Today’s member interview is with David Frauenfelder (INFP).
David Frauenfelder is an educator and author of large numbers of published and unpublished works, including six novels, a collection of short stories, and two long-form curricula for gifted middle school students. He is currently at work on a seventh novel about a trio of Latin students who, on a trip to Italy, uncover a plot to avenge the wrongs of the Roman empire--and the magical means to foil it.
Connect with David:
- Duke TIP Greek Mythology course
- Amazon author page
- Zeus Is My Type! (Combining Greek mythology and MBTI)
Hi David! So could we get started by finding out where in the world you currently reside? Is this also where you grew up?
I live in Houston, Texas, USA, but grew up in California and spent much of my adult life in North Carolina.
Oh, you’ve moved around a little bit it seems. There also seem to be a number of INF Club members from Texas… it seems to be a popular place for INFs!
What were your school and teenage years like for you?
I mostly had a good time in school but was also bullied some. I was happy to get into high school where bullies tended to be sifted out of the classes I took. And I was very happy to get into college and get on with the business of being an adult. It was a chaotic, crazy time that I both enjoyed and loathed.
I hear you, and I’m glad to hear that the bullying eventually subsided with the classes that you took.
Can I ask, what words, or phrases, would you use to describe your current self?
Older, wiser, more comfortable with who I am, but always and ever a goofball at heart.
That’s lovely to hear. And I, too, am a goofball myself :) When was it that you first realised that you were an introvert? How did this happen?
I first took the Myers-Briggs test when I was about 21 and tested out as a huge introvert. It made sense. I have always liked being alone and being in crowds drain my energy quickly. People talk about the loneliness epidemic today. I am never lonely when alone, only in unfeeling, indifferent crowds.
You’ve articulated that beautifully, and your experience really resonates with me. Often as I sit taking the train into central London, the city feels like quite an overwhelming and unwelcome place. I imagine I would struggle if I moved here from elsewhere, or actually to any big city in fact.
Are you an INFP or an INFJ?
You’ve mentioned taking the Myers-Briggs test… please could you share your experience with taking the test?
At 21 I tested out as an INFJ but I have never been a J and don’t really know why I would’ve answered as if I were a J. In some ways in those years I was trying to escape from myself and maybe I put some wishful thinking into my responses. I don’t remember when I realized I was absolutely an INFP but it was probably just a few years later.
Oh, that’s interesting to hear. Has discovering you were an INFP impacted you in any way? If so, how?
It has probably affected me some as I’ve tried to push against my limitations as an INFP—for example, I know I am very good at self-sabotage and so I’ve tried to do less of that. And I’ve spent a lot of time in reflection considering how being an INFP has affected who I am. But knowing that I am an INFP and doing something in response to that is very much a hit or miss proposition. Mostly I fail at trying to go beyond my limitations.
I am curious to hear more about this self-sabotage you describe, if you wouldn’t mind sharing more about it?
Absolutely, Jas. I think this is one of the more important issues that INFPS (and maybe INFJs) face. My form of self-sabotage usually manifests as a negative response to an opportunity in front of me that ends with my losing that opportunity, or having it come out negatively. Say someone says to me, “You should do a reading at my bookstore” but then I think, “Oh, but my book isn’t worthy of reading at that bookstore” and then I let it go or forget about it and the bookstore owner is left wondering why I didn’t take advantage of their offer. Or it may be that I don’t take a chance (like entering a writing contest) because I’ve already pre-determined that it isn’t worth it. The motto, “You will hit zero of the targets that you don’t aim at” is very apropos for me here. And the old chestnut of a quote purportedly from Nelson Mandela, “Our deepest fear is not that we will fail, but that we will succeed” is also very apt for me. Fear of success seems to be something no one would ever fear, but for me it’s very natural. It’s hard to explain but there’s a sense that success would make life harder rather than easier. Maybe because it would increase Imposter Syndrome--a sense that your success is not earned but just a fluke--or that it would put pressure on me to keep being successful (very scary for a perfectionist), or that it would hold others down from being successful, or that why should I be successful when so many others are not?
It’s a long answer, but, really, I could go on and on about it.
Thank you for elaborating and sharing that with us so openly, David.
Moving along a little, what qualities do you think you share with other INFP’s and INFJs?
(This is about INFPs, BTW. INFJs, to my mind, can do no wrong.)
INFP on the positive side: Desire for integrity, being pure in intention. Big picture thinking. Empathy, Creativity. Weirdness. Ability to laugh at myself.
INFP on the negative side: Being weak, lazy, indecisive, self-sabotaging, depressive, oversensitive, neurotic, self-hating.
And what were your favourite subjects at school? What did you study at university/college?
Latin and Greek. I have a doctorate in Classics.
Latin was one of my favourite subjects at school; looking back, if I had followed my heart, I would have carried it through until my final couple of years at school here in the UK.
What are you spending your time on at the moment?
I teach Latin and now and then Greek to middle schoolers (ages 11-14) and write fiction and nonfiction for publication.
