So I’ve been quiet lately. Been doing some thinking which is always dangerous. It was triggered by something I started looking into which deals with INFx types. A lot of it seems to be new-agey, hocus pocus stuff but I’m also trying to keep an open mind and it is making me think which I suppose is a good thing.
I have no doubt that things that happen in our childhood can have lasting impact into our adult lives. And it is possible that certain types (like INFx) may have a harder time shaking off the past. Or perhaps even recognizing the past events that may be triggering things. There was also something about INFx types and our chameleon like nature to blend in with our surroundings. That resonated with me since I was convinced for the longest time that I was INTP even though as I’ve thought back, I’ve always had these times where decisions were not made based on logic and fact but on what felt right.
Now, this is not going to be a rant against my parents. But it is fair to say that they weren’t the best at offering a lot of emotional support. We weren’t the family where the kid’s artwork got posted on the refrigerator and there were no real special rewards for straight A’s. It just wasn’t their nature. There was something of a cycle there for my Mom since both her parents lost their mothers at an early age and didn’t really grow up with that influence.
Let me tell you a story. I can’t remember all the details but my brothers and I all got $10 from a relative at one point. This was clearly pre-teen but I can’t remember the exact year. I do know they blew theirs right away and I didn’t. It wasn’t because I cheap or a saver. But this was something special and I wanted to buy the “right” thing with it and I just never could find something that I wanted enough to spend the money on. After several months, my parents took me to the bank to open a savings account since I wasn’t spending the money and it might as well do something for me. I remember my little bank book and I’d go in every so often to check on the interest. It was silly but it made me feel kind of special. Here was something that made me different from my brothers and something that got me some attention from my parents.
This lead to many comments over the years about how I was the saver and the other two were going to blow through their money and how I was going to be the one they came to live with in retirement. This was meant to be funny and it was but I do wonder if that helped shape me in some way. That I was supposed to be the practical one. The responsible one. That was the part I played.
There was something else as well. My mother had some kind of intelligence test given to us at a very young age. I don’t know if this was just a normal practice or something she decided to do on her own. I obviously don’t remember any of it but I do remember her talking about it. She would always tell us that we all scored well but one of us was much “smarter”. She would never tell us which one. Not really sure why she felt the need to say this but she did. My brothers did quickly assume it was me because I was the one who did better in school. Math was certainly easier for me than it was for my brothers or my sister.
But, that also became the expectation. While my brothers would have troubles in certain subjects, it was just assumed I would be fine. They never put any pressure on me to get good grades or succeed in school but they never really celebrated my successes either. The thing about school is that there were always objective measures. You got grades, you got scores on tests. There were always things you could look to know how you were doing. If you got the highest score in the class, you knew. I never really had a need to doubt myself because there was always the objective evidence telling me I was doing well. But I think that also may have left me with the impression that I didn’t need the pats on the back.
I made some missteps along the way. But my life was geared in a certain direction. I was good at numbers so I had to find a career that would allow me to use them. And, things gravitated towards finding a job that would provide a certain amount of financial security. I do think there was an unconscious push in that direction to live up to the comments about being the one they would retire with. (This is conjecture on my part because it isn’t something we ever discussed but in retrospect I feel like it was a driver).
I’m not unhappy with my job. There are good days and bad days. But, I do know that working at a mega-corporation where you are just a headcount number to the home office in a far away place and where there are rules and regulations for everything isn’t really the best fit for me. While there has been a lot of uncertainty, it has put me in a reasonable place with respect to financial security and maybe with that need mostly met, I was able to focus on what was missing which was the creative part of the INFP which I hadn’t really tapped into.
I don’t really know where I’m going with all this. I think the seeds for the insecurity and doubt were planted a long time ago and have pretty deep roots by this point. They will say that negative attention is better than no attention which is sometimes why kids (and dogs) act up. I’ve had a boss tell me that no news is good news meaning that if you don’t hear anything, then you aren’t screwing up. I think I’ve gravitated towards that. As the middle child, I could focus on my school work, stay quiet and let my brothers catch hell. Now I have to put myself out there and do something uncomfortable and where I don’t have objective evidence to tell me I’m doing well and it is scary. I’ve told you that I’ve got a member on my team who I’m pushing to do some things that make her uncomfortable. I’m offering all the support I can but I sometimes laugh a little when I hear her say things like “I can do this” almost every other sentence. But it just now strikes me that the person you have to convince is yourself because you have to be the parent to the scared child inside that doesn’t want to move outside the comfort zone. Being the supportive parent calms that child and then maybe allows you to take in more of the feedback from others. When the child stays scared, it is too easy to shut out all the things people are saying and just focus on the fear. (Hmm, now it seems less like hocus pocus stuff to me)
So I grew up without a lot of positive feedback and was very self motivated because I was doing things where I could see and feel success. Now, I’m doing something very different. It is something that fits with who I really am even if it isn’t who I thought I was. It feels so right and it is actually something I can do well. I just have to believe in myself first. Maybe I need to start telling myself that I can do this because I know I can.