The NFs (and the INTJ)

It’s perplexing how most of the INFJs and ENFPs I’ve met lack an understanding and acceptance of the many different ways people function. And yet, they remain popular, well-liked, and regarded as wise.

They live in their NF bubble and try to mould others to become more NF in their ways, like Pygmalion. When their efforts are for naught and the other person remains unreceptive to their sculpting attempts, they become passive-aggressive and make jabs behind the person’s back. Other times, they spurt lava aggressively on the other person in retaliation to attacks, real or perceived. If it gets really bad, the volcano in them erupts. I’ve not hung around long enough to experience a full-fledged eruption and I can only imagine the damage it’d cause. I still have a fondness and admiration for these two types though, at least theoretically.

As for the INFPs, it’s like walking on eggshells. They remain distant and hard to reach. I seem to offend them with my assertiveness and use of Te (extroverted thinking). And I’ve not knowingly met any ENFJs.

On a side note, I think I’ve finally met a fellow INTJ, and a female one at that! It’s kind of odd to see a mirror image of myself in someone else. She’s much more accomplished and well-adapted than I am, and significantly older, but we’ve gotten along pretty well thus far. I can see past her “cold” and logical exterior into her gooey insides easily, and perhaps she can see mine too. This is one opportunity I must seize and not let slip past.

Left Picking Up the Shattered Pieces

Have you ever shared something so precious with another,
only to have it be attacked?

There’s something precious that I keep within me and is a part of me. It’s a small fragile sphere made of glass that glows dimly.


I reached into my core, carefully took it out, and presented it to him. I choose who to show it to and I decided to share it with him. He grabbed it roughly and crushed it in his hands. Shards of glass fell onto the floor.


I stood there stunned and motionless. His questions cut deeper than those shards. Accusations laced his words. Accusations that what I do is meaningless, that I find no meaning in what I do, that I’m merely doing it for superficialities, for material gains.

I picked up the shattered pieces and retreated deep into my shell.

The Fe-Fi Divide

Lately, two new INFJs have waltzed into my life whom I get along quite well with. I wonder what’s different about these two in comparison to the dozens of others I know presently and from the past, and I have a few guesses. I doubt, though, that our relationship will go deeper or last for long. But for now, I’m enjoying their company.

I think I come across to them as insightful, since they’re not familiar with the MBTI and I have much to say about it. I haven’t really found anything they said to me particularly insightful, so the relationships are a little one-sided.

One thing odd is that I give them relationship advice. How absurd. Aren’t INFJs the ones who are supposed to have exceptional interpersonal skills? I recently spent a couple of hours talking with one of them about their feelings and relationship troubles, and I was giving advice throughout — sound advice, if I might add. How ironic. I seem to understand so much so quickly. I even seem to understand their long-term partners more than they do, although I’ve never/barely met or interacted with them. How peculiar — not of me, but of them and how little they know about the inner-workings of their decade-long (or two) partners. Aren’t INFJs supposed to read others effortlessly? During the two-hour long conversation, the INFJ confided that they feel burdened when their partner talks about their own feelings for an extended period of time, and would stop the partner. My gosh, Fe. I later pointed out and juxtaposed the length and topic of our conversation, much to the INFJ’s astonishment.

They don’t seem aware of my overwhelming sadness. They’ve had glimpses of and expressed their sadness with a couple of things I’ve mentioned to them about myself, but I don’t think they’re aware of its omnipresence.

The way Fe consoles irks me. “괜찮아, everything will be alright” doesn’t work, at least not for me. It’s a dismissal of my feelings and makes me crawl back into my shell. As an enneagram type 5, I deal with problems by turning to knowledge and information. This hoarding of information doesn’t translate much into practical use for me, so I retreat to hoard more information. It is the way I function and deal with things, but it’s not helping, so 어떡해? I understand and read people pretty well, yet still lack the practical skills to communicate and interact with others. Isn’t it strange?

I am neither here nor there
Neither living nor dead
Neither present nor absent
Friend nor foe
Intelligent nor unintelligent

I live high up in the clouds
Peering at those down below
Wishing not to be here
Nor down below

Describing Introverted Feeling (Fi)

Imagine a jellyfish with its tentacles gliding through the waters, or the tree in Avatar with its tendrils gently swaying in the breeze. That is how introverted feeling (Fi) feels like to me.

I walk around with these tentacles — these tendrils — floating about me. One reaches out selectively to connect deeply with another, to feel what the other is feeling, to empathise and understand. It is my choice who I send a tendril out to touch and connect with, and only one entity at a time. It is intense as the emotions wash over. Sometimes, I meet others who have these vines floating around them too. They don’t always send a vine out (and neither do I), but when both vines connect, there is a deeply felt shared moment.

This connection through tendrils is not limited by time or space. It doesn’t have to happen at the same time, same place, or in-person. It travels through written words, through asynchronous communication, through others, through visuals, through music, through touch.

Emotions are immensely private and personal. Hurt cuts deep inside. Only trusted individuals are given access to a window buried deep within. Opening up is no small matter, and it’s incredibly difficult to translate into words.

I noticed a positive change in someone recently, and I exchanged some pleasantries about it. I could tell that she was very happy about it and that I had noticed. I then spent the next 20 minutes or so pondering how to clearly convey what I was feeling inside. At the end, I mustered the courage to start but then faltered midway. I frowned and looked down, trying to push out the words that I’ve rehearsed. She frowned too, perhaps mirroring my expression and/or out of confusion. I eventually managed to deliver my line and when I looked up, we both smiled at each other and there was that moment of connection and mutual understanding. These are special moments.

