1. When I’m feeling uncharacteristically social, I’ll optimistically make future plans. Then, when the day arrives and I’m feeling anything but social, I’ll cancel the plans 50% of the time. Yes, I’ll feel ashamed, but it’s better than when I accept and spend the whole time feeling like I’m sticking out like a sore thumb and then spend the rest of the day – and the few days after – kicking myself for not being different and not being able to have enjoyed the event.
2. I believe the little voice in my head, my intuition. I instinctively just know things. I can’t explain how or why but the fact that I know them is a certainty for me. As sure as night follows day. I can look at someone and know how they feel. It’s not that I can empathise with them or am sympathising with them, I just feel what they’re feeling. Even if they’ve not spoken. I’ll just see it in their smallest movements. It’s frightening in its accuracy. I’ve found myself predicting future events – even quite distant future events – with an accuracy that’s quite scary.
3. I hate making phone calls. Avoid it as much as possible. Email is my friend. Other social networks scare me, even though they’re ‘socially remote’. If I have to make a call, I spend the first six rings squinting my eyes going, “Please don’t pick up, please don’t pick up, please don’t pick up” then breathe a sigh of relief when it goes to voicemail and I can leave a message telling them I’ll send them an email. I also hate leaving voicemails. Before calling someone, I’ll have rehearsed what I’m going to say a) if they answer (and heaven help me if we veer off the topics I’ve rehearsed) and b) if it goes to voicemail (victory! No interaction, I can just leave the message I’ve rehearsed!). I then mess up when I leave voicemails…I’ll have rehearsed the message I’m going to leave. I’ll have gone over it in my head. When it comes to the point I have to leave the message? I get tongue-tied. I stumble. Totally embarrassing.
4. I find it difficult to see in ‘black and white’. I have to see, and to understand, everyone’s point of view, so it’s fair on everyone. This means that I’m a very compassionate person and that I will, always give everyone the benefit of the doubt, even when that leads to me being taken advantage of.
5. I’m OK with having a few very good friends. I’ve got a stable friendship base, all of them long-term friends. I like it that way because I can give them each all of the attention they deserve. I’d feel really bad if I had more friends and wasn’t able to commit to maintaining that deep connection with each of them. Fewer but deeper is my happy balance on the friendship front. [Blogging does present me with time management problems, as I feel compelled to leave meaningful comments on blog posts that have touched me!].
6. When I’ve planned a meeting with a friend and I’m feeling great on the day, I’ll be all, “OK! I can do this! I will enjoy myself!”. Then I arrive and my friend arrives with another friend I don’t know. Heaven help me. It’s difficult to manage: what I feel I can say with my friend is not what I can say with the other person I don’t know. I end up totally confused, a little hurt and deflated. I’d been feeling great and just wanted a nice chat with my friend! “Uurrgh!”
7. If someone’s rude to me, it really affects me. I don’t understand it and find it really difficult to get over. I’ll be pondering for days why they were rude, what made them like that, whether there’s anything I can do to help them, how I can prevent a similar situation in future. The constant ‘taking everything to heart’ is tiring. I have learnt to be disciplined about how much I allow myself to stew on things like this.
8. Whenever I’ve been in gatherings – a party, a meeting, a dinner – and people have drawn attention to me – singing me ‘Happy Birthday’ or telling me I’ve done good, baby – unless I’m on one of my good days (= socially competent days), it’s excruciating. When this happens, I end up kicking myself for not being more able to just go with the flow and enjoy the moment.
9. I’ll say the most inappropriate things at really weird times. “Here’s your change” the shop assistant tells me, “Oh, thanks…I’m just on my way to the Drs so that’ll come in handy when I get on the number 3 bus la la la…”. Or I’m at a gathering, with a million people I don’t know, and I get paralysed because I simply cannot do small talk. At moments like this, I simply cannot think of anything to say. This chronic under-responding or over-responding is tiring. Why can’t I just learn to be, to relax in to real-life social interactions? So what if small talk is useless, it’s a social convention – get over yourself, Helen (I wish I could think to myself!)…
10. I agree with Flannery O’Connor when he said, “I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say”. I write for many reasons but one of the main ones is that! I’ve got so many ideas floating around my head, such a global perspective on everything that comes in my radar, and I think so much, that it’s difficult for me to express myself verbally. When I write, I can channel the noise into something vaguely ‘sensical’ and find, through this, that I can make sense out of all the stuff.
11. I have difficulty expressing myself in social situations as I’m always doing a mental balancing act, asking whether I should express myself totally or respect the other person and do all I can to not offend them. Most of the time, I end up being quiet which fuels the inner dialogues which fuels my social incompetence and on and on and on!
12. That the day I found out I’m INFJ, I sat and cried tears of joy as I read the descriptions of this personality type. I suddenly understood everything about myself. Like in the scene in Tangled when Rapunzel puts on the crown. I just saw all the pieces fitting in to place and wept, because I could finally explain all my weirdness. I began to understand so many things about myself and why I act the way I do. After 40 years of feeling I didn’t fit in anywhere, I finally felt myself fit in, feel comfortable, in my body.
[The INFJ in me, who doesn’t like to be seen as ‘showing off’ or drawing attention to herself, asked for the following caveat: Helen wrote this in order to help any currently unclassified and confused INFJs who might find it helpful to hear a fellow INFJ ‘coming to terms’ with life as an INFJ]