HOLLY WAINWRIGHT: The 35 questions that reveal who you really are.

There's one set of questions that when answered thoughtfully, is meant to reveal who you really are. 

It's not a workplace tool to deduce whether you're going to be better with words or shapes. It's not a left-brain/right-brain gotcha or an attempt to assign you an identifying letter or colour. It's about character, and answering it honestly requires trust.

It's called the Proust Questionnaire. The title is a bit misleading because the famous French writer and critic did not invent it, he simply took it with great enthusiasm as a teenager in the late 1880s and went on to get all his literary mates to do the same. They would answer the questions in a book dubbed the "confession album" and pass it around between them.

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It's the kind of list fiction writers answer on behalf of their characters, although I have to admit, these days I make my own fictional people do conversation cards instead, because they don't like the surprise. Yes, I know I sound strange, take it up with my Proust answers. 

The reason I know anything about these questions is not, embarrassingly, because of their literary origins but because Vanity Fair, an American magazine that I have loved and read all my adult life do it as their back-page staple. Every celebrity from Hugh Jackman to Zendaya to Judy Blume to Elton John has taken it.


And now it's our turn. My co-hosts on Mamamia Out Loud, Mia Freedman, Clare Stephens and I are going to take the questionnaire in chunks over a course of a few short episodes for Mamamia subscribers. And because we talk a lot, our answers aren't going to be pithy one-word affairs, but more like conversation starters that will, invariably, end up in a debate, because most things do.

Take it yourself, use it on a date, choose our questions for us.

Here it is, the Proust Questionnaire: 

1. What is your idea of perfect happiness?

2. What is your greatest fear? 

3. What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? 

4. What is the trait you most deplore in others? 

5. Which living person do you most admire? 

6. What is your greatest extravagance?

7. What is your current state of mind?

8. What do you consider the most overrated virtue? 

9. On what occasion do you lie? 

10. What do you most dislike about your appearance?

11. Which living person do you most despise? 

12. What is the quality you most like in a man?

13. What is the quality you most like in a woman? 

14. Which words or phrases do you most overuse? 


15. What or who is the greatest love of your life? 

16. When and where were you happiest? 

17. Which talent would you most like to have? 

18. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? 

19. What do you consider your greatest achievement? 

20. If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be? 

21. Where would you most like to live? 

22. What is your most treasured possession? 

23. What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?

24. What is your favourite occupation? 

25. What is your most marked characteristic? 

26. What do you most value in your friends? 

27. Who are your favourite writers? 

28. Who is your hero of fiction? 

29. Which historical figure do you most identify with? 

30. Who are your heroes in real life? 

31. What are your favourite names? 

32. What is it that you most dislike? 

33. What is your greatest regret? 

34. How would you like to die? 

35. What is your motto?

Feature Image: Instagram @wainwrightholly/Mamamia.

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