In high school, they made us take a Meyers-Briggs Personality Test our senior year. Usually, the test is used to reflect on an individual's behavior and preferences by boiling everything down into a basic four-letter personality type. Almost like a zodiac symbol, each type has its own set of special skills and traits that can be used to decide things like future employment, or team dynamics. Three years later, I was in college, and I found myself sitting in a lecture hall, staring down at the test all over again. When I got my results, I saw a huge change in one category where I went from "introvert" to "extrovert."
My adolescence was the definition of introversion. I was perfectly fine staying in my room reading 1000-page novels and listening to records. On weekends, my mother always pushed me to "go out" and "have some fun." But in my eyes, school was enough socializing for me. If I spent eight hours a day talking to people in class, why would need to spend my free time with them, too? I even picked my college specifically because the people who usually go there are more studious than social.
But when I reexamine my habits, the change makes sense. I go to Smith College, which has a very different living situation than other colleges. We live in "houses" (not dorms) which have their own specific community and culture. Within five minutes of moving into my new room at school, I was overwhelmed by culture of friendliness. Everyone was ridiculously nice to me and ready to welcome me into a new home. On top of that, my life at school is designed for socializng. I live with my best friend, eat all of my meals at a dining hall table with my housemates, and participate in five separate student organizations.
So how did I go from "I" to "E"? According to my professor, changes should be expected, but most changes happen because a person is usually in the middle of two categories--an "introverted extrovert" or an "extroverted introvert." But, as the psychology student in me always does, I decided to turn to the science behind the Meyers-Briggs.
The test itself was developed because of Carl Jung (who is probably known best for his work under the most famous psychologist of all time, Sigmund Freud). He had a theory about psychological type, which states that human behavior can be organized and easily interpreted. The creators of the test, two women named Isabel Briggs Meyer and Katherine Briggs, wanted to make the type-theory more accessible to the mainstream.
But can our behaviors change? According to some psychologists, it can. As our environments and ways of thinking change, our behavior and preferences can change. So, for me, I can become an extrovert when I am in a specific environment (like college) because my brain changed in order to adapt to the new routine and setting. This theory, which is really all about how our brain adapts and changes our ways of thinking, is pretty solid--to me, at least. It explains not only my personal change but also how I instantly revert to my old ways once I'm back home.
What does this all matter? First, our personalities, while hugely factored by genetics and biology, can change with us as we enter into new environments that challenge our ways of behavior. On top of that, we learn that we aren't trapped in certain personality types. So if you're about to experience a huge change in your life, like going to college or starting a new job, just remember that you may change, but it will only be for the better.