The Square Peg

Monday, March 23, 2015 13 Comments A+ a-


Hey! It's been a little too long since my last post, where I was ready to howl at the moon. I never did...and I'm sure my neighbors appreciate that. I did manage to catch a cold, though, and that's had me out of commission for a while. Don't know about you guys, but I'm horrible at being sick. You'd think a perfectionist would have it down by now, right? Oh, no.



Yeah, that's me when I'm sick. Seriously, it's not pretty.

And something else that's not pretty? Feeling odd and out of place. Alone, even in a crowd. Like you're watching life as a movie, understanding and seeing, but not really able to connect to it.

Sound familiar? A few days ago, an anonymous comment came through from an INFJ asking for help with this very issue. Since the problem is rooted in the core of our INFJ condition, I felt I should address it:


Hi all, I'm going through something discouraging and I'm looking for some feedback, support, encouragement, maybe suggestions... from fellow INFJ folks. I have lots and lots of people in my life, yet I feel very alone. I love to feel the warmth and camaraderie that comes from being part of a group, but this is so hard for me to achieve. Sometimes I know I'm consciously avoiding people or pushing them away, yet sometimes I feel like I'm really trying to "fit in" or connect, and it just feels so awkward. There is nothing particularly odd about me, yet I frequently feel "odd." I know this is a complex and multi-layered problem, but just curious to hear if others experience this and if you have found some solutions.

Feeling odd, or different, seems to be the biggest struggle for members of the INFJ tribe. In fact, it's the primary reason I started this blog. I feel this way all the time, and I wanted other INFJs to know they're not the only ones dealing with it.

We do feel alone in the world. Quirky, set apart. Awkward. In typical INFJ fashion, I want to go straight to the source to figure it out. Straight to the "why" and get an answer, so I can fix the problem. That's how we operate, and I'd love to apply it to this situation.

The thing is, I don't know why. I can only guess, research, and formulate theories. If there were truly a solid answer out there, I think an INFJ would have put his superpowers to work and found it by now. Because we're awesome like that.

But as the commenter put it, this is a 'complex and multi-layered problem' and definitely can't be tackled in one post. So I'm going to devote the next several posts to getting my thoughts out. Some of you might remember a similar post from a couple years ago: INFJ Kingdom: Suffering Alone. In that one, I touched on a few reasons why people might avoid us:


Our intuition and depth set us apart. We can alarm or repel other people simply because we appear--as Molly put it--radical, prophetic, or wise. Even narcissistic. People don't always appreciate our intense need for alone time, or having their souls examined and their secrets brought into the light. So we often keep things to ourselves, suffering alone in our internal INFJ kingdoms.

But there's so much more to cover than just our intuition and depth, and it's more than people avoiding our superpowers. If you've read Jennifer Soldner's book, A Look Inside A Rare Mind, you know that she brings up the oddness of feeling "outside" her physical world. Really, there are many reasons an INFJ might feel like a square peg in a round hole. This is an enormous part of our identity, folks. So let's hash it out, k?

And to the precious INFJ who left the comment...thank you for reaching out and bringing this up. We're going to be exploring this topic for a while, and I hope you'll see a lot of encouraging and supportive feedback as we go along.



Let's call this the Square Peg series. I'll be back soon, so stay tuned! :-)

Image Credit: Grumpy Cat Nurse, Square Peg

13 comments

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Anonymous
AUTHOR
March 24, 2015 at 7:52 AM delete

Hey, that's me! I'm the anonymous poster and I am so thrilled to see you are incorporating my issues into your blog! Wow! I almost feel famous ;) I have little time today, but I will circle back to your blog to read it through thoroughly as soon as I have a chance. Thank you so much!

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Wawoo
AUTHOR
March 24, 2015 at 12:05 PM delete

I need to chime in with my voice of support on this one ... I feel this way all the time! I don't let it get me down, but have learned to separate myself from it and look at as an observer from the outside...because, of course, I can't NOT think about it!! At work, we are a small bunch (teachers) and from time-to-time we have contrived social-ish gatherings. I do fine interacting and feel as part of the group, but as an event ends and plans are made to "extend the party" out to lunch or a celebratory drink. They pile by 3s and 4s into each others cars and go. And there I am...singularly alone! I know they like me, I do not doubt this. I'm just not part of those intimate little groups than people have with one another. I'm the square peg. Curious as to how or why, but kind of proud of my differences at the same time.

