Reflecting and the Result of Watching Too Much Television

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This is probably the result of watching way too much television (just kidding, there’s no such thing), but I’ve come to the realization that I strongly identify with a handful of fictional characters from my favorite shows. I can see significant parts of myself — personality, interests, habits — in these characters. There are aspects that are good, and some that are… less desirable.

Because television shows are typically drawn out over many episodes, seasons and years, there’s plenty of time to get familiar with the cast. This also means the writers and actors are given an opportunity to really flesh out the personalities of the characters they’re writing and portraying.

So if you’re really into a series, you might begin to feel as if you know the characters. To the point you feel like you could call them up and say, “Hey ______, wanna go get a slice of pizza?” Of course, you can’t, but if you could, they’d probably ask, “Who is this? And how’d you get my number?”

Now obviously, we don’t see ourselves the way our friends, family, colleagues and acquaintances do. Most of us probably view ourselves a bit more favorably than people who… aren’t us. But they say a person is their own worst critic, so we’re not blind to our flaws, however, I imagine there are certain shortcomings we’re less likely to notice. Introspection doesn’t shine the light on everything, though, so we have a limited view of ourselves. With that in mind, these are the characters I relate to the most.

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Doug Funnie

Doug is the character I’ve identified with the longest. He possesses many of the same traits I did as a kid, which is relevant, because I grew up watching Nickelodeon’s Doug (the show) religiously.

I wasn’t consciously aware of how much I had in common with Doug back then. I just watched the show because I liked it, which is pretty much what we all do, right? It wasn’t until I was in college that I began to look back on the series and its protagonist and realize how alike we were and still are.

The show began in 1991, when I was three years old, and only ran for four seasons (before Disney bought it and… changed things). However, Nickelodeon aired reruns with regularity for nearly a decade. I did a lot of growing up in that time, but so did Doug.

The show, named after its main character, is based around an 11-year-old boy trying to survive the troubles of school, while learning to overcome the fears that come with growing up. It’s about just being a kid, goofing off with friends, and learning about the ways of the world — all things we can relate to.

This isn’t an official description, but according to Doug’s character bio on Wikipedia, he’s “a short-tempered, fun-loving, gullible, 11-year-old boy with an enormous heart, a large imagination, a talent for writing, and a love for music.”

On the surface, I have quite a bit in common with Doug. We’re both left-handed and somewhat shy, we like(d) to draw and doodle, and we enjoy writing to chronicle our thoughts.

Additionally, a number of signs point to Doug living in the South, but specifically Virginia, which is just above my home state of North Carolina. And Bluffington — like Fairview — is a small town, where the suburbs meet the country. Doug is a seemingly ordinary kid with a dog, a bike, and an imagination. He has a tendency to daydream and get lost in thought. He’s also a Bluff (Boy) Scout who goes on camping trips, hangs out with his best friend, and plays baseball and video games. And he, too, had a bully who occasionally gave him a hard time.

Some of this stuff may seem generic enough that many people can relate to it, and maybe that was Jim Jinkins’ (creator) intention, but I feel a particularly strong bond with Doug and our similarities. There’s plenty more, but you get the idea. That’s a lot of the cursory stuff, though.

On a deeper level, we share a lot in the way of personality. We’re both mild-mannered and laid back. We worry about hurting people’s feelings, because it’s just about the last thing we want to do. We hate conflict and avoid confrontation, and we’re generally friendly and easy to get along with.

But we can also have our feelings easily hurt. Someone could say something to or about us that may seem offhand and rather harmless, but it can cut deep. We often see criticism as a personal attack, whether it is or not. That said, we’re generally not very forthcoming with our feelings.

There’s more I could talk about, but there’s no need, as this gets the point across. As I mentioned earlier, these are things I only recently recognized. And I realize it seems a little crazy that I managed to extrapolate all of this from a cartoon, but it’s one of my favorites for a myriad of reasons. And I’ve watched it a lot. The show means even more to me now than it did when I was a kid.

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doug heffernan

Doug Heffernan

Continuing the trend of Dougs, the protagonist of The King of Queens is another fictional character I strongly identify with. This Doug is also laid back and easy going, as well as an all-around good guy. He’s fun, he laughs, and he loves life. He’s everybody’s friend.

As an everyman and average Joe, Doug is the opposite of pretentious. He enjoys the finer things in life, such as grilling, hanging out with friends, and vegging out on the couch in sweatpants to eat pizza and watch baseball. And if there’s anything I love, it’s that.

Doug is on the heavier side, like me, but doesn’t let it bring him down. He’s known as a jokester, and doesn’t take himself too seriously. Like the other Doug, Doug Heffernan avoids conflict at all cost. And he, too, hates politics. He can get a little defensive at times, but he’s not vengeful.

There are ways in which I’m not like Doug, but our similarities outweigh (that’s not a fat joke) them.

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jim-halpert

Jim Halpert

Well, I’m certainly nowhere near as handsome as Jim Halpert from The Office, but that’s just something I’ll have to come to grips with later. But if we get beyond his boyish charm and dashing good looks, I think we’ll find that he and I have a lot in common.

