From Hannibal Lecter to Steve Jobs: Personality Types

30 Sep
Over the past few years, my personality has apparently shifted.  Not sure if this is true or if I’ve just learned to fill out those darn personality tests better.  But it is true that the things that used to scare me – meeting new people, making small talk, attending parties on my own – no longer bother me.
I ride the line between introvert and extrovert.  I always feel like it’s obvious but sometimes this surprises people.  Some people remember me as a very shy kid and can’t believe I’m capable of genuine friendliness.  Others see me at work or school and choke on laughter when I mention how introverted I am.  Sometimes I feel frustrated with myself – am I portraying two different personalities to people unknowingly?  Who am I really.
I ride the line between introvert and extrovert.  I get so excited to have people over at my house (like last night) and find it very relaxing to entertain. But I find it equally relaxing to dive into bed with PJs and a good book after everyone has left.
I ride the line between introvert and extrovert.  I can appear self-confident to the point of arrogance. I hate this. But I can’t help that I know what I know and I can also assure you that I know what I don’t know. If I can help you, I will. If I can’t, I’ll be honest about it.  I’m very independent and free of sentiment.  I’m even-handed about recognizing others’ contributions to my work.  But I also can be judgmental when I view someone as slacking.  I’m an idea person, I am ever perceiving inner patterns and I love solving problems.
When I am feeling introverted, I am Hannibal Lecter.
Well, to be fair, I am like these people: Lance Armstrong, Augustus Caesar, Chevy Chase, Emily Bronte, Peter Jennings, C. Everett Koop, C. S. Lewis, Michelle Obama, Hilary Clinton, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Thomas Jefferson, Mr. Darcy, Clarice Starling and Hannibal Lecter (both from Silence of the Lambs).
And if that lists doesn’t scare you, well, it should.
When I am feeling extroverted, I am Harrison Ford, Newt Gingrich, Jim Carrey, Rahm Emanuel, Al Gore, Steve Jobs, Steve Martin, David Letterman and Margaret Thatcher.
And if that list doesn’t scare you, read it again.
The truth is that I am not Hannibal Lecter.  And I am not C.S. Lewis. I am most certainly not Jim Carrey and I only wish I had Steve Jobs’ brilliance.  People use personality types to try to segregate and organize us.  To categorize us just like we do with inanimate objects.  We can group “like things” but that does not make them identical.
We can group a Gala and a Pink Lady and say “these are apples” but we can also group an apple and an orange and say “these are fruit” or we can group an apple and a pizza and say “these are food” but the grouping does not make them identical.
I am not Hannibal Lecter even though I may be a little bit more like him than you are.  And I am not Steve Jobs even though I may think a little bit more like him than you do.  I am me.  You are you.  We can be both introverted and extroverted, quiet and abrasive, easy-going and strong-willed.  We are complex creatures.
It’s time to embrace the complexity.

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