On Categorizing People – and The Self

There are always some strange people majoring in literature in university – and loving it. Let us call these people the Idealists. On the other hand, there are those who are here to conquer the silly dreamers with their fighting spirit. By fight, I mean to go to the professor or teaching assistant’s (TA) office during most of their spare time and writing their perfectly argued essays with the leftover. Shall we call them the Realists?

Oh, when is your birthday? March? Well, that makes you an Aries. Aries are aggressive go-getters.

What is your Meyer-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI)?

And so on…

I am guilty of indulging in these sorts of people-categorizing. In fact, when one of my former schools imposed the MBTI test on us, I became fixated on it. I loved the reassurance the boxing-in gave me. I’d felt so out of place before, but I finally knew that I was not alone in this world. The thing is – and I’m really grateful for it – I’d met so many rational people whilst I was studying science. There was a point in time when our entire class was obsessed with MBTI typing. I guess it’s human nature to want to find a faction we can belong to and personality is the source of each and every human being. Hence, typing becomes our hobby (or at least some of ours). I feel silly now to say this, but I treated MBTI like a source of comfort…until one of my closest friends texted me saying that it was unreliable. She’d been having great difficulties finding her “type” and had gone on to research more on the seemingly effective way to break people apart (ha ha). I’m going to smash all the ideals that you have, fellow idealist, but she is right (I was upset for a very long time, mind you).

There are certain archetypes that people fit into, but in reality, they are vastly different, even if they share the same personality types. One thing I got from entering a humanities course is that there are so many idealists floating about, believing in it so much. Some of them even try so hard to fit into a certain type that it becomes destructive for them. I was like that once and I still harbour some hope that certain things might work for me if I follow the advice pages written specifically for my “type”, but I’ve come to see how complex each of us are and how things work so differently for each of us that I can’t help feeling that these categorizations should stop. Or at least be taken less seriously.

Note that I’d also segregated the science and humanities students up there. Rational versus idealistic; realistic versus moralistic. The main problem with putting people into boxes is that many stereotypes come with them and because people feel a sense of belonging to these categories, they naturally want to feel more included in them, which leads to a dissociation with the world and other people in it. This applies more to the idealist than the realist, because realists aren’t affected by this nonsense, which is very ironic because this is a categorization in itself. I generally don’t think it’s a good idea when people begin saying I should behave like this, because people of my type behave like this. It’s exactly like saying I should behave like this because the my countrymen and women behave like this. It’s frustrating, yet one can see the comfort this sort of behaviour brings to the outliers in society.

It is also dangerous to do so, because a firm believe in these “types” can render one insensitive to the nuances in another’s behaviour. One assumes that a person behaves this way because of his “type” and doesn’t consider the circumstances and environmental factors that could’ve caused him to act that way. This creates a gap between people who’ve already generated enough misunderstandings among themselves.

It’s probably because I didn’t hang around idealists when I was growing up that I came to feel this way. I can never understand Astrology like my friends here do. They were puzzled when I told them I was an Aries, because I just don’t behave like one. Aries are usually business-minded people who love to get things done. They also love fashion and are outwardly aggressive. Some are beginning to be cautious around me because I might be secretly aggressive. I wonder how an astrological sign can be used to describe probably millions of people who were born within that 4-week period, but I think I’m being harsh on them. It’s due to my background and upbringing that I’m skeptical of these things – a background most of my friends now didn’t have.

It’s hard for me to believe in these things anymore, but I’m putting myself under great restraint to stop my dear sweet idealist friends with a very direct “it’s inaccurate” that was thrown at me from a very rational friend (who is still close to me). If I lose control, don’t mind me. It’s just the Aries in me acting.

P.S. Guess my MBTI type and tell me more about you and yours! *glances around nervously* I love these things. 😉


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