Friday, January 22, 2010
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
A friend challenged me to take a personality test.
This is me.
Or maybe I should say...this is me?
Introverted iNtuiting Feeling Judging
by Marina Margaret Heiss
INFJs are distinguished by both their complexity of character and the unusual range and depth of their talents. Strongly humanitarian in outlook, INFJs tend to be idealists, and because of their J preference for closure and completion, they are generally "doers" as well as dreamers. This rare combination of vision and practicality often results in INFJs taking a disproportionate amount of responsibility in the various causes to which so many of them seem to be drawn.
INFJs are deeply concerned about their relations with individuals as well as the state of humanity at large. They are, in fact, sometimes mistaken for extroverts because they appear so outgoing and are so genuinely interested in people -- a product of the Feeling function they most readily show to the world. On the contrary, INFJs are true introverts, who can only be emotionally intimate and fulfilled with a chosen few from among their long-term friends, family, or obvious "soul mates." While instinctively courting the personal and organizational demands continually made upon them by others, at intervals INFJs will suddenly withdraw into themselves, sometimes shutting out even their intimates. This apparent paradox is a necessary escape valve for them, providing both time to rebuild their depleted resources and a filter to prevent the emotional overload to which they are so susceptible as inherent "givers." As a pattern of behavior, it is perhaps the most confusing aspect of the enigmatic INFJ character to outsiders, and hence the most often misunderstood -- particularly by those who have little experience with this rare type.
Due in part to the unique perspective produced by this alternation between detachment and involvement in the lives of the people around them, INFJs may well have the clearest insights of all the types into the motivations of others, for good and for evil. The most important contributing factor to this uncanny gift, however, are the empathic abilities often found in Fs, which seem to be especially heightened in the INFJ type (possibly by the dominance of the introverted N function).
This empathy can serve as a classic example of the two-edged nature of certain INFJ talents, as it can be strong enough to cause discomfort or pain in negative or stressful situations. More explicit inner conflicts are also not uncommon in INFJs; it is possible to speculate that the causes for some of these may lie in the specific combinations of preferences which define this complex type. For instance, there can sometimes be a "tug-of-war" between NF vision and idealism and the J practicality that urges compromise for the sake of achieving the highest priority goals. And the I and J combination, while perhaps enhancing self-awareness, may make it difficult for INFJs to articulate their deepest and most convoluted feelings.
Usually self-expression comes more easily to INFJs on paper, as they tend to have strong writing skills. Since in addition they often possess a strong personal charisma, INFJs are generally well-suited to the "inspirational" professions such as teaching (especially in higher education) and religious leadership. Psychology and counseling are other obvious choices, but overall, INFJs can be exceptionally difficult to pigeonhole by their career paths. Perhaps the best example of this occurs in the technical fields. Many INFJs perceive themselves at a disadvantage when dealing with the mystique and formality of "hard logic", and in academic terms this may cause a tendency to gravitate towards the liberal arts rather than the sciences. However, the significant minority of INFJs who do pursue studies and careers in the latter areas tend to be as successful as their T counterparts, as it is *iNtuition* -- the dominant function for the INFJ type -- which governs the ability to understand abstract theory and implement it creatively.
In their own way, INFJs are just as much "systems builders" as are INTJs; the difference lies in that most INFJ "systems" are founded on human beings and human values, rather than information and technology. Their systems may for these reasons be conceptually "blurrier" than analogous NT ones, harder to measure in strict numerical terms, and easier to take for granted -- yet it is these same underlying reasons which make the resulting contributions to society so vital and profound.
I think my family would probably agree that the above description fits, but I think when it really comes to knowing me, all a person has to do is look at what I value. The picture says it all. That is me.
As we write, it is good to know who our characters are, and it is just as important to know where they come from. After all, the one is completely and absolutely connected to the other.
Friday, January 08, 2010
the author whines, and then she sits her butt down in the chair and she writes.
That has been my week.
Not really wanting to but having to.
Not because I have a deadline or because I'm getting paid or because I want my career to continue.
But because I am compelled.
I must write. When I don't, I become grumpy and irritable. When I don't, I feel as if a part of myself is missing. When I don't, I am not as relaxed as I think I should be.
Writing, after all, is work. Being away from work should make me happy.
But it doesn't.
Because my work stems from something inside that I cannot put words to. It is an obsession, a passion, a need.
Which sound really strange and slightly off.
But it is what it is.
I was a strange kid. A bookworm. An imaginative child. The kid who sat in the back of class and daydreamed about other worlds and other lives.
Now, I am a writer, and my dreams come to life on paper. Those other worlds and other lives take wing as my fingers move along the keyboard. My writing isn't always good, and it is seldom great, but I still write.
Word after word after word.
Until a page is done and then a chapter and then a book.
It has occurred to me that true success in writing must lie in the author's obsession with the craft. How else do we force ourselves to do what we don't feel like doing? How else can we possibly tend to all that needs doing in the real world and then, when we are exhausted and needing a break, turn our attention to our characters and their worlds?
So, I don't feel like writing, but I will.
It is, quite simply, who I am.
Monday, January 04, 2010
To stop and smell the roses.
This past year and a half has been a whirlwind of activity. We moved clear across country. We flew halfway around the world to meet our new daughter. During this time, I also managed to keep our heads above water as far as homeschooling and kids' activities. I wrote five books. And I did copy edits for them and AAs and art fact sheets.
These are all worthy things. They are all things I am happy and content to spend my time doing.
However, in my rush to finish everything that must be done, I often forget to take time to breathe.
So, I've resolve to slow down.
Strangely, as I think of what 'slow down' means, I realize that it does not mean cutting back on what I'm doing. I am fully capable of getting kids to activities, homeschooling, writing and breathing. The problem comes when I put off until tomorrow what I really could and should do today.
Seriously, it is much easier to put things off than to face them. That pile of laundry? I can do it tomorrow. Grading the kids' papers? I can do it tomorrow. Write 2000 words? That'll fit in tomorrow, too.
But it doesn't.
Putting things off piles them up.
And I don't need any more piles.
What I need more of is this -
Time to be still, to daydream, to let my imagination soar. It is in those quiet moments of reprieve from my hectic pace that I hear most clearly God's direction for my life.
So, the next part of my resolution is to do what must be done now and then to do nothing at all. For minutes or hours. To walk or sit or dance in those moments of freedom, and to let every bit of life's joy seep into my pores. To let myself be awash in hopes and dreams and imagination. To allow myself to hear His call to action or to stillness.
Therein lies the secret to doing all that must be done.
May your new year be filled with deep breaths of pure joy!