Today’s member interview is with Michel Grey (INFJ).
We also followed up with a podcast conversation: 🎧 episode #25: Michel Attah
(At the time of our podcast conversation, Michel went by Michel Attah and now goes by Michel Grey).
It’s nice to meet you, Michel :) So can we start this interview by finding out where in the world you currently reside? Is this also where you grew up?
I’m a Texan. Born in Dallas, residing in Austin.
Do you remember what you were like as a child?
Not as much as I would like. My mom always talked about how brilliant I was. I’ve always been into sports.
Are there any particular sports you enjoy(ed)?
Yes, I absolutely love soccer! I have loved it since I was a child and I love it so much that I teach it and play it to this day! I played a bit of basketball as well growing up and overall can watch and get into most sports. But soccer is my true and forever love.
What was school like for you? And how were your teenage years as a whole?
School was pretty boring to me. I was more focused on relational dynamics than academia. Read a lot on my own. Teenager years were really dramatic, fraught with depression and low self-esteem. I don’t miss them and enjoy being an adult!
I feel many of us experience challenges during our teen years. I’m curious to hear more about the ‘relational dynamics’ you speak of here…
When I talk about relational dynamics I mean human personalities, friend groups and social hierarchies, etc. What motivates people to do certain things and befriend / desire the attention of certain people, etc. Why certain people became popular and others not. I’ve always been a bit of a stereotypical pseudo-psychotherapist. ;)
What words, or phrases, would you use to describe your current self?
Student, leader, coach.
And when did you first realise that you were an introvert? How did this happen?
In college! I thought I was an ENFJ for the longest time and then I took the test again in college and it absolutely clicked in one instant that I was actually an INFJ. I went to a very extroverted college so it was a relief to suddenly understand why I felt so exhausted all the time.
Oh, that must have been some relief for sure. Has discovering you were an INFJ impacted you in any way? If so, how?
It brings me inner peace which often comes with any sort of self-understanding I acquire.
That’s really nicely articulated, and I can certainly relate to that. What qualities do you think INFJs, and INF-types in general, share?
Feeling misunderstood. High sensitivity to others’ emotions.
And what were your favourite subjects at school? What did you study at university/college?
Favorite subjects in school were French and Latin and English - I love studying languages because they reflect the culture of a place, societal expectations and relationship dynamics - I’m repeating myself! Also, WHO DOESN’T LOVE READING BOOKS AND WRITING. :)
What are you spending your time on at the moment?
I’m a parent and I have a partner so those relationships are my top priority. I am also building both a mindset/life coaching business and a freelance writing business. I’m providing support to a group of about 50 kids’ soccer coaches. I’m also always learning in the form of reading - topics include masculinity, politics, and parenting.
It sounds like you have lots going on. Was there a moment in your life when you made a drastic change?
When I went from braids to natural hair. Then, when I turned my afro into a mohawk, haha. When I quit a job without another job to replace it and basically Uber-ed for a year. When I tried the Alkaline diet for 30 days. Oh, did you want just one?
Not at all, I’m glad you shared all of these :) Do you have a preferred creative/artistic outlet? Can you tell us a bit about this?
I’m still working on this, but morning pages give me a massive release. I also find coaching to be an artistic outlet. The impressions and insights I get from being with people as I witness them talk through puzzles in their lives is an art. I also have realized and admitted to myself recently that I enjoy speaking on panels about different topics as well as making videos.
I’ve previously done morning pages and I’ve recently started journalling again and I find it really helpful, especially in the morning and/or at the end of the day.
Would you describe yourself as a 'highly sensitive person', or an empath?
Yes. But I have to say that I find the more that I’m doing things that I like to do, the less I concern myself with identifying as an HSP or empath. As I’ve gotten older I’ve learned to unapologetically set necessary boundaries in the form of ending relationships, changing my mind, etc.
That’s really interesting, and it feels like an indication of you’re better acknowledging yourself and better knowing/acting upon what you need, in the moment. Kudos to you.
Do you have a personal definition of 'success'? What does being 'successful' look like to you?
Success at its most primal is never having to worry about money, or have the cost of something I truly desire be a hindrance to getting it. Success at its most spiritual is pure alignment and manifestation of purpose. My purpose in life is to help people reach their goals and create their dream lives. I feel that I’m successful if I’m doing that about 90 percent of the time.
That’s a beautiful answer, thank you for sharing these perspectives. And what about 'happiness' - do you have a ‘personal recipe’ that?
Personal recipe is to commit to self-care by your definition daily, as well as having support in the form of a mentor, coach, therapist, etc. Aforementioned support should give you a mindset foundation that allows you to come back to the universal truth of knowing that you are perfect and worthy right now, without having to earn or prove anything. Then, that support should equip you with the ability to regularly come home to your personal truth, and the best next step to get closer to what you want.
