Whether political leanings or my psychological makeup, I am straight down the middle. Average. A fence sitter.
Except I’m not.
And although I don’t doubt the accuracy of tests that find this, they’re all fundamentally flawed.
Back in the early 1990s, the HR department of the company I worked for wanted to perform Myers-Briggs personality tests on their staff. This was back before the internet was prevalent, so the questions were on photocopied sheets, at which point HR would mark them and then look up your personality type from a big book which had details on all of the different combinations.
When I did mine, I came out down the middle for each trait. The lady from HR, and I remember if vividly, handed me her book and said I could choose from any of them as a result.
Many years later and I’ve taken part in various political assessment online (decent ones, not clickbait-y style tests) and these, too, show me down the middle. Not left wing, not right wing, but nicely centre.
But in both cases, I wasn’t. The answers to my questions would often have me leaning more towards one side or another. It’s only when you average these up that I appear down the centre – but in the case of both tests, rarely were any of my scores truly indicating that I was somewhere in the centre. So, if we go back to Myers-Briggs, my answers either showed me as Introverted or Extroverted (in fact, that’s right, as I’m actually an ambivert). Yet, MB will average that out as being somewhere in the middle, which is actually incorrect. Indeed, Myers-Briggs is totally unable to comprehend the concept of an ambivert.
Heck, even something physical such as whether I’m left or right handed is equally confusing. I’m generally right handed but, equally, am definitely left handed for other things – e.g. playing a guitar (this is known as cross-dominance). I can also play racket sports ambidextrously.
The same for my political beliefs – some are left of centre, some are right (don’t worry, none are to the extreme fringes). I don’t regard myself as centrist and don’t identify with it at all, but that’s what, when averaged, I’m seen as.
But, away from the validity of these tests for a moment, it makes life quite difficult. There is no political party for me, and being both introverted and extroverted seems to confuse people no end. What it has allowed me to do, though, is open up my mind to how people behave and why and find a balance within my views and life in general. Many people find it difficult to comprehend, what seems to them, to be an extreme flip from side of something to another.
How, for example, can I be taking part in musical theatre and regard myself an introvert? One minute, I’m running around, laughing and joking and the next I’m sat at the side in quiet thought, by myself. Politically, how can I be calling for a smaller state but then want more resources go towards social resourcing?
And, yet, as hard as it for people to understand, it’s actually the ideal balance. The idea of “going down the middle” is often a compromise but, in my world, I’m picking the best of either, unrestrained by the concept of sticking to one side or another. Yet, it’s not a life I’ve intentionally picked – when I perform a Myers-Briggs test, that “down the middle” result comes out naturally.
Join me… we have cookies. And a mixture of all types too 😉