Introvert (NFJ) 03.09.2010
My first time taking a Meyers-Briggs Personality Assessment, I questioned my MBTI score enough that I decided to take many more, at different times, to see if they would come out the same. They all did.
For those that don’t know what the heck I am talking about (which I assume is most of you), the score derived from this test is called the Meyers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) To catch you up to speed, here is what Wikipedia has to say about the MBTI:
The MBTI preferences indicate the differences in people based on the following:
▪ How they focus their attention or get their energy (Extraversion or Introversion)
▪ How they perceive or take in information (Sensing or iNtuition)
▪ How they prefer to make decisions (Thinking or Feeling)
▪ How they orient themselves to the external world (Judgment or Perception)
By using their preference in each of these areas, people develop what Jung and Myers called psychological type. This underlying personality pattern results from the dynamic interaction of their four preferences, in conjunction with environmental influences and their own individual tendencies. People are likely to develop behaviors, skills, and attitudes based on their particular type. Each personality type has its own potential strengths as well as areas that offer opportunities for growth.
My MBTI is INFJ – which stands for Introversion, iNtuition, Feeling, Judging. That said, I want to mainly focus on that first part because that is the surprise – I’m an Introvert. Why is this a surprise? Because most people who know me in real life, and those that know me online, would likely never guess it.
The reason is that I do a good job of hiding this fact. I mask how completely draining most social interactions greater than a one on one conversation are to me. How much I value and protect my alone time. How my ability to interact socially, and talk, and appear outgoing, and speak my mind is a complete smokescreen to mask what I really feel – which is “I hate this. I’m frightened. Get me out of here so I can be alone”. That going to a small gathering exhausts me for a day. That going to a large event, means that it will take me weeks to fully recover. The way I hide this is by finding someone, or a group of people, that I know and talking their ear off. I cling to them for dear life in the hopes that I won’t have to be confronted with my sheer terror of the situation. Because these people see me as talkative, open, and liable to say anything, they likely assume that I am as outgoing, jovial, and energetic as any Extrovert. And don’t even get me started if I am somewhere I have never been and don’t know anyone. Putting me in a room with a group of people I do not know is like putting me in a tank full of sharks – I remain very still and quiet as possible and pray no one sees me while looking for the easiest exit.
Introversion in the MBTI does not always mean someone who can’t be social or behave in ways that the world would perceive as outgoing. In fact, many famous people and leaders would also fall in the Introversion spectrum. For instance, Martin Luther King, Mahatma Gandhi, and Nelson Mandela are all INFJs. It does mean that Extroversion is not where we derive our energy. It, in fact, drains it and that we can only recharge that energy through solitude.
What I have always found interesting, and this is purely my own anecdotal observation, is that most Extroverts have no capacity to understand Introverts. They just don’t get it. No matter how many times we might explain to them who we are, how we react in social situations, and how we feel. If you are an Introvert in a relationship with an Extrovert, it is not uncommon when having had a few days full of many gatherings, and then complaining about how tired you are, for them to cajole you into attending another. The reason being is that they derive their energy from such social interactions and have no capacity to understand that such a thing will not be the perfect anecdote to your ills. I should mention that I have spent my life surrounded by Extroverts, including my wife, I think many Introverts are drawn to them. Therefore, my anecdotes are based upon a lifetime of experience.
I guess all of this is just to share a bit about me. Why, though invited, you may not see me at your event, party, dinner or other gathering of two or more. Why, if I do come, and I know someone there, I will seem like a lost puppy, happy to find it’s master. Why you may not see me at another for a while. And why, before reading this, you had no idea why.