Today’s member interview is with Aisha White. In her own words:
Aisha White is an INFJ and native of the state of Georgia. A full-time digital marketer, she uses her downtime for creative expression through mediums that vary from writing and painting to producing videos online. She is fascinated by human interaction and finds inspiration in faith, films, art and lovely lyrics.
It’s lovely to meet you, Aisha. And as a guy called Jasraj, I can relate! :) So can we start this interview by finding out where in the world you currently reside? Is this also where you grew up?
I am a true Georgia peach. I was born and raised in the state of Georgia and it’s where I reside. For now.
I’ve never been to Georgia, but it makes me think of the song Georgia On My Mind (the Ray Charles version).
Do you remember what you were like as a child?
I was a chatty little girl with a huge imagination and an extreme desire for adventure. I would often throw random toys into a backpack, grab a pair of walkie talkies and declare to my younger brother we were going on an adventure. The adventure typically included roaming our backyard and finding our way to our neighbor’s house. We could count on her to serve graham crackers and diet coke before our parents rang her phone inquiring if we were there.
When I wasn’t off adventuring, I was drawing, painting and writing stories. I wanted to be an artist when I grew up.
I love that. You know, you’ve actually reminded me of the games and made-up characters I would make up for myself and my little brother. Good, innocent times. Your neighbour sounds lovely, too.
What was school like for you? And how were your teenage years as a whole?
I was not a huge fan of school. I never seemed to find my place among my peers and it made the experience a less than desirable one for me. I was fortunate enough to avoid being bullied, but I always felt on the fringe. There are a few people I still talk to today whom I was close to in school.
I’ve always been a curious person and love to learn new things, so that aspect of school I enjoyed. In middle school, I learned to play violin and continued playing through my senior year of high school. That introduction to music definitely changed my life by giving me a new perspective and appreciation for it. I had only been familiar with gospel music and those songs I’d hear on television advertisements for compilation CDs from the 70s up until that point. I regret not continuing to play violin into my adult years.
I worked for my family’s commercial cleaning business at 13 then started working a part-time job as soon as I turned 15, so the work ethic is strong with this one. Instead of attending football games like most of the teens my age, I was busy making sub sandwiches…and making that money! Haha. Not much money at all, but enough to take care of expenses like a cringeworthy wardrobe and general self-care items.
I took some gifted and advanced placement courses which meant I was in most classes with some of the same faces during the span of my high school career. I got comfortable enough around them to say odd things or crack jokes from time-to-time. I definitely wasn’t a serious person. It’s just that not many people got to see that side of me, so I’d likely be summed up as the nice, quiet girl in high school. I did do the traditional prom thing. I can confirm it was unnecessary.
Thanks so much for sharing all of that. I, too, felt ‘on the fringes’ at school. I like how you describe that. Wow, it looks like you started with work fairly early. For me, it took my mum’s encouragement to start training as a tennis coach for holiday camps, I think I was about 15/16. And I was a joker, too! Again, in doses and amongst folks/the classes I felt comfortable around. My equivalent of the violin was the classical guitar… I’ve not played for a while, though.
What words, or phrases, would you use to describe your current self?
(It should be noted to the reader this question was the most challenging for Aisha to answer.)
Hehe, why don’t you tell me about yourself instead?
Okay, seriously: in love with a great melody, master overthinker, curious, creative, giving, appreciator of dry humor
Haha! Oh, I think that would be my least favourite question in this interview, too. I don’t think many of us love to talk about ourselves ;) You did great - and you made me laugh, too - so thank you.
When did you first realise that you were an introvert? How did this happen?
It was probably when every single person I encountered said the very original phrase “You’re so quiet,” to me. After some time it started to click that apparently everyone was expected to talk often in most situations. I think talking can be a bit overrated sometimes, but hey.
I honestly believe I began to internalize some of the negative responses I got when I expressed myself to kids my age. For example, I would voice an opinion and seem to be misunderstood. Over time, I resolved it was easier to simply stop talking to people who wouldn’t understand. My religious background and other factors made me stand out in a way that was difficult to navigate. That’s at least the best way I can make sense of my change in attitude. I know it wasn’t conscious at the time.
What's your Myers-Briggs personality type?
I am an INFJ.
When did you first do the Myers-Briggs test and realise you were an INFJ?
I took the personality test via 16personalities.com. I had no concept of typology prior to taking the test. My director at my job was curious to know what my type was and suggested I take the test. She had been administered the official test during a work function and found it helped her understand others’ working styles.
I decided I would take it and got INFJ as my result. I had no idea what that meant at the time and so I did some online research to understand what the letters meant and what kind of person that would classify me as. As I found video content and read articles on the topic, I realized that I identified closely with descriptions I found.
