INFJ at the Office

Congratulations!  You got the job!

You were nervous about the interview, but you aced it because you’re good with one-on-one conversation.  The worst part of the process was waiting for the call that would tell you whether or not you were accepted for the position.  You made yourself sick with worry.  You even practiced how to answer the phone and how to talk without finishing their sentences.

When they called to offer the job, you tripped over yourself saying something like, “Oh, no!  I mean, that’s great!  I’m sorry.  Yes? No!  I’ll take it!”

The first day was nerve-wracking what with all the introductions, but now you are several weeks into it and you’re over the bumpy part of being the new person.

The coffee doesn’t suck.  The parking isn’t bad.  You can bring your lunch without feeling like a dork.  It’s not a bad place to spend the day.

But you are an INFJ, so there are issues.  This doesn’t surprise you because you are, well… an INFJ.

 

You care about your co-workers.  You remember birthdays.  You always ask how their weekend was.  You inquire of his mother’s recent surgery.  Your co-workers like you.  That’s a good thing, but that also makes it difficult to get your work done.  You are the first person they come to when they want to be heard.  They vent to you about each other, and they run new ideas by you.  All the while, management applauds your newbie efforts at teamwork, turning to you each time a new project needs coordinating.

And there you sit on your lunch hour doing all the work that you can’t get done because everyone comes to you with their stuff.

Plug along, INFJ.  You’ll find a way to be there for your co-workers and still get the work done.  It’ll take time, but you are organized.  Be patient with yourself and your co-workers’ needs to come to you. You won’t likely change this dynamic, so understand it and use it to your benefit.

 

Your integrity is unmatched in the workplace.  In the beginning, you’ll look up to your boss.  You’ll respect management.  After a few months, though, you’ll be reminded that everyone is motivated by different things.  (Remember this from those MBTI tests?)  You aren’t motivated by money.  Just about every one of your co-workers is motivated by money.  While they might tell you that customer service is their priority, you will learn that it is not.  You will feel the need to remind them that if they made customer service a priority, the money would follow.

They come to you to be heard, dear INFJ.  They do not want to be preached to.  They think your priorities are endearing, but they don’t begin to understand why you aren’t motivated by money.

Save your breath.  Keep working hard.  Be the quiet team-player that you are, even if that means that some days you’ll end up working through your lunch hour.  Remind yourself that we are all motivated differently and that it is possible to respect them, even if you don’t understand their priorities.

At the end of the day, you’ll be respected for doing your job well, and clients will seek you out because of your excellent customer service skills.

 

The Map

Margaret had spread a blanket in the grass.  Basil was unfolding the map and placing it on the blanket.  Gladys put boulders on each corner in an effort to keep the wind from stealing the map.  Margaret started cutting the pie. 

“None for me, Margaret.”

“Gladys!  Why must you insist on worrying about your waistline.  There’s really no point in that now, dear.”  Margaret handed a plate of pie to Basil.

“Old habits die hard, Margaret.””

“Thank you, Margaret,” Basil poured the coffee.   “This one’s map is a bit confusing with lots of detours and rarely a straight line from point A to point B.”

Gladys took a sip of coffee.  “She must have been an indecisive one, I figure.”

Margaret laughed.  “It certainly makes for an interesting journey that way.”

 

Just then Jon came up.  “What are you guys doing?”

“Oh we’re just enjoying another map, dear.  Pie?”

“Sure, Margaret.  I love your pie.”

Basil pointed at the left side of the map.  “Look here.  We see a relatively straight line that represents birth to about the college years.  Just that one detour when she quit college briefly, but I see she got back on course at this point.”  Basil traced his finger along a red line.  “But it’s here that we see the line veer way off course.  I wonder why she thought that was a good idea?”

Jon put down his fork and looked at the map more closely.  “Looks to me like that detour taught her how to appreciate art and creativity.  I don’t see how that was a bad choice.”

Gladys pointed at a fork in the road.  “What do you figure happened there?”

