Who Are You? 10 Ways of Knowing Yourself
Happy Wednesday! I really try to post on Tuesdays and Thursdays but not every week goes according to plan. Here’s to a good Wednesday!
When I was in high school my best friend loaned me her copy of Who Are You: 101 Ways to Know Yourself. We were pretty much obsessed with all the activities and quizzes in this book.
Who wasn’t obsessed with personality tests in high school? Teen Vogue, Seventeen, Cosmo. Every magazine had at least one quiz to help define you.
On one hand, a quiz like “Are you girlfriend material?” is totally reductionist, simplistic, one-dimensional. On the other, it’s a fun way to start thinking about who you are, what you want in life, and who you want to be.
There was something magical about taking these tests at 17. Our lives hadn’t really started yet and our hearts were full of hope & energy. Why does that optimism and curiosity have to stop as we get older? Getting to know ourselves in later decades is just as interesting and important.
I gathered 10 ways to know yourself better that I’ve found useful in my life lately. It is such a cool thing to set aside time as an adult to hang out with the only person you’ll spend your whole life with: you! Some of these activities are deep & take some quiet time. Others you can zip through in a spare 15 minutes while you’re in between appointments or errands. Take as little or as much time as you need. Pick and choose the ones that speak to you!
+ the enneagram
My in-laws had been telling me for maybe 10 years to take the Enneagram test to see which of nine personality types I belonged to. They had taken it on a retreat with their church and thought it really helped their spiritual journeys. I took it a few months ago and I’m totally addicted! The cool thing about the Enneagram is that it helps define your greatest fear and gives solid advice to mitigate your challenging qualities and enhance your beneficial ones. The first link I have is for a free Enneagram Test. I didn’t like the interpretations from that site, so I’ve included a link to the Enneagram Institute for better descriptions of each type. It’s so relevant and much deeper and more telling than the better known Myers-Briggs personality test. If you end up taking this test, leave your results in the comments below! I’d love to see what you get. Of all ten of these methods, the Enneagram might be my very favorite.
+ the four tendencies
Gretchen Rubin, the author of the very popular Happiness Project, came up with four tendencies for personalities: Upholders, Questioners, Obligers, and Rebels. My close friend loves Gretchen Rubin and finds this type method the most telling and helpful for her. Of course, along with the test Rubin has a book to guide you through applying these types to your life. I liked how it identified your motivations and what spurs you toward chasing goals and making plans in your life. It was a good recommendation and a neat way to figure out how I’m motivated.
+ the five love languages
The Five Love Languages are so popular and have been around since the mid-90s. Though they’re mostly targeted toward couples, the tests and materials are beginning to be targeted toward singles or those in more platonic relationships as well. The Love Languages include: receiving gifts, quality time, words of affirmation, acts of service, and physical touch. Everyone appreciates a different kind of affection, so it’s a good idea to use this test to communicate with the people in your life how you respond best in relationship with others. It was a lot of fun taking this with my husband and really helped me prioritize the kind of affection I like to give. Thankfully, our top two love languages are the same. For couples who clash on their languages, it’s a nice way to start a conversation and a helpful cheat sheet for your partner.
+ the four temperaments
The four temperaments theory of personality typing is as old as the ancient Greek physician Hippocrates. We’re talking 350 BCE old! The four temperaments are: melancholic, phlegmatic, sanguine, and choleric. In days of yore, these types helped guide physicians toward targeted cures for any kind of health condition. Individualized healthcare is coming back in vogue in Western institutions and still applies to traditional Chinese medicine and Ayurvedic medicine. Though we no longer use the four temperaments for healthcare, it’s an interested way to get to know yourself and your motivations a little better. If you do a search for “four temperaments descriptions” you can find a lot of resources to help understand how these apply to personality, fears, ambitions, work styles, and how to do life a little better. And once you start using these words, you’ll start to sound like the medieval surgeon you always hoped to be…
+ signature style
For the last quiz in this lineup, I couldn’t leave out a signature style quiz! If you like crafting the way you look like I do, it’s so fun honing in on a personal style. It really helps make shopping trips more efficient and gives you tips and ideas for a style refresh if you’re looking to change course. This quiz requires a notebook and some time because it’s not auto-graded. I think that’s better to be honest! No simple formula here. A style quiz makes a for a lighthearted internal journey and is a good break from delving deeper into assessments like the Enneagram. I also think it’s healthy when your outside begins to match your inside. Personal appearance makes a difference in how others see you. More importantly, it makes a difference in how you see yourself!
