There is something – I don’t know if it’s generational, personal, or just unavoidable – that makes online quizzes impossibly tempting. I’d spend more time trying to deny it but Buzzfeed has latched too thoroughly onto the concept for me to really keep up the ruse any longer. I loved online quizzes when I was 11 and took one that told me my battle cry was “Meep” and I loved online quizzes yesterday when I took one that told me yes, I am a 90’s film guru based on my ability to identify ten films from one single screenshot.
The truth is, online quizzes can be absurdly validating. What could possibly be validating about being told that if I was a cheese-based snack, I’d be a plate of baked Brie (SO TRUE)? I don’t know, but I’ll be damned if I didn’t share that result on my Facebook and feel weirdly proud of its delicious accuracy.
This validation has always been harmless, for the most part. I’ve never really suffered for being told that yes, if I do end up living in a major city, it should totally be San Francisco based on the seven desserts and two movie quotes I picked. But a few years ago, on a deep dive while trying to get to know myself better, I took one too many personality quizzes, graduated to tests, and ended up with a four-letter acronym that proceeded to validate nearly every aspect and flaw of my personality. It’s been a recent revelation of mine that I’ve used it as an excuse for my worst habits, almost to the point of turning them into glorified traits that I sometimes even use as punchlines. “Sure, I’m never grounded, don’t plan for the future, and rely a little more on luck than I probably should, but eh – I’m an ESFP. I’m an Entertainer. It’s what we do.”
Cue the worst life philosophy ever.
I still believe that a lot of what that particular personality analysis says about me is spot on. Bizarrely so. But just because it seems to reflect exactly the kind of person I am or the reasoning behind the way I tend to act/react in life doesn’t mean it validates when those decisions end badly. Nor does it limit me to forever being the head-in-the-clouds sort of person that continues to make those decisions for the rest of her life. It’s okay to have flaws – but being okay with them doesn’t mean I can’t work on them.
It also took me a while to acknowledge the fact that the “bad” traits weren’t necessarily direct side effects of the “good” ones. A typical ESFP dreams big – real big – and I took that to mean that it was dreaming big that made me a personal and financial flake. Nah, Self: you CAN dream big. You just have to learn how to plan for those dreams, then stick to those plans. Good things come to those who plan, Padawan. You can have the best of both worlds. (Just…don’t sign up for any more credit cards.)
Lately, I done dreamed big. I suddenly applied for a job that I wasn’t quite qualified for because it felt right. It would’ve gotten me back to England. It was with a sister brand of the company I work for and I’m kickass at my job and would’ve been kickass at that job too, obviously. And did I mention it felt right?
But a transatlantic move is not practical in my life right now. That, and I’m sure for a myriad of other reasons, the universe shut down my dream. And as so many of the supportive people in my life were very quick to tell me – it was only the first, sudden, and let’s be real here, Kathy, completely out of the blue and impractical, attempt at said dream. That dream is 100% achievable. Just because some test told me I’ve got the personality (and tendency) to dream big and assume everything will line up automatically doesn’t mean that when it doesn’t, I can’t just plan for a second attempt that actually works.
That may sound like a simple principle to wrangle, but here I am, twenty-eight, just getting there, and blaming online quizzes for the journey.
So did you take a quiz that told you your cereal soul-mate is Bran Flakes when you’re a total Reese’s Peanut Butter Puffs gal? Did it tell you that based on your ideal date you’re actually 76 years old on the inside (Not me, never!)? Or did it tell you that your true horoscope is Gemini and goddamnit, that is your horoscope and having the two coincide totally validated your life choices?
Either option is okay. You should never really credit these things.
But either way, you do you. And if you feel like you truly are a Bran Flakes gal, then go buy those Bran Flakes and enjoy them. It’s never to late to try new things, learn new things, and change.