I am an Introvert...

Photo I took last week, Acadia National Park
...and I like it!  And I am owning it.

It started with a video I watched online a few weeks ago.  I found myself deep-crying as I watched it.  Do you know what I mean by deep-crying?  It's as though there is something deep inside you that has needed release for so long you don't even know it is there, imprisoned and waiting, until a friend comes along with the right mix of desire and tenderness to free that inner prisoner.

That friend came for me in the person of Susan Cain, and the video I watched, her TED Talk, is entitled "The power of introverts".  You can watch it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c0KYU2j0TM4.  After silent-sobbing my way through it, I felt compelled to fly to my facebook wall and post, "FINALLY someone said it.  I feel like this lays bare the meaning of so much of my life."

Susan had somehow put out there, into the global conversation, words that gave me permission to value myself, just as I am, with the weird mess of beautiful gifts I have been given.  I started to think, "Maybe the way I was created is not so useless after all..."

Six days ago, I was on the coast of Maine, on a vacation with my husband, and though my friends could tell you that I am very careful with my money, I handed over almost thirty clams at an independent bookstore in exchange for a copy of Susan's well-researched book, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can't Stop Talking.  I have hungrily devoured 190 pages so far, and, at the risk of waxing hyperbolic, I would go so far as to say that this book is revolutionary for me and my journey through life.

What is so revolutionary about this book?  I will give you some personal context.

I can come across to people as outgoing and extroverted.  These traits are highly valued in our culture, as Susan discusses in the book, but I have found that although I love people and long to know them, I generally hit an inexplicable wall at which I want to walk away for a bit, even from the people I love.

There is so much going on in my head.  I am constantly finding meaning in just about everything.  It's like when you install a fantastically cool software program on your computer, and you love what it can do, but it also slows down your computer and necessitates closing other programs so that it, alone, can run.  I'm like that.  I have to get alone in my head so that I can process everything.  Otherwise, I run badly.

I process everything around and in me at a complex, deep level, and frankly, it can get to be both  fascinating and exhausting.  It's like I touch something, and meaning flows out, and then it all needs to be sorted through and understood.  I have a complex inner life that I enjoy, but sometimes this wonderland can also cause me to feel alone.

I think that is one reason that I love acting, singing, writing, and photography the way I do, because they are rare conduits through which I can share this rich inner world with others in a relatively safe and controlled way.  "Safe" and "controlled" are important adjectives here, because as an artist, I throw parts of my vulnerable heart and soul out into the public, and I'm still learning how to do this wisely and excellently.

A big question for me is this:  How do I make excellent art and take care of myself in the process?

If you have read this far, then here's a fair warning: you are now entering a zone of personality type nerdiness.  I am endlessly fascinated by personality typing, but I understand if you aren't, so I am fine with you choosing to get out while you can.  And thanks for reading!

Still here?  Okay, just know you have been warned.

After a good deal of online research and testing--without handing over the $175 to get the full MBTI test and feedback--I think that it is fairly safe to say that I am an INFJ.

To give you some highlights, as an INFJ, I:
-can often be mistaken for an extrovert
-belong to the rarest of the 16 types (apparently about 1% of the population)
-am complex
-am committed to my own and others' personal growth
-am an "old soul" (shout out to Cathy and Cody!)
-tend to "soak up" other people's problems and can lose sight of my own goals
-am "curious and imaginative" and "happy when [I] have the opportunity to explore the universe of ideas" (see www.keirsey.com)

There is a lot more to be said, but as I've read online posts by other INFJ's, it seems that many of us feel misunderstood and alone.  Ironically, hearing other INFJ's say this helps me to feel more understood and connected.

As a side note about theater and INFJ's, I found a post by an actor who said, "With an INFJ actor what you expect to see is someone who can actually get inside the head of another person and become that person."

The downside to this is that I can go full immersion, and have a hard time separating out who I am and who the character is. The upside is obvious, and online INFJ lists include noted actors like Nicole Kidman, Cate Blanchett, Tilda Swinton, Michelle Pfeiffer, Rooney Mara, and Billy Crystal. (http://www.celebritytypes.com/infj.php, http://psychology.about.com/od/trait-theories-personality/a/Infj.htm).

To conclude, I want to acknowledge that this post has been a bit of a departure from my normal writing, but I've been so excited about what I'm learning that I wanted to share.

Thank you for indulging me! And I'd love to hear what you have learned about your own personality type.


  1. You should have taken the Myers-Brigg test during the Champe Fitzhugh Seminar. Do you still have those results?
    I'm a INTJ! :)

    1. Jeff, no wonder we got along so well! I do remember taking it, but don't have my results anymore. I believe I showed up as an ENFJ or ENFP, but looking back, I think at that point in time, I was answering the questions with an extravert slant because that seemed more like what my friends would want me to be. :)


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