Like all of us, I find categorisation a necessary part of life. Some people do this more than others, and as a person with a high ‘SQ’ (systematising quotient) I get a lot of joy out of categorising things, events, and people.
My wardrobe is, each time I put away my clothes, a monument to order: the main compartment is suits, blazers and shirts. The smaller compartments are sportswear, socks and underwear, T-shirts, and jumpers. Underneath the suits and shirts are towels and spare bedding.
My schedule is a meticulously kept spreadsheet, customised to allow me to see my hourly plan 6-8 weeks at a time (why does no other calendar software do this?) meaning I can always book in time with friends or work because I know what I’m doing.
Then, there’s people. People are the most elusive to categorise, and the most satisfying to decode. Of course, it’s not generally polite to reduce someone to a four letter code or a star sign. We prize our individuality, even though we as humans are not really able to create completely new experiences. We synthesise from things we have experienced, and through this create new things – new combinations, which at the surface can appear brand new. But yet, we are completely, wholly obsessed with leaving behind our legacy. Making our mark. Spraying our graffiti on the world ‘WE WOZ ‘ERE’, perhaps in slightly more grown-up terms (or not).
Some of us, subconsciously or more deliberately, spend a lot of our time engaging with these categorisations. Some of us love the feeling of fitting in. Some of us hate it. There has always been an innate driver in me to sit slightly outside the box. I like to sit on the edge of lots of categories, so I end up not really being identified as anything.
This brings with it a lot of problems. For one, while others can’t box me, I don’t have a strong sense of in-group-ness. I don’t identify strongly with fads or trends. I’m always following someone else’s lead on clothing, or what the best Marvel film is, or which TV show or book to enjoy. I sometimes think I get left out of things because people just don’t see me as someone that’s ‘into’ a particular thing.
Ipsative testing (like Myers-Briggs) will always have its limits. I’m an ‘ENTx’, meaning I slip between ENTJ and ENTP. So even there, I don’t feel integrated into a box. Online versions of this seem to make such categorisation even more vague. ENTJs LOVE these three Dog Breeds! ENTPs CAN’T STAND these seven office habits! I find it slowly becoming more and more like astrology’s cold reading – surely everyone experiences these things over time as a part of the human experience.
It’s only recently that I’ve started to really be content in having my own type, and that while there will undoubtedly be a lot of other people in the world who think like I do, one of the reasons I like to be on the edge is because I have a wide set of interests. I’m a ‘broad’ strategist, not a ‘deep’ details person for social things (and the opposite for achieving career-related, and personal, goals). What I mean by that is, I like to always surround myself with a variety of people. And I like to change up the canvas sometimes. Like most people I have a fairly stable core group of people: my fiancé, a couple of best friends…
I’ve tackled this ‘peripatetic’ nature by having lots of hobbies – a weekly rotation where I get to see different groups of people, and satisfy different facets of my interests and personality. And yet, despite everything, I still find myself trying to find a way of seeing the world that works for me, like choosing a sociological religion. I can’t help myself. It’s who I am.