Until I quit my job (something I wrote about recently), I was in the same boat Jim found himself in for most of The Office‘s nine seasons. I was working a job I hated, I had no motivation, and I felt like my skills were wasting away. We both went to college and ended up working jobs that made us feel like we weren’t doing anything with our lives.

Jim is a smart guy, but more often than not, doesn’t apply himself, mostly because he just doesn’t care about his job. And while I always did my best in my previous job, I could feel myself caring less and less with each passing day. It’s soul-sucking, mundane busy work. Later in the series, Jim took a risk with his job to pursue his dream, which is something I can relate to, and spoke about in the blog post I linked to.

But moving past all the work-related stuff, Jim is a sensible, down-to-earth and goofy guy. He’s generally easy going and tries to keep the peace. As an avid baseball fan, he had plans to become a sports journalist, which isn’t too far off from what I’m aspiring to be (game journalist).

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I still relate to Doug Funnie the most, but I think as I grew older and became an “adult,” I took on traits that mirror those found in Doug Heffernan and Jim Halpert. I’m my own person, and I’m not trying to be like anyone, but I kind of see myself as an amalgamation of those three characters.

Honestly, I feel presumptuous in making statements about my personality, especially with regard to things I view as being “good” and positive. I guess I feel that by saying I have this quality, or that trait, I’m only able to say that from my own, narrow view of myself, which is certainly skewed in my favor. I never want to come off as pompous or cocky, so I always hesitate to start talking about myself in a way that’s too sure or confident.

As a side note, it’s well documented that I’m a huge Atlanta Braves fan. Because Doug Funnie is from the South, I would assume him to also be a Braves fan. I even went so far as to use my Microsoft Paint skills to make him look the part for my Twitter profile. Doug Heffernan, being from Queens, New York, is a New York Mets fan. And Jim Halpert, from Pennsylvania, is a Philadelphia Phillies fan. The reason I bring this up is because the Braves, Mets and Phillies are all divisional rivals within the National League East. I just thought that was too interesting not to mention.

Now here’s where I really deviate for a bit. But bear with me, because I will be coming back around to all this.

Anyone who went to a liberal arts university, or even simply took a humanities course, will surely recognize the name Carl Jung. He was a psychiatrist who came into prominence in the first half the 20th century, and whose work was later used to develop the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator assessment, which is possibly the most well-known test to indicate a person’s personality type.

I understand some people are hesitant to put stock in this type of thing, but I actually think it’s a rather accurate indicator. I’ve taken the test numerous times, just out of curiosity. Depending on the questions you’re asked and the answers you give, your results may vary slightly, but I’ve found the outcomes are largely consistent. More often than not, I’m given “ISFJ.”

To make a long story short, each initial stands for a specific character trait. For me, they mean “Introverted, Sensing, Feeling, Judging,” which is hard to explain with brevity. However, About.com describes each trait:

Introversion (I): ISFJs are introverted and tend to be quiet and reserved.
-Sensing (S): ISFJs prefer concrete information rather than abstract theories.
-Feeling (F): ISFJs place a greater emphasis on personal considerations rather than objective information.
-Judging (J): ISFJs are planners and tend to be very well-organized.

The summation of all four together is explained by PersonalityPage.com as, “Quiet, kind, and conscientious. Can be depended on to follow through. Usually puts the needs of others above their own needs. Stable and practical, they value security and traditions. Well-developed sense of space and function. Rich inner world of observations about people. Extremely perceptive of other’s feelings. Interested in serving others.”

You can read more about each trait here, and you can learn about the different personality types here. My specific type is full explained here. I encourage anyone curious to take the test for themselves, which can be done here, among other places.

At first glance, you may be tempted to blow off this psychoanalytical work the way you would astrology, but unlike astrology, which has no foundation in academic observation or science, MBTI types are thoroughly researched and heavily studied. I’m not suggesting psychology to be on the same plain as physics and chemistry, but it’s clearly more substantiated than a magical calendar that “tells your future” based on your birthday and the alignment of the stars.

But I’m getting off topic! The reason I even bring any of this up is because I believe the fictional characters I mentioned earlier are likely either the same personality type I am, or one that’s very similar. Doug Funnie fits the description almost perfectly. Doug Heffernan may be slightly different, but close. However, I think Jim is probably the one most likely to differ.

Regardless, I’ve used every bit of this to analyze myself, my thoughts and my emotions. Introspection, while limited, is a powerful tool to help better understand and improve yourself. It allows you to recognize who you are, your strengths, and your weaknesses.

Now certainly it’s easy for some people to overanalyze, and spend far too much time concerning themselves with what it all means. But I feel as though a lot of people don’t analyze themselves enough.

Anyway, I’m not really sure where I’m going with all of this. If you read everything to this point, then I truly appreciate it. I never expect many (if any) people to read this much, but I’m always humbled when they do. This blog post, like most of mine, could certainly use an editor’s eyes. I rambled on pretty good, but hopefully you took something from it. As always, thanks for reading!

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