(Video that sparked inspiration;
Talk on Enneagram Type 5;
Documentary on ‘Finding Vivian Maier’)

Crying in Public

My dream where I cried in public made me ponder when exactly the last time I cried in front of others was. My initial thought was that it was probably a long time ago when I was a child, but upon rummaging through my memories more, I recall three instances.

Age 15
A childhood buddy of mine had died unexpectedly. We had drifted apart then as we attended different schools.

Some time before her death, she had walked out of Sunday class to answer a phone call (which she was reprimanded for) and came back crying. The few of us tried to console her as she spilled out her troubles: she had lost her lead role in a play because she had had missed a couple of rehearsals due to her illness, and the teacher wasn’t forgiving of her situation. She had always been a sickly child who was in and out of hospitals frequently. When we were little, she explained to me that her intestines “moved around”.

A few days before her death, she had texted me to ask if I were going to the church camp. We had been to the previous camp together, but I wasn’t keen on a repeat of the camp events and could get away with not going that second time. She begged me to accompany her as she didn’t know anyone else there, but I declined. That was the last I heard from her.

A couple of nights into the camp, she wasn’t feeling well and was experiencing pain in her stomach (which happened frequently for her). She had called her father in the middle of the night and he decided to take her home early from camp. Her health deteriorated rapidly. She fell into a coma later that day (or the next; my memory is fuzzy) and died some hours later. Her sudden death was a shock to everyone. I was shocked, though I didn’t feel sad.

During a lull at her funeral, a priest was making chitchat with my parents and asking them about my relation to her. I was just listening to the adults talking candidly about how we lived near each other and used to go to the same school when, all of a sudden, tears started spilling uncontrollably and I rushed off. I was confused as to why I cried out of the blue, and so was the priest who looked shocked when I rushed off.

I’ve always wondered why it had been her and not me. She’s the type who would change the world — in her INFP ways — and I was (and am) a good-for-nothing.

Age 16
I arrived hours late at school and was sneaking in through the back gate as usual. A teacher caught me and questioned me. Her words cut deep — she was a fellow iNtuitive — and I burst out crying, to the point I was hiccuping. She frowned at me and let me go even though I hadn’t answered any of her questions.

I went to the washroom to splash my face before slipping into class by the back door. My eyes were red and puffy and I was still hiccuping. The group of classmates sitting by the door tried to comfort me and asked what was wrong, but I kept mum.

Age 17
I was crying on the phone, begging and pleading. I felt so betrayed. Two others were in the room so I had turned to face the wall for some privacy. I knew the others were listening in, but I had no other choice — I was trapped. After a while, the lady (an ISFJ perhaps) came over to hand me some tissues and walked out of the room to give me more privacy. The man (an xSTP) stayed behind to be a busybody.

Tears come easily these days, and not just in dark cinemas and theaters. I just want to be alone, to be removed from my situation and this world, to live in a bubble and learn remotely.

An INFJ used the term “burden” recently. It struck me how accurate of a description it was. I am carrying around such a burden. It is me who’s the burden. Not so much a burden to others, but a burden to myself.

I don’t want my sadness to engulf others. I don’t wish to drag them down with me. I want others to reach their potential, because they can.

Trust Broken

She’s broken my trust. She’s broadcasted the private messages I’d sent her to her entire extended family. It’s written in Mandarin so I’m having difficulty reading it and looking up the translation for a few words. I wonder what else she’s been reporting about me, and worry about how much access — unauthorised access — she has to my personal data.

She’s broken my trust multiple times before. This is the final straw. I’m closing the door on her permanently.

Escorting a Walking Caricature

I’m seated in the middle of a long table at a somewhat classy restaurant with a group of people. It’s the end of our meal so we stand to thank and say goodbye to one another. I glance at my watch and realise that I’ve overshot my next important meeting by two hours! I’m supposed to be meeting my new client at this same restaurant. I swerve my head to the right to begin scanning the environment for him. My eyes first land on a slightly disheveled man. We make eye contact and there’s an innate understanding between us that the other is who we’re supposed to meet even though this is the first time we’re seeing each other.

He looks like he has just entered the premises and is a little out of breath, which I’m relieved by. But those details are not what strike me the most. It’s his unnaturally large head and exaggerated features: a very high forehead; an incredibly long, broad chin; extremely wide and angular jaws. He’s a walking caricature. We greet each other and then proceed to do the awkward “social do-si-do”: I ask if he’d like to start now, or later if that’s better for him; he says he’s fine with whichever but asks if later works better for me. There’s a misunderstanding about which we’ve both settled on but, in the end, we decide to start now.

We sit at a table for two, across from each other, and start making conversation. He seems quite at ease talking to a person he just met and is a natural conversationalist. While I, on the other hand, am nervous and overthinking about what to say and how to respond. He is my first client since I’m new to this line of work — escorting, or whatever it’s called, where I’m being paid to accompany a client by dining with them at a restaurant. I try to feign good conversational skills; after all, that’s what he’s paying me for — to socialise with him. I try to act natural, behave comfortably, and, to the best of my ability, try to hide my anxiousness. I worry that he’ll see through my act and know that I’m a fraud. What did I get myself into? Why have I gone into this line of work when I don’t possess the skills needed and when I’m unsuitable for this job?

As he talks, my mind wanders to analysing why he’d pay for such a service. He seems like a friendly, likeable, and casual person, so why would he need to pay for companionship? Is it just because of his appearance? Or is there something more sinister underneath his friendliness? Is he expecting something more from this service? Am I in danger? How can I leave this place safely after we’re done? What other routes and backup plans do I have if he were up to something?