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Meridian
AUTHOR
March 24, 2015 at 12:18 PM delete

Hey, you! I'm glad you're out here and am more than happy to help. This will be a good series to dig into, and I hope it generates discussion. Even if we don't get to the root cause, we can encourage one another and share how we deal with it. Thanks again and keep in touch! :)

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Meridian
AUTHOR
March 24, 2015 at 12:33 PM delete

Wow, I just flashed back to high school. Lol. That was me as my friends piled into their cars for ballgames or social events. I've come to terms with it as an adult, but it can still feel awkward sometimes. You said it perfectly...I have to distance myself or I'll just obsess about why it's happening.

You're right that we should be proud of our differences (INFJs are natural non-conformists) and I want to expand on that as the series progresses. So glad you shared your viewpoint - thanks!

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Anonymous
AUTHOR
March 25, 2015 at 6:17 PM delete

Hi there, Anonymous me here again. You can call me Liz. I can very much relate with both of you, Wawoo and Meridian. I've been in similar situations many times. On a bad day, it makes me wonder what is wrong with me. On a good day, I know nothing is wrong with me, but still want to have that feeling of camaraderie and belonging, because I know that when I do have it, I enjoy it. Sigh. I just started reading "Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking." Have you read it? I am really, really enjoying it, and think it just may be life-changing. It is making me very aware of what an extroverted culture we live in. Having a greater understanding of that is helping my perspective very much. Even reading your posts and knowing I'm not alone in these feelings is also so helpful. Thank you for sharing. Have a great night / week, and I will keep tabs on this topic!

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Anonymous
AUTHOR
March 25, 2015 at 7:24 PM delete

This is an excellent post. As an INFJ, I understand all of these feelings, emotions and reactions. By the way, I hope that you are fully recovered from your cold.
Best wishes,
Lauren

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Meridian
AUTHOR
March 25, 2015 at 7:55 PM delete

So nice to meet you, Liz. I saw your comment on the Resources page...that book is on the top of my to-be-read list. I can't wait, especially since you say it's having such a positive impact on your life. When mine slows down a little, I'll be diving in.

You have a great evening and week, too!

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Anonymous
AUTHOR
April 3, 2015 at 2:51 AM delete

It's 3:49 am and I cant sleep due to the search for my meaning in life. I can definitely relate to this post and an currently feeling like a square peg. Wondering why I don't feel part of a group that I once felt more a part of. Had to be something I did. I'll analyze the situation over and over. Anyways I am glad I came across this blog and will definitely be following.

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Anonymous
AUTHOR
April 4, 2015 at 1:15 PM delete

Just wanted to toss out a suggestion, that may or may not work for you, Meridian... "Quiet" was also on my reading list for a while, but as I am a graduate student (MA English - graduating this spring!) and a busy Mom, I was just not getting to it. I requested the book on CDs from my local library and have been listening to it in the car. I do about 4-6 hours of driving each week by myself (can's listen to it with the fam in the car!) and have been listening to it while I drive. It makes me really look forward to my commutes! Anyhow, just throwing that out as an idea to help you fit it in. I am looking at life through a very different lense now. It is helping me better understand myself, the world around me, and my relationships with close family, friends, and casual acquaintances / groups that I am a part of. I am handing off the CDs to my husband as I finish with them. He is not at all an INFJ, but is a quiet softspoken man who works in a very competitive environment. He is finding it useful for navigating the environment at work. Anyhow, hope all is well and you are relishing the completion of your book! - Liz

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Anonymous
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April 21, 2015 at 2:52 PM delete

Hi

Have tested as Infj most often (and a few other types less often) and may start following. Just a little shoutout and jumping onboard !

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Anonymous
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April 21, 2015 at 2:59 PM delete

Totally relate. I think I was always stressed when it would come to that again, little groups forming, fast. It's interesting to read this here, it's something that always made me feel like "the odd one out" again, without being disliked, just not relating to these quick groupings. I would like to relate to it but somehow I function a bit differently.

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Anonymous
AUTHOR
April 21, 2015 at 3:07 PM delete

" It's 3:49 am and I cant sleep due to the search for my meaning in life. "

giggling. This could be me ! I should actually be getting some sleep but feel a "reading through various articles on various sites ... to come to conclusions on broad and deep aspects regarding specific subjects" coming on. exhausting

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