Self Discovery

INTJ v INFJI’ve been on a journey of self discovery for a couple of decades now. It’s a life-long process and one I’ve found that I enjoy immensely.

I recently met with a Life Coach named Lisa who specializes in leadership development, and she challenged my perception that I am an INTJ. Although a person’s Myers-Briggs personality type supposedly doesn’t change over time, Lisa pointed out that we may or may not develop according to our natural preferences based on how we were raised. We learn adaptive behaviors according to our environment and may forsake our core preferences.

Although plenty of people have claimed I have no heart or feelings, Lisa believes I may actually be an INFJ – someone who makes decisions based on emotions and how people would be affected. “INFJs find it easy to make connections with others, and have a talent for warm, sensitive language, speaking in human terms, rather than with pure logic and fact.” She thinks I could naturally be an INFJ at my core who developed coping mechanisms as an INTJ due to my military upbringing and chosen career path of engineering.

Lisa wrote to me last week:

You are very quick to make distinctions and identify aspects of yourself. I am leaning with the possibility that you are most naturally INTJ, with a keen self-awareness that there’s value for you to develop your ‘F’ side…  If NT is your dominant temperament, you are waaayy ahead of the curve compared to other NTs. Most of my clients are NT, and they don’t appreciate this until they’re well into their late 40s and early 50s… Give yourself some bonus points for your high level of self-awareness and your commitment to be the best you can be.

Lisa also partners with another woman who does Brain Dominance assessments, examining whether we are more Right-brained or Left-brained, as well as differentiating between Frontal and Basal quadrants. Her assessment of me:

Although I believe your natural preference is most likely Frontal Right [which is the pattern of an artist]… you are quite capable in all of the four thinking styles – unusual, especially for someone your age.

Nice to have it confirmed that I don’t fit the mold… and also that my decision to switch careers is well founded, based on my potentially suppressed natural preferences and talents. I have the heart of an artist and the brain of an engineer – a double-edged sword, to be sure.

Authentically Aurora

Misunderstood

Only-Human-Christina-PerriI’m tired of being misunderstood.

That sounds so emo as I type it out, but I am so indescribably dead serious: I am freaking tired of being misunderstood. It’s exhausting to constantly have everyone around me simultaneously psychoanalyze and criticize me for character traits of mine that aren’t even accurate.

My ex-fiance used to say that I was too stoic and emotionless. I tried to explain that I’m not without emotion; actually I have very extreme, intense emotions that I keep below the surface because of their magnitude and intensity. But he wasn’t perceptive enough to see them. Sometimes I would pretend to talk in a robot voice, but instead of thinking it was funny, it would freak him out, and he would yell at me to stop because it was terrifying to him to think that he was with such an “emotionless” woman.

This week at work, I found out that I didn’t get the promotion I was approached about. The reason the hiring manager gave me over the phone was that I come off as “standoffish and holier than thou” (his exact words). He encouraged me to dwell on the meaning of the quote, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” I explained to him that the issue is not that I care too little, but that I care too much. He asked why, then, I am perceived as being so cold.

In the past year, I have had multiple suicidal coworkers call me in the middle of the night to be talked back from the ledge. Countless depressed coworkers have pulled me into a conference room during the work day to confide in me about their ongoing divorces or cheating boyfriends. Multiple lost, disoriented, confused friends have sought my wisdom and advice in hard situations. Complete strangers tell me their entire life story on a weekly basis. This week, it happened to be one of the Cavalry officers at my brother’s wedding. Do those strike you as recurring instances that would happen in the life of someone who is perceived as cold? Fuck no.

Stop freaking labeling me as cold, heartless, standoffish, arrogant… the list goes on. It’s not that I don’t care. It’s not that I have no emotions. Actually, the opposite is true! Think of Bruce Banner, the seemingly stoic scientist whose anger transforms him into the Hulk. “That’s my secret, Captain. I’m always angry.”

