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Js and Ps

It's easier to prepare for a trip when you know if you are a "P" or a "J". Jungian Personality Typology, created by Carl Jung, was first published in 1921. Personality theorists have developed numerous self-assessments helping people understand their preferences and perceptions. I took the most popular version of this assessment, the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, when I was in graduate school and it scarred me. All I remember was being told I was an extrovert. At that time, it felt like a scarlet letter, like wearing a big E on my chest to let everyone know I was really a big M (mouth). I couldn't even remember the other three letters that made up my type or what they stood for.

Now that I work in career development I've researched the theory more in depth and better understand how MBTI can be used to help people understand themselves and understand others. Knowing your preferences isn't a way out of a situation. It's really a way to understand how people are different and to accept those differences. All in all, there are sixteen personality combinations. I am an ENFJ. This means I am an extrovert, intuitive, feeling and judging. I won't bore you with the specifics of my type but I will focus on that last letter, J. The last letter determines how you perceive external life. "Js" are not judgmental. They see the world in an organized fashion. "Js" like things to be settled and organized. "Js" like check lists and to-do lists. "Js" make a list just to feel satisfied in crossing things off of it. They carry planners with color coded notes and alphabetize their books and recipes. They shop at Staples and the Container Store. They read Real Simple. They write and send their Christmas letters in October.

Andy took the test in graduate school, but like me, doesn't remember his type. I know enough about personality type now to guess that Andy is an ENTP. Again, I won't go into detail about those first three letters but I'll tell you about Andy the "P". Perceivers like to adapt to their environment rather than control it. They appear flexible and open and see the fun in work and play. "Ps" like spontaneity and never plan ahead. "Ps" write notes on their hands only to wash it off before writing it down. "Ps" are the kid in school whose dog ate his homework. They shop at flea markets and yard sales, excited by not knowing what they may find that they didn't even know they wanted. They write their Christmas letters on Christmas eve and pay big bucks to overnight them. They've thought about subscribing to magazines but just can't get around to doing it.

Back to packing. You can guess how this goes for me and Andy. Prior to MBTI, the days leading up to a big trip were days of anger and panic for me. I would try, painfully, to get Andy to talk to me about trip details. I created the binder with the e-ticket reservation numbers, phone numbers and Mapquest directions. I packed three nights in advance, mentally drafting how everything would fit before carefully placing each item, with care, into my suitcase. I wrapped all of my toiletries in sealable baggies, making sure the yellow-and-green-make-blue seal was visible.

I, of course, took on the same responsibilities when Caroline was born. Counting out the proper number of diapers, making sure we had bottled water, sippy cups, wipes, lovies and the pack'n play. I took the day off the day of the trip, packed everything in the car and waited. I waited while Andy was 1/2 hour late from work because he had to "make a quick stop" to run an errand. I waited while he sent an email or made a phone call. I waited while he stuffed his clothes into a backpack, topping the sweaters and socks off with a glass bottle of cologne and his beard trimmer. I waited while he had to turn the car around because he left a letter on top of the car and it flew off down the road. I waited, Caroline screaming in the car seat, while he picked up his dry cleaning or stopped at CVS to buy a tooth brush because he forgot his at home.

I cried while we drove 80 mph to the airport. I sweated while we ran to the terminal, car seat and kid sliding off of my hip. And each and every time, he'd say, "No big deal. We're ok. We're on time. We'll get there. Calm down." And every time we did get there and we did make it. Damn him.

Since I've taken the MBTI and understand my type and can predict Andy's, I still do all of my packing in advance. I still pack all of Caroline's stuff and put it all in the car. I still wait. Andy is still late. He packs at the last minute and drives 80 because we've left 1/2 hour late. Now, I pack him a toothbrush, just in case he needs it. I don't mind so much that his clothes smell like man perfume because the glass jar tipped over in his backpack. And I tell him the flight leaves at 2 when it really leaves at 4. It's good to be a "J".


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