Friday, November 8, 2013

‘Know Thyself’…INFJ

This might seem lame to some, but it's not lame to me: I AM SO THANKFUL TO HAVE DISCOVERED MY 'TYPE.' I LOOOOVE personality types/assessment, and just have found the ENFP fitting me like it did in the old days. I've changed. for the better. I hope. The lone wolf has left the wolf pack: INFJ.

Well, my thankful post yesterday might seem strange to some, but for me it was most definitely like the planets lining up for one glorious moment to shine light on something that had been puzzling me for the last several months: my personality type. In college, I took the Myers-Briggs personality test and came back as an ENFP. At the time, it seemed perfectly fitting…and I think it’s because that’s who I wanted to be.

In a way, I’m a bit of a personality chameleon because I’m not quite comfortable in my own skin (which, by the way, is totally an INFJ thing). It started in high school, when I took my first personality assessment, True Colors. I was a blue, through-and-through, but my secondary color has flip-flopped worse than a politician running for re-election. [Nice analogy, huh?] I took this assessment during a State 4-H Council retreat; I wanted to be respected as an organized, responsible leader…so, I gravitated toward the ‘gold.’ Truth be told: I am far from gold. During the discussions, I saw the oranges present and thought, “Man, I like attention. I want to be orange.” As a category, NFs are a tricking bunch because we know enough about personality types/people to recognize their strengths and want them for our own, but rarely do we recognize the strengths within our own type.

My mantra in college was definitely: “let’s not be too quick to make plans, let’s see what comes along.” This mantra is “totally P.” YET, my biggest struggle in college was, “What I am going to be doing after college? I should be getting married, God, but I am not dating anyone. What is the plan?” I REALLY, REALLY wanted a plan. But no grand, step-by-step plan was revealed for my life. So, I had to learn to adapt to not seeing the next step and being okay with that. However, I didn’t really let anyone into that struggle, other than those to whom I felt extremely close. Again – these actions scream I+J (introvert, judging).

It also seemed like my habits screamed P…like never being on time. No one who’s a J would consider 7:15 being like 7. But, I do. Interesting fact, according to PersonalityPage, “there is conflict between the inner and outer worlds, resulting in the INJF not being as organized as other Judging types….signs of disarray in an otherwise orderly tendency, such as a consistently messy desk.” UM, yes. However, the J shows up in this regard: “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.”

YES. I am in this constant state of re-evaluation, always checking myself. Again, PersonalityPage: “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 take time to revel in their accomplishments.” Mmm-hmmm. This is also a reason why I am attracted to the rectangle in psychogeometrics; always desiring to reach up, to get better. While the authors don’t say this, I would also imagine that INFJs struggle with comparison. It’s hard to recognize and acknowledge our accomplishments; and in a need to keep improving, it seems natural to compare what we are doing to others. Natural – but not best. Smile

Intuition is very strong for INFJs, and for me. INFJs can be good leaders, leading by instinct and vision. This could not be a more accurate description of me. I “just know” the needs of the organizations that I belong to and how to meet them in the best fashion.  Yes, my knowing does extend from interaction and discussions with members, but then a vision and a plan to accomplish and meet those needs just…comes to me – and sometimes, as a result of prayer. These things are hard to explain to non-Ns, and this gift can be particularly strong with INFJs, so we ‘protect’ this inner gift and share it only with those that we feel can be trusted.

I love this line: INFJs are as ‘genuinely warm as they are complex.’ And, honestly, we want to be loved for complexities. I know it makes me different, and sometimes difficult, but just love for my complexity, and you’ve got a friend for life. Trust my ‘knowing’ – and you’ve got me.

“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” (PersonalityPage).

Yep. Please remember this STUDENTS, friends, family. This is completely accurate for me. In fact, just a couple of days ago, a student confronted me after an evening workshop about a grade she received, and immediately my entire body stiffened/tightened. I hate conflict. Again, trust my evaluation of your work, PLEASE! I do not want to give you a 7.5, but for real, it was bad, and the fact that you cannot recognize it… I have had to teach myself to pause, breathe, listen, then respond with reasons. I think this one of the reasons rubrics are so important to me – I need them in order to explain my reasoning, with evidence, to my students.

“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, 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.”

So, let me tell you a story about Jessica. Excluding grades 1-7, I have had 2 boyfriends. I have gone on…probably 10-15 dates. Within minutes of a first date, I could tell you if there would be a second. Usually, that answer was an easy, “No, there will not be a second.” This is that strong iNtuition at play. I just knew the type of guy I needed...and what I desired for my life. However, if you see the preceding quote about conflict, this then led to a lot of internal conflict knowing that I would be letting the guy down, and most likely, the person who set us up, too. So, even though I really WANTED to go on dates – they were not that enjoyable. I really liked meeting people, but not the dating part because then I had to steel myself for the let-down.

Oy..and that high expectations part…yeah, uh huh. Trying to temper this with the aid of the Holy Spirit because that doesn’t always lead to happiness in marriages. It’s super hard. SUPER HARD.

“In the workplace, INFJ will show up where they can be creative and somewhat independent. …They are not good at dealing with minutia or very detailed tasks. They will either avoid such things, or else go to the extreme and become enveloped in the details to the extent that they can no longer see the big picture.”

This past year, I have been discovering this to be very true for me. This is why I enjoyed my work with TRIO so much – I was able to be somewhat independent, and creative by planning programs and events. I want to creatively plan programs. It combines my intuitive side of knowing what needs should be addressed, and then lets me work to solve it. Since I don’t deal well with minutia – I need someone at my right hand to take those ideas and make them reality (Nicole Nechanicky!). We were such a good team.  In teaching, this also explains why when students ask, “How many pages is this supposed to be? Do want this to be the header, or this?” I want to throw a book. Not literally, but I really don’t care. I want you to address the content that should be addressed and do it well. If you can do that in 5 pages, great. If you can do it in 3, even better. I will read what you put in front of me, and I will read it objectively.

What I really appreciate about discovering my type, though, is that I can see how my Strengths (StrengthsFinder – Gallup) fit into this type, as well as my “shapes” (psycho-geometrics). My top 2 Strengths are Individualization and Ideation: hello, I and N! My shapes are circle (always circle first), and then triangle/rectangle. After completing a learning styles assessment, I process information holistically (N), but I make decisions reflectively (I+J). Again, this seems ‘in conflict,’ yet, it’s ME.

“Life is not easy for the INFJ, but they are capable of great depth of feeling and personal achievement.” (PersonalityPages)

If you stuck around and read this far, you might as well check out the page that lead to such an epiphany:


Lisa Schmidt said...

It is so liberating, isn't it? "It" being finally feeling comfy in your own skin.

Anonymous said...

I, too, love these tests, ones that can not be failed…
So, here's the plan, INFJ: we are going to decorate a Rose Parade float on Monday, December 30 - are you and Dan in? Earnestly, ENFJ