It sounds like you’ve got lots keeping you busy :) Was there a moment in your life when you made a drastic change?
Yes, several. But none I’ll share at the moment.
That’s quite alright. And you’ve mentioned your writing… can you tell us a bit about this? Do you have any other creative outlets?
I write a lot. I write every day, even if it’s just a journal entry. I also like singing.
Would you describe yourself as a 'highly sensitive person', or an empath?
HSP, but not exactly an empath. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by feeling others’ emotions. I think INFJs are more likely to be empaths and have the capacity to deal with that. I can’t. I have to flee when things get too intense.
That’s an interesting perspective, thank you for sharing that.
Okay, we're heading down the final straight now. What does being 'successful' look like to you?
Waking up in the morning looking forward to the day. Not always easy.
And what about 'happiness'... what does that look like to you? Do you have any ‘ingredients’ for this?
I don’t chase happiness anymore. I just live my life and try to be less self-destructive.
I hear you. That sounds quite refreshing in its simplicity.
Do you like to plan things, or are you more of a go-with-the-flow type of person?
Go with the flow. Improvisation is a big strength of mine. Also, procrastination, cough, cough.
And what does your perfect Sunday look like?
Church with lots of singing. Then lunch. Then a few hours of writing. Then a walk or hike of an hour or so. Then making and enjoying dinner with my wife. After dinner, watching a movie or writing an email to a friend.
That sounds very nourishing indeed.
Is there anything you've read, watch or listened to recently, that you've loved?
That All May Be Saved. It’s a book by theologian David Bentley Hart that argues that Hell (i.e. the after-death-eternal-punishment thing) doesn’t exist. I never really believed in Hell, but he makes the argument so beautifully, I am re-reading the book just for pleasure.
And how about favourite blogs or podcasts?
No. I spend way too much time scrolling through Twitter and Facebook, reading the NY Times or the Athletic online rather than engaging with any one person or format.
I see… Favourite movies or TV shows? Anything you've seen recently that you'd recommend?
My all-time favorite movie is Defending Your Life, from 1991 and by Albert Brooks, who stars in it with Meryl Streep. It is absolutely brilliant, but pretty much no one knows about it.
I’ve also seen The Princess Bride about 25 times. Love that one.
Lately, I liked Parasite, the Korean film that won the Academy Award for Best Picture. It’s a strange and somewhat shocking document but worthwhile. Also I love Better Call Saul, the TV show. Season 4 just got put on Netflix and I watched it in about a week. Now I have to wait for Season 5!
Thank you for sharing those, I’ll have to try to catch that first one, I am intrigued. I am amazed by just how much new stuff seems to appear on Netflix all of the time… where possible, I try to avoid starting new things with multiple seasons, but I sometimes can’t help myself haha.
Okay, we’re getting towards the end of our conversation now. Just a few more things to ask you… If you could go back in time and meet "you" back in 2010, is there any advice that you'd give this younger self?
No. I like who I am today and wouldn’t change myself, so I wouldn’t want to go back and change any of my choices. I think it’s important to celebrate your past, even the horrible, nasty parts, because they have made you what you are today, which also should be embraced. Also, my younger self would never have been able to follow my advice anyway. Be present today. The past can’t be changed. That is something that I’ve been able to embrace over the years.
That’s a lovely perspective to have, thank you for sharing that with us.
And if you could give one or two pieces of advice to your follow INFs, what would they be?
If I were to give advice, I’d say the situation is almost never as bad as you think it is, so don’t catastrophize, but I think every INFP and maybe some INFJs need to go through the process of panicking on little small things for about 25-30 years (hopefully less, but you never know) and then eventually you start to minimize your destructive behavior and tendencies, learn to take a deep breath, and soothe yourself on your own. I had a spiritual mentor who gave me this advice when I was about 30 and it didn’t matter. I spun down into hell holes for decades after that and still do sometimes. But it is good advice if only INFs had the power to heed it.
Thank you for sharing that with us, David. And what does 'self-care' mean for you? How do you practise it?
Unapologetically taking alone time. And worshipping in a structured church service that includes communion.
Do you have a favourite quote?
Probably not. I think quotes are overrated, unless they are for the purpose of letting people know what your favorite movies are. But movie quotes are boring for people who never saw the movie. “You keep saying that word… I do not think it means what you think it means.” See?
Haha, well that’s fair enough :) This has been an interesting conversation, David. Should they wish to, where can others find and connect with you online?
I wish I could say I have a robust online presence but I am very lazy when it comes to self-advertising. So my twitter is @truenorthwrite and that may be the best place.
Thank you. And, lastly, is there anything else you'd like to say?
I appreciate that you are attempting this club. It takes a lot of courage and energy. May it work for you and others who are doing this experiment and adventure.
You are very welcome. This Club wouldn’t be possible with the INFP and INFJ members who are so generously offering their time and honesty with these interviews. So thank you very much, it’s been a privilege to do this.
David + Jas
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