Memoirs of a Guinea Pig
I can’t relate to most of the world.
I’m not trying to be special, it’s just a fact of life, and always has been, as long as I’ve known me. In most any group of people I encounter, I just never quite fully fit in. And I don’t mean I’m an outcast, or that I’m awkward or socially inept; in fact, quite the opposite. You see, it's not so much that I feel out of sorts with everyone else... more like I feel like everyone else is out of sorts with me. To be perfectly honest, I can't admit that to too many people. Not without coming across as an arrogant tool. And, that's just not who I am, or who I want to be. So I tend to keep the secret of my everyday sense of personal seclusion to myself.
Except here, with you, of course. :)
Oh, don't get me wrong... I'm not saying I'm a hermit, or anything. Officially, I have a rather sizable social circle. My Facebook account has over 400 “friends.” That may be a small number for some of you more in touch through the online world, but, with only a few rare exceptions (mostly from LJ Idol, actually), I have a personal policy to only ever accept friend requests from people I’ve actually encountered in person, so, knowing that there are over 400 folks who’ve met me and still want to stay in touch is a little mind boggling to me. Mind you, I’m not bragging about that… I don’t think it’s anything to brag about. I find it to be a bizarre discord of untruth, considering I wouldn’t need all my digits to count the number of people in the entire world that would come to mind when asked to name the exclusive few I genuinely value in that regard. I’m not sure I realized I even knew that many people. When former school alumni started pouring out of the woodwork and attaching themselves to me recently, I almost shut the damn thing down. One gal sent me a message saying she was SO excited to run into me out here, saying we should get together. I’ll be honest… I couldn’t even remember who she is (still don’t, to be quite frank about it), and I’m fairly certain I’ve never “hung out” with her in my life. Mind you, Facebook has about the loosest interpretation of the label I may have ever come across, but, still… the concept is the same. “Followers” would probably be a more accurate description… in fact, that particular social networking system may be moving in that direction. I certainly hope so.
But I digress.
Suffice it to say, there have always been more people in my life who want to call me friend than I can say the same about in return.
This does not make me feel special.
I’ll tell you what it does make me feel…
I make “friends” naturally. I smile a lot, I love to laugh. It’s easy for people to relate to me. Chances are good, whatever your walk of life, I will intuit some aspect of your humanity that I find some element of commonality in, and I will use that as a formulative strength for us to build upon in order connect to one another. You may see this as laying the foundation of a friendship. I don’t. I’m just understanding you at a fundamental level. I'm just taking you as you are, accepting you for who you are, never presuming I should ever have any reason to want to change you. I appreciate that we will have differences because we’ve come from different places and we’ve experienced life differently. I celebrate our differences; I seek them out. Maybe the rest of the world doesn’t do that; maybe that’s why so many people feel closer to me than I do to them. For me, it just comes naturally. Maybe it’s because I’ve hardly ever met another soul who IS like me that I’ve never bothered to expend any effort trying to make other people be more so. I’m me; you’re you. That is how it should be. There’s no reason for us to try and be the same.
But REAL friends?
People I count on?
People I actually turn to?
People I actually trust?
That’s a different story entirely.
I’ve often wondered about the reason I can feel more alone in a crowd of people than when I’m by myself...
…but, I’ve never been able to find it.
For a lot of complicated reasons I won’t get into here, I spent a fair amount of my childhood being poked, pushed and prodded; scrutinized, measured and evaluated; identified, classified and labeled. I’m not entirely sure how this happened, really (Though I might have some inkling, if I put some thought into it.). I’m not that special. I have no issues. Well, I suppose, I mean to say - nothing abnormal, anyway, that is… I’m not perfect. I’m a work in progress, learning and growing, but, I don’t have any aspects about how I get through life that require special handling, medication or extraordinary measures.
I’m just me.
But by the time I was 5 years old, I’d already had my IQ tested half a dozen times, a rate whose frequency would only continue to progress throughout my childhood and young adult life. I suppose, when you’re a ward of the state, maybe it’s just a given that you’ll be expected to give up some portion of your private identity and any sense of normalcy to become a statistical lab rat for the psychological sciences. For me, I didn’t really know any better, didn’t have anything else which represented something that might be a basis of comparison, so that just was my normal. I learned to not put too much stock in IQ tests, and the like. One administrator could test me one day, with one result, and someone else could get a completely different result on a different day. One might think based on such a wide variance in findings that intelligence waxes and wanes like the tide, but I’ve learned that your Intelligence Quotient is not necessarily a complete or accurate assessment of your intelligence.
Then there’s the MMPI, the MBTI, and a handful of other complex, multi-lettered surveys delivered by professionals with a veritable alphabet soup behind their initials, who’d smile and nod and speak in excited, encouraging tones to me while scribbling furiously on their clipboards, and in hushed, hurried whispers to one another, adding stacks of notes to their file, and another assorted barrage of tests, in a series of appointments, over the course of the next few days, weeks, months, years, etc. Through referrals and extensions, they effectively passed me around to their collective of squint friends, each responding like a kid in a candy store, all reacting to me like I was some kind of a child’s toy at Christmas. I didn’t know enough to have any thought to wonder why; I reveled in the opportunity to meet new people, got to know many of them by name, and genuinely enjoyed their company. For me, it was all just fun and games.
