An INFP Manifesto

After taking the Myers-Briggs personality profiling test about 4 times and consistently getting the same answer, I have discovered I am an INFP. I wanted to be sure my answers were genuine, from the real me, and according to the person I would like to be, because I have this sneaking suspicion that I have been lying to myself for a very long time. Reading about what an INFP is, studying it, seeing so many others speak of having the same “unique” experiences and problems that I have had all my life has plunged me into deep reflection over how I have been treating myself and others.

It has made me more aware of how wrong some of my forced actions feel in my gut. I have been living life as if it were black and white and not a spectrum of color so vast and brilliant you cannot hope to give a name to every one.

I need to tell you, dear reader, what these commonalities, these things I have suppressed, are and I need to be understood when I say that I have been allowing myself and others to keep me caged my entire life. I have had the capacity, the raw power of self, to break free from this prison the entire time. Also, in telling you about this epiphany, I need you to truly understand it. I could never understand why happiness has always been so fleeting for me. I finally get it. I was trying to be something that I was never meant to be and being some one you are not will make you miserable.

The seeds of every aspect of myself that I have been suppressing, all recently planted and fertilized by hours of over thinking, have been taking root inside me, growing, expanding through my limbs, fingertips and toes, shooting out the top of my head violently and sounding realities of who I really am down into the deepest parts of me. For once, it isn’t bad to be me, it isn’t even just ok, it is an act of freedom, my own declaration of independence. Christ’s words at John 8:32 said it best, “…and YOU will know the truth, and the truth will set YOU free.”

Discovering that those closest to me are generally some form of E, S, T, or J; it occurred to me that I have been trying to conform to some one else’s standards all my life because when I was at my most honest, my most free and passionate, the reaction of those nearest me left me feeling horribly misunderstood. Does the fact that no one else understands you make you less valid? The answer is NO. Now that I have found so many other INFP minds, I am starting to feel sanity in a world that has made me feel insane and unreasonable and ridiculous for far too long.

I am disturbed by a resounding injustice that I began inflicting upon myself during my adolescence. It is the greatest and most invasive of all my sins: conformity. I have forced myself to glaze over my own perceptions about things in order to align them with those of others. I have committed unspeakable crimes against my own originality for the sake of achieving sameness and sterility. I am guilty of a great crime, that of fighting my true self in order to conform my thought processes to that of an Android when I am clearly a Betazoid.

I have captured, suffocated and bound every flight of fancy my child-like mind has so effortlessly produced and stuffed each one into an airtight container where it couldn’t infect the rest of the world with its disease. The disease of imagination and empathy.

I hid them all away from sunlight and fresh air, in the abandoned, oxygen deprived basement of my consciousness, with the full intent of pulling them out later on, one by one when I was alone, just to torment them by forcing them to conform to what was logical.

I sat in judgment over each one, criticizing it, labeling it with hateful words and telling it that it could never survive here, because color does not exist, only black and white. I wanted them to atone for their passionate insistence on having a different viewpoint when they were obviously wrong as proven by the sheer volume of opposition to everything they stood for flowing through my eyes and ears on a daily basis.

I ripped their wings off, drowned them in kerosene, and lit them on fire for the sheer pleasure of hearing their screams. This was the only acceptable atonement for their perpetual hindrance of my acceptance into the world of pure logic.

This self-imposed restraint has created a vast deadness in my own self awareness. It has cast a deaf ear and blind eye on my true self and caused me to devalue all things organically inspired for fear that they would not be well received.

The tragedy that has gone unnoticed over the years is that these set-apart ideals, these self-evident truths, these strengths that the rest consider weakness, they have all been martyred to the detriment of my ongoing quest to find happiness and true joy.

If I would simply have let them run free and found a way not to be ashamed of them when no one else but I understood them, these would have been the pillars of my character and the safe harbors in the storms of my life at the times when I felt the most hopeless, the most powerless. They are pure hope and pure innocence, unbound, unfettered and uncaged. Few others have them in as plentiful a supply as INFPs.

I have often felt ashamed of the solace that sinking deep into my mind and exploring my awkward intricacies has given me during the most hopeless moments of my life, but no more.

In a diligent search for happiness through the eyes of others I have kept coming up short, feeling like I am doomed to a life of failure because I can’t be happy in certain things the way others seem to be able to. How many times have I come to the conclusion that happiness must be an elusive mythological creature due to how impossible it seemed for me to attain it.

