Who You Are

This is a post about accepting your personality. Not your race, creed, religion, or orientation, but your very basic programming.

Have you ever felt that somehow you were lacking? That who you are isn’t good enough; that you weren’t born with whatever it is that makes people likable? That all this social stuff was a conspiracy to make you feel like a bad or boring person for not liking it?

Or on the flip side, have you ever felt terrified to be alone, safe only in groups, alive only when interacting with others? Pannicked when people tell you they need their own time, completely baffled as to why being alone is somehow supposedly good for you when all it does is make you feel small and depressed?

Men and women face a lot of messages about how they’re supposed to be, and I think we focus on the looks side of that. But what about personality? Don’t you think we’re getting messages about that, too; that we should feel a certain way, enjoy certain things and dislike others? That we have to have a partner and a BFF and ‘the guys’ or ‘the girls’ and a super close childhood friend and ‘the one that got away’, and all of these different relationships that we’re told are part of a ‘normal’ (read: happy) life?

It took me a long time to be at peace with who I am. I always liked myself, I just worried often that who I am was going to cause me regret later in life because I didn’t have a ‘normal’ teenage experience. I haven’t really had a normal anything, in fact. And sometimes people made me feel bad about that, not because they wanted to bring me down, but because they genuinely felt I was ruining my youth by doing my own thing.

~~~

“Have you made any friends yet?”

My family was at a neighborhood party shortly after we’d moved from WA to IL. The woman asking me the question was our next-door neighbor.

“Well, I’m exploring several different opportunities at this time, but nothing’s really happened yet.”

Mom told me later the woman had come over to her immediately and told her what I’d said, laughing because it was so outrageous to her. Instead of “yes” or “no”, I’d talked about opportunities and exploration, as if this was a business decision and not something a teenager automatically did.

This is how I’ve always been. Stoic, robotic. People thought me emotionless or strange because I process with logic. Recently I took the Meyers-Briggs test (this one, actually) and got surprising results: INTJ. Surprising not because the results were bad or inaccurate, but because it was scarily accurate. That’s exactly who I am.

Suddenly it all made sense. Why I never had friends in elementary school, why I clashed with nearly everyone in high school, why people sometimes accused me of having selective memory loss, why I’d rather observe than participate, why I feel exhaustingly bored at social functions, and why I don’t have close friends IRL to this day.

And then I felt at peace. It re-affirmed what I had known internally but had no way to prove to anyone: I’m just this way, naturally. There’s nothing wrong with me. I like me.

And I’m not the only one.

INTJ’s are rare, but not the most rare. Which means there are millions more like me all around the world, living their own, solitary lives and being perfectly happy doing so.

I didn’t go to prom. I didn’t even want my driver’s license. I didn’t have a boyfriend in high school. I didn’t become a ‘college student’. I didn’t live in an apartment with roommates. I’ve never been to a club.

Instead, I got a professional job. I took online classes so I could teach myself, alone. I bought a house. I worked all day then came home and wrote all night. I settled down with my life partner. I was twenty.

“You act like you’re thirty. You’re only young once!”

And then I felt guilty. Had I ruined everything? Was I supposed to be out getting drunk at a frat house and dragging myself to class in the morning with a bow in my hair in my school’s colors? Were all the things I thought accomplishments instead symbols of the way I didn’t fit into society?

I felt bad because I didn’t really know what I was ‘supposed’ to be doing. Somehow I wasn’t good at being a young woman. I was a freak. Wasting my youth. Setting myself up for decades of regret.

Except the only thing I felt bad about was feeling bad.

Because here’s the thing, something I’ve always felt slightly guilty of because it seemed so abnormal: I like myself. I like what’s inside my head. It’s fun in here. I would rather be alone with my thoughts and my worlds than have to interact with the internal worlds of strangers.

(That doesn’t mean I don’t care about people; I do. I care very deeply. When I like you, everything about you fascinates me. I am delighted just watching you, smiling because you smile, laugh because you find something funny. I’m just more selective with the people I consider close to me, and if I don’t talk to them for weeks at a time I don’t feel incomplete.)

