Listen. Think. Speak. Write.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

A couple of weeks ago, I sent my Interpersonal Communication students off to take a personality test.  I was bored waiting for them, so I pulled up a Myers Briggs test and clicked away.  I’ve taken this test many times over the years.  It used to be that after a brief pause, the letters, ENTJ would flash across the screen.  Go ahead and look it up.  Suffice to say, they are leaders who like to be in charge.  They also use logic and reason to make decisions.  Several years ago, I took it again and to my surprise, I ended up an INTJ.  I couldn’t quite wrap my head around that one.  How could that happen?  Then, last week, a new set of letters:  ENFP.  Whoa.  Now, that’s a change. 

I loved this description of the ENFP: "They live in the world of possibilities, and can become very passionate and excited about things ...They can talk their way in or out of anything. They love life, seeing it as a special gift, and strive to make the most out of it."

Sometimes, our lives have big, obvious transitional chapters, like motherhood, or marriage, or new career.  There’s preparation; you know in advance that you’re about to change; people even try to tell you how much and in what ways.  I just chatted with a new mom the other day, and her face took me back.  I vividly recall those early days of navigating what it mean to be a mom and a college professor.    It was a shockingly major shift in perspective that people try to explain but there’s never any way to do it justice.  The transition occurs almost instantly.

On the other hand, there was nothing obvious or quick about the transition from ENTJ to ENFP (with the E only slightly above I).Time, experience, and relationships all mixed together to change how I see the world and how I process my experience. 
When I first started writing fanfiction, friends and I used to talk about “transitional” chapters. We saw them as a necessary evil to move us from one plot point to the next. They weren’t exciting chapters by any means. In retrospect, they were probably a little too obvious. “Hello, I’m introducing a new idea here.” In my favorite books, particularly the well-edited ones, action flows more seamlessly. I can’t usually tell that something is changing until it already has.  As a writer, that's something I've been working on over the years. 

I don't think one kind of transition is necessarily better or worse than another.  I'm intrigued, though, by how easy it is to overlook the subtle ones.  (Don't even get me started on ambiguous transitions in Public Speaking).  It's a good reminder to me that if I don't notice my own changes, I might need to pay better attention to others' transitions, too. 

When you read or listen, do you prefer obvious transitions?  Have ever discovered a transition in your own life that you didn't know was occurring/had already occurred?

1 comment:

  1. Aww, stay in ENTJ land, with me!

    I have nothing profound to offer, except to say that I finally tagged you back for Liebster. It's like a year late. :)

    But this is fascinating. Oh, wait, I do have one thing to comment and that is this...I remember looking back at 28 (why 28 and not 30, I couldn't tell you) and realizing that my worldview had changed from when I was 18. By all means I was a mature 18-year-old (so proved yesterday when I retrieved a bunch of financial records that I was just anal-retentive enough to have carefully filed at that age), but as a 28-year-old adult, I was amazed at how naive my 18-year-old self was. And so I'm looking forward this time to being 38, and knowing that ten years from now (well, less than ten, but who's counting) I will look back at 28 and think "Wow, there was so much I didn't know."