Tag Archives: infp

INFP in an ISTJ World: The Artist In Silicon Valley

I don’t fit in here. More than 10 years working in tech in Silicon Valley, and I look around at all of my peers and feel more like an alien than ever. Don’t get me wrong — I highly respect my peers — but I’m not one of them. While diversity of thought is valuable in any industry, it’s clear my thought is not welcome as is.

However much you believe in Myers Briggs as the be-all-end-all truth of personality definitions, there is a fairly common theme in technology firms of personality type: the INTJ. While my introversion is not judged as harshly in the tech industry as it would be outside of it, my complete anthesis of the typical Silicon Valley worker otherwise makes it vital for me to be an “E” — the “E” (extrovert) which is a value add since many of the folks here are introverts. Limited senior leadership roles that are open to non-engineer types often look for “E’s.” There are enough introverts to go around who are practically rocket scientists, but as an extrovert there is less competition to make it to the top – if you’re truly charismatic (which I am not. I am an awkward introvert and despite dreaming of having the presence of a Michelle Obama I realize that will never happen.) Continue reading

When “I Can’t” is a Fair Assessment of the Situation

They say that the most productive people in the world don’t have the word’s “I can’t” in their vocabulary. When they’re asked to jump, they don’t even ask, “how high,” they just jump as high as they can and try harder next time. Whether or not they have a sociopathic and delusional belief in their own abilities is irrelevant, confidence, even over-confidence, begets success in many cases.

I think back to myself as a little girl and I wonder if she believed in herself – that if she believed if she worked through problems instead of getting frustrated and giving up in a manner of seconds – she’d be an entirely different person today. She didn’t realize that while extreme intellect enables a certain kind of success, not everyone needs to be a genius to change the world.

Little girl me flunked out of her smart kids program in second grade because she grew too frustrated with confusing logic problems and would rather doodle and daydream. Little girl me saw math and science as that thing my dad liked and he clearly wasn’t happy or a person I’d want to be like, so why bother? Little girl me sat and watched the second hand tick by in just about every class I had, waiting for the years to pass by.

My therapist this week said something that struck me in its crystal clarity – those who dwell in the past are depressed. Those who think too much about the future are anxious. It’s best we focus on now. And that is what being mindful is all about.

Then, today, a headline in the New York Times caught my eye – “The Cost of Daydreaming.” The author is a woman in her 60s who considers how much of her life was spent wasted lost in what could be, versus accepting and enjoying what is.

“Ever since I could remember, I had feared being found wanting,” Gornick writes. “If I did the work I wanted to do, it was certain not to measure up; if I pursued the people I wanted to know, I was bound to be rejected; if I made myself as attractive as I could, I would still be ordinary looking.”

Oh, how I can relate! How much safer it is to wrap ourselves in this cloak of disappointment in the now, with all this hope wrapped up in the future. But future is the now of tomorrow. The future will be a now sometime and it will never be enough. I don’t want to get to 60 and realize I’ve wasted my life daydreaming away time.

The essay continues… “Around such damages to the ego a shrinking psyche had formed: I applied myself to my work, but only grudgingly; I’d make one move toward people I liked, but never two; I wore makeup but dressed badly. To do any or all of these things well would have been to engage heedlessly with life — love it more than I loved my fears — and this I could not do. What I could do, apparently, was daydream the years away: to go on yearning for “things” to be different so that I would be different.”

I am already exhausted by yearning. There is some god-awful romanticism to wanting versus having – an art enabled by privilege-fueled guilt cradled by insecurity. The future is this amorphous globule which is so fucking pretty from the perspective of the hear and now, or ugly but salvageable with the grace of time. Then the future zips right up to our present and are we at all the better for it?

Elon Musk, a perfectly imperfect human (and some reporter’s lunch with him.)

