Square Peg #6: The Real Thing, Baby

Tuesday, June 09, 2015 14 Comments A+ a-


Someone wrote a poem about coffee. And put it on a mug. Saw it in my Facebook feed this morning and thought it sort of summed up my wee-hour perspective:
Photo credit: umm, somewhere on Pinterest?

I don't know about you, but it takes me a while to wake up. My brain just doesn't start out fully alert. Thoughts are random and fuzzy, and I need time to organize them. And I almost always have to shake off the lingering essence of dreams. They leave footprints in my consciousness that are hard to ignore. So a quiet morning, alone with my brain and coffee mug, is what I crave--especially if the weather is nice and I can sit outside on my deck, enjoying the simple beauty of nature.

Speaking of nature. When I wrote Square Peg: Set Apart, I mentioned that feeling different "has less to do with how I fit into society and more to do with my physical/spiritual connection to the earth, its energy, and its inhabitants." This is very, very true for me and is one of the reasons I prefer solitude in nature over spending time with people. There's something very authentic about the natural world. Trees, grass, flowers, dirt, animals and insects...they don't pretend to be anything other than what they are (except for mimicry inherent to their procreation/survival). They're real, and so is their energy. Being in their midst is both effortless and soothing.

And since today's Square Peg topic is about the INFJ's need for effortless, soothing authenticity, let's dig a little deeper and explore what that means in today's world.

INFJs have a deep-seated desire for all things genuine. I posted about this a few years back in The Real Deal while responding to a paragraph in one of A.J. Drenth's articles about INFJs. Whether it's food, clothing, furniture, environments, or people--we gravitate toward the natural and avoid fake stuff like the plague. Why are we like this? I can't say for sure. Maybe it's because genuine things offer a type of harmony that can't be found elsewhere. I crave harmony almost as much as I do authenticity, and they seem to walk hand-in-hand.



I'm sure that, among INFJs, there are different opinions on what's genuine and what's fake. But no matter how we define them, it's common for us to surround ourselves with things we perceive as authentic--and avoid what we feel isn't. This goes for physical objects, ideas, philosophies, and people. Especially people. Our Fe is pretty good at seeing through the outer shells of others and determining if someone is really who they portray themselves to be. Don't know about y'all, but once I determine someone's motives, I respond accordingly. Those who show their true selves get more of me. Those who don't get less...or nothing at all, if I can pull it off. There just ain't nothing like the real thing, baby. :)

But you know what? Pursuing authenticity can be awkward. Here are a few reasons why:

1. It's inconvenient.

I love real plants. Fake ones might look attractive, but they don't have the smell and feel of a real plant, in real dirt. Not to mention the awesome symbiotic relationship of oxygen and CO2. But it's more work to find just the right plant and just the right location in my house for adequate sunlight. And then you have to remember to water them (which I often forget to do) so they don't shrivel up and die. Another example? I prefer raw, genuine milk over pasteurized. Don't get me started on why, because we'll be here forever debating it. But the nearest source of raw milk is 45 minutes away and requires that I be part of a health food co-op, and that scenario is too complicated for me right now. So I settle for whatever my husband picks up at the store (usually whole and pasteurized).

2. It's expensive.

Authentic things tend to cost more. If I had it my way, every book I own would be bound in gold-embossed leather and displayed in a sturdy, hand-carved bookcase made of real wood (no pressed or veneer, thank you very much). My jewelry would boast diamonds instead of zirconias. There'd be a 1965 Stingray Corvette sitting in my garage, restored to all its former glory. And everything I ate would be made from scratch with organic ingredients. But even though I desire these things, I can't afford them. Yet. So I go without.

3. It's rare.

These days, nothing is what it seems to be. Businesses and charitable organizations are driven by religious or political agendas. Social media paints people in whatever light they choose. Pretty much everything I come across is made in China. Finding "real" things and people can be difficult, if not downright impossible. When I find one, though, you can bet I hang onto it for dear life.

Me hanging on for dear life. At least I think
it is. Not sure I'm this flexible.