Oh, that’s great; you know, I probably haven’t ‘utilised’ it as best I could have, but I feel one of the benefits of MBTI - aside from self-understanding - is to also use it to better understand others and how we work (or live!) with them.
Has discovering you were an INFJ impacted you in any way? If so, how?
Discovering my type and researching the functions of my personality have helped me make more sense to myself at times. Other times Aisha still seems to be a mystery to me honestly. For a great deal of my life, I didn’t truly stop to consider why it was I did some of the things I did. There was this acceptance that this is life and this is what’s happening to me. Of course I held that curiosity about others and the world around me, but the part that was missing was self-reflection. I’m still learning to get that part in order.
Discovering my type has also helped me to analyze others and their actions with a greater sense of understanding. When people say something or do something that maybe I wouldn’t choose to say or do personally, I can to some degree make sense of their motivations.
Oh, I can so relate, I still remain very much a mystery - despite all of the personality tests and self-help books. It’s so nice to hear that it’s helping you understand the behaviours/attitudes of others, and perhaps look at them with a different lens.
What qualities do you think INF-types share?
I’ve been fortunate enough to meet other INFs through the YouTube community and increasingly via Twitter and Instagram. The qualities I have recognized are the extreme fondness towards creative endeavors such as music, writing and art. I believe everyone is creative though their approach to creativity may differ. INFs seem to have a real talent for tapping into their imaginations, and they’re at home with metaphors.
I also think the two types crave to understand and help other humans. They both have the potential to be martyrs. Maybe one because they are attached to a cause with every fiber of their being whereas the other also cares, but it’s the group that voted and decided they were a good candidate to lead the cause for which death is certain.
Yes, I hear you totally. It feels like our need for creative self-expression, through whatever channel(s), is high. And you’ve made some great other observations there, too.
What were your favourite subjects at school? (If applicable) what did you study at university/college?
Growing up, I loved science. After the initial decision to be an artist when I grew up, then a full-time hippie, I decided my true calling was forensic toxicology. I became obsessed with watching court trials and testimonies by a famed blood spatter expert. I rolled my eyes at the unrealistic portrayal of forensic investigators on network dramas like CSI. Can you imagine a 13-year-old forensic science snob? The makings of a social butterfly right there.
I majored in biology my first two years of college before experiencing extreme doubts and even questioning my intelligence to pursue such a field. I again felt out of place among my peers.
I made the decision to change my major to communication and media studies with a minor in theatre. The major explored everything from video production to journalism and website design. One of the classes I took was an introductory drawing class which I loved. I had this ultra-cool, ultra-talented professor. In the same way that taking up music in my childhood changed my perspective, the reintroduction to my first love (art) felt like I had taken a huge exhale after holding my breath for years. What a relief.
Along with art, I enjoyed writing about topics related to forms of media that had been with me always. Movies, television and music. It was a wonderful time in my life and I still consider a graduate level degree at times.
Oh my goodness, I totally went through a CSI/wanting-to-be-a-forensic-scientist phase! I also wanted to be a Detective like Lieutenant Columbo, until I discovered that one has to be a regular police officer for many years before having any chance of being a homicide detective. Also, thinking about it, I’m a sensitive guy… I’m not quite sure I’d have been cut out for Detective life… I felt a bit queasy when I witnessed someone who’d had as asthma attack during my work experience in a hospital. My interest in crime is probably best kept in books, podcasts and Netflix.
Thanks for sharing your journey through college. I changed my mind a lot, and actually dropped out of university - twice.
What are you spending your time on at the moment? (Whether studying, working, or other focusing your attention… it can be more than just one thing!)
I create and curate online content as a career. In my spare time, I create content via my YouTube channel and blog. I also enjoy painting, creative writing and photography.
Was there a moment in your life when you made a drastic change?
One of the most drastic changes I have made would be my decision to end a longtime relationship just before my 30th birthday and dive into creating YouTube videos. If anyone had told me I would be doing that a little over a year ago, I would have dismissed the notion.
That’s awesome! :)
You’ve alluded to your being a creative person a couple of times now… Do you have a preferred creative/artistic outlet? Can you tell us a bit about this?
My preferred artistic outlet would probably be writing. I spend so much time writing in my professional life that I can experience burnout, but I attempt to vary things by just writing what comes to mind or blogging. I was recently inspired to write poetry, which is something I never really did before. On very rare occasions over the years I would scribble down a poem that came to me, but I never fully explored it.