Wow, this is such a thoughtful and poignant answer. It sounds like you have leaned a lot into such matters. Thank you again, Michel, for putting your feelings into words so beautiful.
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?)
Both. I have a rough guideline of things I want to accomplish most days. Intuition follows from that.
I hear you. And what does your 'perfect Sunday' (or Saturday) look like?
Curious why you picked weekend days but the ideal day is indistinguishable from the rest in terms of what day it is in the week. My perfect day is basically Emilie’s: https://puttylike.com/how-to-hit-the-pillow-each-night-feeling-completely-fulfilled-and-satisfied/
I guess because weekend days are generally more associated with being more free/in our control… I guess that question could well have been ‘what does your perfect day look like?’ :) Also - I’m a fan of Emilie and her Puttylike blog. I actually had a ticket for her ‘Everything Conference’ in Portland last year, but unfortunately I didn’t make it over there in the end. I also believe she’s an INFJ as it happens...
Is there anything you've read, watch or listened to recently, that you've loved?
I’m not hella conservative at all, but I was pretty impressed by Jack Murphy’s book Democrat to Deplorable. I enjoy a different perspective. I also loved Integral Relationships: A Manual For Men by Martin Ucik. I was also impressed by all of Lauren Sapala’s INFJ books.
And what about favourite blogs or podcasts?
I like Charlie Jabaley’s podcast lately but it requires a secret phone number to access. Check out his interview on the Producer Grind podcast to get the number and access to the podcast. I like that guy. Here is a short clip of him: https://www.instagram.com/tv/B5gTJGwHvwj/
I have a lot more recommendations but tired of talking about this for now haha.
This sounds intriguing, I’ll take a look. How about favourite movies or TV shows? Anything you've seen recently that you'd recommend?
THE OFFICE!!!! (US version) I’m really into the mumblecore genre. I rewatch movies like Drinking Buddies & Your Sister’s Sister and Easy to chill out and refocus. I enjoy Grace & Frankie, the first season of Dear White People, I’m Sorry and Dead To Me. Queer Eye is the shit! Recently: Weight of Success starring Angela Lauria. I highly recommend Cheer & Love Is Blind (don’t knock reality television there are always lessons to be learned in what we consume). Currently watching Schitt’s Creek on Netflix.
I’m a big fan of the US Office (I was watching it just last night, in fact). It looks like you’re watching some cool stuff.
Okay, so we’re reaching the end of this interview now. If you could go back in time and meet "you" back in 2010, is there any advice that you'd give this younger self?
Stress out less about your future or what you think you should be doing or achieving. The only thing that matters is knowing that you don’t have to earn or be a certain way or person to be worthy of love or attention or success. You as you are right now are worthy. To hell with that judgmental outside pressure!!!
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?)
Read stellarmaze.com’s recommendations for INFJ health. You’ve been warned - some of his work is triggering. Also, I know you’re highly sensitive, but that doesn’t mean you are allowed to wallow in victimhood and/or be weak. You’re responsible for your excellence and health just as much as the next person. Also, find out your enneagram type (by reading the descriptions of each type, letting it sit with you, and committing to the journey of 1) letting your being tell you what type you are and 2) healing the ego fixations of that type
It feels like you have a bunch of interesting insights and resources to share, thank you. Which leads me to asking you about self-care… what does 'self-care' mean for you? How do you practise it?
Self-care is motherfucking boundaries - top of my list. Boundaries with family, coworkers, etc. Nothing is worth risking your health, your sanity. I practice boundaries thousands of times a day. I’m always checking in with my body to make sure I feel safe and respected, with and by myself, first and foremost. The rest of the stuff like eating right and sleeping is important too. But I believe that stuff becomes clearer and more aligned once you get used to loving yourself in the form of honoring your desires and limits.
Boundaries are incredibly important, and I think you’re absolutely right in emphasising their importance when it comes to our wellbeing and self-care, as well as everything else you have mentioned here.
Do you have a favourite quote?
“He who knows not and knows not that he knows not, is a fool; leave him. He who knows not and knows that he knows not, is a wise man; teach him.”
Michel, this has been a really nourishing conversation. For those reading this that wish to connect with you online, how can they do that?
Where can others find and connect with you online?
And lastly, is there anything else you'd like to say before we finish up?
My pronouns are they/them. Pronouns aren’t hard; just try. May every INFJ and INFP on earth reach their highest and best dreams. Peace!
Thank you once again, for taking part in this written conversation, Michel. It's been a pleasure 😊
🎧 Listen to our conversation: #episode 25: Michel Attah (INFJ)
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