I Am What I Am

I wish that, on the day I was born, someone had pulled me aside from the nursery and given me a warning: “Look, you have been born with a creative soul, so you are an existential contradiction. Your path through life will be filled with thrilling roller coaster-caliber hills along with deep pits that will try to swallow you. That path will be unbelievably colorful because you will decorate it with your active imagination. But, because of your ability to sense things with far greater intensity than most, you will have great difficulty relating to people and things may appear frighteningly dark throughout your journey. Your life will pretty much suck – until you figure things out.”

1968 - 06 - 27  Julie - June 27, 1968
The beginning of my 48-year wait for a message about me.

Had someone pulled my infant self aside in 1968 and given me a personality inventory test that spelled out my gifts and my shortcomings, and delivered the reality check about all of the round holes that my square peg self would be unsuccessfully hammered into, I could have at least felt prepared for the confusing journey that has been my life. I was SO fortunate to have parents and grandparents who embraced my creativity, but much of my chronic angst has been a result of feeling blind-sided by peers’, teachers’, co-workers’, and bosses’ reactions to my creative way of doing things. My way looks perfectly normal from my perspective, but I’ve received the message for almost five decades that my perspective and the way I behave is anything but normal.

I took the DiSC Classic Personality Profile test right before I turned 48 last month. My husband brought a copy home from work, where he was required to take the test. It had 28 groups of four words like: enthusiastic, daring, diplomatic, satisfied. From those groups I was supposed to choose the one that described me the most and the one that described me the least. It was an easy test for me because, as a sensitive person, I’ve always felt pretty in touch with who I am. But I felt skeptical as I was taking it that it could clearly define my personality, because I consider myself highly unique. I had as much faith in the test results as I do in my chronically green mood ring and my Magic 8 Ball. I fully expected the summary of my test results to read: You are the constant epitome of mixed emotions, restlessness, contentment, satisfaction, distress, worrying, and hopefulness. Or, Reply hazy, try again.

Based on the pattern of my high and low plotting points in four dimensions of behavior in the test, my behavioral style could supposedly be found in one of 18 Classic Profile Patterns. This concept amused me. I thought,  I am sooooo creative that surely I won’t fit into one of relatively few categories that everyone’s personality is supposed to fall into. I plotted my points on a graph. Using the corresponding numbers I looked up my Profile Pattern with a summary of my emotions, my goals, how I judge others, how I influence others, what value I bring to an organization, what parts of my personality I overuse, how I behave under pressure, what my fears are, and what would increase the effectiveness of my personality. The results indicated that my Classic Profile Pattern is: Creative.

1968 - 11 - 00 Julie in basket - Fall 1968

What?! I easily fit into a category? That is not a familiar experience for me. My square peg self was in shock. I started reading my Profile: Persons with a creative pattern display opposing forces in their behavior. Their desire for tangible results is counterbalanced by an equally strong drive for perfection, and their aggressiveness is tempered by sensitivity. Although they think and react quickly, they are restrained by the wish to explore all possible solutions before making a decision . . . demonstrate considerable planning ability, the changes they make are likely to be sound, but the method they choose may lack attention to interpersonal relationships . . . Creative persons may not be concerned about social poise. As a result, they may be cool, aloof, or blunt. That hit the nail on my square head! Typically I would be bummed about my personality being so predictable. Despite my active imagination, I never imagined that that my life could be summarized in a few paragraphs found in one of eighteen categories because I answered several questions about myself in the same way that other creative people would. Those three paragraphs of information so succinctly explained what my experience has been the last 48 years that it helped me see things from a new perspective. I realized that I’ve been so focused on making positive changes to things that I think need improvement, that I’ve ignored attending to the relationship needs of the people in my way – er, the people around me.

This enlightenment concerning myself won’t guarantee different experiences, but I am already thinking much differently. If I blow up relationships in the future, I will think about it afterwards in more clinical terms: Oh, look, I just failed to attend to interpersonal relationships again because I was so focused on the changes I want to make around me. I no longer have to react purely emotionally and raise my fist toward the heavens crying, Why God? Why do things like this keep happening to me? If I want to strive for different results in the future, I will change my behavior. I’m making a commitment to do the best I can with this new information about my personality to behave more effectively in this world.

Had I been equipped with that information about creative people from day one, I would have spent far less time criticizing myself, loathing myself for not being like everyone else, and viewing my creative life as a curse instead of a gift. SO many of you non-creative people make life look so easy. I may never understand how to do things the easy way, but my life has been much easier since taking the personality test because it gave me the permission to just be me. Knowing that there are enough people like me to create an entire behavior category helps, too. Ironically, my independent spirit is finding comfort in being grouped with other independent people.

So, almost 48 years after starting my journey through this life, I’ve finally got things about myself figured out. I am what I am. It is a gift to be creative. I will make the most of it. I no longer want to be like those of you who make life look easy. I feel like I’ve got you figured out, too. In the test booklet it said: Read the other Classical Profile Patterns to increase your appreciation of those with different behavior styles. So I read the behavior profiles in the other seventeen categories and I appreciate all of you. Every parent, sibling, teacher, classmate, boss, and co-worker should be required to take this personality test and read all of the profiles so that they can also appreciate the behavioral styles of others. Ever since I took the test, I have found myself reacting to other people in this way: Well, due to my creative behavior pattern,  I would typically adopt a condescending attitude and walk away because I’m bored with this scene, but really, I understand that you have your own  pattern, so feel free to respond to life and the people around you in  your own way and I will try to appreciate your behavior.

Now that I’ve finally read the warnings about who I am, I’m looking forward to the next 48 years on my path not sucking so much. I want me to just be who I was born to be and I want you to be who you were born to be. If we can all find a way to join hands and move forward together, I promise I won’t knock you down on my way to creating a better world.

 

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© 2016 by Julie Ryan. All rights reserved
No part of this document may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without prior written permission of Julie Ryan.

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4 thoughts on “I Am What I Am

  1. All I can say is, welcome to the tribe! “Creative” is so much better than “artistic temperament” which is what I was saddled with all my life.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Matt. I’ve also been called “artistic” and “creative” in a tone that implied they were dirty words! I’m so happy to know there’s a tribe of us out there. 🙂

      Like

  2. Having just changed over to Google Chrome, they need my password to “Like” you. I know I have it somewhere. Matt and Julie, I do appreciate your creative ability to get things done right. Doing the math (with equal distribution), 5.5555% of the population should share your pattern. I suspect that many of them leave the perfection part to you and others and focus on cultivating their sensitivity.

    Liked by 1 person

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