How to escape a type dilemma

Conventionally, a type dilemma is uncertainty about what type you are. But I think it can be applied more broadly to any kind of type-related anxiety: a kind of obsession with typology-related activities, such as typing, theorizing about type, or not being able to think about anything but type. Following this method should just about guarantee that your type dilemma will be permanently resolved. And yet, I think you might find the answer disappointing.

The trick is to leave the magic behind. Typology is all about mental magic, and that you find yourself unable to type yourself is not your fault, but rather an intentional fault in its design. It uses just the right combination of certainty and ambiguity to make you think that 1) “There’s a lot to typology that I have yet to unearth” (as a result of how certain typology presents itself to be) and 2) “I see myself here, but if I think about it a little more, can’t I also be there?” (as a result of how ambiguous typology really is). The thing is, we never really have a check on exactly how deep or abstract any of it is, and depending on what layer of depth we want to prescribe to it, we get completely different answers.

And what makes it so difficult to overcome is how people—who are just as engrossed in typology as you are—are so eager to tell you that it’s your fault rather than the system’s design. They’re believers, just like you, of the idea that there’s more to typology than we understand and that we must dig deeper for the right answers. It’s an interesting phenomenon where we’re made to let go of our worldliness and are taken captive by insistence and the magic it urges you to pick up.

Unfortunately, leaving the magic behind can be much more difficult than picking it up. It’s why we have people circling typology for years and years without any significant breakthrough—whether it’s in the imagined depth of typology or in letting go of it. Many of us want to be enchanted by it. It’s tempting, in some right, to grab hold of the certainty typology wants you to believe in and to run away with its promise without looking back. But to ease that temptation, we should believe in the horror of that certainty. To be honest, I think anybody who faces the crisis of feeling as though they are trapped in a typology crisis has, to some extent, understood some of that horror. It’s the understanding that there is something both fundamentally futile about searching for your true type and that there is something inherently messed up about what typology is trying to do.

Horror isn’t a necessary step by any means, but I think it’s an easy way to start letting go. Do we really want to see people we know through the lenses of 20th century psychologists guessing their way through understanding the brain? Are we really to believe that something wholly transcendental about personailty exists at the core of this personality categorization system? These are the kind of questions we should return to as we examine typology’s design. What we should arrive at the end of it is an understanding of just how mundane all of it is, and how silly we were to be wrapped up in the middle of it. I don’t expect you to already be receptive to that idea, but this should give you an idea of where you will end up if you ask yourself questions and probe into typology not only as how it presents itself but also how it doesn’t present itself. It’s exercise in reading between and past the lines, arriving at a conclusion that you’ll find so much more satisfactory than what you may think in the midst of your type dilemma.