Think of Bella in Twilight. As portrayed by Kristen Stewart, she has a grand total of 1 facial expression. But underneath the surface, the reader is privy to a whole world of very extreme, very intense emotions ranging from single-minded infatuation to debilitating depression.

Probably my favorite is Kat in “10 Things I Hate About You.” Everyone thinks she is just a bitter, cynical, generally apathetic shrew, but in the end, we see that she had very strong, complex emotions that she protected from prying eyes behind a tough outer shell.

Just because you don’t see them doesn’t mean the emotions aren’t there. And just because YOU, Mr. Hiring Manager, have been told by your politicking cronies that I am cold and standoffish doesn’t mean that the rest of the office doesn’t see me for who I really am: a tenderhearted woman who has learned to share her softer side only with those trustworthy enough not to use her vulnerability as ammunition.

Authentically Aurora

The Fiery/Fragile Child – Part I

tigress_Wallpaper_gnmwvA lot of people think that I am pretty emotionless. My boss at work calls me a robot and has jokingly sent me emails in binary code. My most recent ex said that I was overly rational and told me he wanted to marry a woman who was more emotional (be careful what you wish for, sweetheart).

It’s true that I can be a fairly stoic woman. I’ve been told that adds to my intimidation factor. But stoicism has to do with external appearances: “a person who can endure pain or hardship without showing their feelings or complaining.” People who know me well have learned that, although I can appear calm and even-keel, I have a deep well of emotions that run the full spectrum and are more intense than most people will ever experience in their lifetime. “Still waters run deep” and all that.

Trekkies can appreciate my Vulcan-like nature, as expressed in the Vulcan Sourcebook:

“One of the central and most overemphasized assumptions about Vulcan culture is that we have no emotions. Not only do Vulcans have emotions, our emotions are so strong… that in order to ensure the survival of our race, we were forced to find ways to… control them.”

I have learned to rein in my intense emotions for the benefit of those around me. The result? A seemingly paradoxical existence of a passionate engineer, rational musician, outgoing introvert and virginal minx. I am the rare and elusive female INTJ. No wonder everyone wants to take me on a date. They want to try to solve the puzzle that is Aurora.

Authentically Aurora

Finding Flynn – Part II

Campfire 2Sitting around the campfire, I was soon introduced to the young, curly haired girl who was so possessive of Flynn. Her name is Patricia, and she and Flynn have been dating for eight months. I’m not a boyfriend stealer, so I made a conscious decision to keep my distance from him, although that was difficult in a group of just twelve people sharing a common campsite.

As women, when we become jealous of other women, we have a tendency to dehumanize them so that we are better able to focus on their flaws. Beth Moore writes in her book “So Long, Insecurity” (which I highly recommend):

“In order to nurse a rival mentality, we… view our competitor through a one-dimensional lens. She is not a person. She is a contender… It’s easier to despise her that way. If she got the promotion we sought, she’s the embodiment of selfish ambition… If she’s more attractive than we feel, she’s only skin deep. We can’t fathom that she’s ever been betrayed or brokenhearted… When we go against the grain of our human nature and determine to personalize someone instead, rivalry loses its bedding ground.”

So I decided to try to get to know Patricia in order to personalize her and stop viewing her as a rival. After all, she already has the guy. But Patricia didn’t seem very interested in getting to know me. In fact, she acted standoffish toward everyone except Flynn. It would seem that Patricia was only there for her boyfriend; not to make other friends.

SurvivorFlynn had put together a Survivor role playing game where we were divided into three teams and each given different supplies. We had to make judgement calls as a team on whether we were going to stay at our crash site or try to walk to civilization. Flynn had planned for a real-world element as well, in which – for example – we had to shoot a tangible bow and arrow set to determine if we successfully hunted down food for that day.

