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I’m an Enigma Wrapped in a Mystery, Wrapped in Comfortable Mom Pants

The first time I took a Myers-Briggs test was at my first job, almost 20 years ago.  I was 23 years old, working 80+ hours a week as an Assistant Media Planner at a big ad agency.  Our Media Director had just returned from some management training session and was very enthusiastic about us all gaining a better of understanding of how to work with each other based on our personality types.

This was going to be interesting.

My direct manager was a professional/executive type by day, but at night he would transform full goth, put on vampire teeth and go to rave bars, often coming in the next morning with traces of eyeliner and drinking near-lethal amounts of coffee to survive the rest of the day.

The manager above him was straight out of an episode of Mad Men (in the misogynist, creepy way, not the handsome, smooth-talking way.)   He used to go on and on about the ‘good ole days’ when he would buy all the ‘advertising bunnies’ (women) on his team bunny slippers for Christmas.  (Ah, ha, ha…so funny and clever! How is it that you’re in the media department and one of the creative teams hasn’t snatched your right up!)

The rest of the department was just as unique, but all fun, smart, young and hard working.  I thought we were all working together just fine (in fact, half of the people were sleeping with each other,) but the test was part of a half day off-site, and anything that gave me a break from a 6 inch stack of insertion orders and media flow charts sounded like a great idea.

Back then, way before internet quizzes, we had to take our test on real paper and tabulate our quiz results by hand, which means the definition of my personality was likely thrown off because I paid more attention to the donuts someone brought for our snack instead of my bubble chart.  In the end, the big exciting result was that I was an ISFJ.

According to the definitions now available online, an ISFJ sounds like a pretty nice, hard working personality type. But I shit you not, the definition on the sheet my boss handed out that day basically summed up my personality as a ‘care-taker’ who would likely marry someone with money or drug problems to try to be able to try to fix them.  It also said that I was suited to be a counselor or secretary, but definitely not a management position.  Those are great professions, but not necessarily great news for someone busting her ass 80 hours a week to move up the corporate ladder.

Was I really just an advertising bunny?

Whose idea was this stupid test?

Despite my test results that day, I did successfully move up the corporate ladder and took the test again right before I left my last job, 10 years ago.  It still said I was an ISFJ, but this time the definition said that ISFJ’s make great managers.

What the whaaa?

So yesterday I took two different versions of the test again, and got two different results: one vote for ISFJ again and one vote for ISFP. As I read through the descriptions for both, half of the traits were right on and half were totally not me.  The results are starting to feel more like reading a horoscope than anything that’s going to help guide my career search.

I’m having flashbacks to high school when a teacher had us take a personality test to help us focus on what our major should be in college.  I reaaallllyyy wanted to be a fashion designer but the result from the test was ‘Fashion Merchandising’ which eventually lead me to pursue a more rational marketing degree.

A 20 minute test in a high school may have altered the entire course of my entire life.

Maybe I’m supposed to be a world-famous fashion designer!

Of course, based on my current outfit of Old Navy stretch cotton pieces that I dug out of the laundry basket this morning, maybe that test really did know what it was talking about.



Once upon a time, Susanne Kerns was a Senior Account Director at an advertising agency working for two of the top brands in the world. Nine years ago she traded in her corporate life for a life as a stay at home mom, raising two of the best kids in the world. She started her blog, The Dusty Parachute as a way to dust off her online advertising skills and begin her job search. Instead, she now uses it as a way to spend lots of time on the computer so her kids think that mommy has a job.

Susanne’s essays have been featured in Scary Mommy, BonBon Break and Redbook and she is also a contributor in some awesome books you can read about here!

You can follow her on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

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17 thoughts to “I’m an Enigma Wrapped in a Mystery, Wrapped in Comfortable Mom Pants”

  1. I saw your post in Jenn Rian’s group about the tests and had to come read. Hilarious! I’m fascinated by these things, and have found them fairly true to my nature. I was just thinking about the guidance I was given as a teenager about career paths, I went a completely different direction and don’t regret a minute of it. 🙂

    1. I’m so glad you came by to visit. I know, I can’t believe that I took that darn high school test so seriously. I’ll have to tell my kids to not always listen to their teachers. 🙂

  2. First, you need to write a memoir about that job. Haha. I love these tests. So funny how the “interpretation” has changed over time. I remember the first career test I took in high school said I should go into forestry. But, as a girl from Queens, that seemed untenable.

  3. My test results are always really consistent, although I’ve become more of a caretaker over the years. I’ve been freelancing for ten years, and am now trying to figure out what to do next. Might be headed back into the “regular” work force. Not an easy decision!

  4. These tests make me feel like I have multiple personality disorder. Every time I take them I seem to get different result. Maybe my mood has an affect. Or what I ate that morning! LOLOL The Facebook Buzzfeed quizzes drive me batty too! Enjoyed this post!

  5. I got different results when I retook too–but a year had passed. I need to take again soon and see how all measures up. Love the classy bunny slippers 😉

  6. I took “Strengths Finder” recently and was much more impressed with the accuracy. Even though it takes your top five strengths, the paragraphs it spits out are also influenced by other answers. So it ends up being creepily accurate.

  7. Hilarious! I felt as if maybe you were talking directly to me about the current day internet quizzes – why the hell can’t I help myself with taking a BuzzFeed quiz off of Facebook – what exactly am I looking for?! Evidently I am Dumbledore, who should live in Rhode Island, with my white aura and on the set of How I met your Mother. Helpful stuff. I LOVE what you are doing – keep it up:)

  8. So funny! I am trying to remember my M-B. I only remember it said I was an ‘E’ and I just thought… NFW am I an extrovert. Only to discover my then-bf now husband simply felt vindicated in his opinion! Oh, and that old high school test, told me to join the military… ha! Could you get any more different from advertising?! Funny how things work out!

    1. Well, I think you have figured it all out better than anyone I know. I just love reading about your family and your adventures.

  9. We are here! We are here! We are HEEEERRRRREEEEE! This was SUCH a light-bulb/duh moment for me. It was surprised yet it all made sense after reading ur lite-bio. You are a GREAT writer and I can’t wait to “follow and share” your schtick with my sisters-in-law and close friends. SO PROUD OF YOU! (When you go nation-wide we get to say “Hey! We drank with her!” “….my kid babysat for her!” “…we traded kids books!” “…read her FIRST blog!” etc etc etc.

    1. You are so sweet! I wanted to spread the word with friends who I know have been in the same boat and could use a good giggle at my expense.

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