I daydream that I’m actually as brilliant as Elon Musk – but I didn’t have quite the right upbringing to set me up to access the brilliance. I know it isn’t true. I was creating websites with a dozen too many iFrames at 14, not building computer programs with lightening speed at 9. We both had pretty insufferable childhoods and hated the structure of school equally. But Elon spent his time voraciously devouring science fiction and fantasy. Something stopped me from reading when I was younger – this strong anti-authoritarian rebellion which made it impossible to given in to anything that I deemed too “adult” or “educational.”

Dwelling in the past leads to depression. True. There are so many problems to solve in the world. In the little time I have left on earth – with my god-given abilities, or lack there of, what can I do to fix them? Or is the best I can do hold my breath and stay out of the way? And does it really matter – my inner Nietzsche rears his ugly head – tells me I can’t do a damned thing about any of the problems and even if we make interplanetary habitation possible, we’re still destined for nothingness as soon as the chance of the universe divides by zero.

Returning to present time, not future worry (anxiety) or past reflection (depression), I ponder on now. What am I now? What drives me now? I give myself permission to care about how I feel in this moment. And I feel broken down. I feel weak in my skin, cut up by a life of scripting persuasion and failing to do the exposition justice.  And I HATE the feeling of being unable to do something, but even more so I hate the feeling of not knowing what it is I can do. It is remarkably refreshing to say “I can’t” as long as it’s true and one can accept this and move on.

Elon Musk doesn’t say I can’t. That’s why he’s Elon Musk and I’m not. And I don’t have to be Elon Musk or Tina Fey or Barak Obama to lead a meaningful life filled with the wonder of the present. And that starts with saying “I Can’t,” and it’s time to start down the path of whatever it is where I can proudly one day say “I Can.”

 

What Enneagram Type are You? I’m 4w7

My therapist would be upset at me because I’m not supposed to be thinking about any sort of career shifts until I achieve my two priority goals (stay in job for at least one year and study for/score high on the GRE.) — But I was in the mood to take a test that would help yet again confirm my suspicions that I’m in the wrong career. I’ve taken the Myers Briggs multiple times and have come out an INFP, so I moved on to the 145 question Enneagram. Apparently I’m at least consistent with my persona (INFPs reported to be enneagram 4’s most frequently.)

I’m a 4 with a “7” wing, and a bit of a mix of 5, 3 and 2. What on earth does that mean?

4’s are either called the “individualists” or the “romantics.”

Well, the other terms used to describe this type are more negative but perhaps more honest — “over-analyzer” and “melodramatic elitist.” Hmm.

“You need be seen as artistic, gifted and accomplished. You focus on your individuality and on carving your own distinct image. You need to express your deep feelings and want others to validate your emotions. Whether you are organizing your living space to reflect your refined tastes or engaging in an artistic pursuit, it is essential for your sense of well being that you express your creativity.”

Ok, ok. So this test really gets me, deep down, in all the ugliness that is my self-absorbed, artistic, intuitive, over-dramatic self.

The career portion of the test notes that ideal careers for 4’s = psychotherapist, dance instructor, artist, writer, life coach, relationship counselor, missionary, web designer or actor/musician. Again, the therapist suggestion pops up. Maybe I should stop ignoring that option.

7s, which is my second highest score, recommends fun careers such as comedian, photographer, entertainer, tour guide, artist/musician.

Clearly I either should be an artist or a therapist.

The whole 4w7 is apparently a strange mix, which is why I probably am eternally conflicted…

“This mixed type has an enormous potential for creativity. The lightness of Type 7 mitigates the heaviness of Type 4, and the profundity of Type 4 makes the superficiality of Type 7 tolerable. But at the same time it is hard for this mixed type to stabilize himself emotionally; he is strangely faltering and ungrounded.”

“Type 4 and Type 7 are very different. Nevertheless, they meet in their creativity. . . .”

“The lightness of the seventh Enneagram type is completely foreign to Type 4, who goes through life in a melancholy way. Suffering, from which Type 7 flees like the plague, is a constant companion of Type 4, who accepts it and does not try to repress it.

“The superficial optimism of Type 7 is a mystery to Type 4, just as the suffering of Type 4 is incomprehensible to Type 7.”

