on the infj classification

I used to take the MBTI test every year to see if my personality had changed from the prior year.  I always ended up classified as an INFJ, which stands for  Introverted + Intuitive + Feeling + Judging.  Do with yours what you will.  It’s just a box really.  Always keep box cutters on hand.

Most times I feel the classification is pretty accurate.  Other times I wonder if it’s like astrology, and whether the ‘classifications’ can fit anyone at any given time. You know, like well crafted predictions of “This is a powerful year for relationships”.  How about, “Mercury is in retrograde, so, life is about to suck balls. Lock your car doors.” Nice. Now turn to your neighbor and roll your eyes, cause unless you live under a rock, this describes your year.

Katherine and Isabel, the developers of the MBTI, were keen people-watchers with a penchant for type-casting and complete buy in to Carl Jung’s philosophies, in which some were influenced by Freud, so also influenced by romanticism, Darwinism, the economy, zoology and the list goes on and on.

Did you know Isabel was a mystery author and that she and her Mom (Katherine) did not have formal psychology or sociology training? What is it about their vision that held strong in the mainstream, even today?  Who is footing the bill to keep it mainstream? Who is profiting? Check out the other 15 classifications.  Bet you will see yourself in them too. Think of all the psychotropic drugs more readily available, and prescribed, than in their day. How does your drug altered mind affect your test? In 20 years there will have been 20 new types added. What’s stopping me from coming up with global personality types and getting supporters? How about developing personality theories based solely on mind and mood altering drugs, in order to see what’s possible?  I’m sure someone is all over that in an underground lab with unwilling participants, somewhere in the world.  Less obviously in the snack aisle at your local grocery store.  An investor exists for every theory.

I digress.  All said, it was once common for me to take tests like this to see what I may not see, in order to get potential ideas on how best to maximize my gifts, talents or experience.

I first took the MBTI in college, to examine career possibilities.  My career counselor sat me down and suggested I go into politics, dentistry, geriatric nursing, psychology, clergy, travel or writing.  She didn’t break a smile as she read out the suggestions and I looked around the room thinking it was a setup for a candid camera moment.

She couldn’t be serious.  What was I supposed to do with that jelly bean bag of recommendations?  Any class schedule I built around that would scream “Just biding time until I get carried away in a straight-jacket!”.

Well, here’s what I did do:

  • Politics. I wrote the President in office at the time, the “I did not have sexual relations with that woman” President. I explained that I wanted him to mentor me because I wanted to be President in 2025.  I actually got a response, on White House letterhead, acknowledging my letter and thanking me for my interest and inquiry.  I most likely got added to some watch list as well. Honestly, I have nightmares of living in really big houses. I mean, do you know how long it would take to clean the windows? So, I wasn’t totally displeased at the response/non-response.  Just decided it was a sign for me to end my political career.
  • Dentistry. I scheduled an appointment with my dentist.  After my teeth were cleaned and she came in for the examination I asked her what she loved about her job.  She laughed and said she loved making people’s smiles brighter.  I couldn’t tell if it was canned or if she was serious.  In either case, there was a lack of depth so I decided it was a sign to end my dentistry career.
  • Geriatric Nursing. My grandmother nursed her mother, my great-grandmother, until she died at the age of 98. She fed, bathed, medicated her, and much more.  One evening, to test out the geriatric thing I thought I would surprise my grandmother by taking my great-grandmother back to her bedroom all by myself and then feeding her dinner and giving her a sponge bath.  This involved my helping her out of a recliner and walking her, arm in arm to destination hospital bed.  I underestimated the strength of her gait, or rather, the frailty of it.  Five feet away from her bedroom I lost my grip on her and she fell into the hallway closet and broke her hip, at age 94.  There’s a lot I could add here; about her pain, my grandmothers additional burden and my guilt, but I won’t.  After this incident though, I decided to end my geriatric nursing career.
  • Psychology. I didn’t need to test this one out. My interest level was so high that I set up my schedule to include the necessary classes.  The first was bio-psychology.  I loved it and clearly saw my future office and patients sitting across from me. Eventually, Hypervigilance intervened and I decided to end my career as a psychologist, though I did then and do now, continue to study it.
  • Clergy.  I hadn’t had a religion assigned to me and first looked into becoming a Muslim.  At the mosque in the intro class I asked the Imam some questions about the value of the hijab.  Condescending doesn’t really do his reply justice.  I never went back.  I looked into Judaism. The women who taught the classes were so smart but geez, Kosher?  This was too hard. I never went back. Walked in on Catholicism.  I think what drew me initially was the ritualism, the music, and how in-depth the classes were. Pretty sure I was under a spell of sorts during this time.  I received five of the seven sacraments (baptism, eucharist, confirmation, reconciliation and marriage). Was spotted by some good folks for god-parenting (hell if I can remember their names now) and during this period in my life went to church three to four days a week. Eventually, I took classes in order to teach catechism to elementary school kids.  I did love it at the time, but, outgrew it after about a year. On my own had started studying various apologetics to test what I had been taught and what I was pouring into those young minds. Then I started asking lots of questions and was met with anger. Between the dogma, inconsistencies and shutting down of individual thought I realized “Another Brick in the Wall” cloning was in progress.  I didn’t want to be a part of the game so became a defector (in allegiance to my heart and mind, given me by Him truly) and ended my clergy career.
  • Travel.  Well, this one remains an option.  I’ve been around the world in my mind many times.  I’ve got a map with push pins on the places I’d like to go.  At this point I keep the map in my sight, like a vision board.  Planning now. Don’t want to be like Rocky at the end of ‘Mask‘.  I’ll never remove the pins.
  • Writing. English was a love in college as was writing.  Though, I abhorred critique. All of mine had a common theme. Confusion. “I didn’t understand; It’s very out there; What did you mean when…;  Pretty dark; Are you ok?”.  I had to ask myself who my audience was and whether it mattered if they ‘got me’.  I decided getting got was irrelevant and that if I wrote from that vantage point I would not be able write in an authentic voice.  In real life people don’t get me. Hell, I don’t always get me. Makes sense if my writing reflects the same.  Thus, I ended writing for others and now write only for myself.

The jelly beans have all been eaten, one at a time (thank you Mr. President for now I know the distinction), so now what?   Is saving the world on the table? Admittedly, sometimes I believe I can save the world.  Not alone, but, in concert with the rest of the Justice League, most definitely.   Other times, I ascribe the belief to psychosis.

What am I grateful for?

  • Libraries.  One day my grandchildren will marvel that a building existed solely for the purpose of holding books and that old folks like me enjoyed being in said buildings with said books.
  • The struggles that left me open to uninhibited exploration and passing the value of that freedom to my children.
  • Getting closer to figuring out why I am suspended in time.  I keep linking my experiences back to Hypervigilance.  Something still sitting unresolved there. Working on it…

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