Some of the Myers-Briggs writing online seems to indicate that INFJs are frequently confused for extraverts because we care so much about helping others feel welcome and comfortable. Then, after a lot of giving, when we withdraw to regain our energy, we leave those closest to us completely confused by our behavior. My understanding is that our extraverted feeling makes us likely to behave in “go along to get along” types of ways and that we exhibit a genuine interest in people that draws them to us. But we are unable to maintain this level of social interaction because we are, in fact, introverts.
I have noticed this trait both in my personal relationships and in my professional life. When I interview, it is hard for me to fight my habit of showing up as a playful, charming and gregarious person because I believe that this is what interviewers are looking for. Also, I don’t want the interviewer to feel awkward or uncomfortable (or to not like me). The dilemma is that there is no way that I can keep this behavior up. I get the job and then am asked to work in close quarters with others, go to endless meetings, get involved in countless committees, do team-building activities and I just start to lose it.
The reality is that I cannot keep this behavior up for even a full day. While interviewing with law firms I was frequently required to go to 3 or 4 back to back interviews in one morning with different attorneys and then to go to lunch with 3 more attorneys. By the time I got home from these marathons all I could do was collapse. But I wanted the job. And I was terrified of not having a job. What I didn’t realize at the time is that they were not hiring me. They were hiring a limited-time-only persona that I just cannot keep up. Yes, I am nice. Yes, I am friendly. But I think I may have pulled a bait-and-switch here.
Is it possible to get a good job by being a more reserved (natural, comfortable) version of myself that more accurately reflects the long-term? Is it possible that there is, in fact, something quite beautiful about being me and that I — as myself — bring something wonderful to the table?
And could it be possible that if I have to be someone who I’m not to get a job*, the job is not for me. And maybe that’s OK. Maybe I’m not a failure just because I’m different from my law school classmates (more on that later).
What about finding a way to be my true self and seeing where that takes me?
*I do believe that you should draw yourself in or push yourself in some ways to get a job. Here, however, I am talking about changes to your personality or putting on a face such that you do damage to your sense of self-worth. I am not talking about wearing a suit. I am talking about not being who you are.