A while back I took a quiz on Facebook. It wasn’t one of those “Which Disney Princess Are You” quizzes (although I have taken those too and I am Ariel, by the way), but one of those personality quizzes that is fairly legitimate. It was a Myers-Briggs, Jungian-based test, like the one I took at the career counseling center my final semester at CU to see if anyone knew what the heck I was supposed to do with the degree in English Literature that I just “had” to have. The Facebook quiz verified that I am an INTJ (introverted-intuitive-thinking-judgment) type, the same result I got back in 1990 when I was trying to figure out what to do with my life.
Along with the test results, there were several phrases to describe this INTJ personality. I read through them and found most of them were spot on. Perfectionistic? Yep. Reserved? Definitely. Independent? You betcha. Determined? In spades. Decisive? Absolutely. Intense and tightly wound? Wait. Whah? Intense and tightly wound? Really? Me? I was so appalled by this rather unflattering description that I marched into hubby’s office in a huff. And, in what had to be my highest voice ever, I went into a rapid-fire barrage of comments: “Do you think I’m intense and tightly wound? I just took this test and it said I’m intense and tightly wound, but I don’t see it. I don’t think I’m intense and tightly wound. I mean, I might be a little intense but I’m mostly laid back, not tightly wound at all.” I went on like this for at least two full minutes while hubby stared at me with that look, the one that says, “Do you hear yourself?”
If there had ever been a more telling example of intense and tightly wound behavior on my part, I can’t conceive of what it might have been. I stood there for a second and absorbed the situation, just shaking my head. Then hubby and I had a good laugh about my histrionics.
Still, because I am so intense and tightly wound, that phrase stuck in my head like the sword in the stone. I tugged at it for weeks and weeks, but it would not budge. I knew I had to make peace with it, but it was such an ugly phrase. I mean, I tell people my border collie (who is smarter than your honor student, by the way) is intense and tightly wound. Do I really have to be a dog in this scenario? It’s not easy to be labeled with something you’ve never wanted to acknowledge. For as long as I can remember I wanted to be able to “go with the flow” wherever it might take me. But, I know I am not now nor will I ever truly become that person. It’s not in my DNA.
Just because I’m not that laid back person, however, does not mean there isn’t some merit in being who I am. Instead of looking at it in Eeyore-esque fashion, I now choose to think about the positive way being intense and tightly wound works for me. For example, I don’t miss an opportunity. When I see something I want, I jump at it. In high school, I actually joined the marching band just to go to Florida, completely ignoring the reality that I didn’t play an instrument or even read music for that matter. (I ended up playing the cymbals because they’re a no brainer, even if they are a bit heavy. And, yes, I did go to Florida, march with the band, visit Epcot, swim in the Gulf, and get ludicrously sunburned.)
We all have things about ourselves that we wish we could change. But, sometimes we persist in letting those things hold us hostage when we shouldn’t. The things that challenge us are our growing edge. We need to use them to become better, either by striving to overcome them or by learning to work with them. Don’t let things you dislike about yourself keep you from something you want to be or to try. I’ve always hated that I’m not more outgoing, so last month I performed in a burlesque show with a bunch of other gals just because it was something I always thought would be fun. You know what? For those two minutes I went completely out of character and out of my comfort zone and pretended to be the extroverted, laid back person I always wanted to be. It was spectacular. My New Year’s Resolution is to unwind a little and cut myself a little more slack. After all, I don’t need to be intense and tightly wound all the time.