Jon looked at Gladys like she had a third eye.  “How else would she have gotten those awesome kids of hers?”

Margaret nodded.  “You are so right, Jon.  And look at that spot.”  The red line appeared to be broken and a new red line started an inch away.

Jon sat back and looked at the other three.  “That was a major detour.  The one that saved her kids.”

Jon moved the empty pie plates to the side and crouched over the map.  He pointed at a juncture and said, “This is where she learned some of what she didn’t want.”  He pointed to another spot and said, “This is where she learned what she would not accept.”  He put his finger on another bend and said, “This is where she reinvented herself.  Again.”  Moving his finger further, “Here she decided she didn’t need to like football.  Turns out she never did, she just thought she was supposed to.”  They all chuckled.  Margaret said, “I never did like football much, but I liked the sound of it playing on a Sunday afternoon when I was baking.”

Jon pointed again, “Here she started a new career right after rejoining a previous segment.  It’s almost like her route made a circle.”  Margaret said, “Oh!  Isn’t that when she and her kids moved back to their old house?  That was a fine course correction.”

Gladys looked up from the map.  “Wouldn’t she have gotten to where she was going quicker if she’d taken a more direct route?  What if she’d avoided all those detours?”

Jon smiled.  “Don’t you see, Gladys?  If it weren’t for the detours, she wouldn’t be who she is.”

 

“Not all those who wander are lost.”  —  J R R Tolkien

 

 

 

If Walls Could Talk

“They’re back!  Did you see that?  They’re unpacking!”

“Do you think they’ll be staying?  Oh! I hope so.  I’ve missed them.”

“How come they’re switching bedrooms?  How come Will gets the bigger room?”

“Haven’t you noticed?  He’s too tall for a twin bed, and there’s no way a queen would fit in his old room.”

“I suppose that makes sense.  He’s too big for the blue bathroom, too.  What’s she been feeding him?”

 

“Look at Jen!  She’s gotten so tall.  Where’d her long hair go?”

“Is she stirring paint?  I hope so.  I’m so tired of this brown.  Some new paint would cheer me up, cheer me up almost as much as seeing those familiar faces again.  They look happy.  Dontcha think?  Are they glad to be back?  Do you think this is a good thing?”

“There you go worrying again.  Just look at them!  Listen to them laughing!  Listen to the way they banter and giggle and tease each other.  They’re glad to be back.  I can feel it, can’t you?”

“I guess you’re right.  I feel the energy shifting in here.  It’s familiar.  I remember this feeling.  This is good.”

“Hey!  I like the colors Jen picked.  This will be fun and new and lighter.  Out with that brown.”

“I thought you liked the brown?”

“I did.  But now it’s time for a change.  Nothing wrong with a change.  You’ll get used to it.  You always do.”

“Where’s Nina?  Is that a new feline?”

“Didn’t you hear?  I heard Jesse say something about missing Nina in this place.  That one’s called Pansy.”

“Does Pansy ever leave Jen’s side?”

“Nope.  I think that’s the point.  I heard Will’s getting a canine.”

“Yay!  A dog!  That’s so good.”

 

“Look!  Will’s mowing the grass.  Can you hear the yard?  Even the yard is glad they’re back.  I’d swear the grass is smiling, even as he cuts it.  Oh!  That’s good.”

“He cuts the grass a lot faster than he used to.”

“No kidding.  He’s a man now.  He’s not a boy anymore.”

 

“Jen still does her art!”

“You mean painting the walls?”

“Not just the walls, silly, she still draws and paints on paper.  I can’t wait to see what she draws next.  I’m so glad they’re back.  Now we get to see what happens to these kids.”

“Do you think they’ll stay?”

“I hope so.  They had it real good here.  They’ll have it good here this time, too.”

“I heard Jesse say she’s never moving again.”

“Oh, no!  Will’s leaving.  Look at him!  He’s walking out of the garage.”

