Monday, August 13, 2012

Myers-Briggs: INFJ

I've known I was an INFJ since I was 14. I'm a frickin' unicorn, apparently, since INFJs make up less than 1-3% of the world population. What is being an INFJ like? means we stay indoors a lot. We do a lot of reading. A lot of thinking. A lot of artsy creative expression. We are often politically/spiritually active (Ghandi, Martin Luther King Jr, Mother Theresa, etc. are all INFJs) and we try (when we're not wallowing in despair) to make the world a better place. 

I am very sensitive to feelings and so I have to distance myself from other people. When I'm around people, their emotions glue onto my skin and force me to take notice. Does that sound strange? Slightly freakish? Improbable? Insane? Absolutely, it does! And at times I question this thing myself...which is why I avoid people. I am easily incapacitated by negative/overwhelming environments. Large crowds drain me. I have to "recharge" after talking to people.   

So by default, INFJs keeps people at a distance--even friends and family. We're assholes. And we know it. But we create this distance for a reason. Honestly, you guys are just too overwhelming to us. You freak us out. Your noise. Your physical expressions. Your sights and smells. You can throw an INFJ into sensory overload just by sitting still and doing nothing. Our brains are primed to "absorb" you. We're figuring you out--swallowing your feelings, thinking and investigating. And yet we don't tell you what we're doing when we're observing you in silence. Yet our minds are racing the whole time.

You see, INFJs have a ridiculous capacity to care for others. It's sickening. We actually care about world peace. We actually care about saving the whales and all that crap. We take up "missions" or "crusades." We get involved in politics, church, community outreach, teaching, nursing, volunteer work, social work, psychotherapy, etc. etc. etc. We are 100% serious about changing the world and when we realize we can't, when that hard reality crashes upon us, we get depressed. 

The only salvation an INFJ has from this depression is our relationships. If an INFJ wants to be friends with you, expect a lifelong commitment. If an INFJ wants to date you, expect marriage. We expect a lot from the folks we allow into our inner circle because what we offer in return is 100% love. We will lavish you with a seemingly endless supply of affection. We will NEVER give up on you so long as you inspire us to keep going. It makes us stupidly happy to love you. We want to express it--we want to drown you in it. The love of an INFJ is an unwavering and intense experience. All we ask in return is that you love us just as passionately. A tall order, we know. Which is why we refrain, hold back, keep a distance, bite our tongue, keep silent, etc. until the moment we sense you are safe enough and we can finally unleash all of our feelings upon you at once! 

While growing up, I've been told I have a very "intense gaze." Supposedly this is an INFJ trait. I didn't know the power of it until I looked into the eyes of a fellow INFJ. An INFJ male in particular. My sociology professor. He rooted me in place with one gaze, forcing me to gasp. Perhaps probing would be a better word for that look. When he looked at me that intensely, my pained reaction struck him, and he became motionless and transfixed. Then I got angry. How rude of him to do that without my permission! I wanted to "read" him just as he had "read" me, and so I looked right back at him. My professor seemed fascinated and somewhat terrified by it. This happened in a hallway with crowds of people walking all around us--but neither of us moved. I do not know if anyone else noticed, perhaps they did, because we were just standing there like two silent statues, disrupting the flow of traffic. I was "feeling" him out just as he was "feeling" me. I will admit, he was arousing me. And when it became too intense, he RAN off! Haha...literally, he turned and fled the opposite direction. It was strange--watching a grown man run away as he did. I think I scared him. And maybe he was embarrassed because I was his student and we were in a crowded hallway and the two of us were behaving in such a peculiar manner. In fact, another student I didn't even know came up behind me and asked: "What the hell was that?" after he had rushed off, and I was speechless, unable to answer her. It still gives me shivers. Because I know what he was doing. Whatever he saw on my face had startled him. And what I "felt" from him was uncertainty and restraint. He was holding back from doing something--saying something. Perhaps he was attracted to me. I can't really tell. Either way, he didn't want to show me what it was, and so he had run off. It really was a powerful and sexy experience! 

The only similar experience I can think like that was in the summer before 9th grade. Another intense INFJ male experience. He sat in front of me in science class but never acknowledged my existence. He doodled in the margins of his notebook paper. Poetry novels and sketchpads always filled his backpack. If he wasn't reading, he was drawing. Always, completely oblivious to my presence as I peeked over his shoulder. He had a girlfriend, so I never said anything. But I liked him and I "felt" a kinship to him, I guess.

