I think I mentioned a while back that I took an Enneagram personality test, via Project Progeny. The results? I’m a type four, an “Individualist.” I didn’t enjoy reading the personality description. It was not very flattering, in fact, it was pretty judgemental.
From the site:
“We have named this type The Individualist because Fours maintain their identity by seeing themselves as fundamentally different from others…They often see themselves as uniquely talented, possessing special, one-of-a-kind gifts, but also as uniquely disadvantaged or flawed. More than any other type, Fours are acutely aware of and focused on their personal differences and deficiencies.”
I would say this description sort of fits my blogging persona, which mostly focuses on my infertility journey. And being infertile? Well, it means that I am in reality a person who IS “disadvantaged and flawed” when it comes to reproduction. I think it’s probably true that I still carry the scars of infertility, and that I feel flawed overall sometimes. But I don’t think I am uniquely talented or that I possess special gifts. If anything, I think I am exceedingly ordinary.
It gets worse.
“They (Individualists) are emotionally honest, creative, and personal, but can also be moody and self-conscious. Withholding themselves from others due to feeling vulnerable and defective, they can also feel disdainful and exempt from ordinary ways of living. They typically have problems with melancholy, self-indulgence, and self-pity.”
In other words, the description was “Way harsh, Tai.”
When I joined a company a while back, I took the Meyers-Briggs personality test. I was classified an INTJ. I don’t remember feeling that the description made me feel, well, deficient. The INTJ description embraced my personality for its good points and offered useful ways to work around my weaknesses. The Meyers-Briggs used a constructive criticism approach, if you will.
In most of the parenting books I’ve read, positive reinforcement is praised as the most proactive tool we have to affect change with our children. It’s difficult sometimes to remember to give that positive reinforcement to children, because our eyes can be so focused on the negative, on the lookout for the worst.
And so it seems in blogging, too.
I was struck by this post by Uppercase Woman today. I’ve gone into my feelings about how blogging has shifted from a landscape of “letting it all hang out there” emotionally to a picture perfect world of bloggers whose lives are beautifully turned out at all times. And I’m starting to think that this change is really reflecting society at large. It’s a case of a zeitgeist shift.
Here’s my theory. Back in the 2000s when we all thought the economy was good and all groups in society seemed to be making gains, and all economic levels were encouraged to make the American Dream a reality by buying homes, remodeling homes and taking expensive vacations: well, maybe we all felt a bit privileged, whether we were or not. Maybe we were more open to being sympathetic to others, to the plight of others. Maybe that expansive sense of security led to listening more. Maybe we felt secure enough to speak about problems and issues we were facing, from infertility to parenting.
We are obviously not in a good economy any more. Things are improving, but the sense that things are going to be better for any of us? That optimism seems to be mostly gone. Women have been the beneficiaries of most of the jobs in the Great Recession. And guess what? With that gain has come the biggest backlash on women’s rights I have ever seen in my lifetime. But there’s more than just a backlash at work, as troubling as that is. There seems to be a pervasive, stoic, “suck it up” attitude. A sort of revised “keep up appearances,” if you will. Had you ever heard the term “first world problems” before 2008? I hadn’t. Yet now more and more infertility is dismissed as a “first world problem.”
I guess what I’m trying to say is it seems to me to be a shame that in an increasingly judgemental world, a woman can go to a conference like BlogHer, which I found to be a wonderfully empowering event last year, and be afraid to let her guard down.
But back to the Enneagram test. Right now I feel like we are all living in an Enneagram world instead of a Meyers-Briggs world. A place where we are judged for not fitting into a graceful, perfect mold. And I find this to be a very dismaying development.
What do you think? Have you noticed a more harsh, stoic sense attitude among others or even yourself since the Great Recession began? Are you often afraid to express negative feelings for fear of being labeled ungrateful?