Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The INFJ and Perfectionism

A fellow blogger and pinner I follow, Adrienne from The Rich Life (on a budget), recently pinned a couple of images about the INFJ, one of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator personality types. Both spoke to her since she is an IN. Of her two pins, I chose to repin this one...

This prompted my own pinterest search for more as INFJ is my own personality type. I proceeded to read more about this most rare of types online.

To quickly provide you, reader, with a portrait of this type... "I" stands for introverted, "N" for intuitive, "F" is for feeling and "J" means judgmental. Individuals with this particular personality type dream about possibilities and are value-driven, decisive, deep and complex. INFJs truly care about other people. They are also constantly evolving.

You can find out more from this blog post associated with the following image...

'Having it all' seems to be a popular subject over the past few weeks. (See herehere and here.) So, being perfect in everything has been on my mind lately. I also realized that I recently pinned two things specifically related to perfectionism...

INFJs are perfectionists, never fully happy with themselves, and so we always strive to do our best. "Always" is the key word here because for an INFJ the best can be made even better. I have tried to deny this before, often declaring I am only a perfectionist in certain areas of life, and in many others I am easy-going. I think I was wrong now; I possess the everything-has-to-be-perfect mentality. It runs deep. 

I also find this perfectionism often holds me back. I don't start some things because I feel that I am unable to perfect them. It's all or nothing. Like with this lifestyle blog, where I should be posting frequently about the little everyday things I truly appreciate, experience and love, I talk myself out of writing or photographing something because I'm convinced it's or I'm not good enough. I could capture so much more of my pretty amazing life...

I won't even tell you how long it's been since I've written to my poor Italian penpal B because I want one of my classic long letters to be really interesting, which for me takes time. It is also difficult for INFJs to speak well right off the bat, these ultimate planners need plenty of time to articulate our ideas. Then, we're uniquely eloquent and passionate! 

One of the reasons I adore travel writing so much is that they clearly articulate what travel (or a place or culture) gives and since I define myself as a traveler, this is important to me. I have found the INFJ to be labeled "the author." The perfect words matter. (If you are an INFJ, I am aware that "the protector" is a common label as well.)

Sure, I don't own a lot of material possessions because I prefer a decluttered existence and am simply too poor for frequent and/or large-scale shopping, but also my standards for items are so sky high that I often do not make a purchase. I hardly ever buy something unless it is perfect. I have become very picky.

My mom is often frustrated with me when she generously takes me shopping every once in a long while. Once while Christmas shopping with her for my siblings, she informed me that she would buy me one thing I selected in the entire mall as a Christmas gift, and I didn't choose anything. That time, it frustrated me as well. I checked a few things out, but deemed them "simply not perfect." Although on Christmas morning that year, she surprised me with the large white mixing bowl with skinny red evenly-spaced horizontal stripes I looked at in Crate&Barrel, the product I probably lingered upon most that particular day. This item piqued my interest in a mailer, but when I saw it in store, I thought it too large for my needs (it's huge!) and the white wasn't a brilliant white but a creamy off-white; thoughts I kept to myself, naturally, as I am the reserved INFJ. Later, I was so happy to receive it because it is very nice and because I don't have a lot, I certainly have space to store a humongous yet beautiful bowl in my kitchen cabinets. I also adore surprises.

This also reminds me of another shopping experience and subsequent surprise. On my last trip to Italy, I was searching for a perfect piece of blown murano glass in a pink or red color. I actually purchased one, a nice vase I love before leaving Venezia. I made sure of it. My travel partner J was being pretty patient with me in this search. In and out of many many shops, I also mentioned that I love the novelty murano glass with little gold fish in blue drops of water or bowls, but never bought any. I hadn't found the perfect one and/or it didn't really go with my warm-hued home decor. He somehow managed to distract me long enough (or move quickly enough) in a store to take one (in a water drop) off the shelf and get the cashier to wrap up or put it in bag before I saw what he was buying. After he returned from his backpacking through Europe experience several weeks later, he surprised me with it. I love the thoughtfulness. It is perfect and currently sits atop my blue Venice book L gave me on the lower shelf of my coffee table. 

Speaking of this gentleman, J was one who was always frustrated that he couldn't figure me out. He often asked me what I was thinking. I would reply, "nothing" if it wasn't anything major, like I just worrying about something little, such as what I was going to talk about next. I was kinda baffled as to why he couldn't figure me out. I am a simple person. I value simplicity. 

I am also very value-driven. I felt like if you knew me alittle bit, then you know me quite well. I truly care about certain things. I am consistent. How did I fail to make myself clear? I have to give both of us a break since INFJs can be difficult to get to know because we have very complex thinking, our thoughts race yet we do not often share these thoughts since we are usually quiet, reserved, private people. We only let people we trust in. With that particular gentleman, we never were in an actual boyfriend/girlfriend relationship and since communication wasn't our strong suit, even our friendship wasn't very developed. We (dated and) were close for two years, sharing nearly all of my major life events of that period and I think it would be upsetting to both of us if I said because of the unsecured nature of time together, I actually kept my guard up a bit, that I acted cool so he'd like me, but I think I probably did. Maybe I should have given him the INFJ portrait in the beginning. That wasn't meant to be which I knew from early on, it's just my feelings got in the way for a long time. I don't like that cool behavior of mine at all because INFJs tend to have deep, long-lasting relationships with select few. 

I intended this blog to be positive. I don't mean to dwell on the negative in this particular post; it's not my nature to do so anyway. This blog post shows that INFJs like me are always works in progress. Characteristic of an INFJ, I am very attached to my label. When I took the personality test and found out I was an INFJ, it was a big "Aha!" moment (Oprah is apparently an INFJ.) This blog is my personal journal. I firmly believe that journaling is an education. Writing helps me sort things out sometimes, which is especially true since INFJs have such complex minds. We are always thinking. We are constantly growing.

This perfectionism is positive in that it drives us to accomplish. (We prefer things finished.) So, this post exposes my attempt to overcome the obstacle of my perfectionism and post more often on the blog I love. I will try to not to convince myself that my content is unworthy. I am probably too self-motivated not to make this happen now that I am making it public. I am a woman of my word (well, generally. I am, after all, an idealist and daydreamer of possibilities!) and this statement will help keep me more accountable.


  1. I'm an INFJ too! I had the same experience discovering and reading about INFJs- the 'aha!' moments. Please do post here more- your posts are real, and I value that more that "perfection".

  2. I like that you described the bowl as having "evenly spaced" horizontal stripes. Not sure whether it's because I'm also an INFJ or because I've always had OCD tendencies (or if the two somehow correlate), but I too am very particular about what I buy (although I must say I have no problem finding something perfect every time!) In fact, for the longest time I refused to purchase clothing with patterns, unless the pattern was perfect – whatever "perfect" meant in my complicated mind (i.e. evenly spaced lines).

    I look forward to future personality posts!

    XOXO, Oksana

    1. Oh, geez. LOL You get me!

      High standards are great and all, but not when they stifle you. I'm working on it...

      I plan to make this blog more personal soon anyway. I can certainly add the INFJ motivation behind my decisions written about here. Thank you for the encouragement!