I hear you. I also love writing, but I know what you mean by burnout. Do you find, through YouTube/video content, you enjoying mixing it up a little? Do you think that having more than one creative outlet helps you feel creatively fresh?
I think having multiple outlets can be fun, but I do admit I prefer to lend my intense focus to one at a time. I’d like to be more flexible as to produce as much content as there is floating around in my brain.
Would you describe yourself as a 'highly sensitive person', or an empath?
I would consider myself a highly sensitive person for sure. Once I started to take note of my behavior and the manner in which I relate to others I realized the term applies to me.
After taking the test, it’s confirmed. I scored above 20.
Do you have a personal definition of 'success'? What does being 'successful' look like to you?
I don’t like saying I will do something and never following through because I find that I do not like that quality in others, so I try my best to be a person of my word. That’s important to me. So, success for me is being accountable and trusted. I’ve succeeded if others can see and believe I mean what I say. I’ve succeeded if I’ve helped someone in some way.
I am always striving to improve at whatever it is I decide to take on. I struggle to identify if I am good at something or not. I’m not sure I have ever uttered the words, “I am great at [x].” I am not proud of that fact. Currently working to change that.
That’s a really honest admission, and I feel one that many INFPs and INFJs will be able to relate to. Thank you for sharing that.
What about 'happiness' - do you have a personal recipe for that?
If I’m remembering correctly, I think the recipe calls for dark chocolate? Just kidding. Don’t eat your feelings, kids.
Peace and quiet is key. Also, dark chocolate does help. Of course, when I’m in a quiet atmosphere, the challenge becomes quieting my brain. If I can finally turn down the ideas, the inspiration, the worry or those cringeworthy thoughts, I try and get some sleep as soon as possible because who knows when the chance will come again?
Faith plays a large part in my life. When I need help getting to a place of peace I pray and meditate. I typically walk away feeling lighter, feeling inspired and purposeful.
I’m so glad you have things in your life which you have found to work for you.
Do you like to plan things, or are you more of a go-with-the-flow type of person? (Or, perhaps, a little bit of both?)
In my mind, I’m this free-spirited hippie. In reality, I have to write lists and set constant reminders because my brain seems to always be out to betray me. I’ll agree to meet a friend for lunch then get inspired to explore a topic for my channel before struggling to remember what else that one supporting cast member in The Crown starred in because they look so familiar! So far from my original intent. I struggle to reel it all in, so I am a person that plans as a necessity. If I didn’t plan, I’d probably be down some Wikipedia rabbit hole forgetting all the plans I’ve made. Actually, that sounds kind of amazing.
Coupling. He starred in that sitcom Coupling. I haven’t seen it in years.
Haha, oh my goodness, so much resonance here.
What does your 'perfect Sunday' (or Saturday) look like?
Ooh! Sundays are perfect for reflection and spending time in prayer before moving on to inexplicably craving a smoothie and only a smoothie until dinner time for like the last three months. I usually prep or at least think about prepping for the work week before brainstorming and getting my fix of some culture in the form of music, a movie, book or series. I also enjoy spending time with my family.
That all sounds lovely.
Is there anything you've read, watch or listened to recently, that you've loved? (Whether a book, blog, podcast, film/TV show, etcetera).
I recently read a book by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter. He is actually a native of Georgia. The book is titled A Call to Action and it focuses on Carter’s response to injustices he witnessed women and minorities face over his lifetime. I thought it to be an interesting perspective for him to take and enjoyed reading it.
Oh, that sounds super-interest. And what about blogs or podcasts, do you have any favourites there?
As far as blogs go, INF Blog has found a special place in my heart thanks to the warm welcome from Jas!
One of my friends and past collaborator Gabriel Davis has had a longtime blog called The Broken Robotz where he offers commentary on music, urban culture and celebrates other creatives. http://thebrokenrobotz.com/
Podcasts: I have been a longtime fan of Pop Culture Happy Hour from NPR. I reviewed films in college via our student radio station and have a real love for film. The hosts review film and television shows and I’m always interested to hear their opinions and compare them against the ideas I formed about the subject of discussion. https://www.npr.org/podcasts/510282/pop-culture-happy-hour
Reply All is a podcast that’s so easy to get lost in. Love their storytelling and wittiness. https://gimletmedia.com/shows/reply-all
Still Processing is hosted by Wesley Morris and Jenna Wortham. The chemistry between Wortham and Morris is felt. They’re two New York Times writers with intelligent insights to share on culture. They’re so smart and good looking (not that it matters much when you’re listening and not looking)! I fell in love with Morris’ writing after reading a piece from him in Vulture. https://www.nytimes.com/column/still-processing-podcast
One of the first YouTubers I encountered who spoke about typology was Frank James. He has a podcast (The Frank James Podcast) that is a bit more sporadic than his video uploads, but always tends to be a mental deep dive that I very much appreciate. https://soundcloud.com/frank-james-552432266
How Did This Get Made? is a podcast that film lovers who happen to enjoy watching films against the grain will love. The hosts are all comedic actors and I find myself cracking up constantly at their critiques of questionable movies. I highly suggest the episode on The Room. http://www.earwolf.com/show/how-did-this-get-made/
My good friends Michelle and Harper are a talented husband and wife duo who host a film podcast called Spliced Together. They explore their love for various film genres and give great recommendations. http://splicedtogether.libsyn.com/
Thanks so much for sharing these, and also giving an insight into each one.