Seeing those test results finally proved to me that there was nothing wrong, I was just cut from a less mainstream cloth. And I’m okay.

If you’ve ever felt bad about who you are, I encourage you seek out information about your personality, and then embrace it. You can’t change your basic programming, so you might as well love yourself and be happy with who you are. You are your only guaranteed life partner. :-)

What about you? What personality traits do you have that have made you feel isolated or ‘wrong’ in the past? And if you take the Meyers Briggs test, tell me your results! Especially if you’re an INTJ ;-)

19 thoughts on “Who You Are

  1. B. says:

    Just wanted to say I love your blog! You always talk about such interesting things. I took the test, and I’m INFJ — very close! :) But a lot of your story I could relate with. Keep up the awesome work, and I can’t wait to hear more about what you write next. You’re an inspiration! God bless!

  2. Erica says:

    I just took this test and am a ISFJ. I’ve never taken a personality test before and I was a little skeptical, but it was way accurate. All three of my sisters are extroverts and I would feel like something was wrong with me because I had a harder time connecting to people. A lot of the people who were ‘friends’ took advantage of me. Once I reached college, I’d learned to be more selective in who I had in my life. I wasn’t a typical college kid either. I didn’t drink or go to clubs and I spent a good chunk of down time watching Star Trek and even more time reading. And I’m okay with that. :) Thanks for sharing your story, it’s good to hear about other introverts!

    • According to one site, you and I will never be able to understand one another :-) However I don’t think that’s true; as one Trekkie to another we’ve got to be able to find common ground. Which was your preferred show? Mine was Voyager.

      • Erica says:

        Voyager is my favorite as well! Voyager had the best theme song and Janeway is pretty much my hero. I could wax poetic about it for days!

        Trekkies unite!!!!

          • Erica says:

            Seven of Nine is pretty badass! I’ve been watching Voyager for the past two weeks…I’m trying to pace myself so I don’t go through it too quickly.

  3. Kayleigh says:

    I’m an ISFP and it’s amazing how accurate it is, although the profile here http://typelogic.com/isfp.html isn’t quite right. These two, however, are:

    http://www.davenevins.com/personalities/types/isfp.htm
    http://www.personalitypage.com/html/ISFP.html

    I am very practical and have never liked shopping–I don’t get fashion or see the point in wearing make-up or heels. I also don’t like saying “I love you”; I’d rather hug people. And there are so many things people my age do (I’m 17) that I simply don’t get.

  4. P says:

    You don’t have to be the most common type or the rarest type in order to be special or to fit in. They’re all sliding scales across the poles anyway, E-I and S-N and F-T and J-P. I’m an INTP. I married an ESFJ. The marriage counselor said our marriage would always be ‘interesting’…or we’d kill each other. We’re not dead yet!

  5. I had to do a Temperament Personality Assessment I think it was Meyer Briggs but not certain for one of my job interviews and I’m ISTJ, Guardian. I relate a lot to you. I did got to prom but only for an hour before I left. I enjoy my own company which many people dont get. I only recently got my drivers license at 25 and only because I just moved somewhere that I had to get one to get to work and all. I also sometimes feel bad because people keep saying things like “how can you be like this?” but I’ve accepted how I am. Anyway nice post.

  6. I’m one of those ESFJ types (apparently we’re like 20% of the population, who knew?) but I often actually feel subconsciously threatened by people who are too much like me in my friend groups. I think it’s fascinating the way that who we grow up with or around shapes our perception of “normal”. Not a personality thing per se, but my family members all have the same “love language” at or near the top of their needs as I have at the bottom of mine. It wasn’t until I got to college and met a large volume of people and their families that I realized there wasn’t something wrong with me.

      • Caitlin Vanasse (@CaitlinVanasse) says:

        (replying to really old post comments, Whoop!) YES!!! I totally read it when I was like 16 in high school because I’m like incapable of reading books actually written for me or whatever. I thought it was really really interesting.

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