Normally I’m of two minds when it comes to labels: on one hand I don’t like being boxed in, I’m more than any one label says that I am but on the other hand, sometimes a label gives us permission to be who we are. The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator says that I’m an INFP, an Idealist. This label became my saving grace.
I’ve taken the test twice now and each time I’ve gotten the NF (intuitive feeling) result, it came with a generalized explanation of what careers I’m best suited for and how I deal with conflict, etc. Interesting, sure, but nothing life-changing. One day I happened to be searching for information on personality disorders when I came across a more in depth explanation of what an Idealist is.
And my world stopped.
As I read, tears came to my eyes and a weight that I had been carrying around my whole life was lifted off of my shoulders. This is me. Everything on this page is me. This not only meant that I wasn’t alone, that there were others out there like me or who could understand me, but more importantly it gave me permission to be me. You’re you, and that’s okay.
Everyone has felt that they don’t belong at one time or another, in one way or another. I had always felt that the way I thought about things wasn’t normal. At least not normal for someone ordinary like me. Philosophers, Artists; they thought this way. They were supposed to think this way, but not me. When I was young the things I thought about were too serious, too dark. The whimsical things I voiced aloud, those were okay…until they weren’t. They had an age limit, it seems. Oh okay, well am I old enough to think the dark thoughts now? Yes, now the dark thoughts were okay as long as I put a cynical edge on them. When I answered a question with metaphors and meandering tangents that went down confusing paths I was routinely met with the teasing response “are you on drugs?“ So normal people had to hallucinate in order to think like me? That was comforting (not). What about Jesus, he spoke in nothing but metaphors! Yes, and look at all the confusion he caused. Speak plainly, with precision. Deal in facts, not feelings. Unless you’re talking about Art, then and only then, is that kind of talk acceptable. Okay Society, whatever you say, you’re the boss.
When I started reading that article about what an Idealist is and was met with the quote from Carl Rogers that is thought to be so confusing to the average person:
Becoming a Person means the individual moves towards being. knowingly and acceptingly, the process which he inwardly and actually is. He moves away from being what he is not, from being a facade. he is not trying to be more than he is, with the attendant feelings of insecurity or bombastic defensiveness. He is not trying to be less than he is, with the attendant feelings of guilt or self-depreciation. He is increasingly listening to the deepest recesses of the psychological and emotional being, and finds himself increasingly willing to be, with greater accuracy and depth, that self which he most truly is.
When I then clicked on the further condensed label of INFP , seeing words and concepts that I used so often in my everyday speech: loyalty and sacrifice, good vs evil, atonement; all those things that weren’t right to dwell on as a child paired with things like imagination, fascination, and wonder; those things that are supposed to be left behind in childhood- all being used to describe something good. INFP is a healer, someone who has a knack for connecting with others, helping them see things in a different way. Being a Motivational Poster is good? huh.