I am not-so-secretly a sci-fi geek and lover of RPGs and strategy games in general (hello! INTJ = master strategist!), so I got really into the game. In fact, my team won. But 25-year-old Patricia spent the entire game sequence complaining about how boring her boyfriend’s game was and how unrealistic his survival scenarios were.

Later, when Flynn tried to stoke the campfire and stirred up mostly smoke due to the recent rain, Patricia criticized him, “Come on, I thought you were an Army ranger.” Watching them together was painful, not because of my attraction to Flynn, but primarily because of how uncomfortable is it to observe a woman publicly ridicule her man.

Over the next 48 hours of the camping trip, Patricia frequently made comments alluding to her desire for Flynn to propose. In one instance, Flynn joked that she is expensive to date because she is always hungry. Patricia retorted, “Yeah, you buy me lots of food, but what I’d really like is something sparkly.” She wiggled the fingers of her left hand.

Later, Flynn told the group about his family in Louisiana (why am I always attracted to Louisiana boys?!) and how he wished he had family locally. Patricia jumped in, “You could have a great set of in-laws in town any time you wanted to seal the deal.” Everyone around the campfire discretely raised their eyebrows at one another.

Still later, when the group was talking about what each person does for a living, Patricia admitted that she’s unemployed and living with her parents. But she also said unashamedly that she’s not in a hurry to get a job since she probably wouldn’t need it for long anyway. She smiled coyly at Flynn, her 34-year-old mechanical engineer and sugar daddy. Gag me.

How to Lose a Guy in One Week

Day 1: Pick a man 9 years older and far more mature than you are. Display your immaturity at every possible opportunity.

Day 2: Make no effort at all to build relationships with any of his friends. Be clingy and obsessed with him. Have no identity of your own.

Day 3: Complain constantly. The more whining, the better.

Day 4: Make fun of his interests and hobbies. Insist that he stops all of his lame hobbies and picks up yours instead. Don’t compromise.

Day 5: Drain his bank account by making no effort to get a job and insisting that your parents are letting you stay at home, so he needs to cover all the rest of your expenses. State openly that you have no intention of contributing financially to the relationship, either now or in the future; either in tangible dollars or sweat equity.

Day 6: Disrespect him publicly, questioning his masculinity and capability, especially in front of his friends.

Day 7: Make frequent mention of your family, specifically to cite them as his future in-laws. Be sure to couple this with pointed comments about wanting and expecting an engagement ring soon. The pushier, the better.

With this winning combination, you too can Lose a Guy in One Week!

Authentically Aurora

Finding Flynn – Part I

I went on a camping trip this past weekend. The weather was perfect – 60s and 70s – and I went almost exclusively with complete strangers, which was also perfect (strangers have no expectations about who I am or how I should act, so I often – especially of late – feel freer to be myself with strangers than friends).

I ran into an old acquaintance at a ministry banquet last week, and he invited me to his church’s camping trip for their “Singles” Sunday school class. As a part of my self-imposed goal to attend at least one social event per week, I agreed to go. So on Friday I was assigned to a carpool group, showed up at the agreed-upon apartment at the agreed-upon time of 5:30 pm and was still standing in the parking lot at 6:30 pm (a display of the typical lack of punctuality demonstrated by singles of “Generation Me”). Nevertheless, we had an enjoyable drive into the countryside as I exchanged witty banter with the two nerds I found myself wedged between in the back seat of an ancient Toyota Corolla (and I use the term “nerds” affectionately).

Our carpool group eventually made it out to the campsite around 8:30 pm and found the rest of our group already gathered around a roaring campfire. Insight into my brain: I wish I didn’t do this, but if I’m honest with myself, in my singleness I tend to scan new groups of people for their most eligible bachelor. In this instance, he wasn’t hard to find.

Angular features highlighted by the flickering fire, his defined jawline was rimmed with a dark five o’clock shadow. His waterfall haircut grazed his forehead as he spoke with animation, and he radiated an aura of leadership. As conversaion progressed, I discovered that he was the group’s bible study leader and had a playful demeanor with a dry sense of humor.

