April 14, 2015

In Defence of the “Type A” Personality.

running light summer kid fun outside

Type A personality is defined as “A temperament marked by excessive competitiveness and ambition, an obsession with accomplishing tasks quickly, little time for self-reflection and a strong need to control situations.”

Well that is all well and good but, just like Justice Potter said about pornography, Type A is a feeling, an unrelenting sense of urgency and you just know it when you see it.

Yes we’ve heard it all before and you think we don’t care and you’re right—we are a bunch of relentlessly aggressive, (sometimes) self-centered, time insensitive, unmindful, (occasional) assholes. And while there certainly is an asshole-ish quality of being a Type A personality, we have some good characteristics, too.

So many good ones actually, many would call us Type A+, if you were the kind of person who kept score, which we obviously are.

As a graduate of law school and former litigator, I consider myself an expert on the Type A individual, and today I am going to defend us.

I do not know if all Type A personalities are born or they are made out of dirt, grit and stubbornness. Is it nature or nurture that curates someone’s relentless and dogged spirit or is there a gene that’s responsible for timeliness, workaholism and a general hatred of waiting in lines? I think, for me, it was a combination of both.

I come from a long line of Type As: my parents were both Type As, having met in classic blue suits at IBM their love swelled when they discussed long-term planning and shipping logistics—talk about swoon. Then there was the nature: I was filmed in my formative years as a member of the Von Trapp children on stage organizing the other kids into perfect lines. So long, farewell to the other children who weren’t abiding by my strict tenants of line creation and order. I pushed a deviant off the stage to the audience’s embarrassment. What can I say, I was more of a Captain Von Trapp than a Maria.

But why am I staunchly defending us? First because I am vigorously Type A and defending is what I do. Also because we are an often-maligned breed of personality, the doers, the people of action and of dogged persistence to causes and people.

We are the gritty go-getters, the people who will sacrifice anything for their goals and people whose dogged pursuit of excellence is only eclipsed by passion and inner fire that burns brightest and hottest when our mind is set. So, in laymen’s terms, we jump in with two feet and we rarely, if ever, do anything half ass.

We also believe that apathy is just a starting off point to begin a discussion.

We really care. Personally, I madly, deeply care about everything and everyone almost to my detriment. My hyper conscientiousness has led to me creating a company dedicated to advocating for the voiceless, those often under-served by a society repressed by ableism.

We are timely and we value your time. We understand that time is a precious commodity and we won’t waste ours and we will not waste yours.

Our enthusiasm and zest is contagious. We always have another idea, another passion and our engine is always rearing to go.

We could talk to a brick wall for the better part of an hour.  (This is not a joke, brick walls are some of my nearest and dearest friends).

We are hard workers.

We are reliable. If my client, friend or family member is in trouble, I am the first one at their door at 3 am with coffee and my lighthearted smile and intense passion. Oh, that boundless energy.  “When do you sleep?” is a question I often get asked.

We are great clients, patients and friends. We are nothing if not compliant.

We follow the rules. Well, unless they are in our way.

We keep our promises.

Our word is our bond.

We can calendar like a boss.

We will get stuff done. It is what we love to do, it is what makes us tick and what moves mountains and cross seas to meet a deadline, goal, promise and achievement. It’s what we do.

So next time someone is tapping their foot or harrumphing while you are delicately taking off your shoes in line at the airport, remember that person is probably on their way to make a change or, at the very least, a change of plane.



What’s Your MBTI Personality Type? Enrich Your Life Through Self-Discovery.

I Used to be a Type A, Now I’m Just “B”ing.



Author: Katie Schellenberg

Editor: Katarina Tavčar

Photo: Shahril Khmd on Pixoto


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Christopher Jun 15, 2015 4:03pm

Thanks so much for reading, Samantha!

Katie Schellenberg Apr 17, 2015 8:33am

Thank you so much for taking the time to comment, Khara-Jade. I think there is a lot of misunderstanding when it comes to us! I am so glad it struck a chord. Much love!

Khara-Jade Warren Apr 16, 2015 1:57pm

Oh my God, this is me, this is me! I felt relieved and amused at the same time when I read this. I have been and am often so misunderstood by people for my doggedness and obsessiveness, but your words describe my heart perfectly. Thanks for this read! Loved it.

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Katie Schellenberg

Katie Schellenberg is a holistic advocate for students with exceptionalities. A magna cum laude USC graduate herself, Katie is the CEO and founder of Beyond Tutoring, an educational blog, and Learning Lab LA, a concierge and academic advocacy firm that attempts to create and cultivate lifelong success through learning. Katie also attended UCLA law school and USC Rossier School of Education for her Masters degree in Teaching. Additionally, Katie is a member of the California State Bar.