By William Jiang, MLS
As an educator and librarian, I have often heard the question, “What should I do with my life?” To know what to do, one should, as Plato, the ancient Greek philosopher said to “Know thyself.” If you do not know yourself in terms of who you are or in terms of personality then talk to friends and family, think about your own personal history, as well as your strengths and weaknesses, as well as upcoming opportunities such as free education for full-time students at CUNY and SUNY, and threats, such as badly controlled mental, social, or economic issues.
After one does all that thinking, maybe with help, one can take a self-test that can give you even more guidance: the Myers–Briggs. Although not a perfect tool, it can be helpful to help guide an educational and career path. When tested on the Myers-Briggs, everybody scores somewhere on the following scales of extraversion/introversion, sensing/intuition and thinking/feeling, judging/perception.
So, what? If you are an extrovert and you want to be a librarian because you respect learning, this may be a problem. Extroverts draw power from socializing and other people. Librarians generally need a quiet environment to allow their patrons to do their research and study. Being a librarian for someone who scores high on extroversion is a clear mismatch for basic lifestyle.
On the other hand, if someone is a INTPs (Introverted Intuitive Thinking Perceptive) type you may make an absolutely great mathematician. Why? Working at a high level of math, you need to spend many disciplined hours alone studying, memorizing, and conceptualizing abstract concepts (introversion, Perceptive, Thinking, Intuitive).
The Myers–Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is an introspective self-report questionnaire claiming to indicate psychological preferences in how people perceive the world around them and make decisions.
The MBTI was constructed by Katharine Cook Briggs and her daughter Isabel Briggs Myers. It is based on the typological theory proposed by Carl Jung, who had speculated that there are four principal psychological functions by which humans experience the world—sensation, intuition, feeling, and thinking—and that one of these four functions is dominant for a person most of the time. The MBTI was constructed for normal populations and emphasizes the value of naturally occurring differences. “The underlying assumption of the MBTI is that we all have specific preferences in the way we construe our experiences, and these preferences underlie our interests, needs, values, and motivation,” Kaplan and Saccuzzo’s Psychological Testing: Principles, Applications, and Issues (7 ed. 2009).
One can test oneself for free. Just Google “Myers–Briggs test” and maybe learn something about yourself. The Myers-Briggs can be a useful tool for education, but it is just a tool and it is imperfect. You are your own best captain.
Note: William Jiang, MLS is the Author of 63 books, including the bestselling books “Guide to Natural Mental Health, 3rd ed” and his critically-acclaimed autobiography “A Schizophrenic Will: A Story of Madness, A Story of Hope”. You can see a selection of his books about mental and physical health nicely laid out on his blog at http://www.mentalhealthbooks.net or check out his Facebook at Mental Health Books.NET