Waiting for me in my inbox over the weekend was something called a “temperament test.” Having always been a fan of short little online quizzes and things that lead to self-discovery, I took it without a whole lot of hesitation and discovered: I have a mostly melancholic temperament. Meaning? This temperament quiz thingy seemed to understand things about me a whole lot better than I ever had. I chuckled and nodded to myself as I read through the eerily accurate descriptions. To name a few:
The melancholic is irresolute. On account of too many considerations and too much fear of difficulties and of the possibility that his plans or works may fail, the melancholic can hardly reach a decision. He is inclined to defer his decision. What he could do today he postpones for tomorrow, the day after tomorrow, or even for the next week.
If he is called upon to answer quickly or to speak without preparation, or if he fears that too much depends on his answer, he becomes restless and does not find the right word and consequently often makes a false and unsatisfactory reply.
To be honest, as I read through these results, I couldn’t help but breathe a tiny sigh of relief. For one, this meant these characteristics—unfavorable as they may be—were not specifically unique to Mary Lane. There is a whole subset of people in the world who behave just like me in these regards! But it was my second reaction that really got me thinking…
My second reaction was also one of relief—only for a slightly different reason. My thought went something like this: “This is who I am. Not much I can do about it, right?”
While it’s true that we may not be able to do much to control our less-than-desirable predisposed temperaments or personality traits, I don’t think that excuses us for settling for them without putting up a fight. My temperament may be one of a melancholic, but that doesn’t mean these characteristics have to (or should) define me.
Striving to be the best version of ourselves gets a little bit harder here. Not only are we battling against some realities of our culture that are often contrary to our end goal, we also find we have innate struggles tied to our very personality that we have to overcome in order to get where we want to go. Doesn’t seem too fair, does it?
As a Catholic, I believe that God knows each of us better than we know ourselves. I think it is for this reason that God chooses to allow each of us to have these personal struggles. It’s not that we are to define ourselves by them, or even to think that we have on our own the power to overcome them. I think God allows us these struggles so we can trust in the one who alone can give us the grace to overcome them, and let Him use our struggles to mold us into who we are supposed to be.