Flynn RiderHe reminded me a lot of Flynn Rider, the male protagonist in “Tangled” and my favorite Disney prince. Flynn is a dashing, swashbuckling hero with a sense of adventure and flair for the sarcastic. Not everyone agrees with me, but I peg Flynn for an ENFP. For those of you not familiar with Myers Briggs, the ENFP is an extroverted, intuitive personality type who likes flexibility and makes decisions based on gut feelings or emotions. I personally am an INTJ. That means that I recharge by being alone, am intuitive, enjoy structure and am a rational decision maker.

The ENFP/INTJ combination is said to be one of the most perfect personality matches from a romantic standpoint. Some of the most legendary love stories are between an ENFP and INTJ because the playfulness of the ENFP balances the intensity of the INTJ. Think Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Darcy of “Pride and Prejudice.” Epic.

In addition to being a ridiculously attractive leader of men, my real life Flynn is also a 34-year-old mechanical engineer and former Army Ranger who plays acoustic guitar. At first glance, he’s everything I’ve ever wanted. Unfortunately, just as I asked myself, “Is this guy for real?”, I discovered that yes, he is, but so was the young, curly haired girl who pranced out of her tent, plopped down in his lap and wrapped her arms possessively around his neck.

Figures.

Authentically Aurora

“Princess Almond Eyes” the Stoic

It’s a wonder I don’t get stopped by airport security more often, because apparently all Middle Eastern men take one look at me and assume that I, too, am from the Middle East. Either that or, “You look like you are from my country” is the most popular pick up line from that region of the world.

Col MustardThree weeks ago, it was the Lebanese man by the milk cartons in the grocery store. Ten minutes ago, it was an Iranian man by the elevators in my office building. Who will it be next week – Colonel Mustafa with the candlestick in the library?

I get it, people. I have almond eyes and a long, regal nose. But all my ancestry points to Germany and Great Britain, not India (yes, I get that one, too).

I asked the Iranian man if it was my nose that made him think I was from his country (my schnoz is usually the culprit). Surprisingly, he said it was my eyes coupled with my voice. When he’d held the door open for me and I had thanked him, he said that my voice was “low, flat and even”.

Whatever, dude. That’s not my inner Iranian. It’s my INTJ stoicism. Genetically, I may be European, but socially, I’m all Vulcan.

Authentically Aurora

Dia De Los Muertos

Photography is a great hobby for introverts. Hiding behind my camera and having an excuse not to talk to anyone? Yes, please.

Family vacation with crazy Uncle Mike? Sorry, I’m too busy taking photos of this breathtaking landscape to entertain your ramblings about the new flavor of Cheetos you invented by spilling salsa on yourself while watching reruns of “Frasier”.  

Clingy acquaintance’s bridal shower? Yes, I would love to hear all about how many hours you spent putting together those adorable centerpieces, but I need to step into the other room so I can capture all the details of your special day!

A photo-journalistic style is especially nice because then I don’t even have to talk to the subjects of my photos. I can just creepily zoom in on their conversations and click away. It’s fabulous. Sure, I might sound like a psychopath in describing my actions, but at the awkward coworker’s Halloween party, I just seem like that sweet girl who is selflessly collecting memorable moments to share with everyone else later. Via email, of course. No human interaction required.

This weekend, I spent four hours with fellow photographers, models and makeup artists at a Dia De Los Muertos photo shoot. Unfortunately, several of these other artists somehow got the impression that I wanted to talk to them. Fortunately, I had my handy dandy camera (read: social barrier) with me, so I managed to only exchange about ten sentences with other human beings during these four hours. Having models posing as dead ancestors didn’t hurt, either. Dead men tell no tales… or really engage in any semblance of conversation. Just the way I like it.

IMG_6238bIMG_6304bIMG_6954bIMG_7089bAIMG_6988bGIMG_6679bIMG_6711b

Authentically Aurora