At 20, this INFP was taking her first educational break. After two years of college as a literature major, Tanya felt it was the right time to seriously test her abilities as a poet. Writing poetry had always been a passion for her, and she had received a great deal of encouragement from her instructors over the years. She knew that she had talent for writing, but she was not sure that it was her true calling in life.
During her freshman year Tanya had been selected as an intern in a large greeting card company, where she began writing poems for greeting cards. Though this type of poetry did not necessarily appeal to her, the company donated 15% of their profits to a charitable organization for children, and this did appeal to her. With the income she received from the internship, she decided to take a break from college and concentrate on writing her first book of poetry.
She loved the outdoors and decided to rent a small cabin in the mountains where she could enjoy the peace and quiet and focus on her work. Her friends worried that Tanya would feel isolated and lonely, and tried to convince her to stay in the city while she worked on her book. She insisted, however, that the busyness of the city (and demands from her friends) would only distract her. In addition, since she had always completed her internship projects from her home, she had the freedom to choose where she would live and work. Besides, she was not completely alone, since the cabin was located just five miles from a small town where she could get any supplies she needed and an occasional meal.
Though she had anticipated working each morning on her greeting card projects, and then each afternoon on her poetry, Tanya quickly discovered that this routine made her feel dull, and resulted in work that was less than inspired. Her intuition told her that she needed to respond to her work, rather than manage it. At times, she would be inspired to work for days on end on a particular poem, and at other times, she preferred to hike and read, and had long periods of relaxation. She soon was very comfortable with this pattern of working and relaxing in bursts and spurts.
However, Tanya’s approach to working did not always please others. Her supervisor at the greeting card company loved her work and rarely asked for changes. He felt that her poems concerning condolences were particularly meaningful and lovely, but he was never quite sure if she would complete her projects on time. Tanya’s work often showed up at the last possible moment and he found that he needed to remind her frequently of upcoming deadlines. Though he would try to explain to her details involved in publishing, she was never particularly interested, and seemed to think that it was unimportant. On the other hand, she was always kind and cooperative and concerned to fulfill her obligations. From time to time, her supervisor would suggest that they meet to plan and organize, and though she would eventually agree, she was reluctant and put these meetings off as long as possible.
After six months of living at the cabin and writing her poetry, Tanya was still unsure if this was what she was meant to do. Though she had made a great deal of progress on her book, she was also drawn to other interests. She had always loved charity work and often volunteered in soup kitchens back home. She even toyed with the idea of working in the Peace Corps for a year. She wondered if this wouldn’t really benefit her education as well as her poetry writing by giving her unique insights in the human experience. Perhaps after the Peace Corps, she would complete her degree. It certainly felt like the right thing to do.
Tanya, at 20, going on 21, certainly displays all of the strengths, weaknesses, and uncertainties of the strong INFP. She is resiliently able to live and work alone, highly creative, but unwilling to live by any rhythm other than her own internal timetable. In time, she will probably commit to a steadier course and a life with stronger commitments to others, but for the present, she seems to need to just explore the possibilities.
INFPs are often seen by others as private, shy, and even mysterious. They are intensely emotional about their lives and selective with whom they share their insights and feelings. Like the ENFJ, life is a journey, no map required. To plan and organize for the future is to close a door, to narrow your choices, and perhaps miss your finest hour. INFPs, like ENFPs, will likely change their interests many times during their lives. Growth and success come not from achieving specific goals, but rather from enriching their lives with relationships, new possibilities for people, and inspiring ideas.
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