Examining personality types through our own life experiences is valuable. Real-world interactions add to our understanding, and in turn, that understanding improves our interactions. It’s like personality type knowledge makes life better... Who knew?
And in discussing our own lives, we also share our personal perspective. So, if this article celebrates a certain personality type to an unusual extent, please forgive me. You see, I’m in love.
We’ve been together for years. Happily. But that might seem questionable, as I’m a Turbulent Architect (INTJ-T) and she’s an Assertive Adventurer (ISFP-A) who can seem fairly Extraverted at times. So, if you do the personality trait math here, we’re almost perfectly opposite, including Identity traits.
Opposites can attract, but there’s a difference between attraction and a balanced relationship. In many ways, Assertive Adventurers and Turbulent Architects operate – and perceive reality – in completely different ways.
Oh, and she’s a lifelong vegetarian. I’m thoroughly Ron Swanson-esque.
Based on our types, my esteemed colleagues once offered to take up a collection on our behalf for couples therapy. They were joking. I think.
So, yeah, we’ve got some major trait differences, but in our case, it works. The credit goes mostly to her, and her personality type explains why. Adventurers embrace life by adapting as they go. The magic of Explorer personalities is that when they want to, they can do almost anything like it’s almost nothing.
I’ve seen this, and it’s impressive, let me tell you! No, really – I’m going to tell you. I’ve had a few adventures with an Adventurer.
Very Different Worlds
We initially connected through shared activities. Adventurers are all about activity. They ain’t called “Explorers” for nothing. When we met, her primary recreational focuses were:
- Rock climbing
And I don’t mean dabbling, but solid skills. (Skilled nightclubbing...? Yep. It’s a thing.) When something catches an Explorer’s interest, they can dive into it deeply, at least for a while. My Adventurer exemplifies this skill-mastery/experience-immersion behavior. So much so that I wasn’t really prepared to enter her world.
My hobbies at the time included:
- Biking alone in the wilderness
- Sitting at home listening to music by myself
- Cooking and eating food
But some potential overlap was there. For one thing, we both liked being out in nature. She’s got a place she’s been wanting to go hiking? Sure, I can ditch the bicycle and try that. Sounds good.
And that, dear reader, is how I came to find myself stumbling along a treacherous trail over twisted, mossy roots, hours from home... in the dark.
Always Bring a Headlamp
Before we get into my tale of surviv– uh, I mean, my “recreational anecdote,” let me discuss my Adventurer “acting Extraverted.” Apologies for pausing to talk personality trait theory but, hey, it’s what we do around here.
Her specific traits create behavior that mimics some facets of Extraversion, namely, enthusiastic external engagement. Basically, she likes to “go out and do stuff.” (Isn’t that how you Extraverts describe your odd lifestyle?) It was confusing at first – how is this adventurous woman an Introvert?
Well, Prospecting personality types like to explore new things, often spontaneously. And in her case, her Assertive Identity grants some internal confidence. So, she enthusiastically embraces appealing opportunities, often whimsically.
And seeming social Extraversion can appear via the Feeling trait: in her case, she has a warm charisma and makes friends easily. But socializing isn’t her primary focus – it’s just a response to certain situations. Her goal is personally enjoying an experience, whether or not it includes others. She’s very happy on her own.
But I know she’s truly an Introvert because external engagement, social or otherwise, tires her. She enjoys big, exciting experiences but always retreats into restful privacy afterward. It’s an important reminder that Introverts don’t always prefer solitude, but rather that engaging the world – however enjoyably – takes its toll on them.
Anyway, back to the story...
A Cold, Dark Mountain Death
Just kidding. Unless we’re talking about the death of inhibition. Because partnering with an Assertive Adventurer is an invitation to push your limits in search of fun. Admittedly, my desire to avoid risk and to control outcomes is strong (not exactly shocking for a Turbulent Architect), so our relative contrast is, uh... notable.
My idea of a hike: Length: Planned. Route: Planned. Timetable: Planned. Plan: Obeyed.
Because like a benevolent deity, The Plan keeps its followers safe, happy, and home at a reasonable time.
Her idea of a hike: Let’s hike!
