Discovering my nature (part 2)

In the ideal, I have always known whom I wanted to be, at least since I started to take my own path. Every time I would sit down and write or ask myself what I loved the most, ideas would flow easily. But in the reality of my everyday life things didn’t match up. Since I had chosen to study computer science inside a university I felt limited. 

Making bad choices

Especially close to the end of my Bachelors degree, when choosing a masters program, this would have been a good opportunity for reconsidering my direction. Every time I considered going back to Chinese I felt a sense of release in my belly, I could relax and feel a sense of joy, instead of a rationally justified suppression. But almost every time I used that emotional energy to think what I could do with computer science if I invested the same amount of effort. Immediately my energy got depressed and I felt like I was betraying something inside myself. I decided to go on with my current path.

During my second year of graduate school, I reached out to a professor of History, who listened to me and encouraged me to study Chinese literature. He said that my experience and struggle for authenticity and integrity gave me a chance for deep understanding of the ancients and their works. He also invited me to join his lectures of the classics. Once he had opened the door, I started to go to the mountain every day after work, reading Confucius and other works, finding inspiration, reflecting on their meaning and the questions of my own life.

After graduation, I went on working full time, while enrolling for a Master in Chinese literature. Neither worked out too well. At work, I would have much preferred to work project based, being payed for results (as I had been for building a system during my studies). Not having to sit every day in the office, with fluorescent lights that hurt my eyes, without much chance to communicate intelligently. However I needed to work full-time for a single employer to fulfill visa requirements.

For Chinese, reading and hand-coping the classics gave me great joy and inspiration. I was looking for an (external) form to ensure deep immersion and connection. Going to University took some time commuting and all the logistics got me tired, I would have much preferred free time to allow for my own structure. Two courses each semester, especially the reading assignments would take a lot of time, in addition to a full-time office job, daily exercise and house keeping, not to mention that I started organizing a meetup group every month on the weekend. Ultimately I decided to leave the program. A couple of months later, I took less than a month to finish the reading assignments (“Journey to the west”, 西遊記) for one of my previous courses in less than a month, when I allowed for my own flow, but I still hadn’t given myself an external form to create output. Maybe I was afraid that others wouldn’t be interested in what I had to say or value my perspective.

All the time, I wanted so much to do intellectual work, but I was afraid that I wouldn’t make a living, that nobody would want to listen.

Coming back to personality type

After some time of confusion, my brother asked me to take the MBTI test again. This time I tried to be honest, not replying whom I wanted to be, or thought I should imitate, but rather as an observer of myself, as objectively as possible. The result: INFP… I became quiet for a moment, sensing that this wasn’t a good result. “Very far away from what characterizes Alpha man”, “Not good for money making”, … many things went through my head, but I did not yet fully comprehend. After some clarification with my brother, we came to the conclusion that I was using extroverted Feeling and might be an INFJ. I still was having a weird sensation in my stomach.

I spend months reading books, articles and gathering information. Starting with books such as “Gifts differing”, which was still very general and often not specific enough for deep self understanding. Much of the information I found on the web was ambiguous, to say the least. Only when I learned about cognitive functions, function-slots and had gathered relevant data from my own observations, did I gradually become aware of certain patterns and could even observe generalities across types.

Generally speaking, it can be easier to type someone else. Assuming familiarity, the dominant function can be easy to judge from outside, especially if it’s extroverted. From the inside, it’s what a person almost cannot not do, the center of conscious awareness, that what a person hardly questions and can be operated almost automatically. The individual is usually more aware of consciously using their second and third functions (parent and child constitute what I call the axis of adaptation). Thus I have twice seen an ESTP, being most consciously aware of his Ti-parent and hence consider it his dominant function.

What really drove my understanding, was when I started looking at the weak points, the struggles people would often face and how these corresponded to certain ways of conscious focus and perception or areas of low awareness. 

Interpretations for personal patterns

For me personally there were a few. The general way of how introverted perception as a dominant function has its own need and challenge for communication, this was a positive indication of an area I should make an effort to develop. Especially the way how I perceive myself or others can be hard to communicate, this really requires work for translation, but it is one of the most rewarding processes, to perceive and communicate. “To explore (the unknown), to organize and then teach” is one of my strongest desires.

Extroverted Feeling had earlier shown up as people-pleasing, but after some painful coming to face with the consequences of being agreeable at the price of resentment, I had also used it to assert my own values. One way of conscious adaptation was to redirect the caring that I would naturally want to extend to the other person back to myself.

Another interesting aspect was how my introverted Thinking (in the tertiary – child slot) was good at problem solving and got easily excited. Overly relying on it, especially as a primary source for work in a professional context just led me to feel overwhelmed and exhausted.

With regard to extroverted Sensing, its incredible how much effort I had invested, in terms of exercise and consciously controlling my eating, trying to force my body into the shape I wanted. It took me years to gain a healthy way of being, eating and treating my body.



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