Thursday, May 23, 2013

A Long Time Ago, We Used to Be Friends

I spent the past week near South Bend, Indiana to attend my brother's graduation from Notre Dame. It was interesting to observe his congratulations/goodbyes to his friends, because unlike my sister and I, he is one of the cool kids, a social butterfly, a big man on extreme extrovert.

This guy is pretty cool.
It made me reflect on my college experience. While many people state that the college years are "the best years of their life," I'm not sure I could say that about my 5 years (I was in a special 5-year double degree program). I think this is because I didn't actually know that I was really an introvert. Therefore, I didn't really know how to handle various situations/obligations at that stage of my life. This led to social anxiety, academic burnout, and emotional depression. Rather than becoming aware of my personality type and how to effectively use my energy, I began to close myself off from making friends and from trying my hardest in my academic pursuits.

Rather than investing in relationships, I clung to a select few people, and my social identity relied on them. I'd essentially "hide" behind them instead of learning how to utilize my own precious energy wisely. When those select close friendships faded, by proxy, so did all the other friendships/acquaintances I had.
She's the Watson to my Sherlock.

Rather than focusing on areas I was truly passionate about, I spread myself too thin and attempted to just "prove myself" instead of excelling in areas of strength. I hated the idea of academic advising meetings, simply because the thought of conversing with my advisor about my failures was stressful. And to this day, I still don't know what I'm doing with my life.

Over the past year, I've been learning more and more about my personality as an introvert. It doesn't mean I'm shy, quiet, aloof, snobby, anti-social, diva, or many of the other "negative" adjectives I've been labeled over the years. While I haven't taken the official Meyers-Briggs Type Indicator assessment, all of the free tests (however accurate/inaccurate they may be) that I have tried consistently say that I am an INTJ. And everything I read about that personality type describes me perfectly.

It was interesting to geek out with my sister about personality profiles this weekend. I think she said she was either an INFP or INFJ. While she's been described as the "shy wallflower," and I've been seen as the "arrogant snob," we both know that it's because our introverted tendencies influence or interactions with others.  If you *really* got to know us, you'd discover that she can be a boisterous and loud fanatic, and I can be an approachable and strong leader. It all depends on how comfortable we are in a given situation. However, we both decided that if we weren't blood related to our extroverted brother, we definitely wouldn't have run in the same circles ;)

I love these kids.
The more I learn about personality types, the more I hope to learn how to better ration my energy supply so that I can invest more in relationships and experiences. I want to be a better friend, a better life-long learner, a better wife, a better disciple...

So forgive me if I've ever seemed cold, uninterested, distant, arrogant, etc. I hope that I can appropriately approach my relationships with greater care and invest the energy into long lost friendships. Because you are awesome and deserve it!


Do you know your personality profile? Any good resources to share?


  1. this is awesome! love you sis! praying for you and how God uses your gifts :)

  2. Thanks for putting up with me ;) Love you, too. You are a blessing!

  3. Likewise "unofficial" INTJ here. It took a while, but I developed a coping mechanism for dealing with new people, but it only works if you are sincere: Ask questions. Leading questions, not yes or no. Pay attention, make your part of the conversation short and affirming (everyone loves to talk about themselves, or about their passions). I tend to forget names (and have become less shy about admitting that and just asking for it again), but I will almost always remember a conversation, which goes a long way towards taking away the "aloof and snobbish" stigma. Knowing (or at least being aware of) a large variety of subjects helps, as if you can show you know a bit about what the other person is talking about, it's shown as added interest in them.

    It sounds manipulative the way I'm describing it, but it really isn't if you are sincere. You end up learning a lot about the other person (and most people are interesting in one way or another) without as much anxiety as an introvert usually faces with new people, especially at a party.

    I, too, tend to invest in just a handful of close friendships. But part of life is realizing friends may grow apart, simply because they are going in different directions. It's just harder for us introverts to pick up really close friends easily.

    I'm babbling here, I think.

  4. Amanda CorneliusMay 23, 2013 at 4:23 PM

    The online tests say I'm an INTJ as well, and that my husband as an ENFP. I guess opposites can attract sometimes! How about your husband?

  5. That's so cool! Supposedly, INTJ is the rarest of the 16 personality types, but yet I find a lot of my friends are also INTJs...makes sense that I would value those personalities, though.