Life went on like that for a while, until eventually I was adopted at age 10, to a family that was glad to have me, and didn’t feel the need to continue the investigative onslaught with the same veracity. I sometimes wonder what it must have been like to take in a child who comes with her own instruction manual. I might find it interesting at some point in my life to get a peek at that file.
But I'm off on a tangent again.
When you can take the same tests at varying points of your life, in stages of development at which you've no motivations or skill to "game" the system in order to manipulate the results, you tend to devalue the accuracy of evaluations that continue to produce diverse outcomes, none of which are genuinely relatable or feel much like an accurate character summary. When you're either an I or a sometimes an E, maybe an F or possibly a T, mostly a J but occasionally a P, after a while, you might just come to think of the whole Myers-Briggs / Keirsey-Bates / Jungian philosophy of classifications as a lot of hot air from the minds of a handful of highly educated, but otherwise clueless quacks.
Turns out... there's just a lot of ineffective, wannabe knockoffs.
...which is a good thing, because, when you finally do find the legitimate truth, you just know.
I would never have imagined that something as simple as a personality profile could have such a profound impact on my life. But a few weeks ago, I had to take a half day off my normal routine after I stayed up most of the night reeling from the fallout of events of that day which had unexpectedly lead to a surprising discovery:
I'm an INFJ.
If you don't know anything about the MBTI, this probably doesn't mean anything to you. So I'll fill you in on the piece of the puzzle that makes all the difference.
We represent 1.5% of the entire human population (1% of all women).
So... statistically speaking... of every 200 people I encounter... I'll maybe share these traits in common with 3 of them?
Talk about feeling out of touch... let's call that a severe understatement.
And, to top it all off... just to add insult to injury, as if that was bad enough...
Want to know which type we match off as most compatible with?
Guess what's unique about them?
...They represent only 3% of humanity.
Now that's just cruel.
Apparently, science has a twisted sense of humor, it would seem.
So do I.
One might think that realizing people like me are in such an extreme minority might make me feel special. Mostly, though, I guess it just explains why as good as I'm capable of getting to know you... we may never be as close as you might think we are, or want us to be. And, it helps me to understand how I can have so many people associated with me on some level who think they want to be a part of my life somehow, and still feel...
But... knowledge is power.
...and understanding is empowerment.
It's such a great triumph to be able to finally get the whys and hows behind the answers to so many questions.
To sum up just a few of the relevant highlights of what it means to be an INFJ:
Ø We are deep, complex, intensely private, and extremely difficult to understand.
This explains why so many people who try to “read” me are usually wrong.
(It's apparently more common than one might expect... even Jung has us completely off.)
Ø We are usually right, and we usually know it.
This might account for a naturally stubborn streak.
(And for being one over whom most find it rather difficult to win arguments.)
Ø We can often see the truth about people more clearly than those people can see it in themselves.
This sheds some light on the reason I’m constantly encountering people I barely know who will after a few minutes of conversation adamantly
(and not just a little bit rabidly) insist that I’m psychic. For the record, you’re all nuts. I’m just really good at picking up on subtle cues that most people miss.
Ø We are fairly ambidextrous in the chemistry of our brain hemispheres.
No wonder finding the right results is so complicated for us… not only are we a sparsely occurring rarity, but, we are also simultaneously
creative AND responsible, artistic AND logical, spiritual AND scientific, intuitive AND analytic.
This gives me a sense of rationality behind my life having been a complex dichotomy of opposites that make sense to mostly no one but me.
Ø We spend our lives feeling different, estranged, and misunderstood.
Well, duh. That just about sums it up, doesn’t it?
I could go on with further examples that demonstrate how much this has made all the pieces of my life fall together in a way that finally makes sense, but you get the idea. I admit, wholeheartedely researching with gusto into as much information as I could come by and absorb all at once, there were moments that I even found myself a bit misty-eyed recognizing that I'm not alone. To suddenly be faced with the reality that the characteristics about myself which no one else has ever understood are documented, scientifically weighed and measured standards for my classification, was so overwhelming that I could barely hold back my reaction, and that's a bit unusual for me. (INFJs experience emotion with intense passion, but express it fairly stoicly. I guess that makes us the Vulcans of this world.)
Well, hunh. Whaddya know... there just might be something to this people science stuff after all. And... aw, dangit! That means I DO have to admit that the NUMBERS guy could possibly be right!
The most important truth that I've found, though, in all of this self-discovery is, I don't have to second-guess myself, wondering why people don't get me, or trying to be something I'm not. I've long ago through the course of life just naturally learned to accept that most people won't ever really get me. But now I can truly be at peace with it. There's no value for me in taking great care or making exerted efforts to expend any useless energy trying to fit this square peg into a round hole.
I don’t have to fix anything, because
There’s nothing wrong with me.
...I’m just being myself.
This is just who I am....
...what you see is what you get...
...and that's all there is to it.
If I were more inclined toward wistful, backward looking responses such as self-pity and remorse, I might wonder how I got to nearly my fourth decade without knowing this vital bit of detail about my nature, without the tools and the knowledge to truly understand what it means to be me. But I'm not going to dwell on that, because from this point forward, I can go through life knowing
...and that's good enough for me.
LJ Idol | Season 8 • Week 16 - Topic: REINVENTING THE WHEEL
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