Hey guys! I thought I’d share a little self-discovery with you all, especially since I think there are probably more than a few of you in the same situation as me. 🙂
Throughout my life, I have dealt with a lot of things about me that set me apart from my classmates or made me feel super insecure about myself. Let me give you some examples. In 4th grade, I was inconsolable in school when I got my first F on an assignment (Perfectionism). In middle school, I’d cry if a teacher miscounted papers for a row and I was left out (High sensitivity). Even up to my current job, I’ve been told that I’m quiet and occasionally asked why I don’t speak up more (Introversion). I knew I was different. I knew that no one knew how to handle me when I broke out into tears over something seemingly normal. I ended up telling myself a lot of crap in order to train myself out of some of it. (“Don’t cry, you’ll look like an idiot.” “Ok, so you got a B- on that assignment. When it’s all factored together, it won’t matter more than maybe a percentage point or two.” “Say something…NOW…nope, you missed your opening. Great going. Now they’re going to think you’re an idiot.”)
It royally sucked. I really struggled throughout school to stop telling myself these stupid little things. Eventually, I outgrew crying at the drop of a hat, but now whenever I feel like I want to cry, I have to tell myself that it’s ok to let it out. I’m not as harsh of a perfectionist anymore, but I still completely freak if I’m just average/below average at something. And I still can’t always get up the nerve to talk in meetings, even if there are only six of us in the room.
I’m 25 years old. I thought that by now, I’d more or less figured myself out. I hadn’t.
Over the summer, my friend posted on Facebook the results of her Myers-Briggs Personality test. I’d done that test before, but I couldn’t remember what my results were. So I thought I’d try it again.
My result? INFJ or “The Advocate”
(Factoid: apparently this is the same personality type as Remus Lupin. I knew he was one of my favorites for a reason. I just thought it was the chocolate.)
And it was scary accurate. I always knew I was introverted (hello, I never went anywhere without a book and couldn’t speak up in a crowd), but some of the other things surprised me. But what really freaked me out were some of the descriptions used to describe those with INFJ personalities were the exact same words I’d used to describe myself. (“introverted extrovert” and “emotional sponge”)
I discovered a lot about myself. I learned that INFJ’s are the rarest personality type in the world and that they are a walking contradiction. They are usually feelers, but can completely shut off those feelings and be thinkers. They are usually introverted but can be extroverted when the mood strikes. They like to help people but also need that time alone to recharge. (I was having serious test anxiety when I started changing my answers halfway through the test, but apparently I played right into my type!)
But most of all, I learned that I wasn’t alone. There were other people in the world who were also struggling with perfectionism, high sensitivity, and introversion all rolled into one. I learned I wasn’t alone when it came to struggling to find a relationship that worked for me. (INFJs can’t do casual relationships and we judge very quickly whether or not we think you’re “the one”.) I learned I wasn’t the only person who absorbed emotions like a sponge from the people around me and retreated far far away from any conflict.
My newfound acceptance of myself has also been helped a lot by a new guy who has roared into my life. His personality type, INTP (yes, I made him take the test as well and he had a similar revelation about himself) works really well with mine. He’s practically a borderline introvert/extrovert, so he understands why I need my own time and why I’m sometimes quiet, but he also helps draw me out of my shell. He’s creative, like I am, and likes to help others, like me. He’s enthusiastic, which also helps draw emotions out of me when I’d rather stay bottled up. Even his weaknesses, like the fact that he constantly second guesses himself, plays well into my strengths of wanting to help people. It’s just really funny that we figured this all out so early on because we understand each other on a deeper level, especially when we send each other links saying, “This is so me!”
Something else that’s helped me is this website called Introvert, Dear. In addition to having articles written by introverts for introverts, it also breaks down personality types, high sensitivity, and anxiety. It’s a phenomenal website that has made me feel so much less alone and given me a greater appreciation for me being myself. Like now, I have great comebacks when someone asks why I’m so quiet. And I don’t feel as bad asking for space when I need it.
Truly, if you haven’t found your personality type yet, I think you should try it. It’s been a process, but you don’t understand how much better you’ll feel until you suddenly realize that out there are people going through exactly what you’re experiencing. If the results from one test don’t seem to fit you (like my boyfriend’s first test), take a different one. Take 3 or 4. There are tons of free ones on the internet. Find out who you are and embrace it. It may not be the results you thought you were going to get, but that’s ok. Have some fun with it! Sure, maybe not every single bullet point sounds like you, but as long as the majority is you, it’s working.