Two years ago, I took the Big Five Aspects Scale personality test.
I’ve been struggling with personality issues since adolescence.
The problem? There was a mismatch between my existing talents and my ambitions in life.
I read self-help books to get to the bottom of my personality problem, but none addressed my particular issues. Maybe I found the wrong books; I don’t know.
At one point, I even dealt with mental burnout. It culminated in me taking the SSRI drug Sertraline (Zoloft) for nine months. I didn’t like it.
I had to find a different approach.
Taking the Big Five Aspects Scale Test
What did I learn?
I’m exceptionally high in Openness to Experience (Openness and Intellect) and moderately low in Conscientiousness (Orderliness and Industriousness).
And sure enough: all my talents are typical for people high in Openness. No surprise there, perhaps.
However, I also realised that my ambitions in life depend on being high in Conscientiousness—which I’m not.
So, Openness to Experience is in my wheelhouse.
The weird thing is that I thought I would be high in Conscientiousness.
Suppressing Openness to Experience
I’ve always admired people exceptionally high in Conscientiousness. They’ve been my role models.
Have I been admiring these people because they demonstrate qualities that I lack? And has this admiration somehow given me standards that I can’t live up to?
Being very low in Volatility and Enthusiasm has allowed me to pretend to be high in Conscientiousness well enough to fool even myself.
Conversely, I’ve simultaneously been suppressing my Openness talents.
This “internal identity battle” between my great but repressed Openness traits and my limiting but idolised Conscientiousness traits have been causing me severe problems for decades.
Scary—but also good to realise.
How I Changed My Life Accordingly
So, how did identifying my strengths and weaknesses via the Big Five Aspects identity test help me take action?
1. I’ve accepted being moderately low in Conscientiousness.
Lowering my expectations to a more reasonable level allows me easier wins. And with easier wins, I feel better about raising the bar ever so slightly.
2. I’m no longer idolising people high in Conscientiousness.
I’ve realised that people high in Conscientiousness need me just as much as I need them. Instead of me trying to become “one of them,” we could find ways to cooperate.
3. I’ve shifted my ideals to Openness to Experience.
I’ve started to consider myself a curious and creative person. I’m slowly getting used to such ideas, but it makes me feel better about myself.