    My inlaws are also polar opposites as far as introvert/extrover :) Matt took the test last night and got ISTJ...which is what I predicted he would get. We are pretty much exactly the same except for that intuition vs. sensing. The more I learn about this stuff, I'm just so fascinated!

  6. Must be why I always thought you were so approachable :)

    That's great advice...I need to get better at asking leading questions. Part of my issue, though, is that if I *don't* have anything in common with the person, I just get annoyed/antsy/uncomfortable when they talk about themselves/their passions. I guess that is where breadth of knowledge comes in...but I have a long way to go.

    That's part of the reason why I'm so comfortable making friends online (via blogging/twitter) because it's easier to identify people who are the "same" as me. I asked Matt if he thought it was weird, and he said "Yes, but I understand that it is easier for you to connect and relate with people who share your interests/passions."

    I agree with the notion that friends simply just grow apart, but I often wonder if a big reason is because I didn't invest enough when our friendships were blossoming and strong.

  7. I haven't taken a personality test in awhile, but I must say it's always a relief to find people that struggled with the same things in college as I did. I tend to carry out new relationships much like quiltbabe8, though I still have trouble branching out to more than one or two new people at a time (I still get overwhelmed!).

    I must admit, some of the friendships I've started recently are the most meaningful ones I've ever had, but at the same time there are relationships I've lost (whether from hiding behind them as you said or giving up on them when the other person fell out of contact) that I wish I could reignite.

  8. INFJ here, unofficially at least. I took my first test at 15 and at 23, it's still the same. I definitely identify with it, too. Very rarely do I share feelings or thoughts unless it's to someone I'm really close to, and there are only about three or four people that fall in that category. I have a lot of trouble making new friends, although I have many acquaintances, and it's because of the whole keeping thoughts and feelings to myself thing. I am frequently "diagnosed" by others as a know-it-all, and I know it's a problem. I'm genuinely interested in the pursuit of knowledge, so I almost always have the right answer, but I don't always communicate it in a way that is acceptable to others, and it's never on purpose, but that is how I come across. I'm learning to make friends, but at 23 it is still a struggle. I find joy in things that I do alone or that allow me to put on another persona (probably why theatre and reading are my biggest hobbies). I just find these personality tests so interesting. Since researching them more I've become much, much more aware of myself.

  9. I am officially an ENFP/J. Hahaha. I score pretty evenly in the middle on the P/J section. Parts of the test really can be influenced by our mood or the kind of day/week/month we are having. I find it interesting that in a world that seems to value extroverts or at least some their characteristics more people are introverts (or at least many are claiming it). One thing I think I want people to understand is that introversion and extroversion descriptions have their limits. As an extrovert I get most of my energy from being with people but there is a point of diminishing returns where the energy spent far outweighs the energy earned. Watching my husband who is an introvert I have learned that if he doesn't have interaction with people he loses energy. All that to say simply, we need to learn our preferences but not allow ourselves to be pigeon-holed. ;)

  10. Thanks for commenting, Scott! It is definitely reassuring to find people that have similar struggles, especially when on the outside, it may appear that they aren't (if that makes sense).

  11. It is all really interesting, and I agree, I definitely feel like I have a better awareness of myself by knowing why I act certain ways or why I'm perceived certain ways.

    I also loved theatre for the same reason, because I could put on a character. I think theatre helped me be more open socially as well, so I've definitely missed that and am looking forward to plugging back into the theatre scene back in Milwaukee.

    Also, we need to meet for coffee before I move :)

  12. That's a great point about limits. It brings to mind an interesting question...While I'm sure it's easier for introverts to spiral into depression by closing themselves off, I suppose it's possible for extroverts to spiral into depression by being TOO outgoing...? Have you ever read any studies on that?

  13. I am sure I could find studies that link depression to the over outgoing extrovert, but I don't have any at my fingertips. I can tell you from anecdotal evidence that like introverts, extroverts suffer depression. From several extroverts that I know who suffer from depression but won't (or can't) admit it, they frequently over compensate by being hyper-outgoing.

  14. That makes sense. Very interesting!

  15. I don't see anything wrong with not having as much interest in people you don't have much in common with, in most circumstances. That may sound cold, but it's nice to know as an introvert that you don't need to invest in everyone. I've sort of learned to create a more 'business' friendly mode, where I can show interest & so forth, but without really giving myself any expectations about a friendship that may not happen.