People often don’t believe I’m an INTJ. There’s a reason for that!
I first took the MBTI as a senior in high school, in the career counseling office. They told me I was an INTJ and should be a scientist, gave me a little pamphlet of information, and sent me on my way. The pamphlet was pretty optimistic about my ability to build and implement new ideas by organizing and planning… but the main take away was go to college and become a scientist.
In college I read some books on the MBTI and got a good handle on the system. The internet also happened so I was able to read more about my type. While the descriptions pegged me accurately, I was quite appalled by them. It was the first time the less appealing truths of my personality had been put into words for me: aloof intellect, opinionated self-certainty, disdainful of the social pleasantries of the pedestrians. INTJs are often proud of these characteristics since they come as a result of a unique and complex manner of constantly adapting our view of the world. Our careful curation and objective analysis of large amounts of data returns a internally structured and consistent understanding that seems superior to less thoroughly obtained convictions.
But I cringed at the arrogance of this picture and decided to actively work on balancing my personality. This has become an ongoing life practice of working to remember to pause my judgement and seek instead to try to understand what others are experiencing. I’ve learned that there is value found in social etiquette and staying on good terms with people, and a very real influence of subjective factors in human life. I’ve even accepted the advantage in (twitch) attending to the details of my projects — mostly from having to redo all my science experiments in grad school repeatedly due to spacing out turning the long, tedious protocols! :S
This is called “individuation,” or maturation. We learn that, while our dominant function is awesome, our other functions can bring many rewards into our lives as well. In the process of living and gaining experience, we frequently naturally start to explore our other functions, growing and adapting as individuals (or having mid-life a crisis!). This is why it becomes more difficult to determine your Myers Briggs type as you get older. The 16 MB types are stereotypes of individuals limiting themselves to use of their dominant function, with the secondary function acting to ward off obstacles to doing so. They are most accurate when we are immature and certain that our approach to life is the only decent one.
However, the Jungian system accounts for the changes that take place throughout life as we explore and develop our other functions. It provides predictive power, giving you a heads up about how you are likely to change during new phases of your life. It can help explain why you see things differently as you get older, while still feeling like the same individual at the core.
While I am still very much an INTJ at core, when I don’t look like the MB stereotype it’s because I’ve worked hard (and continue to do so) to train myself in the use of more of my functions!