Friday, June 21, 2013

015 : So, you say you're an introvert?

Have y'all ever heard of The Myers-Briggs Personality Indicator? It's this interpretation of Carl Jung's work, originally meant to assist women going into the work force during World War II (new info to me) and is now largely used in the corporate workforce. But I don't take it so seriously as that. It's a self-assessment test, meaning you're answering the questions about yourself in order to better describe yourself and understand your preferences. I took the test a few months ago and was really, really pleased with the answers.

The personalities are 4 different letters, each with an opposite; I/E, N/S, F/T, J/P and they mean introvert/extrovert, intuition/sensing, feeling/thinking, judging/perceiving. You're assigned letters based on your preferred behavior choices. All of the letters exist on a you could be very much feeling over thinking or very little feeling over thinking. The result is 16 personality types: ISTJ, ISTP, ISFJ, ISFP, INFJ, INFP, INTJ, INTP, ESTP, ESTJ, ESFP, ESFJ, ENFP, ENFJ, ENTJ, ENTP. Because the letters are all on a spectrum and because the letters combine for different functions, these types can be used to describe everyone. It's not as if all ISTJs are exactly the same, because one ISTJ may be VERY much intuitive, while the other may be only slightly so. Also, there is a lot of analysis of the way the functions work together (for me, I'm an introvert, but I feel extrovertedly). There is, of course, some skepticism out there. That's fine. For me, I like this test a lot. It's provided me with a lot of insight into my life and choices. Because it's a self-assessment, I feel like I can choose to believe in it and choose to understand my preferences. I don't need to be a skeptic. If I felt the personality I was assigned didn't suit me well, I could look into the other types and self-assess therein. However, I did find that the personality result of the test I took suited me VERY well.


As it turns out, I'm an INFJ. Here are a few descriptions of the personality: Human Metrics, Wikipedia, Type Logic, 16 Personalities. The INFJ is the most rare personality type, with only 1% of the world's population falling into that type. This came as absolutely no surprise to me and I found it to be a great comfort. INFJs are often psychics or counselors, because they have a need to heal the world and an ability to see to the heart of things very quickly. I find this to be exceptionally true of myself. But what I also found is that the struggles I've experienced in my life are because I'm going against my own type. So, I'm working on changing that.

As I've begun to learn about personality types (and I have only a basic understanding), I've sought out the types of my friends. (Please, take the test here or here and let me know the results!) It is VERY interesting to me, the types of my friends and how we relate. I am not surprised at all to find out that my closest friends divide into two types.

Something else that I've experienced while exploring this, is a common reaction : You're an introvert? It leads me to answer, "Oh yes, very much so." But I wanted to talk about that a little bit more. There are some common misconceptions over introverts. Most people assume introverts must be shy, quiet, socially awkward people. But the truth is that being an introvert or extrovert means two things, 1. Your behavioral preferences and 2. How you recharge or maintain your energy. For extroverts, they recharge in the company of others. Being around people is what gives extroverts their joie de vivre. For introverts, they recharge in solace. Being on their own gives them the energy they need for their lives.


I've known for quite some time that I was an introvert, but I didn't always know this. I spent a lot of my 20s living an extrovert's life and was consequently worn out, exhausted, confused, and frustrated. Because I am such an outgoing, lively, talkative person, everyone assumes I'm an extrovert. But the truth is, I need alone time, and when I started giving myself more of it, my life and emotions balance out. If you're a really close friend, you probably have noticed my introverted tendencies; like my preference for one-on-one interaction, the activities in which I engage that are solitary and less crowded, my avoidance of crowds and situations full of people, my general disdain for large group events and my inability to function well therein. But if you don't know me well, you've probably seen that girl who is loud and excited in social situations. (Most of the loudness and excitedness are nervous reactions to uncomfortable situations, though they don't appear as such from an outsider's point of view.)

It's ok, I don't mind being mistaken for an extrovert. In fact, of the introverted types, INFJs are most often mistaken for extroverts. The mistake comes with how we feel externally.

Finding the MBTI has meant so much to me and given me so much more understanding of myself, and I am using it to guide my future decisions. As I learn more and see how these decisions affect my life, I'll be sure to write about that here. In the meantime, I would love to know your long have you known it, and how to you use it for your life? If you don't know your type, I'd love if you took the test and told me your results and how you feel about them. I find this all very, very interesting!



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  2. I'm an ENFJ! I originally took the test before freshman year of college, since they use the test to assign roommates. The roommate situation TOTALLY worked out. From what I've read so far, I can pretty much agree that this test is spot on. And I'm only 1 of 2% of people!!! No wonder people say they've never really met anyone like me!

  3. @Heather : Wow! That's cool. No wonder we get along!

    @TK Woo : You know, Brandi Ferrebee? She's also an ENFJ! I've started to look that up, since we're the same but for one letter. Our relationship is really interesting. I might write a post comparing and contrasting my friends!