But she’s no fool – she’s prepared to back such a whim with proficiency, that Assertive Adventurer skill mastery.
For the most part, our intended hike seemed to be within my tolerance level. It was rated “for very experienced adventurers” (haha!), but I deemed it doable and constructed expectations accordingly. The Plan was in place.
It was a beautiful hike, but tough. Some portions were... questionable. One ravine demanded vertically climbing ladder-like tree roots. In places, the trail’s course required interpretation. It turned out that it wasn’t an official trail at all, nor was it maintained by any organization. Just an old hunting and fishing path.
Anyway, despite some tribulation, we eventually got to a beautiful lake. Lunchtime! My objective was attained. Plan: accomplished. *trumpets play regal notes*
But that’s not how Adventurers think; they’re open to adjusting expectations to accommodate new things. Weird. And the map contained a seed of chaos: the word “lakes.” This is where an Architect might say things went awry. One does not simply modify The Plan.
You see, while the “trail” (being generous) went to a lake, there were apparently other adjacent lakes... somewhere. They weren’t part of The Plan, though. Oh well. Yawn. Stretch. Time to hike back, pleased with our achievement.
But... There are other lakes.
Yeah, but the hike took longer than we thought and it’s getting late.
But there are other lakes.
Yeah, but we don’t know where they are.
But there are other lakes.
There’s barely a trail here, much less to any “other lakes.”
But there are other lakes!*
(*To be clear, this was not insistence or pressure, but rather delighted, what-lurks-over-yonder-hill curiosity.)
What we’ve got here is the difference between, you know, basically all our personality traits.
As an Architect, I get great satisfaction by exploring desires and ideas in my imagination (Intuitive trait), conceiving detailed tactics (Thinking trait) including how I might deal with unlikely risks (Turbulent trait), and then taking focused, linear action through to completion (Judging trait).
So for me, happiness is shaped in advance, and I just try to get there. My hope, expectation, and joy are formed into a single construct. That solidity often helps me accomplish things, but alteration to any part of that structure feels like it threatens all its components, including joy. I’m not saying that’s good, it’s just how I am.
My Adventurer, on the other hand, gets great satisfaction from exploring desires and ideas through direct engagement in the real world (Observant trait), without much need for defined benchmarks (Prospecting trait), interest in technical details (Feeling trait), or concern for intangible risks (Assertive Identity).
Her happiness is generated continuously by moving through real-world experiences. She reacts to events as they occur, making choices that best serve her preferences in the moment. This means there’s almost always a good option available, since the shape of joy isn’t strictly defined in advance. It’s shaped as she goes.
That’s how they hook you, these Adventurers: contagious enthusiasm. And as devout a Plan-worshipper as I am, I still have that dang Intuitive trait that renders me vulnerable to the lure of what might be.
There’s also a solid logic to the way Explorer personality types engage the moment rather than getting mired in questionable what-ifs – pragmatic, grounded logic that an Architect can learn from.
How a certain Turbulent Architect might see reality: “Things are okay at the moment, but if we don’t do the right thing, we could find ourselves in horrible trouble.”
How a certain Assertive Adventurer might see reality: “So, things are okay.”
It’s hard to deny the value or truth of that perspective. With positive, practical thinking like that, one might just lead a happy life, free of convoluted doubt and self-imposed limitations. How odd.
So, with her Assertive Prospecting enthusiasm bolstering my Turbulent Judging reserve, we set out to find those mythical lakes.
There Were No Other Lakes
Heck, for all I know, they’re a cartographer’s prank. Maybe they dried up. Maybe we just failed. We went around the lake, blundered among countless trees, explored numerous pseudo-trails (like a freaking hall of mirrors in an evil wizard’s tower, it was!), and battled forms of flora that were clearly superior to our species... but saw no other lakes.
They’re probably there. Maybe someday we’ll go back and find them. But not that day, nor that night. Yeah, did I mention that we hiked back at night? Our lake-lust burned up a bunch of daylight. An iffy trail becomes downright scary in the evening gloom and eventual inky forest blackness. Roots and rocks turn to literal stumbling blocks.
“And if you go chasing rabbits, and you know you’re going to fall...”