“To thine own self be true.” Shakespeare’s words have never rung so true as they are now. The beautiful irony is that his words have saturated my being countless times, they have whispered my name in the middle of the night when all else was silent, allowing me to become him and wear his mind as if it were my own. He is universally acknowledged to have been a genius and I have always been comforted by his fluidity of language and the great understanding and empathy he has for the human condition. But it hasn’t just been him, all these great voices from a time when the world wasn’t so filled with activities devoid of real content, they have been dear to me. While the rest of the world has been drawn to their opposites, I have been devouring them all in secret and been able to share them with no one.

Here is where I begin to understand why it is these voices that have stricken a chord in me. It is because I am them, their words and thoughts were mine before I read them. I would never have dared to utter those words until now for fear of seeming too outspoken, too presumptuous in thinking that I could be anything life these great minds of the past. The truth is that so many of these voices, Shakespeare, Rousseau, Tolkien, Kierkegaard, Poe, Plath, Homer, Orwell, Huxley, Lewis, Van Gogh, Anderson, Lennon, Morrison, Cobain! The list goes on and on. These bleeding hearts, these have all spoken to me, and I have been them and myself all at once.

We are the very essence of INFP. There are many voices, both real and fictional, that have harmonized so completely with my own throughout my entire life, and yet every time, I thought it was just because they were universally accepted as brilliant, sage, or timeless. I could never be so bold, so brash, as to consider myself to be any one of those things, thus I could not accept admittance into their society. I have excelled more than any in being the chief observer of my own inadequacy. Again… no more.

INFPs are often the Yodas, the keepers and defenders of faith and goodness, the deepest end of a pool that is invariably shallow and stagnant and yet beautiful irony ensues once again, for it is their humility, the perpetual alienated state of their ideals, that will not allow them to accept their own greatness in any form.

I have been enamored with humility and the innocence that comes with being truly ignorant of one’s own exceptional qualities. I have been disgusted by the garish, sinful vanity of those drawing constant attention to themselves. Since childhood, I have never understood why the thought of fame and admiration sickened me so utterly when it has so strongly beckoned my peers. I want my thoughts and dreams to be given a voice, but never did I assume that voice should be my own, be associated with me, or that I should be given any credit for it. I simply want them to help others, but most of all, I have a desperate ache for them to be understood because they are what lies at the root of me.

Hans Christian Anderson wrote the story of “The Ugly Duckling”, who felt hideous in comparison to his peers because he was so different from them, so awkward and out of place. Only at the end is he found by his own kind and realizes that he was intended to be, not a dejected, deformed version of an ordinary duck, but a swan. And guess what? Anderson wrote what he felt, for he too was INFP.

I suspect that this is something we have to come to terms with, this absurd notion that we are not merely unhappy, unfortunate accidents that the rest of humanity is forced to put up with to their great irritation. We are not imperfections and disease in the body of all mankind. We were intended to be different. We were designed as a compliment to the rest. And let me not sound like I am thinking too highly of INFPs here, for it is absolutely true that all personalities are a complement to the others. Their light brings out the beauty of our darkness, their cool a welcome balance to our warmth.

Being opposed to conflict has made me a doormat. Now, I am not saying that my peers have been villains, that it is their fault for doing these horrible things to me. To put blame upon anyone is pointless, and to blame any one but yourself is to deny responsibility for your own actions. It is impossible for me to have any ill will toward them because they have never meant me any harm. All of God’s creatures have an inward struggle, theirs are different than mine, but that doesn’t make them less valid. At the same time, I cannot blame my adolescent self for falling in line with society’s insistence on fitting me into their unrealistic mold. Or perhaps they are too realistic for I am the dreamer and most of the times dreams simply don’t make much sense to those that didn’t dream them. There seems a fine line between which expectations are realistic and which are not… and yet a great chasm.

It is my goal, no, my dream, that I fulfill my original purpose and find comfort in my eccentricities instead of shame. It is my dream that by creating this blog, I can write down all these secret shames and unshared experiences that have plagued me in my life and find some commonality and understanding with others just like me. I want to live in a world where I can be child-like and not be called naïve, where I can cry out against injustice and not simply be tolerated. This is me, and I’m finally ok with that.

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