01 Mar 2012

what it feels like for an introvert

It is March, today. It is March and this semester that is my last is almost halfway over. It is March and this year, THIS CRAZY YEAR!, is two months in.

I am no closer to My Next Big Step than I was last time I talked here about jobs. I have applied for a few positions since then, but you know how apply for jobs goes. You apply, you wait, you wait, they give it to someone else, they run out of money to pay someone to do that job, or they finally call you. One of those things will happen.

I really take stock in my Myers- Briggs type. I’ve taken the test three or four times since I was 21 or so – sometimes for school, sometimes for fun – and no matter what test I take, no matter how much time has passed, I remain an overwhelming INFJ. Introverted, Intuitive, Feeling, Judging.

Trying to build a meaningful career is difficult for me. I’m introverted: meeting new people and networking is tremendously draining. I typically don’t want to do it. I’m a feeler not a thinker, which means that it’s easy for me to feel my own failures and potential missteps with acuity, even though my rational brain is telling me that they don’t matter in the long run. When my feelings get me down, my intuition shuts down – every choice seems like a bad choice, every option has a long string of potentially negative implications. And laying over all this nonsense is a layer of persistent judgment: my gut wants routine and predictability, my heart wants a clear path to my future, my bones want to make plans and stick to them. I’m not getting any of that right now. It freaks me out.

That seems pretty doomsday-ish, but it’s not. I actually like being an INFJ; I am happy and proud of the way I seem to be wired. It doesn’t feel like I’m on a downward spiral, that I’m fated to be unsuccessful, that I should throw in the towel.

But it does feel like that sometimes.

Overall, the last few months have been a roller coaster. Ups and downs. Some days, I have this optimism that surprises me. There are any number of amazing directions my life could go. I have faith in my abilities and my drive; I might not know WHERE I will end up, but because I am Me, wherever it is will be awesome because I won’t settle for anything less. I can live like this for a day, a week.

Then I get a busy day or a bit of criticism or a bad headache or a surge of some hormones or something. Suddenly I’m exhausted with everything my life is currently demanding me. I want to curl up into a cocoon. I want to go home to my parents’ house. I want to stay indoors for the rest of my life, only putting myself “out there” when I’m absolutely certain that it will not result in pain.

I can look back at my life and see that I’ve always been like this. The tendency to retreat is always there. It will always be there. Being under stress, experiencing uncertainty, being ballsy will always be uncomfortable. More uncomfortable, perhaps, than it is for other people.

But what I can do now is acknowledge my weaknesses and be strategic. Sometimes, I can work around situations that I know will send me hiding in my bed. Self care is big. Positive self talk – or even just Non-Doomsday- “The World Is Not Going to End” self talk – is huge.

And being able to see the “downs” for what they are is the most important piece. You feel like this today. You might feel like this tomorrow, too. But you won’t feel like this in a week, or a month, or a year. For now, take a breather, take a night off, be nice to yourself and don’t feel guilty about it.

This has nothing to do with your lack of character, your poor fate, your lack of talent or skills.

There will be ups.

Just not today.

People ask me what my plans are, where I’m going, what jobs I’m applying for or looking at. Every day, my answers feel different.

But that’s just the way I am, the way my life is right now, and I couldn’t be any other way than up-d0wn-up-down-up.




  1. Michael Tackett wrote:

    Don’t forget to celebrate your successes. You should celebrate at every stage of success, like when you decided to apply for the job, when you send the application in, etc. Always reward yourself for good behavior. It is like we are all pets that need to have our belly rubbed constantly. Besides, it is fun to celebrate!

    Posted on 3.2.12 · Reply to comment

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