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Miniblog #332: A Theory About Why My Personality Has Been Changing

by Carson T. Clark on March 25, 2014

Although I’ve only in the past few years come to appreciate the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator as an imperfect but helpful tool in helping understand people, in retrospect I see how much my personality has evolved.1 Beginning high school in 1999 I was a polarized ENFJ. Every attribute was high. My personality contained zero moderation.1.My principles have remained largely consistent but my personality has continually changed. By graduation four years later I was an ENTJ with E and J substantially moderated, N as high as ever, and T a new development that remained low. By the time I withdrew from Moody Bible Institute in the fall of 2004 I was an ENTP. The N remained as high as possible, the E lowered further, the T had grown higher, and I was just barely on the side of P. A full decade later I’m solidly INTP. The I seems to be growing stronger by the day, the N remains as polarized as ever, the T has settled in as a dominant feature, and the P remains low but stable. All of this got me to thinking. Some people have basically been who they are all along and find it weird that others experience such personality shifts. I cannot speak to others’ lives, but I’ve got a theory about why my own personality has evolved as it has. If certain behavior is culturally conditioned, then wouldn’t it stand to reason that there can be a process of cultural deconditioning as well?2.Examples include knee-jerk conservatism, low church spirituality, extrovert social etiquette, trust in emotion over intellect, defensive posturing, binary defaults, and so forth. As a 29-years-old, I’ve spent my entire adult life identifying, questioning, nuancing, and in many cases throwing off the cultural moors of my upbringing.2 This causes me to wonder. Maybe my personality evolution has been more excavating than rebuilding.3 So while it has been legitimate personality change, it seems it has largely been an experience in self-discovery and reformation.3.In other words, perhaps I’ve just been living more and more into who I was always wired to be rather than becoming someone new. That is, I’m living into who I am rather than who others raised me to be. That theory could prove to be crap but right now it seems to make sense. I cannot help but wonder if others who’ve undergone significant personality evolution have had similar experiences.

  • Elizabeth Walton

    Carson, are you even 30 yet? :-)
    I have noticed (I’m 38 now) that we all change between childhood, adolescence, college years, post-college years, career years, parenthood years. Sometimes the change is big (like…I can’t believe I used to listen to Christian rap! haha!) and sometimes it’s more like a slow evolution – you were on the way there, but didn’t notice because it happens over time. Some things maybe you solidify and they become central when they used to be peripheral. This is why I’m always a *bit* wary when people get married super young (like 18) because if you grow in different directions (and you can’t predict that) it can be really difficult. I’ve seen some couples just go with the flow and accept change, embrace, grow.
    This can apply to friendship too – some people will love and accept the “new” you because they loved the whole you to begin with. People who just liked the things that are now changing may have trouble.
    So…I guess my point was…I think the personality shift is quite “normal.” :-)

  • Ian Sansot

    Mutations in personality change with time. While I haven’t bounced around as much as you, I used to be an ENTJ. As I’ve mellowed with time and age, I’m now a solid ESTJ. Maybe it’s maturity that caused the change (and I’ve been an ESTJ all along) or maybe one’s personality can and does change with time. Either way, the important thing to note is that time, experience, wisdom, and maturity alter how we think about and react to things.

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