I am an INTJ and for those that already know what this is, you may be wondering about the irony of my putting social and dilemma together in the title. INTJs aren’t seen as social so what could possibly be the dilemma in not doing it?
INTJ stands for introverted, intuitive, thinking, and judging. It is one of the 16 personality types based on the Meyers Briggs typology system (which is heavily based on the psychologist Carl Jung’s work). As a specific personality type, INTJs are typically referred to as scientists and strategists but my favorite descriptor is the mastermind. We live in a world of ideas and strategy and we have a deep desire to create sustainable solutions. For those of you who understand multiple intelligences, INTJs typically relish in the analytical, existential and linguistic intelligences…in themselves and in others. We play the long game in our pursuit of vision and are considered to be naturally strong leaders (although many of us prefer to not take on leadership positions). In short, we are smart, independent, strategic, creative, determined.
Most of what I described in the previous paragraph is who we are when we are living our lives from the front seat. The front seat (in a four-seat passenger car model) is how many typologists describe the part of the personality that is experienced the most…the 90%. And because it is used the most, we experience a greater level of proficiency with it as well as having a higher skill-set with the competencies in which it is associated. It is what defines our flow state or as a good friend of mine says it, it is when we are in our shit.
We live in a world of ideas and strategy and we have a deep desire to create sustainable solutions.
Now, there are definite areas of growth for the mastermind. And frankly, I dare call them down right weaknesses, especially for the immature (or underdeveloped) INTJ not yet aware or convinced of the need for growth. Most of these weaknesses can be attributed to those two passengers in the back seat. For the INTJ, this is where our feelings come into play as well as our connection to the present-day, in the moment, sensations we experience in the external world.
This, our backseat weaknesses, is where the dilemma resides for me as an INTJ, and (as I will later come back to return to the front seat) it is where the irony of wanting to be social presents itself.
What I haven’t discussed yet are the cognitive functions within Meyers Briggs in part because it is here that I lose my mind. As a systems person, I find the systematic treatment of personality as cognitive functions in the Meyers Briggs framework simply delicious. The more of it I consume, the more of it I crave. These functions are what I referenced earlier as passengers, giving nuance and scope to the four letter code of the personality.
It should go without saying that the four letter code for the INTJ is I (for introversion), N (for intuition), T (for thinking) and J (for judging). For the INTJ, the J (judging) at the end means we present ourselves to the world as actors actively doing (whereas P for perceiving means others present themselves as actors actively knowing). However, the N in my four letter code dictates that my default is to take in, to perceive–to know– and then to make meaning out of patterns that emerge from knowing. So while the T (thinking) in my four letter code works in partnership with my J, making thinking the preferred way I like to show up in the world, I’m secretly a knower. This secret preference for perceiving, over my outward drive for doing, is at the heart of the dilemma but I’ll circle back to that later.
“(Cognitive) functions are what I referenced earlier as passengers, giving nuance and scope to the four letter code of the personality”.
Being secretly a knower is not the only way that I’m closeted. I’m also a closeted feeler. Like my intuition, my feelings are directed inward and not part of my public presentation. Unlike my intuition, my feelings are in the backseat. This backseat position, along with extroverted sensing (being intensly aware and connected to all data floating around in the external world), means that they aren’t central to my personality. My inward feelings are part of the 10% which means that I have not been all that proficient with them.
I say have not to intentionality indicate my past. As celebrated on my most recent birthday (discussed here), I have been growing and maturing in those back seat passengers increasing my effectiveness in using my feelings (when I choose to do so) and acting responsibly with the data (and sensations) around me.
But. And yes, there is a but. An unexpected outcome of this growth is a desire to be more social. I cringe a little as I type this. First, like I offered at the start, INTJs, like many introverts, don’t really have a high appetite for social. And second, it’s possible that I’m actually not desiring more… as in more social that is. I’m wondering if I simply want refinement in how I socialize.
As I’ve become aware of my introverted feelings (my values, morals and ethics), I’ve grown away from the social life I once had. This has created more isolation and solitude than even my introverted self can handle. As humans, we are social beings so having no social contact is a challenge…even for an introvert. So, in saying all of that, my bottom line is to say that I’ve been on a mission to restore my social life…albeit this time with people who share similar or complimentary values.
So now that I have decided to intentionally grow community, I am facing my shortcomings as an INTJ. Before, when I was clueless about my personality type, in terms of my needs in the social world, I connected to friends and lovers simply as a doer. Remember, as a J, I connect to the world as a doer (and not as the knower I am inwardly).
As an INTJ (with my knowing and doing), my appetite for people beyond work is short lived.
“As humans, we are social beings so having no social contact is a challenge…even for an introvert.”
You see, as an Ni, my true appetite is geared for ideas, concepts and knowing. This is where my interest in people begins and as much as I don’t want to admit, it is where it ends. Don’t get me wrong. I love people. I like the idea of them. And, I love how they experience and express their humanity. I just don’t have a high need to experience and express my humanity with them purely on the basis of their experience and expression.
Truthfully, and it’s important that I clarify this last statement, I don’t enjoy my humanity simply because I am human. I enjoy it because of the ideas I can carry out and the possibilities I can explore (the doing). So when other humans are content on being human alone, void of possibilities, I’m disinterested. I champion their right to be human void of possibilities… I fight for it in fact. But in terms of my motivation to live out the human experience, my passion resides in those experiences with other humans who are principled and pursuant of possibilities.
This is my attraction to be with others beyond serving, beyond studying, and/or beyond directing. My desire to be with is a desire to journey together and explore the ethos. Me learning with them. Them learning with me. Everything else is boring.
This limited attraction is my butt ugly honesty. And I will be the first to say that it goes two ways. For many not chasing an idea but resting in what it means to just be, I bore them as well.
I tried just being. In fact, I’ve written about it (here and here). But I have never been able to take up residence in the just being camp. I have too much doing to do. My Te wiring for the world won’t allow me to just sit in it. So the being people are appealing to me but I don’t have much to offer them in return. I cannot perform being with out pursuit –even though I fantasize about it and talk about it as though it were the case.
“My desire to be with is a desire to journey together and explore the ethos. Me learning with them. Them learning with me. Everything else is boring.”
So unlike other INTJs I know, I do crave social (a certain amount of it) but I need it in tandem with learning… in doing what isn’t yet understood as possible…not being what already is… but being what is yet to be.
That’s my dilemma. Finding them and positioning myself so they can find me.
Most people in my world are pursuing a vision prescribed by an externally established authority…their employer, their church, their peers (wow–this point truthfully deserves its own essay!!). But, being a pursuant of one’s internal ideas is an individual endeavor. One often traveled alone. Not sure how much social is in that.
But it’s what I desire (in part). So we’ll just see. The social dilemma. Can it be resolved?