Monday, March 19, 2007

Just when you think you’re the only one…

Posted in Foreign Service Life, Generalities at 11:03 pm by graceandpoise

. . . someone comes along and lets you know you’re not completely crazy to not be in love or even in like with this job. That you’re not way off-base or simply being difficult. That it’s not a simple matter of having a bad attitude like everyone has been telling you. I’ve talked about it before, both here and much more extensively in private conversations, but it’s always been only me. Now, a kindred colleague in Japan has admitted to being in a virtually identical situation. The major difference is that she writes about it more eloquently and adds another, more objective element: parsing out stress and discontent in this job as it relates to Myers-Briggs personality types (for those who are wondering, me: INFP; visa work at this post: ESTJ). It just makes so much sense. Sad sense, the kind of sense of things that are unfortunate yet unalterable, but a whole lot of sense nonetheless.


  1. Katie said,

    No, you’re definitely not alone. In MBTI terms, you’re being forced to operate outside of your preferences… And, also according to Myers-Briggs, that generally tends to make people become ‘the worst version of their four-letter opposite’. I don’t know about you, but I see flashes of this all the time in myself; in my case, becoming a babbling, picky, emotional, fragmented mess — the worst sort of ESFP. (to quote: “…when confronted with demands, especially those related to people’s needs and seemingly trivial project details, the INTJ can become edgy, scattered, and even quite depressed.” In your case, typical INFP stress reactions tend to be “tardiness, hypersensitivity, uncharacteristic mediocrity, and minimal effort.”) It’s enormously disappointing to see a job which is NOT difficult turn me into someone so horrible. That whole ‘corridor reputation’ thing has been pretty much shot. I just try and avoid everyone as best I can.

    The good news is that there are some ways you can alleviate the stress, mostly having to do with making time for things that suit your type. For an INFP, that would be:

    – writing, reflecting, and meditating (Introversion)
    – imagining and speculating (Intuition)
    – seeing the value, for yourself and for others, of what’s being done / learned (Feeling)
    – setting your own pace (Perceiving)

    To satisfy my INTJ yearnings, I spend a lot of time coming up with imaginary projects for the office (right now I’m ‘working’ on how I would go about organizing a quilt exhibit for the consulate to solve our windowless, bare wall igloo look… this will never actually happen, but that’s totally beside the point). This is, in fact, most of how I spend my lunch breaks. It’s very soothing. Maybe you could spend time imagining how one of your visa adjudications has changed someone’s life for the better..? Picturing the F-1 student enriched by his studies in the US, all because of something you did..?

    The other good news is that your consular tour _will_ end. Eventually.

    Hmm… sorry to write a book. I’m taking the opportunity to enjoy a little of my own MBTI preferences, I suppose.

    Congratulations, by the way, on your engagement!

    And feel free to email, if you need to talk. Needing desperately to talk, but being utterly unable to cope with human interaction, is sort of what my blog’s purpose has become.

    And as a final final note, supposedly Jesus would have been an INFP. Which I take to mean that even God would have hated visa work.

  2. dontrelle said,

    interesting to view this job in terms of mbti. our post is heavy on the “TJ” portions, so i guess that’s why i’m able to get by without heavy scarring (that, and i’ve got a rotation coming up). i’ve taken the test again, and surprisingly, this job has made me much more “E” than i used to be. i can handle much more daily verbal communication than i used to.

    the “N” side of me does a lot of reading. not a whole lot of “N” on this job.

  3. April Greer said,

    Oh my goodness! I’m an INFP, too! Doing weddings I think I have to be an EFTJ! Funny how different jobs require us to ramp up parts that we never knew existed!

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