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Little Boxes: The Self-Fulfilling Prophecy of Personality Assessments
Plus, grocery store cava, an axe-wielding housewife, how The Beatles inspired Radiohead, and a doomsday prepper's pantry list
I recently went through a professional personality assessment. It wasn’t my first time doing this – I’ve gone through Enneagram (7w8), Meyers-Briggs (ENFP), Human Design (Projector), Bird/DOPE (Peacock), and now DISC (Influencer). I also know that I’m a Scorpio but not totally sure about my full astrological birth type because I can’t find my birth certificate that has my birth time on it. Such a Type 7.
I did the most recent assessment in a group setting, and during the open forum, the facilitator asked if anyone had previously been familiar with personality assessments. I took this opportunity to point out that, to be fair, even if a person had never done a formal personality test, they very likely have been told from a young age what their personality was, and this is just another way of validating the typecasting.
(“To be fair” is a thing that socially domineering people say when they want to hijack a conversation and turn it into their own personal soapbox. You know, when a 7w8 starts to meander into toxic territory. Anyway, I sense that it was not appreciated and therefore not indulged. Good thing I have my own newsletter.)
Is there a personality type that is more susceptible to personality typing? You know, the kind of people who invoke signs, acronyms, and numbers to make sense of all of life’s moments, no matter how material or mundane. On the surface, it’s treated as a badge of honor to know thyself so clearly – to have found your club, your category, your little box made of ticky tacky. Yet, I suspect that for some people, the obsession is driven by the desire to seek a level of self-realization that is just out of reach. Maybe the sign, acronym, or number they hang their hat on is simply an expectation that has been imposed on them and they, in turn, continue to perpetuate through performance.
I began to consider this possible truth about myself during an unexpected bout of presentation nerves I experienced at a big in-person meeting. I am typically unafraid of public speaking – in fact, I usually jump at the opportunity to grandstand. Never met a microphone I didn’t love. Yet, in this instance, I was completely off my game. My words got stuck in my throat, my breathing erratic, my train of thought derailed. I actually stopped myself mid-presentation and acknowledged to the room full of colleagues that I was, in fact, very nervous and needed a second to collect myself. Afterwards, I was told repeatedly that my candor and vulnerability was admired and appreciated. Normally I would have relished the positive feedback and bounced back quickly. This time I did not.
The regret lingered not just for hours, but for days and days. Why did this particular faux pas bother me so much? I’m not one to fall victim to shame and embarrassment. I’m quite comfortable in my skin. Or so I thought. After several days of introspection, it occurred to me that I was so upset because I had exhibited a trait that I am absolutely NOT supposed to exhibit – that is, if I’m living up to the lifelong personality profile I (and others) has assigned to myself.
Maybe the sign, acronym, or number they hang their hat on is simply an expectation that has been imposed on them and they, in turn, continue to perpetuate through performance.
Nerves, intimidation, and hurt feelings are the sacred trinity of no-go zones for me. I don’t display them, I don’t express them, and even when I’m experiencing them, I can barely admit them to myself, let alone declare them to a room full of strangers. In fact, with the nerves, I only admitted it out of a last-ditch effort to regain some sort of social control. In other words: You are not allowed to feel bad for me right now, so I’m going to claim my own faults before you have a chance to feel pity.
My mantra comes from the words of the late, great Nora Ephron. “When you slip on a banana peel, people laugh at you. But when you tell people you slipped on a banana peel, it's your laugh.” I live and die by this concept. Always beat others to the punch.
Yet, I now must acknowledge that anchoring myself to a set of stringent personality attributes has inhibited my ability to address my very human shortcomings - to admit my fears and worries, to allow myself to express hurt, and to (gasp) ask for all the support and grace I’m so willing to extend to others who I pretend are more tender than I. How much unnecessary pain have I endured by shoving these feelings aside?
So here’s the hot take. Personality assessments should only be taken as directional guidance, at most. Treat it as a character study of your own confirmation bias. And instead of reveling in what it tells you, examine what it doesn’t. That’s where the real growth happens.
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“It’s not champagne if it doesn’t come from the Champagne region of France.” This is a snotty little purse-lipped voice that lives in my head every time I crave a little bubbly. Sometimes I ask for champagne when I really mean prosecco or cava, just to be contrarian. I’ve never been in a physical altercation, but some mornings I wake up ready to fight. If it’s not with a Karen at a 7/11 or a Victoria’s Secret in a dilapidated suburban mall, then I would really like to initiate fisticuffs with a sommelier that catches me on a bad day. “I am not the one!” I’ll yell while wearing a romper, crudely gesticulating with a glass of brut rosé.
In the meantime, here are three types of cava I recommend picking up at your local grocer. All pair well with lox or tortilla Española, my top two picks for brunch at home. Stop being lazy with your boring prosecco (La Marca is overrated!) and embrace these Spanish sparkling wines:
By the way, the inward taper of the flute glass is designed to amplify the carbonation by reducing the surface area. More bubbles create an intensified texture in the taster's mouth but, most importantly, the flute's bowl allows for greater visual effect of bubbles rising to the top. In other words, it’s all razzle dazzle. In our house, we drink sparkling wine in white wine glasses. If I’m feeling extra saucy, I’ll drink from a champagne coupe, which makes me feel like Dorothy Parker shooting off at the mouth at the Algonquin Round Table.
