There has always been a part of myself that I have denied. I am one to capitalize on strengths and not necessarily improve weaknesses, which leads to a host of both successes and failures in my life. But more importantly, I think, is my level of self awareness and how that effects denial.
Throughout college, I learned that I really love personality assessments. I love learning about what makes me tick and how that effects my relationships with others. Most famously, I remember taking the renowned Meyers-Briggs assessment as a requirement of the Georgia Tech President’s Scholarship Program as an incoming college freshmen. Since then, I have fairly consistently been told that I am an ENFJ.
“ENFJs are people-focused individuals. They live in the world of people possibilities. More so than any other type, they have excellent people skills. They understand and care about people, and have a special talent for bringing out the best in others. ENFJ’s main interest in life is giving love, support, and a good time to other people. They are focused on understanding, supporting, and encouraging others. They make things happen for people, and get their best personal satisfaction from this. “(http://www.personalitypage.com/ENFJ.html)
I always LOVED this definition of myself and this portrait of my strengths while skimming over the sentences that reveal my perceived ‘weaknesses’.
ENFJ’s tend to be more reserved about exposing themselves than other extraverted types. Although they may have strongly-felt beliefs, they’re likely to refrain from expressing them if doing so would interfere with bringing out the best in others. Because their strongest interest lies in being a catalyst of change in other people, they’re likely to interact with others on their own level, in a chameleon-like manner, rather than as individuals.The ENFJ may feel quite lonely even when surrounded by people. This feeling of aloneness may be exacerbated by the tendency to not reveal their true selves.
This part of myself is not so flashy or exciting, like at all. It’s almost melancholic–like why are you lonely when you are around people? Snap out of it. But all of this is very true, yet I have never liked focusing on the fact that I have introverted tendencies because I viewed it as a weakness. I mean who even likes that word-“introverted”? It almost has a negative connotation to it. I have historically associated the word with being weak or unsociable or quiet while extroverts have always been the movers and shakers from my point of view.
Boy was I wrong.
Society makes us think that we have to be on all time. Doing exciting things or being with exciting people, a notion all the more heightened by social media enthusiasts like myself because “I have to keep up my image”.
How stupid is that.
With increasingly more maturity (and with leaps and bounds more to go), I have realized that I have one precious and crazy life and I have to be at the helm. As much as I deeply love people and experiences, I know–and have always known–that I need to process and think and recharge alone. And that’s ok. In order to be the best self that I can be, I have to succumb to the needs of my personality or I will no doubt burn out before I am 30. What good would that be for anybody? Recognizing and adhering to my introverted tendencies is a sign of maturity rather than a sign of weakness.
The past week at Global Health Corps training has been the most incredible and emotionally taxing experience of my life. From saying goodbyes to the family, to meeting exciting new people everyday, to long incredible seminars requiring high levels of engagement, to constant social activities, to learning about security risks in Zambia, to stressing about housing when we move there, to figuring out how the hell I am going to repack everything before next weekend– IT IS A LOT of highs and lows. A lot of good and a lot of anxiety. Being fully emerged in this experience has truly helped me to embrace the introverted aspects of myself. It is ok to take naps or to spend a day on your own or to miss a social event. It is ok. Because it is what I need to be ok.
It sounds dumb, but at age 23 I am still learning that in the real world you really cant have everything. You can’t go out every night and be up at 8am-fresh and ready to learn and engage with others while also trying to still run your start up –at least I cant (send me some pointers if you are able to sustainably keep this going!) You have to stop denying your true self for the sake of others or for the sake of your reputation. Just do you, and it’s so damn liberating.
With that I dispose of my Diaries of Denial and embrace the introverted aspects of myself because while I still feel societal pressures to always be doing and always be engaging with people, I am wired just the way I am supposed to be wired to accomplish what I am supposed to accomplish in this life. And that’s pretty cool.