In the last 10 days, I've taken the Myers-Briggs test and gotten three different letter combinations. I've been sorted into two different houses on Pottermore.com, and stumbled in and out of the Enneagram too. I'm taking tests and agonizing over every detail with anyone who will process with me. What are my results? Why do they change? WHO AM I?
In case you're curious, I've scored ENFP, ISFP, and ESFP. At least the FP is consistent. I was equally 3 and 4 on the Enneagram, and like some freak of nature I've been sorted into both Slytherin and Hufflepuff. Hoooooowwwwwwww?
More important than the results, why the obsession? Why does it matter so much to me?
I wrote once, that an honest consideration of who I am, acceptance of that person, and the courage to be her without reservation was my path to truly knowing and accepting others, my path to real intimacy. I find myself in a quandary then. If I cannot KNOW myself, how can I ACCEPT myself? If I'm honest, that's where I'm stuck at the moment. While intimacy may be my end goal, I can't even think about knowing and accepting others right now. I'm hung up on my own worthiness. Again.
My older brother and I used to play cards every day for 45 minutes. Our mom required it. To learn patience. To practice endurance. Of one another. It was called Rummy Roots, played like Gin Rummy with cards containing Latin and Greek root words and their definitions. 45 minutes. Every day. To learn language. Or maybe vocabulary. I don't remember. Our mom was clear—the point wasn't our education, it was our relationship. We weren't enemies. He was simply a private older brother, with an obnoxiously curious younger sister. He avoided me at all costs, and when I crossed his boundaries, he could be ruthless.
He told me once it's because he felt threatened back then. I told him it came off as indifferent. He never meant to wound me. I was undoubtedly a pest. My unyielding desire to figure him out had to have exhausted and infuriated him. Still, I felt rejected because I wasn't interesting or fascinating. I was not mysterious or complicated, cryptic or damaged, special or unique. I was simple, boring, and therefore a waste of time.
I could tell more stories about little-girl-Maddie, and maybe I will someday, about her asking too many questions, being too curious, nosy. She asked things that weren't her business, and didn't respect people's privacy. She got caught staring. She wanted to know people's secrets.
Here's one thing I know about myself today:
When it comes to the people I love, I am an investigator, digging as deep as they'll allow me into their souls, their bones. I want to see them clearly, pealing back all the layers, and finding what lies beneath it all. I know there are character flaws, bad habits, insecurities. There are vain ambitions. There are wounds. I want to find and know them all. And when I do, whatever I find, I feel compelled to love it with every fiber of my being. I want to single-handedly damn to the depths whatever shame requires my beloveds to hide. I want to release them, unedited, all over the place. See them unbridled, untethered, free.
It's the thing I love best about myself, even though as a child it got me in trouble. I know now, that kind of exposure is not what everyone desires. Even for those that do, it's not given easily. Exposure requires trust, me listening beyond hearing, and appreciating all the nuance and complexity of each human soul. Still, when I can do it well, discovering the depths of people feels like my super power.
Here's the thing. I feel unable to do it well lately. While I remain an idealist, believing everyone has something interesting and noteworthy to share, I'm beginning to realize that's all I've ever wanted someone to believe about me. I feel spent on others, empty with nothing in return.
While I'm not a perfectionist, I care greatly about being worth someone's curiosity. I want to be individual. Unique. Special. All my insecurity is wrapped up in that little girl playing cards, feeling unsensational, boring, simple. I was also referred to as hyper and loud as a kid. I can see how being so open, so direct, so expressive probably gave people a sense that they already knew me. There's nothing to ask if I offer everything freely, no charge. I haven't ever mastered that art of being mysterious, of keeping secrets.
So here I am. 20 years older than that little girl, with the same doubt. I want a me right now. Someone who believes there's something fiercely unique deep inside me, that deserves to be seen and released. It's important to say: No one is failing me. I know my happiness and wholeness do not come from others, so perhaps the self-analysis obsession is me doing that work for myself. I'm taking the tests, asking the questions, lingering on the emotional triggers, and investigating the memories, to know myself. Because I believe I am worth it. Because I still believe knowing and accepting myself is the only way to be myself. And being authentic is my path to intimacy with others.
This turbulent part of my nature isn't a lovely thing to share. Expressing what I desperately want at my core makes me feel absolutely naked. But it's also the only thing I've ever wanted. To be known. Really known for what makes me who I am. Maddie. I can't tell you whether I'm an introvert or extrovert, intuitive or observant, a Slytherin or a Hufflepuff. This is all I know for sure: I have to believe we are all exceptionally rare, fascinating beyond comprehension. It's what drives me to know you, to expose myself, to pursue the intimacy that gives my life meaning.