When I was a fourth year at UCLA, I took a 2-unit seminar in the career center called Strategic Career Decision Making. During one class, we completed the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator test to find out our personality type and which occupations are best suited for that personality. I ended up as an INFP, short for Introversion iNtuition Feeling Perceiving. Some of the characteristics that were listed for the type include being sensitive and caring, committing to a strong personal belief system, enjoying reflecting on possibilities for positive change, and being guided by an inner core of values in decision making. Apparently, INFP is one of the rarest types in the US, estimated at only between 4 and 5 percent of the population.
[Side note: Though all the other categories were either moderate or clear when I took the assessment, I was only one point into the Perceiving category over Judging and could have ended up being an INFJ instead, another rare type at 1 to 3 percent of the US population.]
Anyway, I was planning on writing about the INFP type ever since I created this WordPress, but I always got stuck because there was so much to write about. Instead, I am going to take this self-reflection in stages, based on each individual category first and then summing it up as a whole in the end. See? I love reflection! It’s always good to take some time to think about who you are. Identity is interesting.
The I in INFP stands for Introversion, as opposed to Extraversion, and people who have this preference focus on ideas and impressions, not people and things. Introverts tend to get a bad reputation for not being as outgoing or as “fun” as their counterparts. You hear a lot of people wishing that they were more outgoing, but you rarely hear people wish that they could be more reserved. While perusing the interwebs one day, I stumbled upon a top ten list of myths about introverts that really spoke to how I felt growing up and how I still feel now.
Myths 1 and 2: Introverts don’t like to talk // Introverts are shy
Fun fact! I was voted “Most Shy” in eight grade. Yes, that was one of our middle school superlatives. Really. Okay, so I am shy and I am scared to start up conversations with people I don’t know (and sometimes even with people I do know), but if you are the one who talks to me first, I really enjoy the interaction. Bring up something that I am passionate about and I will start talking so much that you’d feel like you just set off some kind of alarm. Seriously, bring up globalization in a conversation with me and you’ll see. My friends say that my eyes light up when I talk about anything related to global studies and I don’t think I can deny it.
Myths 3 and 4: Introverts are rude // Introverts don’t like people
Introverts can sometimes be seen as rude because they can be pretty straightforward. Add in the previous myth that introverts don’t like to talk, and you get mistaken for being very snobbish. I really do like people and I think I have more faith in humanity than the average human being. If you build up a friendship with me, I will value it a lot.
Myths 5, 6, and 9: Introverts don’t like to go out in public // Introverts always want to be alone // Introverts don’t know how to relax and have fun
It isn’t that black and white. I love going out sometimes, but I just need to recharge. I’ve told my friends this before, but when I hang out, I feel like my battery gets drained and I need time alone to get all that energy back. That’s part of the reason why I sometimes avoid going out when I have been interacting with people all day. And yes, I like being alone sometimes, and I am perfectly fine with going on some adventures solo, but it does get lonely. I want to share these adventures with people, but I am more comfortable doing so with another person, rather than a group.
Myths 7 and 8: Introverts are weird // Introverts are aloof nerds
Fine, these are true. Ain’t nothing wrong with that. You should know by know that I love introspection and I think a lot, so it may seem like I get distracted easily.
Myth 10: Introverts can fix themselves and become Extroverts
This is something that I believed for much of my life. As I said earlier, there are people who wish that they could be more outgoing and I am one of them. Growing up, I knew I was introverted, but I felt like there was something wrong with that. It seems like being extroverted was the goal, but the more I started to understand what being an introvert meant, the more I became comfortable in taking ownership of that identity.
Sure, being an introvert can result in some awkward social encounters, but honestly, everyone goes through that sometimes, extroverts included. The main difference between extraversion and introversion is just where attention is focused and focusing on the inner world doesn’t seem like the short end of the stick at all.
Coming soon: The N in INFP