Monday, March 13, 2017

It's All About the OCEAN

I avoid those silly Facebook quizzes (Which Harry Potter Character Are You?), recognizing that they shed little light on who I am. Human beings are far more complicated than any test can really assess. For a while there, the Myers-Briggs alphabet soup was very popular. “Me? Oh, I’m a QWERTYUIOP!” I would respond, then duck out before my questioner realized I had just recited the top line of the typing keyboard.

So why did I just take the trendy Big Five personality test?  I was curious, more than anything else. What amazing new insights about Elise Seyfried might be uncovered? The Big Five (acronym OCEAN) are Openness to New Experiences, Conscientiousness, Extroversion, Agreeableness and (my fave) Neuroticism. I was excited! Would I finally have a handle on “me” after 60 years?

My results:

O (Openness) I am NOT open to new experiences. True. From ziplining in Costa Rica to parallel parking in Philly, “no thank you” is my go-to reaction. Give me comfy old experiences every time! I never tire of re-reading my favorite books, re-watching my favorite movies, re-eating my favorite meals. If you only live once, I am perfectly happy to spend my one life repeating myself.

C (Conscientiousness)  I am neither organized, nor disorganized. Also true. I am careful about my appearance, and can pull things together at work well enough. Yet beneath the fa├žade is chaos, chaos I tell you! I am a closet slob (meaning, if you open my closets you will learn that I am a slob.)

E (Extroversion) I am relatively social and enjoy the company of others. To this I say: what others? I do not enjoy the company of just any “others.” And my general sociability ebbs and flows; some days I am Ginny Gregarious, and some days I would rather converse with my pillow (these are GREAT conversations, in which my opinion always wins the day).

A (Agreeableness) I am (by their rating) not extremely forgiving. I do recall my little grudges, my petty annoyances. I was often irked by my in-laws, because I hated their complacence and lack of intellectual curiosity. Once, watching a game show on TV together, the question was: would you rather be smart and unhappy, or dumb and happy? Guess which one I chose? Guess which one they chose? Now, many years later, I am much more understanding of them, and am starting at last to see the value of happy in this crazy world.

N (Neuroticism) I am a “generally anxious person and tend to worry about everything.” Hmmm. Well. Yes. But why on earth would that be called “neurotic”? To me, that is a totally normal reaction to life! Besides, if nobody worried, many many more bad things would happen! Worry keeps the devil at bay! You’re welcome.

Do tests like the Big Five really prove anything? Should I work on my conscientiousness, my openness, my extroversion? Should I strive to be more agreeable, less neurotic? In other words, is knowledge power?


Life of the Party (sometimes)

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