Every time I take a Jungian personality test, I come up INTJ.  The “I” (for introverted) often surprises people; they can’t imagine that the girl who wears chair-print dresses and drives an orange car is an introvert.  I do take a long time to warm up to new people, to the point where I’ve been told I seem stuck up and aloof.  Parties and weddings are Awkward City.  Thankfully I’m married now, so I almost always have someone to cling to, someone I know.  Otherwise, I’m liable to be the girl nestled into the couch nursing a Diet Coke, looking (and feeling) forlorn and miserable.  I may be an actor, but parties are not my scene. 

The “N” (iNtuitive) and “T” (Thinking) are no surprise at all, for I am a direct and logical, rational, reasoning person.  I watch commercials critically, shouting logical fallacies at the screen.  “Soft sell! Emotional appeal!” as some bank shows its softer side.   “Appeal to dubious authority!” as some sports figure I’ve never heard of stumbles his way through his lines, hawking TV or soup, or car insurance.  And, as I settle into watching Spongebob, “Bandwagon!  I need Sillybandz so I can be like my friends!”  I listen to conservative talk radio and do the same.  While I enjoy hearing the “logic” behind the various assertions that Michael Medved makes, what I enjoy even more is that superior feeling I get by shutting him down point-blank.  From the comfort of my car.  While talking back to the radio. 

As much pain as it causes me to be introverted at parties, the personality trait that seems to get me in the most trouble is my “J” (judging).  I don’t just assassinate Laura Ingraham’s pronouncements with my insights and rationale; I also judge her for it.  Harshly.  I am clearly right about things, and she (or someone else) is obviously wrong.  I cannot tolerate wrong.  I judge it, I criticize it, and I determine a person’s value from it.

Pronounce the word vapid “vay-pid” and you’re a fool.  Spell “chiseling” “chizoning”, and you have no right to be an English teacher.  Make a left turn from the wrong lane, and you’re an 80-year-old dementia patient endangering everyone else’s lives.  And don’t even get me started on grammatical and homonym errors.  If you spell grammar “grammer” you are dead to me.  If you don’t know what a homonym is, that just proves my point. 

No one is immune.  Coworkers I otherwise respect, my parents, public figures I support, innocent children.  Barack Obama (and I voted for him!) never uses gerunds correctly in his non-scripted speeches.  Since I heard my father (a first-class INTJ) observe this, every time I hear “Pronoun verb+ing” (I like you cleaning up your room) instead of the correct possessive form (I like your cleaning up your room), I cringe.  Good grammar is dead.  I am a dinosaur. 

The person I am harshest on is not my husband, though he might think so.  I can list his inability to calculate a gratuity, his tendency to throw away recyclables, or his skewed internal compass that once took him North to go to Virginia.  From Pennsylvania.  But the second I do this, I reflect back onto myself, and all my own inadequacies. 

I may have unreasonably high expectations of my husband and others, but I have even higher ones of myself.  Coming out of a store, I often can’t figure out which way we were walking.  I chide myself for not remembering which lane I need to be in to avoid the merge before construction.  I call myself stupid for forgetting to grab a check as I head out the door, for leaving library books to gather dust on my coffee table as fines mount, for neglecting to leave a light on for the dogs, for shirking my dog walking task and letting my husband do the lion’s share, all the while beating myself up if the puppy has an accident on my watch.  Which I of course ought to have prevented by taking her on a 5k walk.  I hate when I forget; I hate when I screw up. 

This week I’ve been working on forgiving myself for my own humanity.  As I sat in the car for 45 minutes, suffering through a seemingly interminable wall of traffic, for a normally 18-minute drive, I freaked out.  I had left a half-hour window for my drive, and I was going to be late, horribly, disgustingly late.  Others were going to think I didn’t care, that I didn’t know about traffic patterns, that I was disrespectful of their time.  The clock, with its endless advancements of the minute, mocked me.  The cars in front of me, mocked me.  The traffic report, tacit on my route, openly mocked me.  In the moments before I started banging my head on the steering wheel in frustration and impotency, I caught myself judging, “You are so stupid.” I countered (in my head, of course; we don’t need other drives thinking I talk to myself.), “No.  You couldn’t have known it would be this bad.  You have rarely driven this way at this time, and the one time you did in recent memory, the roads were clear.  You allowed extra time.  This is a rough break, and you’re not stupid.”  I’m not sure if I convinced myself completely, but I at least caught myself. 

As an INTJ, I’m supposed to be inclined to make long-range plans, to think about the Big Picture and the future.  And I’m supposed to pursue that sucker, whatever goal it is, till the bitter end. In this case, I need to harness all my I-ness to forgive myself a little humanity, that I might then be able to look out at my fellow humans, and let them go about their merry lives, making mistakes, doing things wrong, and, in general, just being human.

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