Hannah Katy wrote an incredible post last week, and it inspired me to write about something that’s been a bit of a regular in my life in the last few years. First and foremost, I’m going to admit something: I despise fakeness. I also despise unnecessary negativity. And recently, I’ve learned the unfortunate truth that the world, and the Internet, is full of it. But I’ve also learned that, as with so many things in life – you have a choice in how you let it affect you.
Growing up, I spent far too many pretending to be someone I’m not. I think what it came down to was the result of one too many bad relationships, leaving me with a pretty low sense of self-worth and confidence – and I desperately wanted to be seen as popular, to have people to “reaffirm” that I was worth something – at the expense of staying true to myself.
Once I turned eighteen, as I think so many people do, I felt I needed somehow needed to define myself. Define myself with a career goal, with a group of friends, with independence and opinions… with an identity. Several years went by, and I darted from job to job, boyfriend to boyfriend, friends to friends, in an ongoing endeavour to find myself. Find where I belonged. Make myself into somebody that fit, in the secret hope that one day I would. You all know I had some rough relationship experiences, and I strongly believe were it not for those hard times, I would have remained the person I was five years ago. What motivation would I have had to change? After the last breakup, I decided this was the time to set standards for myself. To not just settle for anyone. To be okay by myself and stay true to who I am, even if that meant being alone. I learned a lot about myself by doing that, and it’s something that’s been an ongoing challenge. Not just in relationships (for the past two years I’ve been blessed with someone who’s believed in me, challenged me, and helped me push myself out of my comfort zone, seeing and believing in my potential) – but in friendships, too.
I don’t know how many of you subscribe to the notion of personality types, but it’s something I’ve always found intriguing, particularly in the Myers-Briggs ideas. I think it’s fascinating how accurate the descriptions are, not just in terms of personal tendencies, but in how we react to any given situation, whether socially, at work, with other people, or in the face of adversity. I am an INFJ (the “Protector”) through and through:
INFJs have an exceptionally strong desire to contribute to the welfare of others, and find great personal fulfillment interacting with people, nurturing their personal development, guiding them to realise their human potential. Although they are happy working at jobs (such as writing) that require solitude and close attention, they do quite well with individuals or groups of people, provided that the personal interactions are not superficial, and that they find some quiet, private time every now and then to recharge their batteries. Not usually visible leaders, INFJs prefer to work intensely with those close to them, especially on a one-to-one basis, quietly exerting their influence behind the scenes.
INFJs tend to be devoted to what they believe in and seek work where their needs, values, and ideals can be deeply engaged. INFJs, while concentrating on what is important to them, may ignore the political ramifications of their actions. Being able to talk honestly and comfortably to people at work is much more important to them than ‘playing games.’
The INFJ’s external environment may appear disorganized. Their internal environment, by contrast, is anything but haphazard. Organization of the internal world takes precedence over organization of the external world.
INFJs prefer occupations that focus on the big picture, involve conceptual awareness, and lead to a better understanding of the needs of people. They want their work to have impact and meaning. INFJs value staff harmony and want an organization to run smoothly and pleasantly, themselves making every effort to contribute to that end. They are crushed by too much criticism and can have their feelings hurt rather easily. They respond to praise and use approval as a means of motivating others, just as they, the INFJs, are motivated by approval.
Motivated by approval. Growing up, I had a desperate need to be affirmed in everything I did. Doing things like acting, sports, talent shows, writing stories – being told I was good at something made me feel amazing. Later in life, I was a devout student: I loved my assignments and I loved getting tests back. Being good at school gave me a sense of self-worth, and only in recent years have I realised why I so easily gave up who I was: to fit in. I needed the approval of others. Fastforward to summer of 2009 when I was crippled with anxiety, too scared to even eat lunch with coworkers for fear of what people may have thought of me. I wasn’t comfortable with who I was because I didn’t know who I was, and so it led me into a shell. Thankfully through determination, perseverance, faith, friends, and Sweet’s encouragement, I’m now at a point where I know who I am. And I know who and what I need (and can do without) in my life.
I am dedicated to making a positive impact in the world. I sincerely want to do all I can to help other people, whether through my workplace, my personal life, or my blog. One of the many reasons I write is not only to document my life, but to write about the struggles, the bad stuff as well as the good, and overcoming it, in the hope that it might reach someone – and maybe even inspire them. The emails I get on the subject may be few in number, but mean the absolute world to me. Knowing I’ve inspired just one or two people means more than any number of comments ever could. I don’t write to be popular, and I don’t let online time interfere with real life. I’m easily hurt, but I refuse to maintain vendettas or seek revenge. I believe being able to live a good life while maintaining integrity is better than revenge of any sort. I value interpersonal harmony and am deeply unsettled by conflict, yet I am passionate about my values and beliefs, and blatantly honest. I will always tell you how it is, even if it’s not what you want to hear. But it’s only because I believe in the power of truth. This has resulted in people cutting ties with me and even getting fired from a job, but I will not keep quiet if there is something important to be said. I will speak up if I believe it’s for the greater good. I will not be taken down by those who continue to define me by my past mistakes – I will focus on continuing to better myself; the person I am becoming because of them. I will not let fear dictate my life. I will question the truth in rumours rather than continue them. I will not follow the masses and ignore an elephant in a room, but will put a hat on it and maybe even hop on and take it for a ride. People may find that uncomfortable and distance themselves, but I will always stay true to myself. Because that, to me, is more important than popularity. I will write about the good as well as the bad, and refuse to create an online persona – even if that decreases readership. I may not be popular, but I am real. And you know what? I’m 100% okay with that.