Tuesday, 12 May 2015

The joys of being an odd-ball

Ever since I was very young I’ve always considered myself to be…well….not to put too fine a point on it….odd!!!  I know that each one of us is a unique individual, and as a result, we may each appear odd to others at times, I’ve always felt my personality borders on the downright weird, and I have thought maybe it’s my background.  I mean, what’s the point in having a slightly (some might think that was an understatement)  unorthodox  upbringing if you can’t use it to hang all your most undesirable traits.  At the same time….I do think I hide it well......most of the time. 

Then a few years ago my eldest daughter, Sarah informed me that I was an introvert.  I immediately dismissed it as hogwash – I had the idea that an introvert was someone who was shy and quiet, and seeing as I could talk the hind legs off a horse with anyone, including those with whom I have no common language, I certainly didn’t fit the bill.  But then she said something that totally resonated with me – extroverts are people who, after socialising, return with a buzz and a real feel-good factor, whereas introverts return from the same situation with a desperate need to wind down and be quiet and alone.  Sometime after this I saw an article on Facebook entitled something on the lines of 'the 23 signs you are an Introvert', and when I went through them 19 of them were so me, and it was a light-bulb moment for me – there was a name for what I was and..... it wasn’t ‘peculiar’!

Recently Sarah did the Carl Jung’s and Isabel Briggs Myers’ typological approach to personality tests (can be found here) first for herself and then with my eldest son and other daughter, and then she turned her attention to me.   I found some of the questions difficult to answer as it wasn’t always clear to me exactly what they meant, so we had quite a few discussions and a lot of laughs.  Finally I got my result – ISFJ but with a margin of only 1% between  Sensing over Intuitive and very high introversion, some of the personality characteristics of both INFJ and ISFJ could apply to me, with stronger leanings towards INFJ.  I did the test again on my own, going with my gut instinct this time when answering the questions and came out with almost the exact same result!

And it has been a revelation to read a description of me by someone who has never met me!

They are notoriously bad at delegating ("If you want it done right, do it yourself"). And although they're hurt by being treated like doormats, they are often unwilling to toot their own horns about their accomplishments because they feel that although they deserve more credit than they're getting, it's somehow wrong to want any sort of reward for doing work (which is supposed to be a virtue in itself). That’s me!

ISFJs make pleasant and reliable co-workers and exemplary employees, but tend to be harried and uncomfortable in supervisory roles. It may come as a surprise to some…but in reality…..I hate telling people what to do!

They hate confrontation; if you get into a fight, don't expect them to jump in after you. You can count on them, however, to run and get the nearest authority figure.  I will do my very level best to avoid a confrontation at all costs, or to diffuse one, however that does not mean that I don’t blow up every now and then when the pressure builds to breaking point.

They are, in fact, sometimes mistaken for extroverts because they appear so outgoing and are so genuinely interested in people -- a product of the Feeling function they most readily show to the world. On the contrary, INFJs are true introverts, who can only be emotionally intimate and fulfilled with a chosen few from among their long-term friends, family, or obvious "soul mates." While instinctively courting the personal and organizational demands continually made upon them by others, at intervals INFJs will suddenly withdraw into themselves, sometimes shutting out even their intimates. This apparent paradox is a necessary escape valve for them, providing both time to rebuild their depleted resources and a filter to prevent the emotional overload to which they are so susceptible as inherent "givers." As a pattern of behaviour, it is perhaps the most confusing aspect of the enigmatic INFJ character to outsiders, and hence the most often misunderstood -- particularly by those who have little experience with this rare type.  This explanation is one that probably best describes me.  If I don’t go to an event it’s not because I won’t enjoy it or the interaction with people.  I know, for a fact that I will have a wonderful time,  but I choose to stay at home, alone, because I need that more, I need my alone time to recharge my batteries, or I’m in danger of burn-out and becoming stressed.

Usually self-expression comes more easily to INFJs on paper, as they tend to have strong writing skills.  This is SO me!!!!  I don’t know anyone else who would prefer to write to someone rather than to talk to them on the phone.

There were other observations that I recognised in myself but….as they were of the more complimentary nature I just could not bring myself to copy them here.  I just ….could….not.

Obviously you cannot take the millions of people in the world, add to them the millions upon millions of people who have lived since our time began, and just squeeze them all into 16 personality traits.  There is so much more that defines who we are, how we perceive the world and how we react to what happens in our lives.  We are, each of us unique, so much so that all of us, at one time or another will have that feeling of total isolation where we feel as if nobody else can possibly understand us in the same way as we ourselves understand who we are.  It can be overwhelming to feel that total sense of ….aloneness.  But, I think, this is not something to be feared but actually something to embrace and rejoice in because it is the perfect representation of our uniqueness – there has never been anybody else in the world who has ever been the exact same as each one of us (in my case some may breathe a huge sigh of relief!).   It has always seemed so strange to me that, in a world where individuality and being your own person is so highly valued, at the same time there is a huge pressure to conform to the norm.

But just as being male or female has a bearing on how we view the world, I think these tests can help to enable us to become more self-aware and,  personally for me, have helped me to be more true to myself and not look on some of these traits as something for which I have to apologise.  Even more importantly they have helped me to understand some of the traits I have seen in those closest to me which previously I could not comprehend and caused me to take personal affront.  We all had such a laugh while doing these tests…..there were so many ‘a-HA’ moments and, as a result, I think, a deeper tolerance and acceptance of each other inshallah.

If anything, these tests have revealed to me yet another facet of the wonderful intricacies of Allah’s amazing creation.  MashAllah.


  1. WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT.....you are Evelyn...are you gonna let them define you?!!!! lol...apparently I'm an ESFJ....so quite similar to you, minus a letter...scary :)

  2. Lol! I suppose I'm a bit sensitive about it simply because I've been told I must be depressed, or 'what do you do with yourself all day?' or...in a conspiratorial whisper 'have you fallen out with somebody and you don't want to bump into them?' I love meeting people, new and old friends, and I've so often been inspired by them. But people don't get that....there are times when....I just NEED to be in my own company rather than that of others. That letter makes all the difference though! I just had a quick glance through the general description and some of it I recognised as you, the rest I couldn't say for sure as I don't know you well enough. But as you say......it doesn't define who you are...you are.....THE one and only INES Allahibarek!