I'm skeptical about psychological testing. Tests seem to reduce complex beings to a spot on a grid. It's not psychology itself that I take issue with, just testing. Tests I've taken seem to capture legitimate parts of me, but only parts. And with that spotlight on my various characteristics, I question how those incompatible aspects can be found in the same person.
Recently, a friend sent me a link to right brain-left brain test. Okay, this isn't a serious scientific inquiry, only an internet time-waster. But I wasted my time and came up a whopping 71% right-brained and 29% left-brained. I expected to be identified as fairly right-brained, but that's too skewed. I don't buy it. Sure, I'm a creative, intuitive person. All writers are. Writing requires strong intuitive streaks. We have to trust that missing story sections will emerge when they're needed, and that, in time, we'll understand why we feel compelled to put in elements that seem to serve no purpose now.
But some aspects of writing are also left-brained. We must test whether a story hangs together, and polishing and proofing a manuscript are distinctly left-brained. I know I'm more balanced than that test indicated. If I were truly that right-brained, even I would question how I'd be capable of arriving at unknown destinations, which I do all the time. Although I have to admit I am incapable of reading a map.
That over-analyzing is what I do when I encounter results I can't explain. I look at one result and say, "See, that fits." Then I study another conclusion and object with "But see, that doesn't."
Completely at odds with that is another psychological system I came across. My friend, romance writer Laurie Schnebly, published Believable Characters: Creating with Enneagrams. I'd heard of enneagrams, but wasn't too familiar with them. Laurie's book has helped me to work out two characters I had been wrestling unsuccessfully with. Mostly, though, I've been using it to understand real people who perplex me, as well as applying it to myself. After some denial, I have to admit to being a #1…a perfectionist.
The thing is, I can't make that jibe with being so right-brained that it's a wonder I learned to read. It's true, though…sometimes. I can be picky, picky, picky. Maybe this is an apples and oranges thing, but to me, perfectionism doesn't equate to being strongly right-brained.
If my understanding of the enneagram system is correct, every type also has "wings," and mine are "adventurer" and "romantic," and both of which seem more right-brained-oriented. But frankly, I don't find either of those personality types compatible with perfectionism. Maybe I simply don't understand it
I'm also a writing instructor, surely a more left-brained activity. My job requires me to zero in on what's wrong with students' WIPs and finely critiquing their skill levels. While I sometimes make the same intuitive leaps with their projects as I do with my own, much of my work as a teacher demands a deliberate, logical approach.
I try to rid my classes of the pickiness I struggle with in my own life. New writers can't learn to fly if their nasty inner critics keep insisting their wings don't work. Although I tell them that their eventual manuscripts will have to be pristine in detail, I insist they shouldn't worry about perfect grammar and spelling while we're working on improving their writing and their books.
I mean it, too, and that's not especially perfectionistic. But when some take it so far that it looks like they had a duck transcribe their assignments, I want to shout, "Hey, run the spellcheck!" and that's sure a sign of my inner perfectionist emerging.
Maybe we're all just wonderfully textured individuals, with lots of mismatched compartments that make us glow with all the colors of a well-faceted diamond. Or maybe it's just me, and I'm nuts. Surely they have a test for that.