Am I An INFP? (Monday Musings 85)

The INFP Book by Catherine Chea
I became interested in the topic of Myers-Briggs (MBTI) when I was trying to figure out what techniques fit my personality the best, the past few weeks or so, to motivate myself to not procrastinate, as I noticed I was neglecting the blog. Of course, whenever you google personality types, the notorious MBTI personality inventory came up.

I was first introduced to Myers-Briggs as a senior in high school, when I was an immature teenager (18 years old) - I'm the very definition of a late bloomer - I may even still be blooming yet.

I was extremely pleased and elated that I was solidly an INFP because they were "so cool". One of the major characteristics is that "we're often misunderstood" recalling images of James Dean in Rebel Without a Cause. James Dean is a major icon of cool. Since I was nerdy and geeky, you can only imagine how happy I was.

Another major characteristic is that INFPs are "extremely creative" and best careers are in the writing and art fields. Never mind if you give me a blank piece of paper and tell me to write a story and draw, I would look back at you with the same blank expression. I'm so impressed with people who can create, and to be called creative was a huge compliment. 

I also was happy that we're supposed to be "emotional" because if anything, I'm as lethargic as my obese male cat, Fat Nyams, and often have a blank, glazed expression on my face. So it's nice that, per MBTI, I am emotional since INFPs "wear their hearts on their sleeves".

I was even more satisfied and smug because we're considered "the rarest type" (the INFJs are even rarer still) so that made me feel special - in American education, you feel the very opposite of special as you have to "fit in" with the structure and cliques.

Given my personality, I read all about INFPs and the part of having strong values rang true (of course, who doesn't have strong values), and felt that the description of INFP fit me so perfectly that it was uncanny. I was very satisfied with how I was one of the "awesome" rare fairies that are INFPs.

The MBTI came up in medical school when we all had to take personality tests as part of our "humanities" course where we learn about empathy, bedside manner and such. I came up as an INFJ and was confused, because I remembered how I was such a strong INFP back in high school, and personalities don't change. Your behaviors can change, but not your core personality.

For instance, if you're an introvert, you could never be an extrovert no matter how much effort. Eventually, forcing myself to be social exhausts me, and I have to go in hermit mode for days on end to recharge.

Being conscientious, I took the test again, and it came up as an INFJ. In medical school, we didn't have time to question and I left it at that. 

Flash forward to now, when I'm stable in my career and rather fortunate to have free time, I took the online MBTI tests (not the official). The first step was to read the description between INFP and INFJ.

I was hoping I'd be an INFJ because as a mature adult, the INFP description made me cringe.

First, they're described as being so sensitive that if someone says their hair looks like they didn't comb it, they'd ball up in a corner for days. And that INFPs have extreme meltdowns on a daily basis. I don't have those wild emotional mood swings at all. In fact, I've gotten even more placid as an adult. I just don't have the energy to get into rages.

Another extremely unflattering description is that INFPs seem like they can't get anything done and have difficulties finding a career, if they ever get a job in the first place. But I'm doing quite well in my career, and the medical and residency training was grueling and not considered "flaky".

Next, I took the online tests. I already know that I'm strongly INF,  that was never a doubt, so the question is the P vs. J. There were very conflicting results between INFP and INFJ and indeed a lot of mistypes exist between these two. There was a P vs J tester, and it would fall roughly 50/50. 

Because of this ambiguity, I did internet search and stumbled upon Casual Cognition as that was the first video that comes up when you type in INFP vs INFJ.

I didn't seem to be either INFP (Calypso, the owner) or INFJ (in this YouTube clip, though I'm more INFP-ish if I had to force myself to compare:

I was even more confused, until two pieces of the puzzle came together. The one question was "Do you consider yourself having the wisdom of a sage (INFJ), or the heart of a child (INFP)" and the answer was heart of a child, heart of a child, heart of a child.

Then Casual Cognition's section of micro-expressions clinched it - I definitely have the body and eye movements of an Ne (INFP).

Armed with this information, I read about the cognitive functions and stacking, which made it very clear that I'm an INFP. The descriptions of the personality types are of course stereotypes as there are variants (Monster Hunter World reference), but the preferences you have in the way you interact with the world remain stable.

Armed with all the above knowledge and research, I then read two books on the INFP, the first one was helpful as it was technical and described the concepts of cognitive functions and stacking.

Before reading this book, this video was difficult to understand, but then after, it made sense once you know the jargon. The part that made me chuckle is when I see Calypso with that glazed look on her face (very much me) and her partner, Alex, being so laser-focused and determined (she was very much into the discussion) that the juxtaposition was quite amusing:

The second book I read is the one I recommend if you want to know about INFPs. It was written by an INFP author herself and was so spot-on about my personality. It made me laugh at the end when she recommended that we do something that's outside of our comfort zone such as oral presentations. I ended up doing Twitch precisely for that reason, to do something new and challenging. Shortly after, she even mentioned how she joined Toastmaster's International.

Coincidentally, a month ago or so, I asked my best friend how can I improve my presentation in Twitch, and he mentioned that one of his best friends joins Toastmaster's International, and she really liked it, and that I should ask her about it and check it out.

It also made me cry near the end of the book as she wrote a letter of appreciation and affirmation to INFPs, since we're so critical of ourselves. Because our profile description makes it sound like we're pathetic and useless, INFPs tend to hate their personalities, and that's why we often mistype ourselves as other personalities. We want to be the golden retrievers, the doers, the inventors, the practical caregivers of the other personalities, but we fall in this category of being an idealist, being "true to ourselves" and "creative".

This book helped me to embrace who I am instead of trying to be someone who I'm not, and the exercises in self-compassion seem to be much smoother!

TL/DR: I admit that I'm an INFP!

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