Doctor SpinCreativityLife DesignI Took a Personality Test and Failed Miserably

I Took a Personality Test and Failed Miserably

I'm done being conscientious and ready to embrace openness.

Two years ago, I took the Big Five Aspects Scale personality test.

I’ve been struggling with personality issues since adolescence.

The problem? There was a mismatch between my existing talents and my ambitions in life.

I read self-help books to get to the bottom of my personality problem, but none addressed my particular issues. Maybe I found the wrong books; I don’t know.

At one point, I even dealt with mental burnout. I took the SSRI drug Sertraline (Zoloft) for nine months. (Result? I didn’t like it.)

I had to find a different approach.

Table of Contents

    Taking the Big Five Aspects Scale Test

    Two years ago, I decided to take the most researched and well-documented personality test, the Big Five Aspects Scale. 1See my test results here: The Identity Project: My Big Five Aspects Scale Test Results.

    What did I learn?

    I’m exceptionally high in Openness to Experience (Openness and Intellect) and moderately low in Conscientiousness (Orderliness and Industriousness).

    And sure enough: all my talents are typical for people high in Openness. No surprise there, perhaps.

    However, I also realised that my ambitions in life depend on being high in Conscientiousness — which I’m not.

    So, Openness to Experience is in my wheelhouse.
    Conscientiousness isn’t.

    The weird thing is that I thought I would be high in Conscientiousness.

    Suppressing Openness to Experience

    I’ve always admired people exceptionally high in Conscientiousness. They’ve been my role models.

    Have I been admiring these people because they demonstrate qualities that I lack? And has this admiration somehow given me standards I can’t live up to?

    Being very low in Volatility and Enthusiasm has allowed me to pretend to be high in Conscientiousness well enough to fool even myself.

    Conversely, I’ve simultaneously been suppressing my Openness-type talents.

    This “internal personality battle” between my great but repressed Openness traits and my limiting but idolised Conscientiousness traits have been causing me severe problems for decades.

    Scary — but also good to realise.

    How I Changed My Life Accordingly

    So, how did identifying my strengths and weaknesses via the Big Five Aspects personality test help me take action?

    1. I’ve accepted my lack of conscientiousness.

    Lowering my expectations to a more reasonable level allows me easier wins. And I feel better about raising the bar ever so slightly instead.

    2. I’m done idolising conscientious people.

    I’ve realised that people high in Conscientiousness need me just as much as I need them. Instead of becoming “one of them,” I now seek ways to cooperate and draw from each other’s strengths.

    3. I now embrace my openness to experience personality.

    I’ve started to consider myself a curious and creative person. I’m slowly getting used to such ideas, but it makes me feel better about myself.

    Cover photo by Jerry Silfwer (Prints/Instagram)

    1 See my test results here: The Identity Project: My Big Five Aspects Scale Test Results.


    Jerry Silfwer
    Jerry Silfwer
    Jerry Silfwer, aka Doctor Spin, is an awarded senior adviser specialising in public relations and digital strategy. Currently CEO at KIX Index and Spin Factory. Before that, he worked at Kaufmann, Whispr Group, Springtime PR, and Spotlight PR. Based in Stockholm, Sweden.
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