If Your Personality Test Comes Back Negative…

Today my church’s former youth pastor, a pretty hoopy frood, went on Facebook and posted two images. One depicted his personality traits, and the other his stressors, based on his Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. I thought they were pretty interesting, so I went and found my own.

I’m an INFP. Every time I take the MBTI, whether it’s the full version or a quick online profile [you can take a pretty good version here], I come up pretty solidly INFP. I think I came up INFJ once, but I guess I was just in a particularly judgmental mood that day or something. Anyway, as an INFP, I am introverted, intuitive, feeling, and perceiving. I agree with my little character trait graphic, although I’m not sure I’m really all that great with the “long-range vision” thing, and I’m not sure what it means by “selective.”

traits of an INFP

I really liked the “things that stress you out” graphic. The “time management required of me” one made me laugh out loud, at myself. And I love how “decisions” is in big bold print; it’s probably just a coincidence of design, but goodness knows making decisions seems to give me ulcers. If I were customizing this graphic just for me, I’d have to add confrontation, other peoples’ problems, and frustrated dreams (although probably that last one is true for everyone).

things that stress an INFP out

You can find and download your own character trait graphic and stressor graphic. It occurs to me that this could make a great literature lesson; print out all of the heads and have students determine the MBTI types for various characters and defend their findings with evidence from the book.

People are often surprised to learn that I am introverted (strongly so, actually). I think this is because most people misunderstand the concepts of introversion and extroversion. The best way to describe them — and I wish I knew where I first encountered this metaphor, because it’s perfect — is to think of people as being battery-operated, and then consider what charges and drains their batteries. An introvert is not necessarily shy, reserved, scared of crowds, etc.; it’s just that interacting with people drains her batteries, and she needs quiet alone time in order to charge them. An extrovert, on the other hand, gets “charged up” by socializing. Put an introvert and an extrovert in a bustling cocktail party, and at the end of the evening, the extrovert will feel energized and the introvert will be exhausted.

I love teaching. I like public speaking and am good at it. I grew up performing as a musician and have very little discomfort getting on a stage under the spotlight, as long as no one expects me to sing. I seem outgoing, friendly, etc. — but I am a hardcore introvert. Some days, after several hours of interacting with colleagues and students and parents, I’ll get home so badly drained that I’m unable to talk to my dog.

Via my book club buddy Molly, I’ve recently become acquainted with the term “ambivert,” which describes someone who falls in the middle of the introversion/extroversion spectrum. I suppose there’s some decent argument that I’d be an ambivert, since I can live the life of an extrovert despite my introverted tendencies, but that just doesn’t ring true to me. I really feel that I’m an introvert who, like so many others, has learned how to thrive in an extrovert’s world — and who has the personality quirk of being comfortable on stage. After all, no one fits 100% into a mold, right?

And for those who feel like the performance thing automatically discounts my identification as an introvert, I’d argue that while I’m perfectly content to speak to an enormous gymnasium full of people, or teach a full-to-bursting class of teenagers, I’m insanely uncomfortable working with a half dozen students or having coffee with only 1-2 other people. The difference is that when addressing a large group, they become an it rather than people. Does that make sense? Eh. Whatever. I know what I mean.

The thing that likely confuses most people is that I’ve learned how to put on the appearance of being very comfortable even in situations that make me uncomfortable. I can slip into an extrovert’s shoes (an introvert in extrovert’s clothing?) for a job interview or an intimate social gathering and fool anyone, myself included, for a while. I’m a sprinter, not a marathoner, both in terms of running and socializing. I can run really fast as long as you only need me to get a short distance, and I can be awesomely extroverted as long as it’s only going to last a little while. After that burst of outgoing energy is depleted, though, I need myself some crocheted blankets and a book and for the world to leave me alone for a while before I start to feel human again.

Okay, I think it’s entirely possible that I’m boring myself. This was supposed to be a post about MBTI and the nifty graphics and somehow turned into a somewhat defensive diatribe about “waaaah I am too an introvert, waaaaah,” etc. I’ve always been irrationally fascinated with this stuff (see my massive middle school research project on right brain/left brain) and periodically feel the need to navel-gaze about it. Thanks for humoring me, Blog! I’m so glad you let me write whatever boring nonsense I want. 🙂

Seriously, though, if you’re still reading: What’s your MBTI type? Do you agree with the stressors/traits in your graphic? Is anyone reading this my polar opposite (an ESTJ)?

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2 thoughts on “If Your Personality Test Comes Back Negative…

  1. What an interesting post!
    I became MUCH more comfortable with my introverted nature once I came to the realization that I’m really not a shy person (which I had always felt conflicted over)–it’s just that big social situations are literally exhausting for me. Understanding that concept was a big life-changer for me.
    I LOVE the analogy of people being battery operated and I’m going to remember that one.
    I’m scored as an INFJ and find it pretty accurate–especially the career predictors–I’m a former teacher who now does a lot of writing in my current job.
    Great post–I appreciated reading your thoughts on this!

  2. We are really similar, though I end up an ENFP. I am the ambivert type, in that I am an extrovert who would be really happy spending a winter by myself in snow-bound cabin. (Bucket list item, actually.)

    And you said, “hoopy frood.” I love you, nerd.

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