I learned that I'm an INTP on the last day of February, while hiking down from Fitz Roy Mountain. "Wow, that's interesting." said my INTJ hiking mate who did the assessment. "You need to read about this later." At the time I had no idea.
As I read about INTP, there were times when it felt like I was learning about a disorder. Only 3% of the population is an INTP. Famous INTPs include Bill Gates and Albert Einstein. While I'm not a genius or a billionaire, I am a hardcore introverted thinker — my brain's most developed function is to think introspectively. It's happening all the time and I can't make it stop, even if I wanted to.
One of the most interesting insights is that there's a chasm between who I am in my head and who I'm perceived to be from the outside. Because I socialize using my secondary function, extraverted intuition, I come across as a nice guy that's easy to get along with. I think I am nice and I do get along with a wide range of people, which is something I take pride in. But it's just the tip of the metaphorical iceberg.
The true me is more complicated than I let on. I'm deep in thought almost all the time (even when around other people) and most of the time no one will ever know what I'm really thinking and how I'm really feeling. This sounds scary, doesn't it? I certainly felt uneasy reading about it. Am I a sociopath? (Thankfully, the answer is no. If I was, then I wouldn't care enough to even ask the question.)
The book (yeah, there's a book) describes what I experience as an existential tension between a "Lone Wolf" and a "Mr. Nice Guy." Deep down, I am, in my truest form, a Lone Wolf. But I act as, and want to be, a Mr. Nice Guy. Am I being nice because I genuinely am nice or because I'm not comfortable dealing with emotions? Mostly it's column A and sometimes it's column B.
Are there times when I put up with people and then brood about them later? Yes. Do avoid important-but-difficult conversations, not to spare the other person's feelings but to avoid feeling weird or awkward myself? I do.
Before I go into all the "bad" stuff (and there's a lot), I'll list some of the good stuff.
Traits I like:
- I love to learn, think, and philosophize about a variety of subjects
- I'm open-minded and accepting of new ideas and diverse ways of living, and opposed to dogmatic and closed-minded thinking
- I enjoy exploring and experimenting with different ways of doing things (includes places and living situations, diets, types of work, friendships and relationships)
- I'm always seeking self-improvement and self-knowledge
- I value purpose, meaning, and experiences over material things
- Finding meaningful work is important to me
- I'm a minimalist, wanting only what's necessary and valuing quality over quantity (I like nice things, but I don't like the concept of fast-fashion and a throw-away consumer culture)
- I'm very independent and I'm not overly influenced by what other people think (maybe to a fault)
- I'm mostly optimistic and can deal with problems fairly easily and calmly when they happen
Traits I don't like but can work on:
- I am sensitive to criticism and I can write-off people too easily, even those who are close to me
- I have passive-aggressive tendencies (related to above)
- I can be self-centered
- I tend to avoid emotionally-difficult/demanding situations because they are uncomfortable and awkward
- I mostly don't communicate what I'm thinking/feeling, so the world in my head can diverge from the world I share with a friend/loved one, which leads to a tension and often a fracture in the relationship (related to above two)
Traits I have to accept:
- I genuinely enjoy being alone (maybe I always will be)
- I don't like to be responsible for other people and I don't want people to have control over me (I like working in small, flat teams)
Learning about my personality type has given me a nuanced understanding of why I act and think the way I do. And it's given me insight into my relationships and how they can be improved. Most importantly, it's helped me see issues from a place of compassion and understanding rather than one of frustration and criticism.