The Tree I Be

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALater this month I have a retreat with a group of ladies who serve on a board with me. We’re supposed to take a personality quiz beforehand and bring the results with us.

I love these things. I don’t know why. I take them and then read over the results and think “yup, that about sums it up,” and then I wonder if other results might also sound exactly like me, depending upon my mood, and if I’ve skewed the test by just answering stuff the way I want to be rather than the way I am. Then I forget what I was doing and go do something else. Eventually I forget what the results were altogether.

Never mind using these test results to make me a better person. I can never remember if I’m an ENTP, or Vermillion/Periwinkle, or an aspen versus a douglas fir, Yoda or Princes Leah, or what any of it means.

I do know I’m a Virgo, but I think I’m supposed to be a Leo who was too lazy to be born on time. Leo’s horoscopes are always the most interesting. Virgo is supposed to be systematically checking stuff off her list, earthy and patient.

Oh yeah. That Virgo thing. That’s totally me. Except when it isn’t. Which is always.

Maybe a better person would want to be a Virgo. Meanwhile, here’s the Leo horoscope, telling me to go out there and tell people what to do, which sounds way more like what I’m feeling today. So I’m just going to go with Leo.

Once I worked for someone who also loved personality tests, and had her whole staff take one where the results were expressed in colors. We were supposed to put our pie charts of color outside our office doors so everyone could see what our predominant traits were. I think this was supposed to help us get along better.

It turns out I was the only one on a staff of twenty-three or so women with my particular combination of colors. My pie chart didn’t help people relate to me any better. In fact, it made me the subject of fascination, and some derision.

I’d hear “oh, now that makes sense,” and “aren’t you guys supposed to be fun?”

I was rather proud of my colors. Of course I was different. In fact, they were kind of lucky there weren’t more of me. We’d be unstoppable. How did I accomplish anything around here at all with these people who just talk about how they feel all the time? Who just duck and cover when they see me coming because they think I’m going to throw shoes?

That only happened once for crying out loud.

There was one woman in particular who had been absent for the color testing. To say this woman and I didn’t get along was to say the Hatfields and McCoys had a bit of a falling out. We had developed one of those unhealthy patterns in our working relationship wherein she ran around talking about what a Bossy McBossy I was and I relaxed about it by visualizing eighteen different ways of setting her hair on fire.

It turned out her pie chart looked just like mine.

This made me unreasonably mad. She can’t be Red/Yellow, I’M the Red/Yellow. She has to pick something else.

There are only four colors in this test, they told me, and a limited number of combinations. You don’t have exclusive rights to a set of colors.

I’m not sure when I got so possessive. All I knew is suddenly I wanted ALL THE COLORS. They were all MINE.

Except white. That’s the color of clouds. Dandelion fluff. Flags of surrender. Milquetoast.

Bleh. You could keep the white.

There was a lot of white in that office, as it turns out. The whites may have been offended by my disdain but they didn’t say anything. Whites generally wouldn’t. They learned to stay out of my way and that of Miss Hair-On-Fire. Out of the way any potential shoe throwing.

So we have this retreat thing coming up, where I’m supposed to buy a $25 book and take a test to find out what my strengths are, except I’ve already done this exact test. I think a couple of times, in fact.

None of my strengths appear to be finding where I put the damn book, apparently, or remembering what the test said my strengths are. Being frugal is a strength of mine, though, and I’m pretty motivated to not spend the $25 to buy the same book again so I can take the test.

Finding stuff, or at least remembering where he put stuff, is one of Mike’s strengths, so he was able to locate his copy of the book for me.

Patience is a strength of his too, so he quietly suggested a means of recovering my test results online, after my yelling at my laptop wasn’t having the desired effect.

So, now I have my list of strengths and I get to participate in this retreat where we go around the room and talk about how to relate better to each other.

There’s nobody whose hair I want to set on fire in this group so it should be a rather pleasant conversation.

I’ll leave my shoes in the other room.


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  1. Hilarious post, Beth! I enjoy the personality tests too, on my own. But at work? I hate that kind of getting-to-understand-each-other-better stuff. It feels like I\’m wasting time I could be using to get things done! Does that make me score white?

    1. Thanks Deborah. Yes, the workplace personality test can be kind of distracting – sort of like a land mind can be \”kind of\” something you want to avoid if you can.

      Actually, you sound more like a red. White is more peace-oriented/anti-conflict. It sounds good in theory, but there\’s a whole lot of getting-to-know-you involved, which is a white thing, too. Reds are results oriented and cut to the chase. It truly takes all kinds, though. Some of us are just less Kum Ba Yah about it, I guess.