For no reason, other than it was right in front of me, I took a personality test this week and now my life, my struggles, the way I see the world, everything makes sense. It may sound dramatic but I hit the internet for further research and read comments from other INFJs on how they also felt a sense of peace or relief upon discovering their personality type. I've often felt like the odd (wo)man out, like I don't fit in and now I see why.
Of the sixteen personality types, INFJ is one of the rarest, found in approximately 1% to 3% of the population. A few resources place it as low as less than 1% of the population. According to my research (so I'm not alone in these thoughts), we feel different from our peers and believe others find us to be "weird." Our feelings of estrangement can be greater based upon our introversion and intuition. I know I'm an introvert, that's not a new found revelation, but I've been mistaken for an extrovert because it's easy to view me as out-going. I'm also not heavily introverted. But what most don't know about me is that I like alone time. I need alone time. Near the end of my college life up until I married, I lived alone and I was perfectly content doing so. This is all part of being an INFJ.
I could go on and on comparing INFJ traits to my life and how I now feel justification over everything I ever questioned or parts of my life that have been questioned by others. Like why I was so "picky" when it came to dating and relationships. Or why I can't be more relaxed or not so intense or wound up. IT'S WHO I AM! But right now, I really want to focus on my midlife crisis thoughts and how discovering my personality type helped me to see what was really going on. If I was asked to honestly describe how I've been feeling of late, low is a good word that comes to mind but also burnt out. I've been hesitant to use the term burnt out though because I don't want to come across as whiny. When I'm working a ton of overtime all the while balancing home life, saying that I'm burnt out is okay. But I haven't been working a ton of hours. I've been working fairly regular hours and while I have a somewhat burdensome, frustrating commute, and a full plate at home, there are plenty of other parents out there in the same boat. In my midlife crisis post, I pointed out the monotony of the daily grind wearing me down. It's odd because I like knowing that I have a desk to go to each morning and I know exactly where that desk is going to be and for the most part, I know what I'll be doing on a day to day basis. A job where I would constantly be out at client sites or not know what to expect of the day would stress me out. I hadn't been able to pinpoint why the sameness was bothering me.
So it turns out that INFJs need uninterrupted alone time to recharge. This obviously wasn't a surprise to see in writing but as you can imagine, uninterrupted alone time in my world is almost nonexistent. Of late, I've been craving alone time but with so very little free time, it seems somewhat cruel to request time away from my family. Plus, I want to spend time with my family. I do have spurts of alone time during the week either when I run or when the kids have weekly CCD but it hasn't felt like enough. I'm not quite sure what I can do to remedy this but at least I don't feel guilty now when I know I need to be alone for a bit.
A weakness of INFJs is that we can burn out easily. "Their passion, poor patience for routine maintenance, tendency to present themselves as an ideal, and extreme privacy tend to leave INFJs with few options for letting off steam. People with this personality type are likely to exhaust themselves in short order if they don’t find a way to balance their ideals with the realities of day-to-day living."
Okay, so this is making more sense.
(Quotes from 16personalities website, which has a very accurate (a bunch of us at work tested it out), free mini test, if you don't know your personality type and would like to find out.)
And then there's just work in general. It's sort of like opening a can of worms.
"Where INFJs fall flat is in work focusing on impersonal concerns, mundanity, and high-profile conflict. Accounting and auditing, data analysis and routine work will leave people with the INFJ personality type fidgety and unfulfilled, and they will simply wilt under the scrutiny, criticism and pressure of courtroom prosecution and defense, corporate politics and cold-call sales. INFJs are clever, and can function in any of these fields, but to be truly happy, they need to be able to exercise their insightfulness and independence, learn and grow alongside the people they are helping, and contribute to the well-being of humanity on a personal level."
(Note that I have always despised auditing, from my college class to my audit assignments in public accounting. Tax has more a puzzle solving aspect to it that appeals to me.)
"As subordinates, INFJs are likely to chafe under hardline rules, formal hierarchies and routine tasks. People with the INFJ personality type value diplomacy and sensitivity, and the more democratic and personal their manager’s style is, and the more they feel their independence and input are valued, the happier they’ll be. INFJs act on their convictions, so when they do something, it’s something that has meaning to them – if those actions come under criticism, even justified complaints, but especially unwarranted ones, their morale is likely to tank spectacularly."
This last part, the tanking, has happened.
"INFJs often pursue expressive careers such as writing, elegant communicators that they are, and author many popular blogs, stories and screenplays. Music, photography, design and art are viable options too, and they all can focus on deeper themes of personal growth, morality and spirituality."
We are clever and can work any job as long as we are able to fuel our desire for creative independence in other ways, such as with hobbies. My creative outlet has been photography and I suppose, in a way, blogging, but of late, with school back in session and an earlier nightfall, I haven't been picking up my camera as much. I want to but it's difficult. The early morning sun has been glowing off of the treetops full of fall in the mornings and it pained me to have to leave it the other morning in order to catch my train. Trains don't wait for photographs. I also keep coming up with these big dream photography thoughts and I have to just calm down or something.
All week I've been thinking of how I, an INFJ, became a CPA and a director of tax, and I was able to reconstruct, follow and understand the path that brought me here. As a senior in high school, a personality type quiz given to offer guidance in selecting colleges and majors told me that I should become a social worker, which is an INFJ type of career. This week, I've somewhat made peace with where life currently stands. A few years ago, during a tumultuous time at work, Rich and I set out a Life Plan and while we've had to make adjustments along the way, we've been following our plan and I feel more settled in what we hope to accomplish. It's been quite a week of discovery and acceptance.