full disclosure: While preparing this breakfast, I was popping dark chocolate covered almonds from Trader Joes into my mouth. Is this becoming a pattern?
(Feeling very energized and inspired working on be-7 at home today after a full month of travel, I could not slow down to prepare the delish food I had purchased at the grocery. Instead, I have been hopped up on sugars and creativity.)