I am an INFP. I am an Introverted iNtuitive Feeling Perceiver. You can google the Myer Briggs personality types to understand what that means but in summary, I am energized by being quiet and reflective; I process information in an abstract, imaginative way; I like freedom and spontaneity and I am an idealist who is concerned with meaning and authenticity.
A lot of times I feel as if my personality is a weakness I need to overcome. Now, why would such an awesome person as described above feel like this?
Society has roles and expectations for us and sometimes when those expectations collide with what we feel inside (especially when you are an INFP) that pressure can stifle your creativity and leave you feeling stressed, suffocated, inauthentic, out of touch with yourself and rebellious.
I have been feeling like that, a lot. But by reading up on my personality I understood why I view the world the way I do, why simple things bring me so much joy, why my values are different from many peoples’, why I am driven by the things that drive me.
INFPs pride themselves for authenticity, creativity and spontaneity. Having understood that I realise that God did not set me up for failure by making me crave quiet personal space, meaningful relationships, flexibility and purpose.
But, is there ever a reason to overcome that which is inherently you to survive economically, socially and politically or do you trust that there’s a reason you are the way you are and that there is a task that, only you with with your unique wiring can perform perfectly and excel at? Do I need to be outgoing to be successful? Do I need to think and work like others or can I run through life dictating my terms?
Research points out that extroverts are among the highest earners in any industry and often rise to the helm of their organisations because they love leading, love attention and can marshal troops. So what happens to those who do not care to lead or be led? What happens to those who would give their craft for free and be happy than work for profit-minded organisations that are ruining the world.
I wanted to teach myself to be “extroverted” but really, at the end of the day I just want to go home and sink into my little world and be happy with my husband and kids. I can be rational, but inherently, I feel first. I weigh with my heart. I hate routines. I hate schedules. Crowds and strangers drain my energy. I thrive where there is no structure to my day, to pursue whatever tickles my fancy at that moment.
I care deeply about stuff. I hold strong values and ideals. I don’t cross some lines, ever, and if I do I will retrace my steps back. My family comes first; I never really appreciated how having a husband and kids would change me, my priorities and values.
I like to work on things I believe in. My work needs to reflect my values and be able help other people. My career is more than a job, it’s an extension of me. It’s almost a mission. It needs to flow with the rest of my life seamlessly, and needs to count in the bigger picture of: What on earth I’m I here for? I guess it’s true INFPs often feel like they are on a crusade.
I am optimistic, purpose-centred, service-oriented and a solution seeker. I trust God in all things and I expect to see Him move.
I have a rich inner world that may not be obvious beneath my cool exterior. I feel strongly, and this gets me scared. I notice small details that most people will miss out. I will pick up vibes and emotions that many are ignorant to. I discern needs quickly and I’m a quick judge of character.
I love personal growth, so I read a lot, or watch TV programmes that teach me new things, skills, ideas. I thrive on theories, ideas and possibilities, just. May be some day I can be able to use all that information meaningfully. Most times it helps in my writing, making me less ignorant.
I also like spurring others to grow and to be themselves, unique as they are. I am a firm believer in being true to yourself. Why be a cheap knock-off of someone else? No wonder I love Steve Job’s quote:
“Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”
I used to day dream a lot when I was younger. May be those fantasies can make a novel or short story. Now I got my head out of the clouds, but I still think about beautiful places and gorgeous photography, and rolling on the grass downhill with my kids.
I dream about planting a flower and herb garden and watering it; watching it grow. (Oh, I have one on my balcony). I dream about sleeping outside on a warm night, watching the stars with Mr M (as long as there are no crawly or slimy things. I hate slugs).
But that “P” in my personality is what I have been struggling with most professionally. As a perceiver, nothing is cast in stone. Not even rules. I go with the flow. I desperately desire flexibility and autonomy. I don’t mind a little chaos; but who pays freewheelers? How do you run a business when you get bored by mundane tasks, hold non-breakable ideals and are uncomfortable discussing money?
In the midst of this season, God has been teaching me something. My interests are not a fluke. My personality — he created it to reflect his glory. He knew me. He made every part of me; not a single thing is hidden from his sight. No detail in my life is by chance. Not even the troubles I have gone through. He planned it all for his purpose. Nothing in life is arbitrary.
The world does need people like us, who think about ideas and information (Introversion), deal with possibilities and potential (iNtuition), make decisions using subjective values (Feeling) and use a flexible workstyle, that goes with the flow (Perception),
There is a task out there that only I can perform because of the unique experiences I have gone through, my unique desires, interests, hopes, ambitions, dreams and passion. My spiritual gifts, skills and personality equip me for a task that I will love, will be great at and that will give me the freedom (financial and otherwise) and fulfillment I need.
God made me this way. He means to use me this way. I will be fruitful and effective at my mission (and I use that term rather loosely here) because that’s why I am the way I am.
That’s not to say I am settling for mediocrity or making excuses for not trying harder. But I discovered we can be too hard on ourselves, always pushing ourselves towards more without pausing to actually live in the moment, serve where we are.
So suppose you are a control freak? You can work on relenting control but there are situations in life that need people like you. Suppose you are perfectly comfortable following orders and not asking questions? The military could use people like you. Impatient people make things move. Zero-tolerant people are the ones we need leading major organs in government. They may get to everyone’s nerves (I’m thinking Nancy Baraza), but they deliver structures for governance.
“All things bright and beautiful, all creatures great and small, the Lord God made them all.”
God’s the only one who is not deterred by our weaknesses; He uses them for for his glory. When we are weak, His strength is perfected in us. Where we fail, His grace abounds. If we were strong enough, good enough, then we would never need a saviour.
Yes, I have major challenges keeping time. I do not like taking orders or giving them. I procrastinate a lot. I don’t care for superficial relationships. I can be aloof and stubborn. I get bored easily. I have many brilliant ideas and hardly much follow through.
Many times I am nearly giving up on myself. But God doesn’t give up on me. So why should I?
Share with me what you learn.