Finally some time during summer break I happened upon him as I was jogging by the school. He was hanging out with a couple of his friends. I greeted him and used his full name. He seemed stunned by that and asked who the hell I was. Without telling him my name, I told him I sat behind him all those months in science class. I told him I admired his last name--Nickel, like the coin. I told him I knew all the titles of the poetry books in his backpack. I told him I enjoyed watching him doodle in the margins of his notebook paper. I told him I thought he was interesting and that he never once looked behind his desk to notice me. I told him I wished he had, so I could've spoken to him sooner before I had to move away. He seemed even more stunned than before, but now I had his full attention and he was looking at me--really looking at me for the first time. It was the same gaze that the professor gave me, I suppose. 

He seemed to be thinking very carefully, and after a moment, he said he wished he had turned around and noticed me too. As I moved to leave, he asked for my name. But his friends were laughing and hooting and I was extremely embarrassed. His expression was unreadable and I felt stupid. So I said my name did not matter and turned to jog away when he suddenly sprang forward and grabbed my wrist. His intensity hit me so hard I could not move or breathe. I actually trembled. He said in a low, hard voice: "Your name matters to me and I want to know who you are!" He never wavered, his passionate expression almost frightened me. His hand did not feel possessive or aggressive around my wrist--it felt insistent, determined. I realized he had only grabbed it to stop me from running away. The irritation I sensed was aimed at his stupid friends--not me. And now his friends were deathly quiet behind us. They did not speak. In fact, they seemed to be holding their breath in shock. Even if they had teased us, I'm sure he would have ignored it. He was "feeling" me now. And as he wordlessly searched my face, the mood between us changed. 

My heart was pounding and I was still trembling, but I did not pull away and he did not let go of my wrist. He made me vulnerable in his gaze, all the while, thinking without uttering a word to me. I thought he was going to kiss me. Had he kissed me, it would have been my first. I was only 14. "Please tell me your name," he said, much quieter this time, and released my wrist. After catching my breath, I told him. He repeated my name aloud and smiled as if he liked the mouth-feel of it. He promised to remember it. He watched me jog away without saying anything else. That was the last time I saw him, but the memory will stick with me. The chemistry between us had been immediate and electric, and yet, we only had that ONE conversation. He had no clue who I was before that summer day, but somehow I had "sensed" an intuitive connection was possible long before I worked up the nerve to talk to him. I can't really describe it any more than that. I get "feelings" about people I like. And apparently when I stare at people, I can make them feel as vulnerable as the boy made me feel after he had grabbed my hand. 

What was the point of this blog post? Nothing, I guess. Maybe someone in the vast, lonely sea of undisturbed cyberspace will understand and relate to this story. I'm a writer and an INFJ. Yeah. That's all. Over and out, minions. 


anon said...

I relate to this.It makes me sad theres no other comments. I read alot of INFJ stuff. Alot of it, it seems is not written by INFJ's. However opon skiming this. I saw the words "intense stare" and then got exited and started reading from the start.I like that we can be connected, even if anonymously, by the internet, Its conforting to know thats theres others out there.

anon said...

Oh and anon here again. Im vegan and my friends joke that im actually a cannibal, and the veganism is to draw people into a false sense of security.

Vegetarian Cannibal said...

Thank you for commenting, anon. :) I'm glad my post spoke to you as an INFJ.

Anonymous said...

Wow you express yourself so well! Typical infj, same as me. I think I have that stare to coz so many people seem awkward when I make eye contact. one pastor once told me that I am like a sponge coz I soak up everything around me. He always avoided my eye contact as well. I try not to stare at people when I talk to them but I have to remind myself not to do it. I wish something more happened after your conversation with that guy of yours. it would certainly make an interesting read. God bless :-)

Anonymous said...

" intense and unwavering experience." I'm an INFP woman, and have met an INFJ man. He has that intense eye contact thing going, and I love it. He gets me. He sees me. I think he and I will likely be together forever. That extreme empathy and connection is rare and so appreciated.

This post helped me get even more insight into the INFJ soul. Thank you.

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