clinging onto labels

• 4 min read

I had an INFP-shaped wobble recently

I had a conversation with a couple of guys in the gym cafe from which I spend a lot of time; said conversation was with Greg and Tom, who are fast becoming good friends.

In telling them about ‘my introvert blog’ (this one!), they expressed some... doubts about the whole introvert and extrovert thing.

They also tried to explain to me how one thing that labels can do is limit us, to hold ourselves in a box.

Anyway, it got me thinking a lot.

I've been trying to process stuff because a big clanger has dropped for me. And it's this...

I have dived way into this introvert/INFP/HSP stuff and, as a result, I can certainly say I've put myself into certain boxes as a result. In a way, it’s difficult not to.

I say things like "With anything, it's important not to put ourselves in boxes" and yet, if I'm being honest, I've done just that.

It got me wondering things like:

-> What things have I stopped myself from doing, as a result of being an introvert/INFP?

-> What "truths" have I come to believe, as a result of my being an introvert/INFP?

-> What conversations have I stopped myself from having / connections have I stopped myself from having, as a result of my being an introvert/INFP?

And perhaps, most frighteningly of all… What life choices have I made based on my being an INFP?

In the conversation with Tom and Greg, with whom I've found I can be very honest with very quickly (I only met them like a month ago), I found myself saying how "Oh, I'm doing this social thing later on Saturday, so I'm not sure I can socialise beforehand either."

Now, it's true, I need to be conscious of managing my energy.

But, on the flip-side, I found myself thinking - why am I ruling out the opportunity to socialise and connect on the weekend? Why am I putting on limits on with who and where and how I socialise?

Because that's what I do, I over-analyse to an extent which is often to my detriment.

Yes, I am an introvert. And sensitive. (I think?!).

But, really, if I want to socialise all day long, or even two whole days in a row, I know I can do it... I just don't want to be doing that every single weekend. But, self-limiting Jas might rule out any form of extended socialising outright. To me, that isn’t necessarily a good thing. Quite the opposite.

In short, it got me thinking a lot about how tightly I’ve held onto these labels and the conclusions I've drawn from them.

I’ve not met anyone who is an absolute introvert or an absolute extrovert. I've made judgements about people in an attempt to make sense of things and have been totally wrong in the process. I’ve put certain family members into boxes - not just introvert and extrovert boxes - and convinced myself to put on a ‘front’ around them, and not completely be myself.

Oh, I’m a stubborn blighter at the best of times, and these walls I’ve built with certain people have been pretty high.

Maybe, just maybe, we're not all that different from one another, whether we're an INFP or an INFJ or another 'type', or even if we don't have a 'type' because - for whatever reason - we've chosen not to do MBTI.

I feel it's so important not to fall into the trap of drawing absolute, black-and-white conclusions about things, about people, which might not actually serve us.

Yes, that "5 things INFPs like to do on a Friday" article may be fun and have a ring of truth about it, but soaking up too many of these articles can have us putting ourselves into tighter and more confined spaces (#guilty) - and there are a whole bunch of dangers to putting limitations on ourselves.

I would go so far as saying that these limitations can prevent us from living a whole and full life, because we've gone through life telling us we can't do this thing, or we shouldn't spend time with that person, or that no, we can't spend that evening staying up late, or we simply cannot get a job working in an office and doing the commute (that's me, that last one). Like I’ve alluded to already, it’s felt like I’ve put up walls around myself and denied closeness with certain family members. I’ve become super-judgemental of people - as well as of myself!

Don't get me wrong, working full-time in an office, and having to commute every day, is not ideal for me at all. BUT, if it's something I'll have to do, it's something I'll have to do. I can survive it. Nothing is impossible for us. Any of us.

As you might be able to detect from the incoherent rant this piece has become, I'm still unravelling from this stuff, but one thing's for sure... I've become aware of just how much I've held onto these labels, and drawn assumptions and conclusions from them which aren't completely healthy and haven't always served me well.

It feels like there’s a MAJOR lesson here for me, and I wanted to share this with you, too.

Oh, and by the way…
I'd love to know what you make of this. How have you acknowledged your INFP- or INFJ-ness, but *without* putting yourself into a box of limitations? Or, can you resonate with any of what I’ve written re: the traps I’ve fallen into?

Either way, I'm all ears. Tweet @inf_club, or email me ->



A couple more things

◢ ◤ Avicii
Sadly, I didn’t make it to Stockholm this week for the Avicii Tribue Concert, despite having a ticket. I’m sorta kinda regretting it already, as the footage I’ve been watching from the live-stream looks incredible. The energy must have been amazing, and Tim Bergling is for sure one of my favourite artists - probably in the top 3, maybe even #1. Watch the whole thing here.

👥 INF wall
I’m thinking about an INF wall, showcasing different INFPs and INFJs and providing a place where we can find one another and make new friends. I’ll let you know how this develops :)

🏜 Native American Heritage Month
In case you missed it, November was Native American Heritage Month. For a variety of reasons, I’m fascinated by Native Americans - their history and their wisdom. If you’re eager to find out more about the Native people, just check out this hashtag on Twitter - full of stories, insights and perspectives -> #NativeAmericanHeritageMonth.

Thanks, as always, for reading and have an awesome weekend.



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