Relationships

Pop Quiz! Let’s Do the Proust Questionnaire

Friends cast

Last week, we visited my twin sister and her four-year-old daughter. At the dinner table…

…they have a question jar, and they pick out a question each evening to ask each other. The night we were there, the question was, “What would you like to be good at one day?” (Her daughter’s answer: “Being invisible.”)

Their nightly ritual reminded me of the Proust Questionnaire, a parlor game of 35 questions that apparently reveals your true nature. (Bum bum bummm.) Want to play? Here’s a shortened version, and please feel free to leave your answers in the comment section, and I will, too!


What is your idea of perfect happiness?

What is your greatest fear?

Which living person do you most admire?

What is your favorite journey?

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?

Who or what is the greatest love of your life?

Which talent would you most like to have?

What is your current state of mind?

Where would you like to live?

What is your most marked characteristic?

Who is your favorite hero of fiction?

What are your favorite names?

What is it that you most dislike?

What is your motto?


Vanity Fair runs the questionnaire with celebrities on the last page of each issue — here’s Tina Fey, Tiffany Haddish and Ina Garten. Some people answer them seriously, and others with jokes. Really looking forward to reading your thoughts!

P.S. Little kids’ funny questions, and Nora Ephron’s party trick.
P.P.S. Is questionairre questionaire questionnaire the hardest word to spell?

(Proust Questionnaire was inspired by my new friend Haylie Swenson.)

  1. Tati says...

    What is your idea of perfect happiness? – watching dogs be their lovable, pure selves

    What is your greatest fear? – not being able to be myself

    Which living person do you most admire? – najwa zebian

    What is your favorite journey? – journey back to my hometown

    Which words or phrases do you most overuse? – actually

    Who or what is the greatest love of your life? – inspirational quotes

    Which talent would you most like to have? – confidence

    What is your current state of mind? – hopeful

    Where would you like to live? – Japan

    What is your most marked characteristic? – kind

    Who is your favorite hero of fiction?

    What are your favorite names? – Suewellyn

    What is it that you most dislike? Fake anything

    What is your motto? – Create your own happiness

  2. Emily says...

    What is your idea of perfect happiness?
    Sunshiny day that starts with coffee, followed by a family hike, a nap, margaritas and playing heads up with my husband on the couch.

    What is your greatest fear?
    Losing my babies, my husband or myself.

    Which living person do you most admire?
    My mom

    What is your favorite journey?
    The afternoon walk from the school entrance to my son’s classroom

    Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
    “like” (in, like, every sentence); “stop it” (as in “G flushed her underwear again.” “STOP IT” – my version of Elaine’s “GET OUT!”)

    Who or what is the greatest love of your life?
    My babies (3 and 1, still babies?! YES.)
    my husband

    Which talent would you most like to have?
    Really great planning ahead and execution (most useful when planning anything for my kids that extends beyond walking to the park)

    What is your current state of mind?
    Tired, sleepy and sick of being sick with a cold

    Where would you like to live?
    In a world where I could continue to live in CO and be within driving distance to my family in PA and Brooklyn

    What is your most marked characteristic?
    humor, Southern roots (re: accent)

    Who is your favorite hero of fiction?
    Francie Nolan, Holden Caulfield

    What are your favorite names?
    Emily – I love my name! I love saying it, hearing it, reading it. It just makes me happy. Good job, Mom & Dad
    And of course, my kids’ names – C & G
    And Marisol. Sea & Sun – what’s not to love?!

    What is it that you most dislike?
    Ungratefulness – as a public school teacher, this is a trait I unfortunately see on so many levels

    What is your motto?
    None of it is important as long as we’re healthy, kind, together and there’s sunshine.

  3. Brittany says...

    What is your idea of perfect happiness?
    -Anywhere in the vibrant, California sun.

    What is your greatest fear?
    -Living a purposeless life.

    Which living person do you most admire?
    -My husband

    What is your favorite journey?
    -The drive from Reno to Susanville, the feeling and scenery of home growing richer and richer the closer I get.

    Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
    -“Graham, don’t do that!” (to my toddler)
    -“She’s so sweet!” (About my baby)

    Who or what is the greatest love of your life?
    -Jesus

    Which talent would you most like to have?
    -Being musical. The ability and drive to stick to learning an instrument. Like my husband.

    What is your current state of mind?
    -Frustrated.

    Where would you like to live?
    -California.

    What is your most marked characteristic?
    -In this season of my life, the fact that I’m American.
    But outside of this season, normally that I’m friendly and smiley and kind.

    Who is your favorite hero of fiction?
    -I don’t think he’s a hero, but there’s a book I’ve loved since I was a child called Tuck Everlasting. The character Jesse has always had a special place in my heart.

    What are your favorite names?
    Graham and Faye most definitely.
    I also really like Maybelline, Clementine and June.

