INFJ: Do You See Me?
As an INFJ, the greatest gift you can give me is your awareness. Do not hear me incorrectly – I do not just mean your time. Time is precious, and I value the gift of it above most others, but it is not the greatest treasure. Your true attention, your awareness of the little things about me, the nuances that most people will never pay attention to is richer than gold. Your effort to notice the things I do not say, the minute details that truly comprise me tell me that you care, that I am worth going reaching beyond, doing more, and that is the best gift of all.
I am a walking contradiction. All INFJs are, in one degree or another. I do not need to be the center of attention, yet I love to perform. I love solitude, yet I need human connection more than food or drink. I seem confident, and I am – yet I am utterly unsure of myself, and I need to feel that someone believes in me. I am constantly testing, constantly trying out minor changes, little things, to see if anyone notices. You can say it’s manipulative; you can say it’s unhealthy. I say it’s true. If you really cared, you would notice without me telling you. If you really knew me, you would see what I’m doing. If…
People bustle through their lives, so overwhelmed with their own concerns, their own worries, their own cell phone screens that they have little time to pay attention to the people around them. Certainly, the demands of responsibility - spouses that expect, children that demand, jobs that require – draw their attention. But in the end, we are all inevitably tied to ourselves. We don’t truly see the people around us. INFJs are no different, no matter if they’re called “HSP” or “Empath.” We are still stuck in our heads, selfish and limited. But we are also impossibly connected. When we interact with someone, no matter how casually, we pick up every nuance. Our awareness is engaged in a way beyond that of most others. We see. We notice. We connect, whether we want to or not.
And somehow, no matter how certainly we know it is unfair, we want someone to do the same for us. We want someone to notice the fact that our smile doesn’t touch our eyes and know that we’re tired. We want someone to notice that we haven’t eaten in 2 days and to care. We want someone to see the tension in the way we hold our shoulders and know we have a headache. We want someone to see the wonder in our face and take the responsibility we carry so that we can go forget the world.
It is rare that anyone does those things. An intrinsic part of being an INFJ is moving through a world of people who are all sure they know you. Sure they know what you want or think or like. Most of them see their own reflection in your mirroring skills. They see a better version of themselves, not you. That makes them like their perception of you, but means their confidence is misplaced. They don’t really know anything about you. We grow tired of that, yet we learn to accept it. We treasure the gift of time, and appreciate the affirmation of others’ image of who we are.
But that affirmation does not reach deep because it is not truly an acknowledgement of who we are. That takes more. That takes the effort, the attention. It takes the power of conversation without distraction. It takes the ability to read the subtle things, the things I will never tell you, and know what they mean. It takes the willingness to know me, and the intuition to read between the lines that have been redacted by my fear, shame, and self doubt. That care is the greatest gift of all, the treasure without price.
-by Wendy Neeld