“He’s got a fishing pole!  Don’t worry.  He’s heading to the river.  He’ll be back.”

“Yeah!  He’ll be back in time for dinner.  Just watch!”

 

It turns out you can go home again.

 

Life as Art

She’s been a painter since she first dipped her fingertips into tempera.  Over the years, I’ve seen her work evolve.  Her early work was more realistic – good, strong, proportional and deliberate.  Now, as she’s matured, I see more of her soul in her work.  The colors are richer.  The light has depth.  I can see she’s more confident in her style.

I got to introduce her to Jen and Will.

We stumbled through the small talk about how crowded the art show was, how many years had she been doing this, and Gee! how about the weather.

Once the awkward was out of the way, Jen shared how she doesn’t like the pressure that comes with a commissioned piece.  I know she was relieved to hear that this artist felt the same way.  When working on a commission, it’s as if the Universe is standing by, ready to put the brakes on the flow.  You could be tuned into your playlist, in the zone, broad brushstrokes creating magic, and suddenly you remember that you have to please someone with this piece.   *Cue the sound of screeching brakes.*  Now the process isn’t full of ease.  You become overly critical and self conscious.  The harsh words line up to whittle away at your confidence.  “They’ll hate that color.  That’s not what an owl has ever looked like.  Who said you could paint?”

Side note:

When you are passionate about something – the kind of passion that happens when all you want to do is think/talk/breathe about that thing – find another who is passionate about the same.  Talk of that thing together.  Feel how the air is sweeter and your lungs fill all the way up.  See how when they mention something that you’ve experienced, you feel like you are now a member of a secret group.  Finally, you belong with others who speak a private language that not many others understand.

If your kid is passionate about something, and you are privileged to watch her engage with another who is passionate about the same thing, then you will get a glimpse of why this passion lights her soul.

 

We talked of style changes.  We talked about color and layering and subject matter and technique.  We talked about when it’s hard to create – commissioned pieces.  She told of the few times she gets inspired and starts a piece in the late afternoon, finishes the next morning, and has this crazy desire to look over her shoulder and ask, “Where did that come from?”

She laughed about how she might dislike something she’s created, only to have someone call her, months after they’ve seen it, to tell her that they can’t quit thinking about it, and ask if it is still for sale.  She could drive herself nuts trying to figure out why that happens, or she could just keep painting.

I asked how she would describe the evolution in her work.  She mentioned that when she looks at older pieces, she’ll either be horrified or amazed.  “Who painted that?  Or, wow…  that’s good!  Really good!”  She grinned as she said that her work has always reflected her different moods.  “You can tell when I’m in a happy place, or when I’m in a funk, based on the colors I’m using at the time, but I don’t really know what explains the evolution.”

We thanked her for taking the time to share with us.

 

The three of us talked of our favorite styles as we walked back to the car.  Will wants to learn to print larger photos.  Jen likes the miniature watercolors.

As I drove across the bridge, I started making comparisons between painting and writing, and that led to life.

I thought of the different chapters of my life as different artists.  There was the Jackson Pollock phase in college when I tried everything I could think of to see what would stick.

I enjoyed the single mom’s version of a Norman Rockwell when the kids and I were on our own and enjoying a simple rhythm and a set routine.

Then, of course, there was a brief period that I would categorize as The Scream.  Okay, maybe more than one period.

Several years remind me of a Russell Chatham – pleasantly hazy, comfortable to look at, evoking a certain mood, and not sharp enough in detail to make me want to look away.

If we are lucky, we evolve, like the artist’s work.  Many times, we look back and we’re shocked by some of the “work” we’ve done.  Other times, we may be pleasantly surprised.  Like the artist, we often don’t know what explains our evolution.

 

When you look back over the years, what comes to mind?  Can you think of a particular artist’s style that represents a group of years, or maybe a single year?  I’m betting we all have our own version of The Scream.

We are all works in progress.

It’s good to think of ourselves as works of art in progress.