Brian Shaler

Occasionally Interesting

Gravity is for chumps

ENTP -> INTP

During the course of the last few years, my Myers-Briggs psychological profile changed. It has been interesting to watch the transformation, and only recently did I discover the change in my score.

If I had taken the test long enough ago, I would likely have scored INTP. Growing up, I was, by almost any measurement, an introvert. By the time I took the test for the first time, I was being much more social. However, my introvert side never went away.

When my score was in the ENTP range, two things were happening in my life. First, I had discovered there was a technology community in Phoenix and was socializing with people I had a lot in common with. Second, I was putting a lot of effort into getting my name out in the technology industry. Despite being an introvert, I have never had a problem socializing with people once a conversation has started, especially if it is about a topic of interest. However, when it comes to initiating conversations, my introverted side is much more apparent.

While I was putting myself out there, I stumbled upon something very interesting: intrigue. For me, intrigue was the key to being an extrovert. If I could only get people to be intrigued enough to want to strike up conversation with me, I would be set.

Unfortunately, what essentially led to the ENTP->INTP transition was that I stopped getting my name out. As a result, people stopped being intrigued. People no longer had a reason to initiate interactions with me. My introverted side was given room to shine, and I became more and more reclusive.

I almost entirely stopped couch-surfing, because despite having more couch options than ever, I stopped asking my friends if I could crash with them. I used to have no qualms about asking, and my friends were often more than willing to accommodate (and hang out). As a result of becoming more reclusive, I asked fewer and fewer friends (sometimes even none) if I could crash on their couch. What’s interesting about this is that I started deciding for my friends that they had better things to do than hang out with me, or that simply asking would be too much of an intrusion. I would still feel like I was intruding despite being explicitly told, “you’re always welcome to stay here,” and, “any time, just ask.” In fact, the opposite would occur: my friends would be offended that I didn’t ask.

In a way, my incessant travel helped foster the transition. At first, hopping around the States helped me kindle relationships with friends in various cities. When I started to branch out and travel to places where I didn’t know anyone, I effectively faded out of peoples’ lives. Out of sight, out of mind.

One of the catalysts of the transition was negative feedback, criticism, detractors, and assuming the worst.

The first three can be lumped into one, which is the result of doing anything with any visibility. If you’re putting yourself out there, you’ll inevitably step on toes, rub people the wrong way, or statistically stumble upon a vocal minority known as trolls. It’s easy to say not to take those people to heart. Ultimately, you have a choice of being silently admired by many and vocally hated by a few, or not existing at all. I stopped volunteering to organize community events, started to become an outsider instead of a participant when it came to the technology community, and I stopped sharing most aspects of my life (the line between sharing and promoting or bragging is a blurry one). Despite there being only a handful of them, the detractors won.

Assuming the worst is very subtle but equally endemic. If one person was unavailable to let me crash on their couch, I would assume the rest were, too. If I told a friend I would be in town and they didn’t insist we meet up, I would assume they didn’t want to. I would assume that because I didn’t have anything specific to talk about, ask, or say that my friends wouldn’t want to talk or meet up.

I like sharing my thoughts, whether it’s a blog post or a video, but I tend to assume nobody is interested and I must be vain. After all, broadcasting your thoughts is something an extrovert would do. Despite that, I occasionally force myself to open up and share, on the off chance that someone might enjoy it and in hopes that my mere existence won’t anger anyone.

One Response to “ENTP -> INTP”

  1. June 16th, 2012 at 9:52 pm

    Wendy Kincade says:

    Brian – One of the most fun times I have ever had online (I don’t get out much) was watching you and Peter Shankman connect via couch surfing during the big Twitter give-away several years ago. Even though I have never met either of you, I enjoyed following your conversation. And when you added streaming, it was even more awesome.

    I definitely think you should get back to couch surfing. If only so that others can live vicariously through your experiences.:)

    But seriously, I have also been losing a bit of the E in my ENTJ, and reading your blog entry has been really helpful. I’m sorry I haven’t been checking in with your blog lately. I will try to do better. I can so relate to your comment “you have a choice of being silently admired by many and vocally hated by a few, or not existing at all.” This is how I feel much of the time.

    Wendy Kincade
    BlueSkyMorning
    Philomath, Oregon

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