It takes a lot of energy to be someone you're not.


When you want to be someone different.

Several years ago, I joined an Enneagram workshop. If you’re not familiar with the Enneagram, it’s essentially a personality test. As the workshop began, I did the test, but the results were wrong. I did it again. Still wrong. 

You see, I wanted to be a #3 – The Achiever because The Achiever is success-oriented and suited to the corporate world. I had invested over 20 years in the corporate world, so I’d better be a friggin’ Achiever. I tried to game the test several times, but I could not get it to spit out Achiever.

Gaming the Personality Tests

This wasn’t the first time I tried to game a personality test. I don’t know how many times I’ve taken the Myers-Briggs in an attempt to change my INFJ to anything that started with an E. (ie. changing from being an Introvert to an Extrovert).

Can you relate to this? Have you ever been disappointed in the results of a personality test and tried to change them?

Stress - A definition.

As I sat with my devastating Enneagram news, I recalled a definition of stress I’d recently heard: Stress is the gap between ‘what is’ and ‘what you want’.

If all my life, I’d been trying to be someone I’m not, it helped explain the constant stress in my life. It also offered a clue to my constant exhaustion.

Still, I did not really accept my “diagnosis” for a really long time.

It takes a lot of energy to be someone you're not.

Yet, armed with this information, I started to notice things. For example, meetings were always super stressful for me because I am not good at speaking up in meetings. But, I feel like I should be good at it. Another “stress-gap”. I worked very long hours to make up for this gap. 

In fact, I noticed I spent a lot of time and energy making up for my perceived weaknesses. For me, this led to burn out.

Is this you?

Are you expending a lot of energy trying to be someone you’re not? What if you could be who you are? What would that be like? Do you worry that you’d have to blow up your life to do that? 

I kind of blew up my life in the quest to be myself and do meaningful work. I’m here to tell you that you don’t have to do it the clumsy way I did it. I’m beginning to think that might be my main message – You don’t have to blow up your life to get what you want. You can be authentically  you and mindfully make changes that get you on your path.

It’s something to think about.

P.S. As an expert personality-test-taker, I have taken ALL the personality tests (here’s a collection of the ones recommended by coaches, if you’re interested). 

It takes a lot of energy to be someone you’re not.