There are lots of other reasons, I'm sure, but you get the picture. And this ongoing search for authenticity is only half of the battle. INFJs also strive to be authentic internally. We want to be genuine, true-to-ourselves kind of people. Because of this, we don't always blend well. Being our true selves means going our own way, which is usually the opposite of what society expects from us...often leaving us with the uncomfortable choice of conformity vs. isolation.

We'll cover conformity in the next post. But I think you can see how the authenticity issue sets us apart from the rest of the world. We have (in my opinion) very little control over this need, and thanks to the way society is structured, we can end up suffering for it.

Four stars to this one, folks. What do you think?

Image Credit: Shut Up Coffee, Hand in Hand, Flex-a-Frog

14 comments

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Anonymous
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June 10, 2015 at 12:49 AM delete

Thank you for sharing something I never knew was part of my INFJ nature!!!

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Anonymous
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June 10, 2015 at 8:48 AM delete

Hello

Thank you for these great articles! They make me contemplate about my way of relating to things. I was thinking that, especially when it comes to people, I can get so annoyed when someone puts up an artificial role play. I especially hate when girls change their voices and are affected and play stupid. I mean - is this how you want me to treat you? Because you will get what you ask for! And then I am the one acting all vengeful and hateful, and have regrets. And there are also times when I am so dumbstruck by the lies that someone is telling that I cannot react. Usually I do not rat people out, most times I enter their game and let them reveal their own lies. And, also, in my younger years I did not allow myself to tell any lie. Now I do it when it's called for, but mostly for the benefit of the entire picture or if it gets me to be A-L-O-N-E.

I will be waiting for your new articles.
Cheers!

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Christy Haupt
AUTHOR
June 10, 2015 at 3:39 PM delete

Love this blog! I would give your comments 5 stars. Well said on every point. I was nodding all the way through. Just discovered I am an INFJ and it explains it all. Blessedly, I am in a second career as a teacher which feeds all my INJF awesomeness. My colleagues and the work itself give me plenty of INFJ food and then it's home to solitude, relax channel on Pandora and watch my redwoods grow, feed the chickens, and play Frisbee with my border collie dog. Always homemade food with organic ingredients, early morning walks and sometimes yoga. So happy to have found this blog.

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Meridian
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June 10, 2015 at 4:59 PM delete

Totally agree with you about being annoyed with artificial role play. I see people engage in this all the time. I usually stand back and watch the game in silence, but there are times when I get sucked in and have to play along. Lol, this is why I spend so much time inside my head. :)

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Meridian
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June 10, 2015 at 5:11 PM delete

Aww, thank you so much! My heart is smiling, and I'm so glad you're enjoying the articles. If you've just discovered you're an INFJ, then you're probably having a lot of "aha, that explains a lot" moments as you learn about our personality type. I think we're pretty awesome, lol. Sounds like you've got a good handle on it, and I love that you're living with such a beautiful balance between connecting/inspiring and getting the solitude you need. Thanks again and keep in touch!

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June 11, 2015 at 5:22 PM delete

I would love to hear about conformity vs isolation. That's one I really struggle with. I agree with all of the above, my sister and I used to have this argument, quality vs quantity. She's rather have a bag of cheap candy as big as her head, where I'd be satitsfied with one, well made chocolate for the same price ;)

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Meridian
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June 12, 2015 at 12:41 PM delete

I'm with you...give me quality over quantity any day. Especially when it comes to chocolate. :)

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June 14, 2015 at 10:40 PM delete

Insightful as always. :-) I certainly strive for authenticity in myself and desire it from others, but, in recent years, I am seeking to temper both with grace. The balance between reality and ideals keeps me from sliding off deck in my own emotional tempests.

