Confessions of an ENFJ

It’s nights like these, cozied up on my writing perch, that peace radiates from within.  The twilight dawns, evening rises, and the paved streets are silent.  I stop, and everything else stops.  I can’t see my reflection in the laptop screen, but I’m outlining my frame in words nevertheless.  For an extrovert, it strikes off mark to find my favorite past time is here, alone.

Last weekend, Charming had a work engagement up in DC, so we canceled our counseling session.  Picking up on the not so subtle hints that I was worried about losing the progress we made, he suggested we go ahead with the Myers Briggs personality test (the MBTI) that Dr. Huff had mentioned a few weeks ago and discuss the results together in lieu of a session.

The offer appeased my immediate anxieties and gave me a new course of action.  My mom and I are so alike in this way.  If we find our hands tied, the best path toward internal ease is to do whatever we can do to find resolution, even in part.  It may seem like a servant heart that motivates me to take up trash duty on Christmas morning, but the accumulation of clutter drives me crazy, and sorting through cast-offs for bags and bows to keep and paper to discard brings order to the chaos.

This is a unique thought, I’ll admit, the first confession of an ENFJ.  I didn’t realize I did that until just now.  It’s the results of my MBTI that have me borderline obsessed with overanalyzing myself more than I’m normally prone to, another caveat to the personality type that best characterizes me.  I’d taken the test before last week but couldn’t remember the classification.  The last time I had answered a series of questions that would claim to tell me all about myself, I was teaching a speech class at a career college back in Nashville.  I remember thinking that the results then weren’t accurate, that the descriptions didn’t fit me, and I dismissed it, moving on with my life.

Perhaps it was the context of this test that was different.  It had a purpose.  Dr. Huff indicated we would undergo Myers Briggs testing as a part of our counseling, and I’ve come to trust him with his meandering plan to help us communicate and resolve conflicts better.  This test was developed during World War II, and Isabel Briggs Myers, co-creator with her mother, believed this test could help people understand each other better and reduce conflict.

Something else was different this time.  As I answered the questions, it occurred to me that I knew myself more accurately, more authentically, that these past two-plus years blogging honestly in reflections on my life, framing my current paradigm with words cast onto my laptop screen, have painted a clear image of who I am.  I think the key to getting an accurate characterization is to answer the questions with the best and worst of who you actually are, not as who you would like to be viewed.

Social media creates a similar playground for creating a perception of oneself that may be one dimensional.  Every week that I write, I think about what photo I’ll use to accompany my blog.  Charming and I were so busy with back-to-back events this weekend, we never stopped to snap a picture.  I thought about the fact I’d posted a selfie with last week’s blog, and I didn’t want to seem self-focused by using another tonight.

Really?  That all goes on in my mind about a simple picture, a footnote to underscore the thousand and more words it accompanies?  Welcome to the mind of an ENFJ, an acronym that means I prefer Extroversion over Introversion, Intuition over Sensing, Feeling over Thinking, and Judging over Perceiving.  That means I’m energetic, enthusiastic, and expressive.  I focus on the future and give attention to the imaginative.  My concern for others commands by leading with feelings and emotions.  And I prefer an organized, planned, and controlled environment.

If you’ve read even a handful of my posts, you’re probably thinking you didn’t need a test to tell you that about me.  But there’s something almost surreal that transpires just beneath your skin, a growing excitement as you examine series of bullet points that fit you unbelievably well.  That was magnified when Charming and I sat in his back yard on Sunday afternoon reading our results to each other.  We went slowly, discussing the accuracy of each statement, ultimately concluding with a study of how our unique personality types interact, the potential joys and worries.

Driving the long, familiar route home to Hampton later that evening, I was energized by our discoveries.  The sky was bluer.  The sun was brighter.  The clouds were clearly telling stories by forming shapes on the horizon.  The traffic stops punctuated the drive every half hour or so, but I barely noticed.  I’d had this snapshot, this handful of hours, to examine the good and bad of who I actually am, and she didn’t intimidate me.

Yes, ENFJ’s are leaders.  They make excellent teachers.  They define themselves by their compassion for others and their own authenticities.  They’re hypersensitive to criticism, and they make choices based on feelings.  I’ve always believed that every positive quality has an equally negative flipside of the coin.  For example, my perfectionism makes me attentive to detail, but it could also make me difficult to live with.  My desire to keep the peace often results in quick decisions without considering the consequences.

Isabel Briggs Myers said, “The understanding of type can make your perceptions clearer, your judgments sounder, and your life closer to your heart’s desire.”  I’m basking in the wake of that tonight.  It’s as though a veil was lifted, my vision is clear, and I see all the parts of me and Charming and I have hope.  When he was reading off my descriptions, I owned every flaw, but I was equally surprised by the abundance of positive attributes that define my personality and how they have the potential to interact fruitfully with Charming.

Since I needed a picture for tonight, I headed to my own backyard and admired my vegetable garden.  Spring storms satisfied the soil, and I’ve already begun enjoying some of the herbs and lettuce varieties.  I’ve got one tiny green tomato, an unlikely survivor of my first planting attempt before the last frosts.  It’s the best symbol I can offer for how I feel about my relationship with Charming right now.

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See, this summer, this garden will thrive while Charming and I experience daily life together here in Hampton Roads.  I’ll find out what he’s like on a Wednesday.  We’ll figure out our own daily routine and do life together.  Of all the places in the world where the military could send him, he’ll be attending classes twelve miles from my writing perch.  It’s an answer to prayer.

I’ll cook him lots of Italian meals with fresh vegetables from the garden.  We’ll do life together, and the summer will end.  Charming will return to DC and the harvest in my back yard will stop.  My mom and I are wired to, when our hands are tied, simply do what we know to do and can do.

The baby worries take a natural back seat as I focus on immediate action.  Take the test, and be honest.  Come face to face with the best and worst of who you are.  I swear I’m falling in love with Charming all over again, only this time, counter to the ENFJ’s predisposition, analyzing his results only reveals more of who he truly is and not the idealistic pedestal I crafted when I penned Charming into existence.

What can I say?  I love a man who was able to completely redirect my obsession with motherhood to a positive new obsession in the practical matter of understanding each other better, and thereby, resolving conflicts… which is probably what Dr. Huff had in mind for the test after all.

I’ve learned about myself.  I’ve learned about Charming.  I hope these confessions of an ENFJ bring us both a little closer to our hearts’ desires, and that after the vegetable harvest ends, we’ll be in full bloom.

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