Monday, June 1, 2015

If You Are ENFJ, You Are Probably a Hufflepuff

If you are not familiar with the Myers-Briggs personality test, you should be. While it is not fool-proof by any means, it definitely is the most accurate personality inventory I have ever come across. Every once in a while I get on a Myers-Briggs kick and like to go through and sort and analyze everyone I know--including myself. Here's a short run down of the classification system. You are given a 4-letter combination based on how you view the world: Extroversion/Introversion, iNtuition/Sensing, Feeling/Thinking, Perceiving/Judging. If you want to take the test, you can just google it, but you can also just narrow it down to a few (are you more extroverted or introverted? do you go with your gut or your external senses? you make decisions based on logic or emotions? are you a hippie or a planner?) and then read about a few personality types to see which one of them fits you best. My favorite place to read about them is here.

But I guess one of the reasons I like Myers-Briggs so much is that I have never found something that resonates so much with me and who I am--who I actually, truly am. It's kind of a joke between me and some other MBTI-interested friends that I am the most ENFJ person ever. This means that I'm extroverted (but for me, just barely), go off my intuition, feel with my whole heart (I do like thinking, but that is not how I make decisions), and like to have a plan goals.

The thing about ENFJs is that people and relationships are the most important things to them. Not only do I love people and want to do everything I can to love and support them, I also have a special knack for understanding people, bringing out the best in them, and knowing what they need. With many people I seem to have an "instant best friend" connection. But the other thing about ENFJs is that being alone is so important but also hard for us. Especially for me as a borderline introvert. It's difficult because I build relationships in a much more introverted fashion (meeting new people and opening up is often hard on my end), but I need those deep relationships with almost everyone. I want to love everyone, and I want everyone to love me. And even though I am really awkward and tense in new and large social situations, I draw energy from people and being alone is really hard for me. I do need it sometimes, especially if I'm only with people with whom I don't have a deep or sincere relationship--because I feel like I can't be my true self around them--but for the most part, if I'm alone it is a very dark place for me.

This introverted extroversion is actually really common with ENFJs. I am more reserved about being my true self. While this can be great in connecting with a variety of different people (think about a social chameleon), it also means that I have a hard time really opening up to others. I need people, and I need them to need me, and so if I don't have a close relationship with everyone around, I feel lonely. Big groups of people I don't know are hard. Small groups are much better. And the best thing is a big group of so many people who I love and know very deeply, where I can just float from person to person giving them a lot of individual love and attention. 

Honestly, the real teller for me of being an ENFJ is that long before I ever realized that I was an ENFJ and long before I even realized that I needed to stop being such a bossy smart alek and just shut up and listen and help others, God told me that joy comes through serving others. There's a reason the site I linked to above calls us the "Givers."

Although I'm strongly opinionated and often vocal about them, if someone else will not agree with me, or if expressing my opinion will make them uncomfortable or prevent them from being their best, I will often not speak up and show my true colors. It's interesting, because I used to be much more vocally opinionated, but I realized probably about 10-15 years ago that that behavior was inhibiting my relationships and that good relationships were what I really wanted from my life. Unfortunately, this often means I let people walk over me, and it's hard for me to find the balance between speaking up for myself and my needs and just sitting quietly and being ignored.

Take this example: I hardly ever comment in church or class settings, and it's hard for me to express such deeply personal things. I also like to think things through before I say them. Things need to be perfect so that I do not offend anyone and so that people still think highly of me. This is often why I communicate better through writing. And when I do comment, you can be assured that not only is it something I feel very strongly about, but I feel very strongly (usually through the Spirit) that I need to comment to help fill someone's personal need--even if I don't know what that need is.

Because I am so focused on loving others, it is often hard for me to confront my own feelings and needs. I realized a few years ago that I have what I like to call the "strong" complex, where I feel like I need to be strong for other people so that I can continue to meet their needs. Unfortunately, this often leads me to forget about what I need, or I try to push down and suppress my own emotions and needs.

This also leads in to what I think is probably my biggest weakness as an ENFJ: I hate conflict. I hate it even when I'm not involved in it. I want everyone to love each other, and I especially hate it when people are mad at me (or I at them). I feel like I have failed them. Because I hate that feeling and because I don't want to ruin relationships or take away from what other people need, I will avoid conflict. I'll suppress things and decide they're not important if I think they will detract from a relationship--which usually backfires, so . . . but still. I. Hate. Conflict.

But what do I love? I love inspiring people and helping them, especially in one-on-one settings. I get energy from being around people and have to be with people most of the time. I might seem confident, and in many ways I am. I have a talent for picking up anything I put my mind to and am interested in. I focus on the future and love setting goals and helping people become better. 

I am loyal and probably the best friend you'll ever have if you let me in. I need to talk through my problems and often need other people's opinions to help me make decisions, and thanks to that and my constant desire to help and be a part of everyone's lives, I often can be overbearing and smothering. I get attached deeply and quickly, and even if I can't actively be a part of everyone's lives constantly, I definitely will try to be. And so I hate it when people decide that relationships are a matter of locality or that work is more important, etc. If you do decide those things, I won't understand. I hate feeling like relationships are a business or something of convenience, because people are so much more than that. They are everything, and if I feel like a relationship has potential or is a close one, I will have a hard time letting it go. I will probably recognize your boundaries and back off, but I will be deeply hurt, because it says that you don't need me and that I can't trust you. It tells me that you don't care enough about me as a human being to actually try to make things work, which hurts since that is something I will do with the vast majority of people.

Granted, I recognize that not everyone thinks that way I do, and I will usually see that right away and readily try to meet your needs (part of being an ENFJ!). But that doesn't mean that I understand it, and it doesn't mean that it is easy for me to accept.

TL;DR: Basically I want to be BFFs with everyone, and so I am sorry if I smother you, but it just means that I really care about you and I do it to almost everyone. I just need you to need me--and I need you to recognize my needs so that I have someone I can lean on too (even though this is probably the only time I'll ever admit that). I just crave deep, intimate relationships. 

I don't know if this was a good description or not. I am sorry it was long, but thanks for letting me kind of express myself and my needs and my thoughts. Being an introverted extrovert who likes to focus on others because of love (and also kind of distraction from my own problems) is hard sometimes.