what type of bread are you? and other identity-shaping questions

As I was scrolling through Facebook looking for a good way to procrastinate on writing this blog, I stumbled across this gem of a meme:

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First off, I literally laughed out loud for like 5 minutes straight. Mostly because I have legit taken a survey that told me what kind of bread I am. (Sourdough, in case you were wondering. Also known as the best kind of bread. I just laughed out loud again because I thought about that one time we brought a loaf of bread to staff development day).

This lovely bread survey is one of many, many Buzzfeed articles I have shamelessly taken in the last five years. Thanks to the wealth of content that is regularly shared by my Facebook friends, I know which hipster trend I should try next (succulents duh) and which Power Ranger I am based on my choice of IKEA furniture (PINK RANGER!!!)

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Memes aside, I think it’s interesting that Buzzfeed quizzes like this have become an endless source of entertainment for millennials around the world. Taking quizzes about our own personalities sounds kind of like something we would do at elementary school sleepovers instead of actually sleeping.

It also reminds me of another type of personality test that seems to have taken the world by storm in the last couple of years – the Myers Briggs test. The first time I took this test was during the 2032 project (HAHA) in 10th grade. I was an INTJ. Nowadays, when I take the test, it tells me that I’m an ENTJ, which I’m not completely sure is accurate, but that’s a post for another day.

Ever since then, I’ve noticed that people are intrigued, to say the least, by tests like these. One time, I was at a restaurant in Houston with my dad, and these two women legit sat there for an hour talking about this test. Not just a casual, “hey what are you” conversation about it, but a deep analysis of what different letter combinations mean and what external and internal manifestations looked like. And this was ALL they talked about, which makes me think that they got together for this very purpose.

Don’t get me wrong – I think the Myers Briggs test is a very interesting topic, and I love love love trying to guess which of its 16 personality types my friends are. But I also think they are a tangible embodiment of the neat little boxes we like fit ourselves into, and that maybe, in a weird way, Buzzfeed quizzes give us the same kind of satisfaction.

Let me explain. When I say we’re in these boxes, it sounds like a bad thing. A box has implications of one-sidedness, or perhaps limitation. Generally, you don’t want to be inside a box, either physically or emotionally. But boxes can also be a nice means of organization. They don’t necessarily have one type of thing in them either – the important thing about these boxes is that it’s easy to throw a bunch of stuff in them so that you don’t accidentally forget anything, and then you can take it places with you. This kind of box isn’t about limitation, but rather, it is a philosophical Pinterest board where you can store stuff you like and identify with.

These personality quizzes, whether created by random Buzzfeed users or real-life psychologists, give us things to put in our boxes so that they might be colorful and insightful and full of life. In a world full of stuff, maybe the worst thing your box can be is empty.

I didn’t really have a point in mind when I started writing this blog, so I guess I’d better wrap it up soon. I’m not really sure where I land on all this. I am the last person who can say that having such a box is a bad thing, because I spend a good deal of time thinking about what is in my box every time I am tasked with writing a bio or ordering myself some new laptop stickers.

Did knowing that I identify most strongly with sourdough bread really contribute to this identity-shaping process? Maybe not, but I do in fact like sourdough bread a lot. And if ever comes a time when I’m not happy with my result, there are many more quizzes to take.

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