There are many labels I could apply to myself. Some I’ve sought, others I’ve accepted, and still others were imposed. None describe my life on a minute-to-minute basis like introvert (INFJ) and writer, which are so intwined that it’s almost impossible to separate them.
My personality designation, INFJ (Introverted iNtuitive Feeling Judging), is central to who I am. It’s rare. Actually, it’s the most rare of all the types in the Myers-Briggs world of personality types. It’s the type that often causes others to go, “Huh?”
An INFJ is a bit difficult to understand.
I’m a mass of contradictions, have the habit of seeing twenty sides of every issue, and find people fascinating (while keeping my distance). In a group I’m reserved. One-on-one, after an initial ice breaking, I can be a chatterbox on its fifth cup of coffee. It’s the reason I can be misidentified as an extrovert if someone catches me at such a moment.
Getting by in an extroverted world can be a challenge…
For instance, in college I sat up front and asked lots of questions. No doubt there were those in the room who assumed I was an extrovert. Nope. By sitting in the front I did my best to pretend there wasn’t a huge group behind me, thus creating an experience—as much as possible—that was like individualized instruction.
*Another thing my INFJ self does: I analyze situations to death like my classroom dilemma until I figure out the best way to succeed.
Anyway, the bottom line is that an INFJ is fascinating—and frustrating. Most people can’t be bothered to figure us out or assume we’re fake because we seem like one person, but then another.
So, why have I brought all this up?
I’ve known for years that I was an INFJ. The first time I tested myself was eight or nine years ago, but I treated it as a novelty and didn’t investigate the type. The same happened the next couple of times I tested.
That changed last summer when it occurred to me to finally research what it was to be an INFJ. Oh wow, life changing. Reading up on the personality type I was stunned. It was—my life. It was me. I half expected to discover my home was bugged and they’d designed the type around me. So long not making any sense, even to me, I suddenly made sense (well, to me, anyway).
That was the first bombshell. The second came while editing. I realized my protagonist, Riparia Tarnabeth Dellbane, clicked most of the boxes for INFJ. If I think about it a bit more I might just discover she is an INFJ. Without a doubt, she’s an introvert.
Funny that it came about, not because I was trying to write someone like me (there are many differences in our backgrounds, actually), but because I wanted a heroine who was a reluctant hero. Oh, she’s all that.
She’s also a dreamer, someone who wants to save the world without being noticed, is excellent at seeing the needs of others while knowing nothing of her own heart, is socially awkward unless speaking on a topic she’s especially passionate about, and is equal parts optimist and pessimist.
Riparia is also, due to circumstances, forced to face who she is, the responsibility that goes with it, and act despite it going against her desires. On the other hand, there are different desires, like falling in love with an extroverted man (I’m guessing he’s an ENFP).
In a way, on a journey that’s an endless quest to find her own heart, she instead finds more responsibility than she wants.
I’m currently revamping my poor Bk2, A River in Each Hand. I drafted it 15 months ago while sick and finding it difficult to think beyond simplicity. I’m correcting all that and am delighted with the results thus far. I’m guessing I’m about 35% of the way through the novel. It’s difficult to know because I’m inserting a lot of scenes (and scrapping almost as many).
If the first novel was about Riparia’s initial steps to self-discovery, the second novel goes far deeper as she discovers that much of what she thought she knew, she didn’t. River is about her roots. River is about where her heart was born.
At times even I’m surprised.