You know that phenomenon where you are completely unaware of something—a song, a commercial, a trend, a meme—but then someone brings it to your attention, and after that you see it everywhere?
Ever since digging more deeply into my introversion and my personality, I’ve noticed it more. A few weeks ago, I took a basic Myers-Briggs test and came up with INTJ (borderline INFJ). Most descriptions of an INTJ are scarily accurate for me, and the description of an INFJ fills in the gaps. So now that I know my personality type and have a better grasp of what introversion entails, I catch myself doing or saying things and recognizing where it comes from. Often it’s quite amusing.
It’s been especially obvious to me over the past week: after feeling stifled and restless, I finally grabbed the opportunity to get out of town and visit some friends and some sites in New England. It’s been a fun and enriching time, and right now I’m torn between missing the ladies I’ve been seeing and being ready to go home.
It’s weird to stay in another person’s house, amid their routines and habits and obligations. Everyone does things differently, and visitors just have to deal with that. But it’s funny because I am more aware when I catch myself thinking, “Why do you do things this way? It doesn’t make sense!!!” or “Why do you put things here when there would be more efficient?” and “Oh no, I’ve heard that’s the incorrect way to do a thing, that must change!” Especially when the word “inefficient” crosses my mind, I just want to laugh and say “Em, your INTJ is showing.”
It’s like I’ve been missing out on a song until someone made me listen to it, and now I hear it everywhere. Now that I better understand my personality, I see how it affects my reactions and decisions. It’s like a new kind of self-consciousness. I’ve always been self-conscious to a fault, constantly questioning my every move and word and thought, paranoid about how it is conveyed or whether it is “wrong” (the assumption being usually that it is). But this other kind that I’m developing is a little different. It’s like a new level of awareness, one that comes with less judgment. I’m still getting accustomed to it and figuring out how to use it best, but I think I like it.
(Fun fact: According to one site, I share my personality type with C.S. Lewis, Thomas Jefferson, Jane Austen, Horatio Hornblower, Hannibal Lecter, Mr. Darcy, and Professor Moriarty. That explains my enjoyment of Austen, my passionate-but-imaginary love affairs with Jefferson, Lewis, and Hornblower, and my fascination with serial killers.)
The INTJ Wikipedia page says that my cognitive function “filters information based on interpretations of worth, forming judgments according to criteria that are often intangible…constantly balances an internal set of values such as harmony and authenticity…innately senses what is true and what is false in a situation.” This might be the most accurate bit.
But this too: “In forming relationships, INTJs tend to seek out others with similar character traits and ideologies. Agreement on theoretical concepts is an important aspect of their relationships. By nature INTJs can be demanding in their expectations, and approach relationships in a rational manner. … They tend to be stable, reliable, and dedicated. … They generally withhold strong emotion and do not like to waste time with what they consider irrational social rituals. This may cause non-INTJs to perceive them as distant and reserved; nevertheless, INTJs are usually very loyal partners who are prepared to commit substantial energy and time into a relationship to make it work.”
There we go. I have a friend who described me as “loyal as hell” and “brutally honest.”
Aaaaand this: “INTJs trust their intuition when choosing friends and mates—even in spite of contradictory evidence or pressure from others.…At times, INTJs seem cold, reserved, and unresponsive, while in fact they are almost hypersensitive to signals of rejection from those they care for. In social situations, INTJs…may neglect small rituals designed to put others at ease. For example, INTJs may communicate that idle dialogue such as small talk is a waste of time. This may create the impression that the INTJ is in a hurry—an impression that is not always intended.”
Finding out that I’m (mostly) an INTJ has been incredibly liberating. It explains a lot of things.
1. I have no problem telling salespeople “no.” In fact, the overload of false emotion that goes into many sales pitches turns me off. Two guys from a not-mine cable company came to my door recently, and I don’t know how many times I had to tell them I wasn’t interested, even when he tried to engage me in small talk (BIG. MISTAKE.) to get into my good graces. Salespeople should be taught a special BS-free class on pitching to INTJs. I also don’t like to be bothered by salespeople while I’m browsing. I understand working on commission and employing anti-shoplifting tactics, but I’m not a thief and I won’t buy things I don’t want. One of these days, I swear, I’m going to do this to some poor soul at Sephora:
. . .
2. Similarly, I don’t do flirting. When it’s directed at me (which it rarely is … although I guess I wouldn’t know) it goes over my head. I wouldn’t know how to flirt if my life depended on it—unless sweaty palms and no eye contact counts. When Kara and I were in London, a clerk kept insisting that I had been in his shop before. Taking his words at face value, as I tend to do, I said it wasn’t me. I do have “one of those faces,” so I figured he was just mistaken. But when he insisted that I had been there before, and six months ago, I realized he was … flirting? But it made me angry, because NO, I HAVE NEVER BEEN TO THIS SHOP BEFORE, JUST SHUT UP AND GIVE ME THE STAMPS FOR MY DAMN POSTCARDS. YOU’RE NOT EVEN MY TYPE, I SAID GOOD DAY, SIR.
3. I have no patience for what I consider pointless bullshit. This is partly related to my impatience with small talk. It’s also why I have pretty much zero interest in weddings. Invitations, flowers, centerpieces … I do. Not. Care. It also annoys me when people add rituals to the ceremony just because they think it seems like a cool thing, and not because it has some longstanding meaning to them.
4. I have strongly libertarian political beliefs. Sigh. OK. That’s an understatement. But, according to Wikipedia: “INTJs are prepared to lead if no one else seems up to the task, or if they see a major weakness in the current leadership. They tend to be pragmatic, logical, and creative. They have a low tolerance for spin or rampant emotionalism. They … do not readily accept authority based on tradition, rank, or title.”
5. I have no problems with changing my mind and doing a complete 180 … or 90 … or 45 … whatever turn is needed. I do what I do, but if it comes to my attention that a different way is better, and the reasons make sense to me, I have no problem with totally rejecting the old way of things and I will have no shame in changing my mind. Once I’m convinced of something, I tend not to hold on to traditions or sentiment or “That’s just the way it’s always been.” Even with years of nagging by dentists about flossing (“Do it because I say so!”), I never flossed but more than once a week. When I read an article (admittedly on Cracked.com) that explained some of the science behind it, I started flossing every single night and have never looked back. One of the most frustrating things for me is when I try to explain to someone how something can be done better, and they nod and smile and keep doing it the way they’ve always done it because they’re fine with the way things are. My mind literally cannot grasp how people are able to do that.
This Complete Idiot’s Guide for interacting with an INTJ is hilarious. It doesn’t fit me 100%, except for the list of INTJ pet peeves.
Here are just a few (with many more in the previous link):
–We dislike surprises.
–We hate having decisions made for us. We’re INTJs; nobody is more qualified to make decisions than us.
–We dislike getting gifts, as it burdens us with the need to reciprocate. [To quote Sheldon Cooper, “You haven’t given me a gift, you’ve given me an obligation.”]
–We get particularly annoyed by attacks on our intelligence, competence, and integrity.
–People who are chronically late.
I used to think that many of these things meant there was something “wrong” with me. Do you realize how freeing it is to go from, “Am I some kind of broken sociopath?” to “Oh, I’m just an INTJ” ??
It is incredible. I love it.
Are you an INTJ? Are you another personality type? What are your experiences with “types”?