I mentioned in the previous post that I was an INFJ (Introverted, Intuitive, Feeling, Judging). According to the Myers Briggs sciencebots, I’m part of 1% of the population with this trait. I like my alone time, human beings are tiring, and I am a sucker for heart-to-heart talks.
Yet every time I casually slip into the conversation that I’m an introvert, people scoff as though I’d told them Drake was my second cousin.* The first three or four times this happened, I was shocked (almost flattered) at their disbelief. Was it possible that I had faked being sociable so well that people actually believed it? Have I “faked it til I
maked made it”?
I was socially handicapped when I was a child – I was a level 99 introvert and a spoiled child. Let me explain: even if I was starving at dimsum [I don’t eat 90% of Chinese dishes] and I was the only one who wanted to order more, I absolutely would NOT interact with a stranger at a restaurant. I’d complain and whine to my mom but refuse to speak to the waitress. I wouldn’t outright say no, like a royal princess pain, but I’d say “never mind”. I wouldn’t even order my meal at McDonald’s, and when challenged by my nanny or parent or whatever poor adult-figure had been assigned to me, I’d play a mean game of “who-can-wait-this-out-longer”… and I’d always win.
I was still relatively quiet in highschool but I’d be able to order lunch from the caf. By my first year of university I was still that shy girl in class, but in second year I opened up a little. And third year was when I got into networking – yes, I skipped 10 steps from being that spoiled mute brat and dove head-first to professional networking. In hindsight, nothing about this makes sense.
But with networking there’s structure – tons of Forbes and Harvard Business Review articles on how to network, and combined with my empathetic side, exceptional listening skills (fact), and industry knowledge, I was a networking machine. In fact, my peers and professors knew me as the networker of Class of ’14. If you’d told me that in highschool, I would’ve laughed and blocked you from MSN messenger because no way in hell would I be speaking to you irl.
But it didn’t come naturally – oh lord, the first year was no less awkward than me non-ironically wearing an ill-fitting pair of bell bottoms on Queen West – I’d come back home, palms sweaty, knees weak, mom’s spaghetti. It was a lot of faking… which I guess I’ve been practicing for 23 years so it came quickly to me. (If being closeted had any silver lining…)
At my core I am an INFJ, but I refuse to let that inhibit me from opportunities society grants to extroverts – whether at a conference or at a bar. It’s just that sometimes I’m not sure if I’m still faking it.