On being different

“Robbie, where do you want your ashes to be scattered when you die?”

“Well I’ll be dead by that point, so it doesn’t matter. You choose.”

“You must have somewhere you’d like them to be scattered? A favourite place? Somewhere meaningful?”

“OK. Bangkok.”

“Oooh! Why Bangkok? Because you love it there?”

“Yeah, I do. But I’ll be dead, so I don’t really care. If you’re still alive, though, you’ll get a nice holiday out of it.”

“But also because you love it there too, right? I don’t want you to say ‘Bangkok’ just for me.”

“Again – and I really can’t emphasise this enough – I’ll be dead.”

“OK fiiine. But I think you’re just saying that to be difficult. Want to know where I want my ashes to be scattered?”

“Go on…”

“Well, I want some in that little park in Henley where we kissed for the first time, and then some outside Jackson Hole Burgers on the Upper East Side, because, you know, nice memories. And then some by that Mexican food truck just off Bedford Avenue – I think it’s Bedford and 7th but you’ll have to check. And then some by the sea in Barcelona, and…”

“WAIT! Wait! Let me fire up Evernote…”

When we first started dating, we each assumed we had the “right” way of looking at the world – and the other person was just misguided and would eventually realise where they were going wrong. Ten years later and we’re still having the exact same conversations: Rob is always the logical, fact-driven one, whereas I’m a fan of feelings.

These days, though, we’re better at recognising that there’s no “correct” way of thinking – and that it’s actually often handy to acknowledge and even combine our respective outlooks.

Not to harp on about Myers-Briggs too much (we’ve recently become obsessed, and may have mentioned it once or twice in our newsletters), but its personality test actually brought the whole thing home to us even more. By reading each other’s “test results” (and then the results of all the friends and family we’ve coerced into taking it too), we’re made aware of how our way isn’t the way – and we need to stop thinking that other people need to come round to how we think or do things.

To be honest, I don’t think it matters too much if it’s Myers-Briggs, or Strengths Finder, or ClickHole’s “Would you rather look at a clock or be a clock?”: just taking a personality test with a friend or partner, getting different results, and realising that other people have different ways of doing things, is hugely helpful.

Yes, it’s about labelling people, and putting them in boxes. But that’s not always a bad thing. Take “introversion” and “extroversion” as an example: I consider myself to be quite the introvert, but before I knew about the term I felt guilty and abnormal about (for example) wanting to go home and escape after a few hours with friends. As soon as I became aware of the label – and realised other people see themselves as introverts too – it made me feel far more OK with it.

And if Rob wants his ashes tipped into a trash can when he dies, I guess I should be fine with that too.