Years ago I took a personality test known as the Myers Briggs test which was developed as a psychological test to ascertain certain personality types. This is made up of four specific character traits and as various combinations create often unnervingly accurate descriptions of us. In my case, so much so that I was unwilling to publicise my result for quite a length of time after.
Having taken the test on a number of occasions since, I repeatedly am assessed as being firmly in the INFJ category. “The Counsellor”. It doesn’t mean much, but the brief description here does. In short, we’re a complex lot with some funny ideas about the world. And despite appearances, I’m very much the introvert.
We’ve been out for dinner the past two nights which has been very unusual for us. Not only that we’ve not been sat in our PJs, but that conversation has ruled the weekend so far. Despite having the ability to write war and peace, and a job that requires me to wax lyrical about my favourite subject for at least six hours of the day, I struggle with social conversation. Wine often plays the part of conversational lubricant, but then that has the effect of leaving me (as was the case today) nursing an almighty hangover.
So all this socialising has left me with people-overload. It’s certainly not that I dislike people. In fact the people we have seen this weekend are all fabulous people who are a total pleasure to spend time with. It’s more that I have an upper limit on conversation and noise, and my cup currently overfloweth. In the words of Greta Garbo, “I vant to be alone.”
I crave silence. I quite often spend hours with knitting and am consciously aware that my lips are closed and pressed together without the need to allow the world inside my head to come out. This same thing often happens when I’m blogging – the words flow when writing, but I don’t have to make a sound. My talent points were all spent internally, rather than the art of conversation. I can observe things, and can happily spend time with just me and my imagination. That inner monologue which kept me company as an only child remains with me and more recently has found an externalisation through a blog, is often enough noise for me. Anything external becomes overwhelming and can only be treated by retreating to somewhere quiet and letting the monologue free (by blogging), or travelling to somewhere fantastical through a good book. Books are some of the best therapy ever invented.
On Friday night my tattoo was mentioned ( I have Arabic script written up my left arm) and was correctly translated by a waiter. It translates literally to ‘good enough’. I explain it’s meaning is that it signifies that ‘your best will always be good enough’. I was asked by my brother in law if it was for my students? I responded with a no. It’s a personal tattoo – something permanent for me. He looked surprised and asked me if I ever had needed reminding that I was. I left it as a simple ‘yes’. The longer version of that is that the tattoo is a totem. It is a permanent reminder that I am good enough as a person and my best is perfectly acceptable. It reminds me to value my children’s best efforts so they never feel that their best is unnacceptable. It covers up physical scars from a time when I didn’t have the understanding of how to accept and enjoy who I am. I still feel slightly left of centre at every social occasion, but it’s no longer an issue, it just means I can sit inside my head and watch the party.
So, my dear LSH, I’m not ignoring you, I’m just waiting while my conversation points reload. I’m buffering.