Hi. I’m Aidan and I’m an INFP-A.

I’d always viewed personality type tests in the same way I view horoscopes. Impossible assumptions foisted on impossibly complex situations, buckling under the weight of far too much vagueness and poorly hidden flattery, succeeding only by exploiting its intended audiences capacity and predilection for broad interpretation. It seems I wasn’t being entirely fair.

Confident in my assessment, and not being one to shy away from being proven right, I approach the 16personalities.com homepage with a small eagerness. I dutifully answer a seemingly endless stream of questions, trying to imagine what short sort of insight is meant to be derived from each. Finally I reach the long awaited submit button, and I wait while a distant server presumably whizzes and whirs under its breath in an attempt to make some sense of the possibly directionless input I’d just expelled its way. I fully expect to be greeted by the meandering profile of Non-Specific, Generic Human Being Variant #2.

But then, through the mist, I glimpse a figure.

I was revealed unto me.

Well, no, so it wasn’t quite as dramatic as that. But I was impressed with what I was reading. It was… right. Mostly. Sure there were a few inaccuracies (I’m not an idealist! I’m just a realist living in a rose-coloured world…) but that just means that most of what I was reading was correct. And it was about me. … That’s an unsettling feeling, at least at first.

It told me that I’m calm, reserved, often shy. That I am guided by my principles, and believe in fairness and altruism. That I have a tendency to be closed and difficult to know. I read about how I try to see the best in people, and that I can have difficulties when my idealistic values become challenged or contradictory. It knew about how I can withdraw into myself, and retreat into what they called a “hermit mode” where I can lose sight of the people around me. It even quoted one of my favourite parts of The Lord Of The Rings.

“All that is gold does not glitter; not all those who wander are lost; the old that is strong does not wither; deep roots are not reached by the frost.”

J. R. R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

It was incredible. And yet it wasn’t really a learning experience. I knew these things about myself already, but seeing them written, and understanding how these strengths and weaknesses affect me, and how similar strengths and weaknesses exist in the people around me, brought about a sense of confirmation, and of acceptance. In a way, it normalised them. And that allows me to accept my flaws, and understand them in a way that means I don’t have to be afraid of trying to improve on them, or afraid of using the strengths that I have.

So I can honestly say I found this process enlightening. And you might too. I was wrong — this isn’t some loosely inflated horoscope that might tell you you’ll make a new friend tomorrow. If you choose to allow it, it can be an insight into how you operate as a person, the ways you can find success and the ways in which you can be holding yourself back.

My advice to you is to try it. It might not be accurate. Maybe I’m one of the few that handily fits snugly into one of the 16 personality-shaped holes, and you won’t find anything useful from this exercise. But maybe not. Why not take a personality test and see who pops out: it might be someone you recognise.