Share your cocktails with me on Instagram! @theokaypokay #okaypokaypours
Remember in 1998 when not one but two meteor catastrophe movies were released? There were two camps of fans – the ones who preferred “Armageddon,” and the ones that preferred “Deep Impact.” The former is the hottie jock equivalent, and the latter is like… captain of the Model U.N. I’ll let you guess which one I was in.
Well, we have a similar situation now. But, instead focusing on meteors, we’re focusing on an axe-wielding 1980s Texas homemaker who initiated an affair with a church choir mate and then bludgeoned his wife 41 times, got away with it, and became a therapist in Georgia.
We’re talking about Candy Montgomery, the real-life subject of two different limited run prestige dramas. The first, “Candy,” starring Jessica Biel, ran on Hulu last year. Now, HBO has released “Love & Death,” starring Elizabeth Olson. I have not started the Jessica Biel version but I’m getting deep into the Elizabeth Olson one. What’s titillating about this series is not the story itself but how Elizabeth Olson portrays it. Damn, she is really, really great. I mean, she is GREAT. So is Jesse Plemons (aka Mr. Kirsten Dunst), the temperate object of her lust.
(My gut tells me this is the Model U.N. version of the two, but I’ll need to watch the Jessica Biel version to confirm.)
Admittedly, although only a couple episodes in, my interest has slightly waned. There’s nothing super compelling about this tryst except for its inevitable violence. But Olson’s turn as a type-A, matter-of-fact Methodist nymph is mesmerizing.
WATCH: Trailer of “Love & Death”
Today we’re throwing it back to two loosely interconnected songs from two distinctly fantastic bands. “Paranoid Android” isn’t my favorite Radiohead song (“Reckoner” is), but it’s certainly their best. “Happiness is a Warm Gun” isn’t the best Beatles song (“While My Guitar Gently Weeps” is), but it’s my favorite. I don’t know how you’d plot this in a Venn diagram, but the point I want to make is that the latter begets the former, which makes both infinitely more fun to listen to – that is, if you’re both a Beatles and Radiohead fan.
“Paranoid Android” follows the three-part structure of “Happiness is a Warm Gun,” which John Lennon described as The Dirty Old Man, The Junkie, and The Gunman. Each stanza is conveys a standalone mood – first slow and melodic, then dissonant, then totally frenetic before touching back down with a somber outro that ultimately ends with a bang.
For the longest time, I assumed Radiohead had taken cues from Queen’s“ Bohemian Rhapsody.” Either way, Thom Yorke once explained that “Paranoid Android” was born out of a nightmarish melee at an L.A. bar:
“I was trying to sleep when I literally heard these voices of the people I’d heard in the bar. It turned out to be a notorious, coke-fiend place, but I didn’t know that. Basically, it’s just about chaos, chaos, utter f**king chaos.”
If that’s not rock & roll, I don’t know what is.
What do I need in my bunker to survive the elements during World War III?
Dear Doomsday Prepper,
Some people might scoff at this question, pegging you as a melodramatic tinfoil hat whackadoodle, but not me. I’m the person who devoured the 1966 study by Professor Joseph Eagleman to debunk the old wives’ tale that the southwest corner of the house is the best place to hide from an incoming tornado. (Unsurprisingly, you should track the tornado’s direction and try to seek cover in the opposing direction.) I know death lingers around every corner and I believe in being neurotic, well-read, and ultra-prepared.
I love your question and did my due diligence. For a topic like this, it’s best to skip to at least the 4th or 5th Google search page. You don’t get good bunker intel from Anderson Cooper, The Atlantic, or any organization that invests in search engine optimization. You need the rough-hewn deep cuts, like Primal Survivor, which proclaims, “BECOME MORE SELF SUFFICIENT AND INDEPENDENT IN YOUR DAILY LIFE. Practical and sensible prepping advice for all.” Hell yeah, these are the aspiring off-the-grid types. You might not want a paleolibertarian weighing in on gender politics, but they can definitely stock your underground lair with the most resilient canned goods. Let’s take a look!
Here are their top bunker foods:
Meals Read to Eat (MREs)
Survival Food Bars
Packaged Emergency Meals
Freeze Dried Bulk Foods
Store-Bought Dry Foods and Mixes
DIY Dehydrated Foods
Peanut Butter and PNB Powder
Texture soy protein (TSP)
Powdered Milk and Dairy
I know death lingers around every corner and I believe in being neurotic, well-read, and ultra-prepared.
They also note that while the following foods might be good for some disaster prepping, they are not suitable for bunkers because they take so long to cook:
Dry beans and legumes
Macaroni and most pastas
“There’s a reason the Civil Defense fallout shelters from the Cold War era didn’t contain any of these items.” Wow! I am incredibly creeped out right now.
On a related note, it’s important to remember that a good bunker will be totally underground and heavily fortified, so it won’t have much airflow. Experts say that you should start with a concrete and reinforced steel rebar with walls between one foot and 2-feet-7-inches thick. You’ll need a minimum of nine square feet per person, with an eight-inch-thick concrete / steel door that opens out, plus a ventilation and air-filtration system that can be operated with a hand crank in case of a power failure. As such, your food supply should not rely on heavy cooking, if any. Stick with things that can come to life with a decent soak.
I wish you all the luck in the event of nuclear war. You should probably start stocking up on CLIF Bars.
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