It has always been fascinating for me to take personality tests. Ever since taking those quizzes in Seventeen magazine as a young teenager, I have realized that my personality is difficult to categorize.
I once wrote a poem about my personality called, “Paradox” because I have always felt like a complicated soul. I ignore some details, but I am obsessed with others. I am an introverted extrovert, a diplomat with a temper. Sometimes I feel like a walking conundrum.
The personality quizzes had a difficult time categorizing what I was, and for many of those examinations, the results were all over the place. I never seemed to be clear-cut.
It wasn’t until I was in my late 20’s when I discovered the Myers-Briggs personality types. The research was carried out in 1943 by a mother/daughter team: Katharine Cook Briggs and Isabel Brigs Meyers. They studied human temperaments and named and wrote about specific personality types.
I took a Meyers Briggs quiz and found out my type was INFJ (introversion, intuition, feeling, and judging); It was the first personality quiz with results that made total sense, so much so, it was a little freaky.
Since personalities change, I have taken the exam a few times, but I always seem to land on the INFJ personality type.
It turns out that INFJ’s are apparently rare and are also a blend of complex traits.
Knowing that I am an INFJ has shown me how to cater to my strengths and work on improving my weaknesses.
One common INFJ trait is that they sometimes appear as extroverts but are more introverted than many think. This is me. I can be outgoing; I am very sociable; I consider myself well-liked, but I need to retreat. I need my alone time. And after a party or gathering, I am exhausted.
This trait has also affected me with my job as a teacher. To the kids, I possess a decent sense of humor, I smile a lot, I engage, I appear to be outgoing, but at the end of the day, I want to melt into the floor. Although I love my students, all of that interaction drains me.
This is why I advocate for alone time. There were a couple of days at my school in which I had no breaks, except for eating snacks and lunch around the kids. I requested to have lunch alone. I expressed that I needed that need. Like I said, I need my alone time; I need time to decompress, and sometimes this surprises others who think that I am more sociable than I actually am.
Once people honestly get to know me, they understand that I need my me time, and although I love people, they also exhaust me.
Being an INFJ has also been impressive as a mother. First off, me time for a mom with young children is difficult to come by.
When my first son was born, my husband and I went through a learning curve. I had to advocate for alone time and still do, but I need it to stay sane. Now I go to movies, the grocery store, library, all alone. This is essential for me to be a good mom.
INFJ’s are also known for giving to everyone else and frequently forgetting about themselves. This has always impacted my family and jobs. I want to give, give, give and take care of everyone.
I got to the point that teaching while having a family was just too much for me to balance. I always felt torn between two worlds that needed me, and I thought that I never had enough to give.
I wanted to give everything to my students and everything to my family. There were not enough hours in a day, and I was getting burnt out under the weight of it all. I also felt like I had little/if any time to retreat. Someone always needed me.
This is why after over ten years of teaching, I am calling it quits to work part-time at home as a tutor, editor, and writer while staying home with my kids. I will get alone time to work in the morning and then be around two kids opposed to 70.
This was the first time in a long time when I stopped for a minute and thought about what would be best for me?
This is my answer.
It turns out that INFJ’s are notorious for burning themselves out. I am taking a step to prevent this reoccurring pattern. I am doing what works for me.
Favorite job recommendations for INFJ’s are teachers, writers, researchers, and working for a non-profit. Interestingly enough, I have done them all.
Another INFJ attribute that has been prevalent in my life is becoming obsessed with goals. If I put my mind to something, I will do whatever I can to make it happen.
I came from a small Vermont town and had it in my mind that I was going to play Division 1 soccer. I ended up playing for a nationally ranked team and was captain.
I received my master’s degree in education in a one year accelerated the program and graduated with a 4.0 GPA.
I have worked hard to have books and articles published.
I become so obsessed with goals that sometimes I overlook other things that matter. Sometimes I also miss details that don’t relate to my focus.
This is also why I struggle in conversations that do not get to the point. My time is valuable, and I do not like wasting it. Meetings that go on forever—when I feel that they could be condensed—drive me nuts.
At the same time, I am very empathetic and a dependable listener.
Another INFJ characteristic that has affected my life is my sensitivity and fear of criticism. This is something that I have had to work on.
I am susceptible, and I am well aware of this. Some people who are direct and in my face scare the hell out of me. I have had to learn to stand up for myself and not be a doormat.
I also want to please everyone: this is an impossible feat, and when I am criticized, sometimes I get angry, and view it as a personal attack, instead of an offer to help.
I have done a much better stepping back and even asking for constructive criticism lately, but as a teacher, writer, and mother, sometimes the amount of criticism received sends me to my boiling point.
This leads me to my next weakness combined with strength. I have a temper, but I am also very diplomatic. See, a poem called “Paradox” is incredibly suitable for a lot of INFJ’s.
Another one of my INFJ traits that tend to surprise people are my strong convictions. I have very rigid beliefs, and if I see a cause worth fighting for, I will be a force to be reckoned with.
In my life, I have advocated for at-risk youth, environmental changes, breastfeeding mothers, people with special needs, and more.
Advocating for causes has always been part of my nature, but it also pushes me out of my comfort zone.
Living as an INFJ has impacted my relationships. I feel that I have a comprehensive spectrum of friends because I am usually able to find some common ground. I also think that I am incredibly loyal and someone you would want to have on your side.
No matter what your personality. We all have strengths and weaknesses that are just part of who we are. It is essential to recognize these traits and use personality types as not a clear-cut answer, but as a starting point to learning more about ourselves.
Knowing that I am an INFJ has provided me with a hesitant outline on self-improvement.
I am still learning, and I am probably not perfect, but this is me, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
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