Sunday, July 27, 2008

INFJ Tells Story

Hi! I just want to write a note of appreciation. God bless you for your website.

Here's my story ---

I am an off-the-Richter-Scale INFJ. Being a textbook INFJ, I'm warm, kind and friendly so most people like me; however, I'm also a quiet, serious loner, so, since my teens, I have often been criticized by family and friends and even my husband for not being "more normal" -- i.e., extroverted. I get drained when I spend too much time with people and for years secretly worried that I might be a highly-functioning maladaptive personality until I took the Myer-Briggs test. I often joke that my idea of Club Med is solitary confinement, but most of my extroverts look at me blankly when I say that. (I still don't know why solitary confinement is considered a punishment in our culture.) I long ago accepted that I am not annointed with the gift of extroversion and try to focus on the gifts I do have.

Or so I thought.

I recently became deeply hurt when a beloved boss -- someone I respect and work very hard to please -- told me he appreciated my hard work & standard of excellence but would frankly prefer I was more "outgoing & fun like other assistants." (Did I mention that this boss is outgoing and fun himself?) He then compared to me to my friend and co-worker whose workload is not nearly as intense as mine, telling me he liked her personality because she knows how to joke and kick back. My boss continued by saying that "people who work until midnight [like me?] are well and good, but someone who can crack a joke is appreciated more."

I understand my boss's preference. Hell, I often wish I was different! I also don't expect him to "get" me. It's not his job to "get" me. It's my job to "get" me and then find skillful ways to join with people while not compromising my own needs.

However, I do feel intense insecurity for two reasons. First, I've disappointed my boss in a way I fundamentally cannot fix and am frustrated because I know I cannot change the one thing he finds disappointing in me -- ME. I suspect, too, that he believes I can change and am just not trying hard enough. He gets excited when I go out to lunch with a co-worker and has implied that I should be going out for lunch each day instead of brown-bagging at my desk and reading a book .... More importantly, I'm afraid his view of me might be shared by others on my litigation team. Shared agreement grows in strength, whether it's true or not. If the collective agreement is that I am not "good" because of my introversion standing in sharp contrast to the group's extroversion, it could possibly affect my job standing. (It's helpful to bear in mind the INFJ's are inclined toward parnoia as I write this ...)

I've never had to deal with this issue because, for the past 20 years, I've only been paired with two introverted bosses. They never once told me they wanted me to act differently-- probably because they never thought there was a problem with me! My present litigation team on this new job, however, is comprised of extraordinarily fun, loud, extroverted folk. I often feel like a deer in the headlights when they tease and joke with me -- or, as the Southern expression goes, "the turd in the punchbowl." I recently got a fantastic work review from this same team, but that was just months after I began the job. Now, a year on the job, I'm afraid they may have grown accustomed to my work ethic -- i.e., the honeymoon period is over -- and now they can relax and nit pick on what they consider to be the smaller nuances. My hope is that they will not hold the expectation that I must be more outgoing like them. If I fail to produce results in this area, it might disappoint them and ultimately affect my security at my new workplace.
I'm presently exploring ways I can try to change at work ....

I began surfing the net to see how I might handle this situation. That's how I stumbled upon your website. Your website has allowed me to feel less freakish. It's helpful reading your and other introverts' comments. I've laughed out loud in recognition!! THANK YOU SO MUCH for taking the time to contribute this healing spot for other introverts.

I've been called "odd" a few times in my life, which hurts. I've never aspired to be "different." I deeply want to belong. I also never intend to shut people out when I choose to be alone. I'm just recharging. On the other hand, I have had profound mystical experiences -- intensely beautiful brushes with Reality -- which may not have occurred had my personality been structured differently. Who knows?

In my next life, I'm asking God to give me a pair of nice, long legs * and * a fun personality.

In the meantime, I'll keep coming back to your website.

[a young woman from georgia]

Note from Nancy: My website she is referring to is a public service website from this infp introvert. In fact, it's my Crusade to raise awareneess : introversion is a legitimate prsonality type.

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