When someone I know came to talk to me recently, I pointed out that she didn't have to. She'd arrived at the venue with her friends and, due to a problem between me and one of her friends, I sat alone. The last thing I wanted was to create further problems, so I'd assumed that she would remain at her table, with her friends, and I would remain at mine.
When I said that she didn't have to come to talk to me, it wasn't that I didn't want her to talk to me. I was simply thinking of the ongoing stand off between another person at her table and myself. The reply was that she was there because I'm her friend.
It might be useful, at this point, to list some of my core beliefs about how people see me:
- No one really wants to listen to me. It's best if I don't talk too much about myself, and that could also come across as me being self-absorbed anyway.
- If people want to talk to me, they'll talk to me. If they don't come to talk to me, it's because they don't want to. Approaching someone, or initiating a conversation, might mean I'm forcing a conversation they don't necessarily want to have.
- I'm no one's first choice of friend. I'm there in the absence of other options.
Point number 3 is the important one. I never feel that I'm particularly important to anyone although, even as I write it, I'm aware that it's more likely to be a self-esteem issue than an accurate evaluation of my worth. I know that I often present people with difficulties, however, because they've been quite open in telling me that I'm difficult.
INFJ signify, it's a personality type. More accurately, it's a personality type described by the Myers Briggs Type Indicator. Unlike a lot of personality tests that are available online, the MBTI, as it is often abbreviated, is based on genuine psychological theory.
Now, we should be careful about attaching labels to people. The whole point about the MBTI, and Jung's personality types, upon which the test is based, is that these traits are apparent to a greater or lesser degree, and we must always see someone as an individual, rather than a type. People are inherently complex, and psychological theory barely scratches the surface of that complexity.
Where those types are useful is in understanding how we see the world and the people in it. If it wasn't clear before, it is now crystal clear that each of us sees the world in a different way. I can't tell you, with any certainty, that the generalisations about the INFJ personality type are accurate but, in my case, they seem to ring true.
The first picture suggested that I keep a lot of myself hidden. I've heard people say this about me. On one occasion, someone noted that she'd told me a lot about herself, but knew next to nothing about me. A good friend has commented that I'm a very private person. There are so many other examples, but I'm sure you get the idea. I realise I'm doing it. What about the charge that people tell me a lot about themselves?
Does this mean that I can tell when people aren't showing me who they truly are? Do I have the ability to see whether someone is being genuine or not? Is that my superpower?
The bottom line? Most people don't like feeling so exposed and vulnerable. You can count the people with whom you will develop a close friendship on the fingers of one hand, but those friendships will be sincere and meaningful. The people who turn their backs on you either can't accept a fundamental aspect of who you are, or wrongly assume that you won't accept a fundamental aspect of who they are.
When Halloween comes around again, if I attend costume parties, I'll choose a costume that allows me to cover my face. I believe a face like mine really should be covered, but that's a whole other issue. If I have the chance to be present and still hide myself from view, I'm a whole lot more comfortable. Like I said, it's the only trick I have in the bag.
The likelihood of me being the first person someone thinks of when asked to name a friend of theirs is remote. If we've known each other for some time, however, they genuinely know me, and I know them. I may not be the first friend they think of, but I'm a true friend.