Embracing your personality: it’s okay to be you

It may be a little quirk of mine, but I love doing personality tests. And no, not the BuzzFeed type of quizzes like: "What is your inner potato?" or "Which teen movie from the last decade are you?" – both of which you can find on their website. Those are good to cheer you up every now and then but, personally, I enjoy answering the longer and more scientific tests, and getting insight about myself, my patterns of behaviour and my personality. Sometimes, they have helped me put into words what I have struggled to describe, while also making me realize that my results are not exclusive to my experience – that I’m not broken. However flawed or toxic my state of mind has been at any given time, these tests have been really helpful to understand that my thoughts and behaviours, while unique, are not exclusive to myself. Let me explain.

A few years ago, I was taking a very interesting course at my university about psychological aspect of hiring staff, and I became interested in different tests researchers had developed over the years. At the time, I was also in an abusive relationship and, while the tests were very insightful and encouraging regarding traits such as leadership and compassion, I was also enlightened about how my willpower was not that strong, and how I was not a person to stand up for what they believed. I thought this would greatly affect my job search but, in reality, this was a call for action. These tests told me that something in my personal life affected the way I made decisions and went about my life in general.

Not only were these tests a call for action, but they also showed me parts of my personality I had failed to comprehend. When I was grew up, I tended to idealize the adult I would become. I wanted to be empowered, outspoken, extroverted, energetic and the kind of person who would light up a room – all the traits I considered very positive. However, as I answered the tests with utmost honesty, I discovered I steered towards the introverted side and had social battery, which could run out very easily. This was difficult to accept and I would put myself in situations that would drain me out because I wanted to be what I idealized as the best type of personality to have. These attempts proved futile. I resorted to alcohol to try to be the life of the party, which made me feel very unhappy and often embarrassed after the fact.

The truth is that the more we try to deny who we really are, the more pain we will put ourselves through. We cannot live our life refusing to be who we really are. We're all wired in a certain way and there are some things we can definitely change, such as self-harming patterns. There are, however, so many other personality traits that we tend to attribute a negative connotation to, like being shy, quiet or introverted. For example, we often think or are told that it's wrong to be "too sensitive", while this is what might make us the most empathetic people in our family, the most successful and caring teacher, or the best friend to have around. If we continue to deny who we are, we will end up in a place full of pain, where authenticity is the cure that we so badly desire, but are scared to admit it.

For my journey, it has been enormously helpful to identify that the person who kept showing up in my results and in my everyday life (once I started to pay attention) was someone I could love and accept as valid. As I became more in touch with myself, I decided to stop doing things that would harm or go against the person I am. I learned that if I accepted that being introverted and needing time alone was okay, I would stop pushing myself into anxiety-inducing or draining situations and just give myself some self-care in the form of staying home and reading good book or watching YouTube videos until I fell asleep.

I think it’s natural for the human mind to always be looking for ways to improve and become better. To achieve this we often look for role models. But really, even if we’re not looking, we’re flooded with images telling us what we should be. It’s really easy to open Instagram and feel like we have to adhere to a certain lifestyle or a particular outgoing and carefree personality. We may feel a push or even desire to be like other people, to the point that we may try to imitate them behaving against the way we really are, only realize that it’s not possible to adapt other people’s personality. The most successful and fulfilled individuals are the ones that followed this truth tagged at their heart-strings. We may not have found it yet, but it may be because we have failed to listen to ourselves.

The more you try to be true to what really makes you feel good, the better you will notice the huge set of possibilities for what you can become, for all the happiness you can bring into you own life. Let’s try to be more authentic and not betray ourselves in the pursuit of what the outer world tries to sell us. We will only be able to find peace and make amends with ourselves once we stop denying what’s inside.

To wrap it up, if you do decide to take a personality test, do it honestly and lovingly, so that you’re able to have a compassionate look at the person in the mirror and realize how to start becoming a better and more accepting version of yourself.

-Esme