Humanity in Print

Humans are incredibly complex beings. Have you ever noticed that?

That’s kind of why I don’t put that much stock into personality tests and love language tests. Some of them are great and all, and amazingly accurate, but they can only be so accurate, namely because of how many opposing characteristics we tend to have. For example, a few years ago, I took a quiz to figure out how I handle confrontation. Like how I handle being reprimanded, or how I handle reprimanding someone else. My primary method for handling it came up being avoidance, but my secondary came up confrontational. So, I’d rather avoid any form of confrontation, but if I don’t have any recourse, I will confront it head on and take it out.

I’m not saying that knowing your Myers-Briggs personality score is pointless, but can it really tell you everything about yourself, and should you really follow its advice all the way? (That’s an aside, not really the point of this post)

I’m an INFP. Emotions are very important to me. In fact, for day-to-day matters, I tend to rely heavily on my emotions for my responses to things. I don’t know if that’s typical for an INFP (I think it is, because of the whole feeling thing), but that’s the way I tend to handle things. But a friend asked me yesterday how would I respond if a particular situation happened to me. In her hypothetical situation, a very close relative had just died and I was standing next to him. Thinking back on my life, I have expiriences that were at least similar to her hypothetical scenario. But my first response to extreme situations has never been an emotional one. In the extreme situations I’m thinking of, it was as if my emotions were suddenly put on hold. Paralyzed. I wasn’t paralyzed, because I could still respond and act normally and do the things that needed to get done, but I didn’t cry or get upset until hours or even days later.

As a writer, it’s incredibly important (and incredibly difficult) to incorporate opposing characteristics into my characters. To create realistic characters, the villains cannot be wholely bad. They must have both good and bad characteristics. The same is true of heroes, they cannot be wholely good. But it goes deeper than that. It’s not just making sure that your characters have good points and bad points. It’s making sure your characters reflect the opposing characteristics that real people have, but making them understandable, not out of character. So if a character either runs away from trouble or confronts it head-on, with no in-between developmental growth phase, it ought to be completely believable.

(I’ve actually been meaning to post this for more than a week, but I forgot about it, and never pressed publish. Oops.)

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