Monday, June 1, 2020

Why I'm Letting go of Personality Types and Their Influence

Yamashita Tomohisa as Naoki from Buzzer Beat (2009)
Naoki from Buzzer Beat (2009) ❤

In 2012, I introduced myself to the wonderful world of Japanese entertainment. In 2014, I left that world behind because I thought that my new ultra-conservative workplace wouldn't accept me if I came with a Japanese fandom label attached to my person. And in 2020, I've returned to that love for Japan regardless of what anyone else might say or think, workplace politics be hanged.

While rewatching some of my favorite J-dramas, like Buzzer Beat from 2009, I decided to try personality typing the characters. A profound realization hit me while doing so. If I pause to analyze and nitpick every action by these characters who I deeply love, then I'm demeaning them in my own eyes and potentially in the eyes of other viewers.

Naoki (above) is an amazing person. I can only dream about meeting someone as selfless, as compassionate, and as determined to do his best as this man. If I stop and personality type Naoki, I am encasing every decision he makes in doubt and weakness. I am limiting him and judging him to the point where he's inept, unaware, and pathetic, instead of the gentle soul I see on the screen. He is either inept and pathetic or selfless and compassionate, not both.

The realization was a proverbial sucker punch.

By personality typing Naoki, I reduced him to equations and analysis. He was no longer human, but a puzzle that needed to be taken apart, analyzed and put back together again. He stopped being a character that I deeply love with traits that strongly attract me to him and became someone utterly apart from that person on the screen where all I could see were his flaws. It was horrible. 

Personality typing, as I see it now, is all about our worst attributes. Our weaknesses and our failures and our need to be fixed. It also permits us to be weak. We lock ourselves into a specific personality type and suddenly we can't be anything else. It's empty and cold in that world where people suddenly stop being people, and it opens the door for others to judge us based on our personality type alone and not who we are as individuals. It's so unhealthy for someone to look at you and say, "Oh you're that personality type" before they even know you. And it's doubly wrong for workplaces to hire based on personality types instead of work history and work ethics.

I know both my MBTI and my Enneagram. Have they ever done me a lick of good? Nope. I can't say that they have, other than making me second-guess every decision I've made in the last decade instead of just living my life in the fullness of joy that Jesus desires for me. Personality typing wants to break me and anyone else it comes into contact with, in an attempt to fix me. I don't know about you, but the only Person I want to give that right to is the Lord Jesus. If He's going to break me, that's his right as my Lord and Savior. It's not the right of a personality test.

I've listened to personality typing jargon for a long time now. It's going to be hard to let it go. But I'm going to do it. It's better for me in the long run. It means I can enjoy my life, right now, as it's happening, without worrying over my motivations in every conversation I have and every action I take. I just want to be me, gloriously flawed, but a daughter of the King just the same.

You see, Christ didn't come to save some perfect version of me, the me who has it all together and never sins. He came to save the me drowning in my flesh and crying out to Him for help. He never mentioned perfection as a requirement to come to the cross. Thank goodness, or I'd always be at the back of the line.

Going forward, I'm going to look at myself with love and grace. Not trample my self-worth into the dust because of the times that I fall. Instead, I pick myself up, dust myself off, and try harder for the next time. And when I get it right, I'll look at myself in a mirror and say "Good job!"