30 Days of writing something other than poetry, day 13. In this essay, I consider my own faults with as close as I can come to brutal honesty. You have been warned. – Owen
According to Isabel (Briggs Myers) and Katherine (Cook Briggs, her mother), I am personality type INFJ. People characterized as such are relatively rare.
I thought I’d take the main dimensions these initials represent and talk about what they’ve meant for me in real life.
“Introverted.” (as opposed to Extroverted)
The better people know me, the less they like me. As such, I avoid people to the degree possible.
More than that, the more I am around people, the less I like me. I’m flighty, impatient, and frequently too preoccupied with my own concerns. My own perception of myself is that I am repetitious, pretentious, and annoying.
While I am alone, I become less aware of my own faults and can exist with something like emotional equanimity. For that reason, I spend as much time alone as I can arrange.
For many introverts, introversion is a strength: time alone allows them to be a more fully-realized them. For me, being a fully-realized me is bad, and introversion is my way of trying to avoid that.
“Intuition”. (as opposed to Sensing. And yes, “Intuition” uses an “N” in this system, because “I” was already used.)
The dichotomy the Myers-Briggs test sets up here is an interesting one, between “Sensing” and “Intuiting” as ways of taking in knowledge. One might think the opposite of a “sensing” person would be one who is “oblivious”, which describes me pretty well, at least as regards how things look; I am almost entirely non-visual. I routinely fail to notice things that almost everyone else does.
And, in case there is anyone wondering about the significance I attach to being oblivious, THIS IS NOT A GOOD THING.
To be fair, I do notice sounds. When I have told people that the first thing I notice or find attractive in a woman is her voice, people think I’m crazy. Or at least I assume so, since they tend to start backing away slowly.
I also tend to remember what I hear far better than what I read, which is really weird for a writer.
The one visual thing I do notice is color. I love bright colors, and use them on this blog whenever possible, as I have in the picture affixed to this post. I also like to wear bright colors, when I can.
Now, I defined myself in this personality dimension primarily negatively, by my lack of the practical skills involved with sensing things directly. I do have the prototype Intuitive preference for metaphor, analogy, and logic rather than facts, per se.
Preferring analogies to facts is like enjoying cooking shows more than eating. It kind of places life at one remove.
“Feeling” (as opposed to Thinking)
I can think, I just don’t, not when feelings are blaring away their top forty hits at me twenty-four hours a day. Unlike the characteristics above, I recognize this as good thing (for me) even if it is as aggravating as a rock in their shoe for people who have to deal with me daily.
Thinking and feeling act as necessary correctives to each other; in my case, when everything is working right, I’m slightly less aggravating. But only slightly.
I can typically empathize with people fairly well, which is a trait people like, in small doses, but which can make it hard for me to function when I am around a lot of people. As I mentioned above, when I am feeling too much, I cannot think.
Online friendships have worked out relatively well for me, since the lack of actual contact allows me to operate in this empathetic capacity. I have been reluctant to meet any of my online friends in real life, though, for fear of what their disappointment would feel like.
“Judging” (as opposed to Perceiving)
Judging people, as defined here, are ones who make decisions and stick to them; perceiving people keep their possibilities more open. I am not sure why I ended up being a “Judging” person, but I certainly am one.
In this regard, I think I realized very young that we have to make decisions and that perfect information is impossible, so I got comfortable with reality as I perceived it. I can make decisions, no problem. But I am not a confident person about those decisions.
This blog is named for the idea of my never being certain about anything. I just accept the consequences of my bad decisions, when they turn out to be so.
Below is a cribbed summary of INFJ’s: I’ve underlined things that sound like me.
INFJ (“The Protector” or “The Advocate”, also called “Introverted Intuition with Extroverted Feeling”)
As an INFJ, your primary mode of living is focused internally, where you take things in primarily via intuition. Your secondary mode is external, where you deal with things according to how you feel about them, or how they fit with your personal value system.
INFJs are gentle, caring, complex and highly intuitive individuals. Artistic and creative, they live in a world of hidden meanings and possibilities. Only one percent of the population has an INFJ Personality Type, making it the most rare of all the types.
INFJs place great importance on having things orderly and systematic in their outer world. They put a lot of energy into identifying the best system for getting things done, and constantly define and re-define the priorities in their lives. On the other hand, INFJs operate within themselves on an intuitive basis which is entirely spontaneous. They know things intuitively, without being able to pinpoint why, and without detailed knowledge of the subject at hand. They are usually right, and they usually know it. Consequently, INFJs put a tremendous amount of faith into their instincts and intuitions. This is something of a conflict between the inner and outer worlds, and may result in the INFJ not being as organized as other Judging types tend to be. Or we may see some signs of disarray in an otherwise orderly tendency, such as a consistently messy desk.
INFJs have uncanny insight into people and situations. They get “feelings” about things and intuitively understand them. As an extreme example, some INFJs report experiences of a psychic nature, such as getting strong feelings about there being a problem with a loved one, and discovering later that they were in a car accident. This is the sort of thing that other types may scorn and scoff at, and the INFJ themself does not really understand their intuition at a level which can be verbalized. Consequently, most INFJs are protective of their inner selves, sharing only what they choose to share when they choose to share it. They are deep, complex individuals, who are quite private and typically difficult to understand. INFJs hold back part of themselves, and can be secretive.
But the INFJ is as genuinely warm as they are complex. INFJs hold a special place in the heart of people who they are close to, who are able to see their special gifts and depth of caring. INFJs are concerned for people’s feelings, and try to be gentle to avoid hurting anyone. They are very sensitive to conflict, and cannot tolerate it very well. Situations which are charged with conflict may drive the normally peaceful INFJ into a state of agitation or charged anger. They may tend to internalize conflict into their bodies, and experience health problems when under a lot of stress.
Because the INFJ has such strong intuitive capabilities, they trust their own instincts above all else. This may result in an INFJ stubborness and tendency to ignore other people’s opinions. They believe that they’re right. On the other hand, INFJ is a perfectionist who doubts that they are living up to their full potential. INFJs are rarely at complete peace with themselves – there’s always something else they should be doing to improve themselves and the world around them. They believe in constant growth, and don’t often take time to revel in their accomplishments. They have strong value systems, and need to live their lives in accordance with what they feel is right. In deference to the Feeling aspect of their personalities, INFJs are in some ways gentle and easy going. Conversely, they have very high expectations of themselves, and frequently of their families. They don’t believe in compromising their ideals.
INFJ is a natural nurturer; patient, devoted and protective. They make loving parents and usually have strong bonds with their offspring. They have high expectations of their children, and push them to be the best that they can be. This can sometimes manifest itself in the INFJ being hard-nosed and stubborn. But generally, children of an INFJ get devoted and sincere parental guidance, combined with deep caring.
In the workplace, the INFJ usually shows up in areas where they can be creative and somewhat independent. They have a natural affinity for art, and many excel in the sciences, where they make use of their intuition. INFJs can also be found in service-oriented professions. They are not good at dealing with minutia or very detailed tasks. The INFJ will either avoid such things, or else go to the other extreme and become enveloped in the details to the extent that they can no longer see the big picture. An INFJ who has gone the route of becoming meticulous about details may be highly critical of other individuals who are not.
The INFJ individual is gifted in ways that other types are not. Life is not necessarily easy for the INFJ, but they are capable of great depth of feeling and personal achievement.
I feel like I ought to offer a prize to anyone who makes it this far in this turgid and self-serving piece. If I did, what prize would you want?