Sometimes, I feel not just alone, but like I am the only one who thinks and feels a certain way. The only one who cannot fit into this chaotic world.
On some level, we all feel like that, don’t we? This has to be one of the most commonly expressed sentiments on websites that teach about personality types, personal development, or anything else along those lines. Everyone writes that they had always seen the world differently and that the information about their personality type taught them why — and ultimately made them realize that it was really okay. They weren’t broken or damaged because there were others who felt the same. The article is solid proof of that.
And you can read this on page after page of personality sites (like this one). This fact should teach us something else as well: We all feel like we’re different, too different to belong in this world. We feel isolated, like we’re watching the world through a film that no one else seems to experience. Like we are set apart in some way that can make us targets for ridicule or deliberate isolation. We are introverted in an extroverted world, we are emotionally sensitive, or we are so sensitive to light and sound that the idea of going clubbing is like taking an overnight trip to hell. We feel like no one understands, like no one even tries to, so we lurch through life trying and failing to fit in with other people who seem to have no trouble fitting the “normal” mold.
Meanwhile, those “normal” people will be writing the same thing on a different website. The truth is we are all different and we all struggle in some way. There might be some people out there who fit the stereotype of the popular, pretty, and confident cheerleader who never doubts herself, always fits in, and is content with herself and her life — but I’ve never met her. I have, however, met a number of cheerleaders, later in their lives, who describe their teen years as confusing and isolating. They wore a mask so they could fit in when their real self didn’t.
The True Beauty of Personality Tests
Perhaps that is the true beauty of personality tests, of categories such as “introversion,” “extroversion,” “intuitive,” and even “INTJ.” It gives us a way to find others who feel alone in similar ways to the way we feel alone. I know, as an INTJ personality type, that my way of seeing the world is quite different from the norm. I am a woman but I am highly rational, objective, and analytical. I am not nurturing, and emotional stuff doesn’t tend to ping my radar. I view emotions as private things rather than as a means to bond with others. This makes me seem strange, cold, and even masculine compared to other women.
But when I go on INTJ sites and read the messages written by other INTJ women, I hear my words in their voices. I hear my thoughts and fears and emotions in the struggles they face every day. I realize that I may be in the minority, but that I am not alone.
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We all feel alone sometimes, but that feeling is caused by different things and expressed differently. So when I hear others talking about these same feelings in a way that doesn’t match my own experience, caused by qualities I don’t possess, I can commiserate but not understand. But when I read about an INTJ woman who laments that others see her as more masculine than most of the men they know, and the resulting devastation to her personal life, I feel that flare of shared feeling and understanding. I recall a rumor that once went around my workplace that I was really a man who liked to dress as a woman. And suddenly I don’t feel so alone. Even if personal development had no other perks — even if there were no other rewards down the road of understanding and developing the self — that in itself would be enough for me to justify the whole field.
None of Us Are Alone in This
Learning about my personality type helped me find people who can understand and articulate the different parts of me that don’t fit any of the stereotypes or the stories I find. It gave me stories, real life stories, of women who faced the same problems and found a way through it into personal and peer group acceptance. Stories are important because they are the way we make sense of the world and enforce cultural and societal norms. But until I found personality typing, I had never encountered a story with a female character who was like me.
Now they are everywhere. And I am so, so grateful for that.
This is my message to everyone who feels alone in the uniquely lonely way of an introvert, a highly sensitive person, an INFJ, or an INTJ: Read the articles written by people of the same type and see yourself, an echo of your experiences in the words and emotions written by complete strangers.
And reach out.
Because none of us are alone in any of this.
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Read this: 5 Experiences Every INTJ Has Had