Last week I read A Look Inside a Rare Mind by Jennifer Soldner. I have known that I am an INFJ since I was a young adult. I have felt rare my whole life. Soldner organizes this read under characteristics and behaviors of an INFJ.
Here's what I have to say about some of them.
self consciousness - Because I am hyper aware of my surroundings, the people, their behavior and their energy (oh, by the way, furniture can have energy too), I am also hyper aware of my place within that environment. Because of this, it takes constant vigilance for me to remain present most of the time.
perfectionism - Similar with the author, I also have much more tolerance for other people's human-ness, idiosyncrasies, and mistakes. It is challenging (all of the time) to give myself the same tolerance. I have mentioned this before, but this is why I love making art. The only reason art works for me is because I am self taught. Had I known any "rules" or "proper technique", I never would have started to create in the first place.
anger - People who know me well, know that I am not an angry person and if I have anger, I find the proper and constructive, most healing way to express it and let it go. Anger, however, can work in my favor. It can fuel me to take back my power when I have felt I have lost it (a familiar feeling when I feel depleted).
protection - I have found that headphones (the big ones that fit over one's entire ear) can feel like a suit of armor. See also "a strong handshake and solid eye contact"
a strong handshake and solid eye contact - The author doesn't discuss this at all but I thought I would. I consider myself a confident, socially appropriate human being. I cannot remember how young I was when I learned the importance of a strong handshake (probably when I first shook someone's limp hand) and solid eye contact. Both of these behaviors are quite natural for me. However, if I avoid your eyes, it's not for lack of confidence. It's only a matter of protection. I may avoid eye contact altogether after a while for fear of picking up something that is not mine to carry. Even though I know it's not mine, if I look into your eyes for too long, it can take days (and more vigilance, which requires more energy) for me to shake whatever was yours (and not mine in the first place).
shut down - Shut down mode is not fun for me but I find it continues to happen and, at this time, is necessary for my ability to function. Shutting down is different than sitting quietly on the couch. I need to do this everyday. This is actually a very "active" time for me. Shut down, though, is not being able to think straight or carry on a conversation. Shut down is being so depleted of my energy that I don't even have any physical energy either. I don't appreciate shut down mode. In fact, I am usually depressed and miserable during it. Without it, though, I wouldn't be able to "do" the next day.
physical activity - Yes, similar to Soldner, the physical part of my life always takes the back burner. I know and have experienced that physical activity is a great release and distraction from my tendencies to over-think anything and everything but, sometimes, because of my need to process everything internally, by the time I do so, I am too tired.
simplicity - I am constantly simplifying our home. It has a tendency to get cluttered up quickly. It is small and needs daily maintenance. I find that if I am near shut down mode, any unfinished housework can appear chaotic to me. It can push me beyond shut down mode (into irrational anger, irritability, unwelcome emotion, in general) Ironically, in shut down mode, I don't have any energy to take care of this. What I've found is it's best to maintain and avoid this altogether. By the way, this doesn't ever mean our house is clean. Having clear and orderly surface areas, though, can mean all the world in my sanity.
change - I would refer to this as my difficulty with transitions. I don't like to be thrown any curve balls that I need to deal with on the fly. I have learned that most of these curve balls can be redirected with a response such as "I don't know" or "Let me give that some thought" because, honestly, I have no idea what's best for anyone when I am put on the spot. I am like a deer in the headlights.
shopping - The idea of entering a clothing store and shopping makes me tired before I can even identify where I would go. I do all of my clothes shopping online.
social media - Thank goodness for this. It allows me to make who I am known without having to take in an uncensored amount of energy (that isn't necessarily mine). I can't imagine what INFJs did before social media. I imagine that a lot of them were/are writers.
the creative process - The author doesn't refer to this but she does refer to her creative process, writing. Art making is extremely important to me. The creative process is the only outlet I have found (that fits) as proper communication for all my internal processing.
holidays - This topic wasn't discussed in the book either. As an INFJ, I dread holidays. For me, holidays feel like a marathon (and I am NOT a runner). The mass amounts of people and energy involved are tiring for me. I also, in general, like to avoid feeling busy or in a hurry. During the holidays I find myself surrounded by people who thrive off of being in a hurry. This can deplete me more. My only coping mechanism for holidays is to treat them like an important work event. I practice taking extremely good care of myself a few days before and after. You can read my introvert's survival guide to the 4th of July here.
I really appreciated Jennifer Soldner's efforts in putting together this collection of her personal experiences and revelations. If you can identify with any of the above, it might benefit you to take a peek into her book. Start by following her on pinterest. After all, we INFJs need to stick together...
For more posts on being an introvert, visit these:
the responsibility of being authentic
an introvert's guide to holidays: here and here
quiet influence, a quiz