Monday, February 1, 2010


This past semester, my online psychology class through the local college had us take a personality test- or rather "indicator", not a test. They are clear that there are no right or wrong answers- it's a bunch of questions that are supposed to help you identify your personality traits, and hopefully this information can be helpful in choosing a vocation, lifestyle etc. that is suited to your temperament. The internet is full of such tests, and plenty are free.

It certainly made me think a lot about myself, the way I homeschool, and my relationships with my family members.

First, after reading about the personality types, our instructor had us guess what traits we would be strongest in. Then, we took the test, or should I say "indicator", and compared the results to our guess. I was pretty close on my estimate of my strengths and weaknesses. I am apparently an artistic, social and enterprising person. According to this little exercise, I'd be happiest, and best at things like writing, designing and teaching, which is perfect- I'm currently a writer / artist / homeschool mama/ and childbirth educator who is striving towards Fun-schooling as the educational method for my family..

I did not score well in the realistic or conventional areas, and apparently would not be good at things that require precise formulas or strict following of formulas. As a person who completely eyeballs measurements and blindly substitutes ingredients in recipes, I tend to agree with this.  Logic smhmogic. I can follow directions if I have to, but I would much rather wing it. And I'm horrible at paperwork. It makes me want to cry. While some people are great at crunching numbers in cubicles, that is not my gift- at all. This probably explains why we pick and choose from curriculum, following what interests us rather than force finishing boring things.

So, as far as what this makes me good at in life, I would probably not be the best choice to design a bridge, or test safety equipment, but I can pull together and whip up some pretty cool costumes, crafts, accessories etc. And, on the home front, despite my refusal to follow a recipe, I'm successful more often than not in the kitchen too- unfortunately I can't usually remember what I did and am unable to reproduce the results again if I wanted to, but that's another story.

The next part of the assignment was to have some people close to us answer the questions about us (without knowing our answers.) I chose my husband and kids. Now this was certainly interesting. Some of my answers were pretty similar to the answers they had about me, although there were definitely a few differences. I tend to think I am pretty relaxed and open minded, and my children agreed on most questions about that. As homeschoolers, the kids and I have spent an enormous amount of time together, and I think we are pretty clued into each other. So, apparently, my kids know me at least. My husband however, had much more rigid answers about me. Apparently, he thinks I'm a tad bit more uptight than I think I am. I guess that's his perception, and I'm not sure how to take that. Needless to say, I disagree, and the kids voted my way so HA- I must be right.

In any case, it was also amusing how often my family had the same strong reaction for me as I had myself to certain questions, especially those about not liking to be supervised, micromanaged, having to follow a set order etc. They know me well, and I do like doing my own thing. That is probably why I am happier not working with a school that wants us to follow their set curriculum and turn in a big trail of paperwork.

A number of the potential careers were areas that I have worked in and enjoyed, or am interested in. Overall, I like creating things and working with people. I've already worked in a number of jobs that go along with that- a theatre costume shop, the clothing design and merchandising industries, and others. I'm sure I'll probably still try out a number of more potential career choices along those lines in my life too.

The assignment was, in my opinion, a pretty accurate look at who I am. I guess it was a nice confirmation that I am mostly doing things I am suited for, and as confirmation that other things may pay well, but they just wouldn't make me happy. There were a lot of people just starting out their adult lives taking this same college class. For them, they probably have a lot less experience making their own choices, and tests (or "indicators") like this are a good way to think about whether they have the right personality for the goals they are setting. Goodness knows that we are not all suited for every job that sounds cool, pays well, that our parents did or that they want us to do.

Just think, if everybody did work that they were suited for, enjoyed, and were good at, the world would probably run a lot smoother, and be full of much happier people. Unfortunately, far too many people can't stand their work, and suffer through it (often making other people suffer along the way) until they are ready to retire. By then, they have no love of life left, and are bitter in spirit. Who cares if you have a nice 401K if you have wasted your youth being miserable? It's very sad indeed.

So, I'm encouraging my kids to find work that they enjoy and find meaningful, and making sure they realize that several careers in a lifetime is just fine. This starts while they are still children, which is why as a homeschooling family we try to make sure their education is something they enjoy and find meaningful. I want them to get used to making choices for themselves while they are young, much more than I want them to get used to accepting that they must conform despite the boredom. It's not always easy, but there's no reason we can't do things we are interested in and have fun in the process. Hopefully, this will help them with the confidence to keep following their own path throughout their lives.