Reflections

Confessions of an ENFJ: It’s Not Easy Being Me

Jonathan
Written by Jonathan

E/Extrovert

Am I really an extrovert?  I teeter back and forth between believing I’m an extrovert and an introvert.  I have always thought of myself as 50:50.  I remember “trying” to be an extrovert in college and feeling the anxiety build with every social encounter as time went on.  After a certain point, I decided to stop engaging socially because my expectations of myself around others got too high.  I became resentful of myself and what I was allowing to happen.  Now, as I get into my thirties, I find myself feeling less pressured to talk, engage, and “perform” socially.  Maybe this is why I feel more comfortable saying I’m an introvert, because it takes the pressure off of the need to engage with others.  The truth is, I won’t engage with anyone unless I have a legitimate reason to.  Call it getting older and less tolerant, but I just don’t want to have frivolous conversations that don’t lead somewhere – interactions that I don’t learn something from or which are not inspiring in some way. My partner says I’m “just anti-social”, but I believe it’s partially a deep-seated fear of not being accepted; it’s also me choosing not to invest time with people that are probably not going to add value to my life and vice versa.  For some reason, I want to be sure I’m going to be able to make a contribution, even in the smallest interactions.  If I don’t see a “bigger reason” for putting out my energy, then I just won’t.  That is why I believe it takes more and more effort for me to engage with people overall.  I’ve become more selective about where I focus my energy, which comes in waves, as if it has a mind of its own.

I was a child and family counselor for many years, and I found it rewarding, yet entirely draining.  It didn’t feel okay to be so exhausted at listening to people talk about the most tragic parts of their lives.  I was always astounded at how much people would reveal to me about themselves when they became aware that I was actually authentically interested in knowing them.  It came to a point, though, that I would wake up every morning and absolutely hate my life.  Pushing myself to stay in that position caused me to burn out almost beyond repair, that is until my own family tragedy pushed me completely over the edge.  So, to make a long story short, I’m still not sure if I’m an extrovert or introvert.  I feel it will always depend on the situation.  If I HAD to choose the best thing about being an extrovert, though, it would be that my being extroverted manifests itself as a true curiosity for knowing about others, which often leads to positive relationships.  On the other hand, I’d say the hardest part of being a curious cat would be that I open myself up to exposure to those dark parts about people, which is not pleasant at all, and which in turn makes me reflect on my own darkness.  I could go on but I’ll leave it at that for now.

N/Intuitive

I LOVE being intuitive!  It’s like a sixth sense, a true blessing from the Creator.  My intuition has been my strongest barometer for knowing what is about to happen.   When my younger brother tragically passed away, I somehow knew it the morning it happened.  The police came to my house, and I already knew what they were about to say.  I followed my intuition during the chaotic weeks and months after his death traveling between Southern California, where the rest of my family lives, and the Bay Area, where I and my brother both lived.  My intuition was at its strongest during this time because in my state of grief, my executive functioning (daily living routine, organization, left-brained skills) all but shut down, and I was more in tune with my own spirit and the spirits in my midst – including my brother’s.

I can safely say that my intuition has been like a spirit guiding me.  This probably sounds crazy, but do you ever feel people’s energy?  I do.  As a social worker doing house calls, I felt it every time I set foot in a family’s house.  Sometimes, the energy was peaceful, but more often than not, a spiritual chaos permeated the home. Feeling that energy reminded me of two things: why I was there, and why I was the right person for the job.  I’ve always appreciated my ability to feel energy and how it has shaped my identity.

Next week: My F/feeling and J/judging side…

About the author

Jonathan

Jonathan

Jonathan lives in Northern California with his spouse, son and hound dog. He attended Cal Berkeley and now manages his own software company. He enjoys spending quiet time alone and long mountain hikes with his dog.

3 Comments

  • 🙂 Being an ‘ENFJ’, though only very slightly more E than I, made Jonathan’s piece ring true with me.

    E/Extravert:

    I used to be very bashful and was much bullied for it. Yet I have always judged myself by other people’s reaction. However, I also need much peace and quite to relax and reflect.

    I volunteer as a counsellor and also find it exhausting. People fully open up to me and tell me very disturbing things.

    N/Intuition:

    i too appreciate this gift, and in a narcissistic way, feel superior to ‘SJs’ and ‘SPs’ because of it. I know that sounds not PC.

    What I have deduced, is what I thought was pure intuition, can be just logical foresight based on deduction.

    Looking forward to the next half….

  • Nice. I felt you accomplished what you set out to do here. Thanks

  • Glad you wrote this post, I took the test many times and always turned out as an enfj. My partner calls me anti-social but like you, call it age but I’ve become a bit more selective with who I talk to and whether they add any value.

    Some people think I’m being a snob when I don’t talk so much. these days I find a big crowd draining unless I’m at an event and people have similar mindset.

    When I do start engaging in a conversation with people, they open up and like you – I can be drained from their emotions.

Leave a Comment