When I was doing some research about my personality profile (INFJ), I came across an interesting article about The Tin Man. In the Wizard of Oz, the four main characters are said to represent four temperaments: Improviser, Stabilizer, Theorist and Catalyst. The INFJ falls under the fourth temperament, Catalyst, which is what the Tin Man represents.
Something not to be overlooked about the Tin Man is how he is made of impenetrable metal, not flesh. This is a powerful symbol, meant to draw your attention to something important about this character. When Catalysts get emotionally injured, they tend to erect psychological “barriers” to avoid suffering further damage. It’s a completely understandable reaction. The paradox is that the same barriers which protect them from getting wounded will also act as barriers that inadvertently preclude them from feeling loved.
That’s certainly been my experience, which is why I’m so loathe to let those barriers down, because no sooner than I do someone quickly uses the opportunity to stab a dagger in my face, and thus the walls quickly go back up again. As much as I want to experience love, I hate leaving myself vulnerable because I can’t think of any past examples where I DIDN’T get hurt as a result of letting my guard down. I’m very suspicious of people, and sometimes it’s difficult to tell who I can safely trust, though the safe course of action obviously would be to trust NO one.
As much as I’d love to confide in others and reveal my deepest thoughts, my tendency is to keep others at arm’s length and leave many details about my life shrouded in mystery. In a way my blog helps me find a middle ground to all that, where I can express my thoughts freely (for the most part) behind of veil of quasi-anonymity. It’s one of the weird things about being an INFJ: we’re far more expressive in writing than we are speaking, and many of us would eschew talking to people on the phone, but have no aversion to texting someone all day. I wish more people were like this, as I love to instant message and communicate by text, but I’m surprised (even in light of all the new ways we can communicate on the Internet) that so few people actually do this. It’s one of the reasons why I struggle with dating: so much of the communicating has to be done on the phone or in person, forcing me to interact in ways I’m not comfortable doing, especially when I’m with people I don’t know well. I hem and haw and stutter and just can’t seem to find the words I want to say, but with instant messaging (IM) and email I fire on all cylinders. Very few are willing to meet me halfway though, even on job interviews when I ask if we can communicate by IM/email/text as an accommodation I’m still forced to talk on the phone. To actually type out words seems to be too much to ask of certain people.
Still, as time goes on I hope to find kindred souls who appreciate the power of the written word, as well as the effort I make to talk to them freely and comfortably, just as I do now with the people I care about the most.