“This type is relatively rare, and like most of the mixed types that have some Type 4 in them, it can be found in artistic circles.”

Getting back to 4s, because that’s what I scored highest on…

Generally, Fours are intuitive, sensitive, impressionable, quiet, introspective, passionate, romantic, elegant, witty, imaginative, and self-expressive.

Fours get into conflicts by being moody, emotionally demanding, self-absorbed, withholding, temperamental, dramatic, pretentious, and self-indulgent.

At their best, Fours are creative, inspired, honest with themselves, emotionally strong, humane, self-aware, discrete, and self-renewing.

Recognizing Fours

Type Four exemplifies the desire to be ourselves, to be known for who we are, and to know the depths of our hearts. Of all the types, Fours are the most aware of their own emotional states. They notice when they feel upset, anxious, attracted to another person, or some other, more subtle combination of feelings. They pay attention to their different changing emotions and try to determine what their feelings are telling them about themselves, others, and their world. When Fours are more in balance, their exquisite attunement to their inner states enables them to discover deep truths about human nature, to bear compassionate witness to the suffering of others, or to be profoundly honest with themselves about their own motives. When they are less balanced, they can become lost in their feelings, preoccupied with emotional reactions, memories, and fantasies, both negative and positive.

Their Hidden Side
On the surface, Fours can seem to suffer from chronic self-doubt and extreme sensitivity to others’ reactions to them. But part of the reason for this is that Fours often hold a secret, inner image of who they feel they could be. They have an idea of the sort of person they would like to become, the kind of person who would be fantastically talented, socially adept, and intensely desired. In short, Fours come to believe that if they were somehow different from who they are, they would be seen and loved. Unfortunately, they constantly compare themselves negatively to this idealized secret self—their ‘fantasy self.” This makes it very difficult for Fours to appreciate many of their genuine positive qualities because they are never as wonderful as the fantasy. Much of the growth for type Four involves letting go of this idealized secret self so that they can see and appreciate who they actually are.

Wow.

So this made me tear up a bit because it’s so true. I’m constantly hoping that somewhere deep down there is a person who is so innately talented and special and she just needs to figure out how to make her grande appearance to be appreciated and loved. But I also acknowledge this is complete and utter bullshit and I just need to accept who I am and move on with life.

The Passion: Envy
At some level, Fours believe that they are missing something that other people seem to have. They feel that something is wrong with them or with their relationships, and they start to be acutely aware of what is not working in their lives. Naturally, given this frame of mind, it is difficult for Fours to feel good about themselves or to appreciate the good things in their world.

Fours rightly perceive that there is something inadequate or incomplete about the ego self, but they incorrectly assume that they alone suffer from this problem. Fours then get in the habit of comparing themselves to others, concluding that they have somehow gotten “the short end of the stick.” Fours feel that they have been singled out by fate for bad treatment, bad luck, unsatisfying relationships, bad parenting, and broken dreams. It comes as something of a shock to many Fours to discover that other people have suffered as much or even more than they have. This doesn’t mean that Fours haven’t suffered or that their painful pasts are inconsequential. But Fours need to see how they perpetuate their own suffering by continually focusing on old wounds rather than truly processing those hurts and letting go of them in a way that would allow them to heal.

Can an INFP Succeed at Business?

I’ve had the fortune of watching a number of executives and managers go through poor treatment by their own managers, layoffs, firings, or underpayment, and resiliently go on to obtain even better opportunities. It seems that no matter how much they seem to have their heart and soul poured into a job, they’re never bound to one business. They just aren’t emotionally tied to it.

Most people won’t be emotionally tied to their work. Sure, one could get excited about completing a project, solving a problem, or getting a promotion, but at the end of the day their life isn’t their job. Even if they seem to work and network most of their waking hours.

I started wondering recently how important it is to have somewhat of a sociopathic mentality to succeed in business. I took this test on whether or not I’m a sociopath and came out to be just 22% sociopath. Apparently the average woman is 37% sociopath and the average man is 50% sociopath.  Continue reading