Ken and I met in college. We’d both been selected for a semester-long project that all-too-closely resembled The Real World in those days: 15 students were filmed as we worked/napped/ate together in a towering mansion off campus producing and directing three documentaries for PBS. There were fights and tears and new love, and I still remember inviting the head professor to our whirlwind wedding two years later: You’ll never believe it! We’re getting married! and her response: Oh honey, I called it after one day in that mansion.
We were, indeed, a pair.
Late at night, if there was no footage to log or scripts to write, Ken and I would grab a laptop and plop ourselves on the oversized leather couches, scrolling through dozens of personality tests online. We’d said it was just for fun, of course, but with every quiz answer – What kind of dog are you? Who’s your celebrity crush? – we were answering something else: Could this be love?
It was, and it is, and ever since, I’ve had a strange affinity for personality tests. Sure, they’re flawed in a hundred different ways, leaving little room for margin or gray areas, but you know me, there’s just something so tidy about pegging down a personality in a neat series of check boxes.
My favorite? The Enneagram.
There’s a free shortened version here (you’ll have to log in) that takes 10 minutes or so to work through, but the results are astoundingly precise. Essentially, we all fall squarely into 1 of 9 main personality tendencies, each picking up various traits from the numbers closest. So as a 9 myself (peacemaker), I also carry a few tendencies from 1s (reformer) and 8s (challenger).
It will come as a surprise to no one at all that Ken is a 3.
I don’t put a ton of stock in these things, not really, because I know we’re all a bundled, hard-to-pin-down mix of a hundred different things. But I do like how, every now and then, we can learn something new about our patterns, our defaults, our hardwired personality traits, and then do something about it.
Just yesterday, I was reminded of a weird quirk of type 9: It matters how we’re asked to do things.
Ken is great at knowing this about me and has acquired over ten years of experience asking, ‘If you think about it, could you add cashews to the grocery list?’ instead of ‘Hey, we need cashews.’
It’s a small thing, and it’s not a small thing at all.
Have you guys taken a great personality test lately? Anything that jumps out about you? Anything you’ve learned about yourself? I’d love to hear!