Whenever you find that you are on the side of the majority, it is time to reform. ~Mark Twain
Despite my age, there are some aspects of my personality that continue to amaze me. One of them is the dichotomy between yearning to be accepted by a group and the suffocation I feel when I am. I’ve always felt like an outsider, although I don’t think I am perceived that way. When I took the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator many years ago, I was assessed as an INFJ, which means:
Introversion vs. Extraversion, iNtuitive vs. Sensing, Feeling vs. Thinking, Judging vs. Perceiving*
Since that is the least common type in the U.S. population, and allowing for my borderline results within half the dichotomies of F/T and J/P, it is no wonder that I find it hard to be a joiner.
Growing up an INFJ was not easy, especially in my childhood household. I suspect my father was an I, possibly a N, and definitely a J. My personality resembled my father’s (I??J) more than my mother’s, but my father didn’t participate much in the intricacies of raising daughters, leaving it to my mother, who was probably an EFTJ. She was mystified by dreamy, sensitive girls like me. I discovered that I could please her by getting good grades and having some kind of social life. In high school I joined the kind of clubs she would have joined and held onto one boyfriend throughout high school so that I could be assured of invitations to dances. I even joined her sorority in college, envying the GDIs the whole time.
I grew up in a religious family (Methodist), with various minister ancestors who preached their way west. I liked the “belonging-ness” of church membership because it seemed safe, warm and predictable, even though I had abandoned my belief in the tenets of the faith by the time I was twelve. Through the years I learned that belonging to a church was constricting, demanding and definitely unsafe for me. By the age of 45 I abandoned all pretext of declaring myself religious. Politically I have yet to abandon my party affiliation, mainly because our country is so polarized and I don’t see how change will happen without working through the system. However, I do not plan to use my blog for political statements, so I will simply define myself as a humanist.**
Despite the insights about myself I have gained, I know that I am still evolving as a person. There are no easy answers to the Big Questions about existence. I also know that working against who I am is fruitless. I will continue to gain understanding and self-acceptance, enjoy learning something new, but I cannot be other than I am. The biggest mistakes in my life began when I followed someone else’s drum beat, rather than the drum beat of my own heart.