Entries for month: November 2011

20-Somethings and Type

My kids and their friends are in their mid-20’s now, and I watch them with mixed feelings. On the one hand, I envy them because they are attractive and strong and they know it, and their lives are filled with discovery, excitement, and anticipation.

On the other hand, I feel sorry for them. I sit in the home that I love, with the spouse that I love, and go to a job that I love, while they are anxiously looking for all of those things. Before they find their “big three,” (career, spouse and home) most of them have to go through an assortment of jobs that don’t fit, potential partners that disappoint, and homes that don’t feel like home.

I’ve noticed something though, and it’s about those jobs-that-don’t-fit and their types. I’ve noticed that even when they are doing jobs that don’t use the talents of their types, they still find ways to exercise those talents. It appears that you can’t keep type from expressing itself, even if it’s not getting paid to do so.

For example, the talents of an ESFJ include organizing people around projects that help people, but the first job my ESFJ son Paul had was financial auditor. He worked with numbers, not people, and when an audit was finished, he usually had to tell people they were doing something wrong.

At the same time, however, he was also busy organizing the people in his company to do volunteer work in the community, play on sports teams, and go on hiking adventures in scenic places. 

The talents of an ISTP include the skillful handling of tools and weapons, but the first job my son’s ISTP friend Chris had was stocking a warehouse. On his days off, however, he worked for a contractor, learning how to paint, plaster and lay bricks, and then went home to play war games on his computer.

The talents of an INFP include helping people in creative ways to understand themselves and realize their potential. But the first job that my daughter’s INFP friend Rachel had was to edit proposals for a large consulting firm, a job that was detailed and rule bound, and didn’t allow for exploring human potential.

In her spare time though, Rachel was reading voraciously and discussing ideas about literature. She was also organizing unusual theme parties for her friends, like a New Orleans Carnival, or making creative birthday cards for them that captured their special talents, as well as the most significant moments in their relationship with her.

The talents of an ISFJ include taking care of people’s physical and emotional needs, but the first job that my ISFJ daughter Perrin had was just pushing paper in an office and watching her boss publicly humiliate the other employees.

In her private life though, she was usually taking care of people’s emotional needs with empathy, support and frequent praise, and their physical needs with home-cooked gourmet food for meals, birthdays, wedding showers, parties, picnics, and tailgating.

Some day these kids are going to find a way to incorporate their talents into their occupations and not just their hobbies. It can take some time though, because even though they may know what they want to do in their free time, finding a way to do it for money can involve a lot of trial and error, and let’s face it, some things just require more maturity. 

In the meantime, I get a kick out of watching how their types manage to emerge, even when they can’t get out at work. So many things are uncertain for these kids, but the talents of their type, I’m beginning to realize, are not among the uncertainties. You can bank on them.


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