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Christy Haupt
AUTHOR
June 16, 2015 at 1:56 PM delete

If you haven't already read the two books "the four agreements" and the second " the fifth agreement", I highly recommend both for our INFJness :D
According to don Miguel Ruiz, everything we do is based on agreements we have made - agreements with ourselves, with other people, with God, with life. But the most important agreements are the ones we make with ourselves. In these agreements we tell ourselves who we are, how to behave, what is possible, what is impossible. One single agreement is not such a problem, but we have many agreements that come from fear, deplete our energy, and diminish our self-worth. In The Four Agreements, don Miguel reveals the source of self-limiting agreements that rob us of joy and create needless suffering. When we are ready to change these agreements, there are four deceptively simple, yet powerful agreements that we can adopt as guiding principles. Based on ancient Toltec wisdom, the Four Agreements offer a powerful code of conduct that can rapidly transform our lives to a new experience of freedom, true happiness, and love. The Four Agreements are: BE IMPECCABLE WITH YOUR WORD Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love. DON'T TAKE ANYTHING PERSONALLY Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won't be the victim of needless suffering. DON'T MAKE ASSUMPTIONS Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness, and drama. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life. ALWAYS DO YOUR BEST Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are tired as opposed to well-rested. Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse, and regret.
According to don Miguel Ruiz, everything we do is based on agreements we have made - agreements with ourselves, with other people, with God, with life. But the most important agreements are the ones we make with ourselves. In these agreements we tell ourselves who we are, how to behave, what is possible, what is impossible. One single agreement is not such a problem, but we have many agreements that come from fear, deplete our energy, and diminish our self-worth. In The Four Agreements, don Miguel reveals the source of self-limiting agreements that rob us of joy and create needless suffering. When we are ready to change these agreements, there are four deceptively simple, yet powerful agreements that we can adopt as guiding principles. Based on ancient Toltec wisdom, the Four Agreements offer a powerful code of conduct that can rapidly transform our lives to a new experience of freedom, true happiness, and love. The Four Agreements are: BE IMPECCABLE WITH YOUR WORD Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love. DON'T TAKE ANYTHING PERSONALLY Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won't be the victim of needless suffering. DON'T MAKE ASSUMPTIONS Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness, and drama. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life. ALWAYS DO YOUR BEST Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are tired as opposed to well-rested. Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse, and regret.

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June 18, 2015 at 7:12 PM delete

I definitely can identify with this, especially when it comes to relationships. I don't know how to function in those social settings where everyone is fake. It used to stress me out and make me angry. Lately, I've been less tolerant and have been subtly using my counselor skills to "push" people to go deeper, if that is even possible. Perhaps it is my age or that I am really embracing who I am as an INFJ, but I have been finding myself ignoring that fake stuff, looking right past it as if doesn't exist and going right for the authentic. I don't know, life is just starting to feel too short for me to accept fake interactions anymore, if that makes sense.

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Christy Haupt
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June 20, 2015 at 10:11 AM delete

Yes, Endless, I believe it is part of our INFJ aging process as I too have lost a good bit of my verbal filter so to speak. My salt is less hindered, but the younger "others" just find us abrasive to themselves. We make them uncomfortable and so we are repelled. I understand it now and can accept it knowing about INFJs. Take me or leave me, I'm good with that. We have a third eye and a third ear to see and hear what they are not able to. Explain a beautiful scene to a life-long deaf/blind person? How can they grasp it? I am so grateful to have this place to hang with my "homies" and let it all hang out!!! Let the 98% be too. This is why G_d created social media. Don't take ANYTHING personally. It's about them, not you. Let your words be impeccable always.

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Anonymous
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January 31, 2017 at 5:11 PM delete

Loved this. For my whole life, I have been a "what you see is what you get" kind of girl, which conflicts with my people pleasing side, but my authentic self usually wins out. It's too exhausting to be anything but real. I gravitate towards those people who are real, which usually means the goofy, "weird" ones who also can't find it in them to be anything but authentic. One of the reasons I fell in love with my husband was because of how genuine of a person he is (and his sense of humor and care for others were high on the list too :) )I found myself nodding along to all of your comments on real plants, real food, genuine wood furniture. I often wondered if it was because my mom was so into it, but it's interesting to find out that it is also a part of who I am. I love reading your posts! :)

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Meridian
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January 31, 2017 at 6:04 PM delete

Thank you! :) I'm right there with you on the "too exhausting to be anything but real" issue. The older I get, the truer that becomes. And it's funny you mention that about your husband...mine is very genuine as well, with a goofy sense of humor. He's so comfortable in his own skin, being himself and loving on others, and I was naturally drawn to that. He makes me a better ME. Maybe it's an INFJ thing to seek out those kinds of people!

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