quarantine, the new personality test

I study communication. While there are many communication theories, I’m zooming in on Uncertainty Reduction Theory today. Essentially… we, as humans, aim to reduce our uncertainty by gaining information. (Yes, it’s typically in the frame of human communication and new people, but bear with me here.)

Right now, gaining information can seem to only increase our uncertainty. When will the pandemic come to a close? Will life return to normal? Am I a carrier? Will my trip to the grocery store make me sick? How long until I can hug my friends? The answer is simple: we really don’t know. Watching/reading/listening to the news only helps so much. We still have to live in uncertainty. And it’s uncomfortable.

I really like to take personality tests. I like to learn about myself. I think back on when I took the StrengthsFinder test or learned about my enneagram number (2w3, though I might be 3w2… I’m right in the middle!) and how I was fascinated by my results and what that meant about who I am and how I live my life, communicate, connect with others, thrive, etc. (Oh, and the love languages test truly changed the game for me in my personal relationships. The list goes on.)

Then I had this thought. This time — COVID19 + quarantine + social distancing — is like a personality test. What can we learn in this time of chaos, uncertainty, and isolation? What will we become aware of that we previously had not even thought about? Will what we learn allow us to elevate and change?

Every next level of your life will require a different version of you.


I think about this quote a lot. I think about this when I’m going through an uncomfortable change. When I’m doing something that I know is going to be good… but doesn’t feel so good right now, or takes a lot of work, or even makes me sad at the time. We’re learning, slowly but surely, how to advance to the next level of our lives.

I tell my Speech 101 students that the goal of their first speech is not to be perfect. When they give their first speech, they get feedback from their peers and from me that illuminates what they did — both good and bad. I say, “We have to become aware of our natural tendencies.”

Only when we become aware of our natural tendencies can we begin to make changes — to understand where we are, where we’re headed, and how we can make the adjustments to improve.

We take personality tests because we like to reduce uncertainty about ourselves. We’re gaining information in a way that seems easy — answer a few simple questions and unravel those answers.

We like to take the easy way. We don’t like to be uncomfortable.

Right now, in the chaos & uncertainty, we have an opportunity to use this time as a springboard to our next level. We need to become aware of our natural tendencies — who we are, why we do what we do, and what we require to live our best lives — and understand how to get better.

I asked my friends and followers what they had learned about themselves during quarantine. I stated that I discovered I have some sort of springtime allergies (who knew?!) when in reality, I feel that I’ve learned many things. Others reported they learned that they lack hobbies, motivation, or dedication to their current job or schoolwork. Others stated their need/want for people and human interaction, learning about their own tendency towards intro- or extroversion. We’re all learning different things every day.

Now’s the time when it gets uncomfortable. It’s time to figure out what our next level is and how we can get there. We can’t reduce our uncertainty about some things in this world — but we can create and maintain a deeper level of understanding within ourselves.

What are you learning about yourself? What’s your next level?

(Oh… and what’s your enneagram number?)

PHOTO: Porch Portrait Project by Erica Lynn Photography

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