How about favourite movies or TV shows? Anything you've seen recently that you'd recommend?
Stranger Things has been a favorite sci-fi series of mine. The kids are adorable and the show is full of 80s nostalgia. I was born in 1989, so it’s not like I’m remembering my childhood or anything, but I definitely have a fondness for that era in time. I like a good suspenseful storyline, so it's up my alley. Also not to brag or anything, but I may or may not know where some filming locations are in my general area.
Clueless is one of my favorite movies because it just seems to stand the test of time. Also, Paul Rudd.
Amelie is just so whimsical! It’s fun to watch.
Some films I’ve enjoyed lately are Midsommar, BlacKkKlansman and The Farewell. Each have extremely different vibes. Midsommar is a horror film, so heads-up to those who are sensitive to that genre.
I’m a 1989 kid, too! Thanks for sharing those, too.
Okay, so if you could go back in time and meet "you" back in 2010, is there any advice that you'd give this younger self?
You’re smarter and more capable than you realize. Lean into it, babe. Don’t define yourself by the needs and wants of others.
Stay away from Julian.
And if you could one or two pieces of advice to your follow INFs, what would they be? (Is there anything in particular that you've "worked on", which you've found helpful to you/your life in some way?)
Thanks to a smart INFP friend of mine, I am working on addressing my own emotions. It’s quite uncomfortable if I’m being honest, but I want to grow in this area. Introverted feeling isn’t a strength of mine. Knowing and understanding those with other cognitive strengths helps me to better myself. I would suggest change and self-improvement as something to strive toward no matter what your type is because no matter how rare of an occurrence your type may be or how common, no one is better than the other. We are all flawed humans and have room for growth.
If you have the opportunity, get to know others who operate differently and just talk about it. You may get to a place of enlightenment.
I love that perspective… that there’s always room for growth. And that we can learn from, and be inspired by, one another.
What does 'self-care' mean for you? How do you practise it?
For me, it starts with the realization that I am not taking care of myself in the first place. I have the tendency to keep going forward until I literally cannot and burn out due to something like sickness. See: my tweets about stomach flu.
Someone who cares about me usually points out this fact. Once I accept the fact that I'm supposed to take it easy, I bring on the sensory involved activities like staring at a sunset or starry sky, eating food I’ve craved for some time, drinking tea or watching a movie. I also engage in prayer, fasting, exercise, art and the art of the nap.
Not diving-in-headfirst, and burning the candle at both ends, is something I am working on, too. Again, it feels like your self-awareness is strong. I feel it’s a case of being gentle, and taking slow steps...
Do you have a favourite quote?
“All you have to be by the age of 23 is yourself.” – Troy Dyer from the 1994 movie Reality Bites.
As someone who sometimes falls prey to unhealthy comparisons to others or feeling as though I have not achieved the kinds of things I would be expected to at different points in my life, it was a bit of a relief to hear Ethan Hawke’s character utter those words. It brought on the realization that success looks different for everyone.
Wow, as someone who falls prey to that exact same thing, I love that quote. Thank you.
Aisha, this has been so fun. Where can others find and connect with you online?
You can find me YouTube newbing it up at my channel: itsaishawhite. I talk about becoming a better communicator and interview creatives about the many forms of communication. My website is whitehottact.com. I’m also on Twitter and Instagram at @itsaishawhite.
Again, feel free to include the hyperlinks themselves :))
Lastly, is there anything else you'd like to say?
I am insanely grateful for the opportunity to share a bit of myself with the world. I hope you found this relatable in some way. Despite the many ways in which we humans differ, we’re much more alike than we sometimes realize. It’s beautiful when you think about it. Also makes you feel a lot less special. Haha.
You’re so welcome. Thanks you again, Aisha. I resonated with so much of what you shared, and I have a feeling others might, too. I really enjoyed doing this.
Jas + Aisha
🎧 Listen to our follow-up conversation: #episode 17: Aisha White
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