    What is it that you most dislike?
    My own judgements I make about people in my head.
    Also, bundling my children up during the winter.
    Also, Kaufland.

    What is your motto?
    Things are never as bad as you think they’ll be.

  4. A says...

    I have loved reading everyone’s responses. Here are mine:

    What is your idea of perfect happiness?
    Lazy weekend at the cottage reading, napping, eating and spending time with the family.

    What is your greatest fear?
    Being buried alive and not seeing my children grow up.

    Which living person do you most admire?
    Michelle Obama – Just reading her book and I just can’t put it down!

    What is your favorite journey?
    Currently it is Parenthood

    Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
    Right?

    Who or what is the greatest love of your life?
    Daughters and Hubby

    Which talent would you most like to have?
    Creativity

    What is your current state of mind?
    Anxious and I feel lost

    Where would you like to live?
    Beach house in a warm tropical climate

    What is your most marked characteristic?
    My kids will tell you my ability to make them laugh by being weird!!

    Who is your favorite hero of fiction?
    Hermione

    What are your favorite names?
    My daughters names and for a boy Liam

    What is it that you most dislike?
    People who talk over me when I am trying to explain something

    What is your motto?
    Your life doesn’t get better by chance, it gets better by change.

  5. Anna says...

    What is your idea of perfect happiness?
    – Living in a beautiful house with a beautiful garden and a happy family

    What is your greatest fear?
    – Losing my son in a painful way – he is perfectly healthy but I’ve had dreams about this and each time it takes me a few days to get over it

    Which living person do you most admire?
    – So many people for so many different reasons – impossible to pick one or compare!

    What is your favorite journey?
    – I went to university in Yorkshire and used to love driving around the moors. I now live in the South of England and am disappointed by how flat it is! Whenever I see a landscape full of hills or mountains, it makes me feel happy.

    Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
    – My 3 year old has clearly shown me these phrases as he now uses them a lot – ‘that’s amazing’, ‘indeed’ and ‘ta da’

    Who or what is the greatest love of your life?
    – My son and husband

    Which talent would you most like to have?
    – Singing

    What is your current state of mind?
    – Happy

    Where would you like to live?
    – In a treehouse in some woods

    What is your most marked characteristic?
    – Not wanting to say no to people

    Who is your favorite hero of fiction?
    – Anne Elliot – I think she is underestimated when it comes to Jane Austen heroines

    What are your favorite names?
    – Something I think about every day – I just started trying for my second baby and I can’t decide what names I would pick! I might be getting ahead of myself, but I knew exactly what I wanted to call my son and knew I would have a boy, so that was an easy decision. I also have a double-barrelled surname so need something short and sweet so I don’t punish the child! Suggestions very very welcome…

    What is it that you most dislike?
    – People who care more about doing something their way or trying to be right, even when presented with the truth or a clear positive path

    What is your motto?
    – Solutions not problems

  6. E. says...

    Ok, I’m going to do this!
    What is your idea of perfect happiness? A freshly squeezed orange juice overlooking the Amalfi Coast on a clear June morning with my wife and baby.
    What is your greatest fear? Loosing my wife and baby.
    Which living person do you most admire? Anyone fighting disease.
    What is your favorite journey? The one back home from work on Friday afternoon!
    Which words or phrases do you most overuse? Fenomenal, Spanish for amazing, and Jain, excellent German word for yes and no.
    Who or what is the greatest love of your life? My wife and Venice (Italy).
    Which talent would you most like to have? I’d love to be great at Maths.
    What is your current state of mind? Always worried.
    Where would you like to live? In Venice, Italy, or Mallorca, Spain.
    What is your most marked characteristic? I digress, ramble… talk too much all the time.
    Who is your favorite hero of fiction? Moana.
    What are your favorite names? Olivia, Bruno and Beltrán.
    What is it that you most dislike? Injustice.
    What is your motto? I don’t have one!
    This has been fun! Love reading the other comments!
    xx,
    E.

  7. Laura says...

    What is your idea of perfect happiness?
    A perfectly idle day exploring a new place with my daughter.

    What is your greatest fear?
    Having harm befall my daughter.

    Which living person do you most admire?
    Jane Goodall.

    What is your favorite journey?
    I love going for runs with my daughter in the stroller, then heading to a cafe after.

    Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
    Cool.

    Who or what is the greatest love of your life?
    My husband and daughter. I’m obsessed. Truly.

    Which talent would you most like to have?
    I would like to be able to cut and sew pieces of clothing intuitively.

    What is your current state of mind?
    I’m stressed and anxious. But that’s layered over a core of happiness and contentment. It’s very odd.

    Where would you like to live?
    In a medium-sized town surrounded by nature.

    What is your most marked characteristic?
    Honesty, compassion, kindness, bravery, and a sense of adventure.

