I am an INFJ, and I know that I have an elephant in my room. I don’t like talking about it with others, of course, but more than that, I don’t like talking about it with myself. In fact, I make up stories to hide this elephant, every time it comes up in everyday situations. I hate making mistakes.
I am an idealistic perfectionist, which means that unless conditions are absolutely perfect, I do not make a single move in the direction of the things I want.
For example, I live in Chiang Mai (CM), Thailand. Everyone I know whizzes around on tiny motorbikes, free as a bird. I tried learning how to ride a motorbike as well, the first time I landed in CM three years ago.
We Try Something, But If It Doesn’t Work Out Perfectly On The First Try, We Quit
But guess what happened? The first time I went out on my bike, I didn’t do it perfectly. I made a couple of glaring mistakes. Not life-threatening mistakes, but mistakes nevertheless. Well, god forbid, an INFJ like me makes a mistake in anything. Of course, that’s impossible. It’s absolutely horrifying.
I decided then and there that I actually didn’t really need to ride a motorbike to get around CM. I could just use taxis, or Grab (Thai version of Uber), and we would be all fine and dandy.
Of course, I still see people whizzing about on motorbikes, foreign women just like me, and I lie to myself, saying things like, “Oh, I’m sure it’s not as fun as it looks,” or “Oh, I’m better off taking taxis everywhere, it’s less hassle, and it’s safer,” or other things like that.
The thing about us INFJs is that we are good at convincing ourselves that our path is the right path and the only path. I guess that’s a great thing when we are idealistic activists trying to make our mark on the planet.
But when we are lying to ourselves about our path, or convincing ourselves of something that is absolutely false, then it becomes a hindrance to our growth.
Anger Is A Good Sign Of Something You Should Do, But Aren’t
Now, I am angry at myself, whenever I see those foreign women whizzing about on motorbikes because that’s almost three years of personal growth and development that I swept under the rug because it was more convenient for me to lie to myself about it.
If I could have tucked away my perfectionist nature for a few days, practiced imperfectly for a few days or weeks, I would have been that almost-perfect motorbike rider that I was imagining in my head when I first rented that motorbike.
Perfectionism is impossible. It’s an ideal, but it is definitely not ideal. Because it makes us do foolish things.
Mostly related to quitting things before we even start them, or quitting them a day or hour into it, because we are not perfect right away. Because we are afraid of looking foolish in front of others.
I have made this mistake more times than I can count.
It makes me angry at myself, of course, when I think about it, without lying to myself. And then I make changes.
When You Are Trying Something New, Go Really Slow And Be Alright With Making Mistakes
Right now, I have rented a motorbike again, after lying to myself for 3 years, and I am going out every single day for 30 minutes, on the small roads, learning slowly. I have promised myself this time, even if it takes me 2 months or more to learn how to ride a motorbike I am going to do it. I’m doing it not to be perfect, but to grow.
INFJs care a lot about growth and personal development. But we tend to self-sabotage ourselves, by doing foolish things like lying to ourselves and hiding from our imperfect selves.
If you are an INFJ, I recommend you say these words to yourself daily, especially when you are starting a new anything, “I’m imperfect, and I am going to be imperfect at this, and that’s alright, because everyone starts like this.”
I say these words to myself every single time I pick up my motorbike keys, and helmet (do not ride without one, of course). It’s okay, I am imperfect at riding a motorbike, of course. Making mistakes is alright. I just started. You don’t pick up a set of golf clubs and start playing like Tiger Woods. You don’t pick up a tennis racket, and start playing like Serena Williams.
Even if you are an INFJ, you will have that learning phase as everyone else does. And that learning phase will be slow, unsteady, and will kick you in the butt several times.
I get up every morning, excited to go out on my motorbike. But some days, I am out there and I am whizzing around flawlessly. Other days, I feel like I have two left thumbs, and balance is definitely not my middle name (far from it).
Either way, I still get up the next day and try again.
Get up the next day and try again.
And repeat over and over again, until you are close to perfection in whatever field you are working in.
Making Mistakes Is Crucial in This Game Called Life
One final thing to add. The beautiful thing about practice is that it gets you close to that perfect being you are looking to be. The more you practice, the better you become. Now, you are never going to be absolutely perfect, no one is absolutely perfect, and you are not going to be the first perfect human on this planet. Even if you are an INFJ.
BUT, you can definitely move closer towards becoming a better writer, or a better singer, or a better motorbike rider.
When I first started doing my YouTube videos, I stumbled, stuttered, and fumbled my way through them. They were terrible. They are still up on my channel because I really love seeing my progress. I am not perfect yet. And I will never be. But I am a hundred times better than that mumbling bumbling fool that I was in the beginning.
If I had seen my terrible videos and decided in an INFJ fashion that I should quit, because I am not perfect from the get-go, then that would definitely be such a pity. Hundreds of videos later I can say that I have improved a lot, and yes, I still have a long, long way to go.
That’s what the fun part is, isn’t it? Wouldn’t it be boring if we were good at everything right out of the gate? The amount of fun I have had over the past 2 years doing these videos has been astounding. And I wouldn’t want to give it up for anything.
The same thing applies to my motorbike riding sessions. I am having so much fun right now learning, growing, and moving towards that better motorbike rider. But it only happened because I was able to put aside my perfectionist nature every single day and go out on the bike, like an absolute noob, who has no idea what she’s really doing.
I recommend the same for you, with any new skills that you are trying to bring into your life. You are not going to be perfect at it. Good, let’s start from there. Let’s start with our imperfect self, and go about improving that.