But we didn’t fall. We were in no real danger, and I needn’t have worried. The superb pattern-recognition/risk-assessment circuits of the Turbulent Architect mind are not always helpful when fun is the goal. Adventurers show us that if one practically adapts to factors at hand, things usually turn out just fine.
How a certain Turbulent Architect might see reality: “Bad decisions have led us nigh unto calamity!”
How a certain Assertive Adventurer might see reality: “Yet, everything’s still okay.”
And she was right. We’re able-bodied adults with shapely calves and name-brand water bottles. The weather was good. Hurrying to try to beat the darkness would have been a mistake but going slowly and carefully worked just fine.
Getting lost in negative what-ifs doesn’t necessarily solve problems in advance, but it does drain the fun out of the moment. Instead, my Adventurer gets lost in the fun of the moment – and then solves any problems if they occur.
“Interesting approach to life,” says the Turbulent Architect, scratching his chin. “Perhaps I should learn to practice these ‘have fun’ and ‘stay in the moment’ concepts.”
We made it back to the car at almost midnight, but nonetheless, “okay.” Why? Because the pragmatic, grounded approach of an Explorer is the perfect counterbalance to the whimsical, carefree spontaneity of an Explorer. And because we’d brought headlamps.
“Here, bunny bunny bunny bunny bunny bunny!”
Story’s over, right? You’ve never been out with an Assertive Adventurer, and it shows. Oh, my dear, sweet, innocent reader, I was once like you, thinking that all that stood between me and my safe little nest was a mere two-hour, late-night drive back from the mountains.
The road closure that forced us to detour for hours had nothing to do with personality types, so I won’t even get into it, other than to say I became so tired I was loopy.
Consequently, I wasn’t quite sure I was seeing things correctly when, a mere 20 minutes from home (and only a few hours from sunrise), the headlights revealed a large black-and-white rabbit in the road. You know what’s coming, right?
Yep, the taped-together remains of The Plan were about to become confetti. Yay! (Throws shredded plan in the air.) Never mind the time. Never mind our exhaustion. Never mind being in the middle of a dark, deserted country road. We were going on a rabbit chase, only this time it was no lyrical, literary allusion or lake-lusting metaphor.
It was with exhausted wonderment that I watched my Adventurer duck-walking rapidly down the highway into the surrounding night, arms outstretched, trilling, “Here, bunny bunny bunny bunny bunny...” as the rabbit obstinately hopped just out of reach.
Architect in Wonderland? More like Adventurer-land, where fun is always an option if you’re willing to chase after it.
I caught up with my Adventurer as she pursued the little beast up the driveway of a ramshackle country home. I was able to convince her that we shouldn’t knock on their door at that late hour. The rabbit was now hiding under the porch, away from the road, under shelter. Heck, it probably lived there in the first place.
I don’t remember much else, but I do remember thinking, What’s next? And I’m still wondering that. Because with an Adventurer, life’s not something that happens in neat little episodes – it’s an ongoing venture into the unexpected.
Adversity Venturer? Ad-venturer!
The truth is, being able to operate well without a solid plan is a tremendous advantage in life. It creates durability and freedom for internal hopes as well as external actions.
So, I’m going to say something that I want my fellow Judging types, especially Introverts, to consider seriously: if your happiness depends on things being as you expect them to be, it exists at a disadvantage. Reality isn’t bound by The Plan. But if you can act with focused determination and adapt freely to unforeseen changes, it’s far easier to maintain your happiness.
One way to practice this is recreation with Explorer personality types. Venture into seeming adversity without assuming a negative outcome, and stay open to unexpected, positive results. Practicing adapting during lighter moments helps you become flexible, so you don’t break so easily when life hits you with the heavy stuff. Have your comfort zone, but make it elastic.
I’m trying to do this myself, so please know that I’m not preaching from a pulpit. I’m sweating in the pews with the rest of you who worship The Plan. It’s just that someone’s been coaxing me to sneak out into the vestibule to fool around with a little “adventure.”
Did I mention rock climbing and nightclubbing? Hmm... I guess those real-world Adventurer stories will have to wait for another time.
Were you ever pulled into adventure by another personality type? Did it test your comfort zone? Let us know in the comments below!