+ cultivate: the head to heart journey
If you want to go a bit deeper, like way, way deeper, try the series of books from the worship collective Cageless Birds called Cultivate. Jonathan and Melissa Helser have a year-round camp and retreat center in the hills of North Carolina where they host the Eighteen Inch Journey (the distance from your head to your heart!). The Eighteen Inch Journey digs into the heart of the relationship between each retreatant and God. Over the period of 60 days, participants worship, journal, create, meditate, and pray their way through their soul to reveal the treasures hidden there. It’s no surprise that anything they create would plumb the depths of your soul (well, they also roast coffee, so less depth there). The Cultivate series of books is like an activity book for adults. There are projects, journaling prompts, reflections, essays, artwork, and poems in each edition. I’ve only purchased Book 1 and am still digging in years later. This requires a Bible, a journal, and a good chunk of time. Worth every moment if you ask me.
+ vision boards
I love a good vision board! At the same time I was working my way through my high school bestie’s favorite personality book, I also created a vision board for a special assignment in school. It mostly outlined the things I love, not where I wanted to go in the future. Whether you create a vision board for your future or your present, it’s a great tool to get to know yourself a little better. Check out my previous post for more info!
+ dates with yourself
We all talk about self-love these days, but did you know that can include dates with yourself too? It’s not just about post-its with motivational words on your mirror. Self love goes a lot deeper. I believe we’re all creative, so things like this aren’t just for the “creatives” in the world who paint, make music, or dance. We all create things out of nothing: families, a work community, school projects. So why should inspiration be reserved for just the arts? The youtube creator, Lavendaire, created a fun video with ideas for artist dates with yourself. It’s a great idea to take a retreat from your normal life to fill your soul and heart with things that inspire you, refresh you, and give you vision. I hope to take one of these for myself soon.
+ core desired feelings
Another way to know yourself is to identify your Core Desired Feelings. I wrote a post all about that and how this concept has had a huge impact on my personal development journey. I think it peels back a lot of layers from typical resolutions and goal setting, and gets you thinking about what you want in life. Such a useful tool!
+ make a mixtape
Ok, when’s the last time you made a mixtape? Like chose the music, put it in just the right order, recorded it, decorated the cassette or cd case, and gifted it to the people in your life? Or made a “road trip mix” for those cross-country travels? Ohmigosh, mixtapes are the best! So why not get back into it? If you have a cd-rom on your computer, that’s a way to go to create one. If you want to get a little cuter and more creative, you can try a USB mixtape like this one from Milktape. Seriously, how cute is that?? It’s fun to really narrow down the songs that speak to your soul and identify the artists you admire. Whether it’s inspiring, uplifting, helps chill you out, or gets you through that last 100 miles of a road trip, a mixtape is essential in the lifelong journey of self-discovery. For the record, my mixtapes always include a LOT of Kylie Minogue. If I dig into my memory box enough, I might be able to find an MD mixtape of Kylie’s music created by my friend Henley in the early 2000s… There’s something about Kylie that just speaks to my soul.
There you are! Ten ways to know yourself a little better. It’s a journey that never really stops. The older you get, the more interesting the results I think. While you may not get the same answers as a Cosmo quiz, it’s time well spent and a journey worth taking. Here’s to you!