Research and forced extroversion are the impetus for my ship’s forward momentum this week. After Monday’s course correction, I’m back out to sea with heavy sails that sprang back into service after untangling the ropes and dealing with rusted winches. The ocean spray is cold and the boat creaks loudly every so often, a reminder of the beaching that never was, but aside from a few splinters from the deck, I’d say my skies ahead appear overcast but calm. Sure, it’s not easy to redirect trajectory, but it’s necessary and the fresh air isn’t entirely unwanted. The further away from land I get, the more I realize I won’t necessarily miss the dangers that awaited me on shore. There’s still time for this vessel to travel without a first mate and a pelagic life is where I’ve traditionally made myself most familiar, so I should relish the journey instead of anchoring it in an unintended bay.
But enough of this nautical nonsense; I have a valid reason for writing this entry. Boat metaphors aside, I realized something about myself this week that helped me understand why I keep avoiding the shore (I lied, I’m not done with boat-talk yet). I’d never taken the Myers-Briggs Personality Test before, so I went online and found a couple of websites that offered the tests for free. Upon completion of the tests, they provided instant analysis of my personality and categorized their findings into one of sixteen possible templates. Not surprisingly, I received the same category each time I took the test regardless of the website. I am an INFJ.
INFJ stands for introverted intuitive feeling judging. This personality is generally regarded as exhibiting the following characteristics (abridged list, free of boat lingo):
- Creativity is key to their personality
- “Doers” in addition to dreamers
- Require closure on all things
- Obsessed with interpersonal relations
- Interested in people
- Highly empathic
- Worried about offending others
- Suddenly withdraw to seek personal time
- Alone time helps to decompress
- Alone time avoids emotional overload
- Quietly extroverted, needing human interaction but not too much
- Prone to internal conflict
- The struggle between logic and feeling is ongoing
- Self-awareness is prevalent
- Strong self-expression through art and writing
- Doesn’t like hard logic, gravitates toward liberal arts
- Conflict avoidant at all costs
- Always needing a cause to exercise passion
- Easily burned out
- Does not like casual romance
- Unlikely to go for social circle friendships without authenticity
- Likely to rehash the boat joke from before
- Lies about not adding naval language to things
There are aspects of the INFJ personality type that don’t necessarily apply to me (like the inclination to have a teaching job), but this is as close as it gets in terms of falling into one of their categories. But the thing about it that I find most interesting isn’t the laundry list of applicable characteristics I already knew about myself. The interesting thing about the category is that it’s the rarest personality type in their sixteen-block architecture. According to the Center for Applications of Psychological Type, only 1-3% of total people in the US fall into this particular arrangement of personality qualities. It’s the least represented of the categories with the fewest amount of people identifying as INFJ.
This isn’t really a M. Night Shyamalan revelation or anything. I’m not suddenly seeing dead people and I’m not surprised cleverly placed glasses of water are the key to beating a source of anxiety. Of course I’m in that weird 1% of people. Of course I belong to the personality minority. I struggle constantly with genuinely enjoying socially accepted activities and I flat out refuse to partake in others because they’re not for me (ironically with all the maritime vernacular, I cannot swim and refuse to do it). I’ve never been great at connecting with a large amount of people with great success and I prefer an inward activity that generates products of creativity over traditional social activities that produce little beyond filling time.
I value intelligent, driven introverts with a penchant for creativity and empathy. Those are my people. They’re the ones I want on my ship as I maintain full speed and sail further out into the waters ahead. Together we build each other up emotionally and creatively, validate our shared interests, keep each other aligned with our goals, be productive with our time, and be witnesses to each other’s lives. That’s not to say I don’t want other personality types on my ship; crews exclusively made up of INFJs are of the skeletal sort. All are welcome so long as they don’t interfere with my intended course. I compromised what mattered to me for a long time and I don’t intend to lower sails anymore.