We’re all limited, in some way or another, by our biology. Try to fly without any external exosuits or vehicles. You can’t. Your biology, for better or worse, confines you to the life of the unwinged Homo sapien. The biological aspect makes sense, but what might be harder to grasp is that this is also true for certain aspects of your personality and temperament.
Who we are, what we feel and what will ultimately make us happy is, in no small part, determined by our pre-written human nature. On the one hand, knowledge of this nature offers a route to greater happiness and fulfillment in our work, studies and relationships. On the other hand, ignorance of it can lead to the psychological equivalent of jumping off a roof believing you can fly. It opens you up to all kinds of problems, such as wasting money and time on things you mistakenly think will make you happy, choosing the wrong partner or choosing a career you’re unsatisfied in.
Luckily, there are a lot of resources in the world to help you figure this out.
Socrates himself said, “Know thyself, for once we know ourselves, we may learn how to care for ourselves.” Reading the answers great philosophers and scientists gave to this impetus may help you find the right questions to ask. But if you’re looking for a more convenient route, well-established personality tests — and not the Buzzfeed kind — offer a quick and easy lens to understand yourself through.
Want to know whether that girl you’ve been crushing on in lab all semester is right for you? Psychologists at UT have developed the BLIRT personality test which can help you determine who is best for you romantically. The scientifically supported test is free and takes about 15 minutes to complete. It essentially tells you how forthright and communicative with your internal feelings you are compared to the population. And it seems to work — studies showed that couples who are similar in this BLIRT trait of expressiveness are more likely to be satisfied together.
Or maybe it’s your career path that needs some guidance. UT’s Vick Center for Strategic Advising and Career Counseling offers Myers-Briggs personality tests to help you generate career ideas that fit with your personality. After taking the test online, they recommend that you meet with a career counselor and take an interpretation workshop to help you understand the results. It’s a minor time commitment — about 30 minutes — but the quality of the information it gives is not the best.
There are numerous criticisms of the Myers-Briggs personality test because it functions on an oversimplified view of human personality. That’s why the Vick Center suggests students meet with their career counselors and attend the interpretation workshops after taking the test. The test can help provide a foundation though, and sometimes all we need is a place to start our research.
In the end, each of these methods is secondary to your own self-introspection.
If you don’t know what makes you truly happy, don’t panic — there’s a guide. Self-knowledge about what partner, career and lifestyle you are likely to enjoy is the best possible guide for your future actions. And with all the resources at your disposal, knowing yourself can be as easy as a 15-minute personality test.
Zaher is a government and European sophomore from Hudson. Follow him on Twitter @tarek_zaher.