    Who is your favorite hero of fiction?
    Vianne Roche in Chocolat.

    What are your favorite names?
    Dawn, Laurie, Sadie – all teenage girls I admired as a child!

    What is it that you most dislike?
    Cruelty.

    What is your motto?
    Be kind, for everyone you know is fighting a hard battle.

  8. Liz says...

    What is your idea of perfect happiness?
    Knowing that my family is happy and peaceful.

    What is your greatest fear?
    Something untoward happening to my child. Also, snakes.
    Which living person do you most admire? Malala, perhaps.

    What is your favorite journey? Walking on the streets of Paris

    Which words or phrases do you most overuse? Cool cool. Yep yep yep.

    Who or what is the greatest love of your life?
    My son and husband.

    Which talent would you most like to have?

    Speed reading + remembering everything I read

    What is your current state of mind?
    Wondering what will hapoen next month. (we are shifting countries).
    Where would you like to live?
    Scandinavia. Or Amsterdam.
    What is your most marked characteristic?
    My motley accent.

    Who is your favorite hero of fiction? Sita. From Ramayana.

    What are your favorite names? Amaya. Nadia. Arjun. Kabir. Thomas.

    What is it that you most dislike? Bigotry. People who proudly call themselves bigots.

    What is your motto?

  9. P.G. says...

    What is your idea of perfect happiness?
    To no longer be held back by being fat and mired in self-loathing.

    What is your greatest fear?
    That I am ultimately unlovable and unworthy and that people who think they like me will ultimately cut me out of their lives. Living and subsequently dying friendless, unloved and unmourned.

    Which living person do you most admire?
    Ruth Bader-Ginsberg, Roxanne Gay, Michelle and Barak Obama, Christine Blasey-Ford.

    What is your favorite journey?
    The drive away from school on the first day of summer, knowing I won’t have grading to do for two months and that I can read whatever I want.

    Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
    “Fair enough.” “I approve this message.” “It’s not the worst thing that ever happened to a person.”

    Who or what is the greatest love of your life?
    My mom and my nephew.

    Which talent would you most like to have?
    Organizational skills, the ability to grade essays quickly and efficiently (I’m an English teacher and grading has taken over my life completely).

    What is your current state of mind?
    Anticipatory compassion fatigue and worry – the area I live and teach in just suffered a devastating flood. I’m worried about my students.

    Where would you like to live?
    I’ve had a front row seat for four major natural disasters in the last three years, so somewhere near my family where I don’t constantly have to worry about floods and wildfires and other ways for Mother Nature to destroy me and the communities I love.

    What is your most marked characteristic?
    Gallows humor, dry wit, big vocabulary, blue eyes.

    Who is your favorite hero of fiction?
    Phryne Fisher, C.J. Craig, Viola from Twelfth Night, Hermione Granger.

    What are your favorite names?
    Clio, Louise, Lewis, Violet, Henry

    What is it that you most dislike?
    Entitlement, misogyny, bigotry, carelessness, proud and unflagging ignorance mixed with piggish arrogance. Wet shoes. Beets. People who don’t say “Excuse me.” Cruelty.

    What is your motto?
    Hope for the best, prepare for the worst.
    Perfectionism is a disease.
    Start where you are, do what you can, use what you have.

    • Jeanne says...

      I just wanted to say I love your answers. You sound like a really awesome person.

    • Amber says...

      Love your responses! So real, so articulate.

  10. Lucie says...

    What is your idea of perfect happiness?
    Be free – of all obligations, duties and difficulties and exceptations etc.
    Somewhere in nature.

    What is your greatest fear?
    of suffocating

    Which living person do you most admire?
    Angela Merkel

    What is your favorite journey?
    Always Italy

    Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
    explicit and indifferent

    Who or what is the greatest love of your life?
    my husband and poetry

    Which talent would you most like to have?
    dancing

    What is your current state of mind?
    motivated

    Where would you like to live?
    Portugal, Crete

    What is your most marked characteristic?
    scatterbrained

    Who is your favorite hero of fiction?
    Ronja the robber’s daughter

    What are your favorite names?
    Sarah, Hannah

    What is it that you most dislike?
    selfishness and all the things around cars :)

    What is your motto?
    Attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity (Simone Weil)

  11. Kaitlin says...

    I’ve never heard of this before, and am slowly making my way through the list.

    This would be fun to do on an annual basis, like at a new year’s eve dinner or birthday party. It reminds me of 10Q (https://www.doyou10q.com/), which emails you a question per day for 10 days in the fall. They happen to be the days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, but the questions are non-secular, like “Describe a significant experience that has happened in the past year. How did it affect you? Are you grateful? Relieved? Resentful? Inspired?”

    Every year, you can answer the questions and then put them in “the vault”. You get to see them the following year. It’s really an amazing to reflect and be more selfaware and I highly
    recommend it