Down Time…

It is almost seven a.m. This blog should be written, edited, and posted already. I should be on to fiction writing. Obviously, I’m not. Why?

Partly, it is the fact that I had an early morning bacon run for PanKwake. How could we possibly run out of bacon?

But even more so, it is a result of taking yesterday off. I skived. I did not even cook for Alan. The dishes are in the sink. And I only wrote 334 words.

I spent the whole day reading trash romance. I suppose that is not surprising since it is also what I write.

The thing is that yesterday I let all the things which I strive so hard to do every day just go:

  • Write 2,740 every day
  • Clean my kitchen
  • Cook for Alan
  • Sharpen my mind (usually these days with The Great Courses…I highly recommend this one)
  • Do something for the wedding
  • Sew/quilt something.

I let it all go.

Yes, I just broke out into song. It’s a good thing you aren’t here to hear. When I do PanKwake says, “My ears, my ears, they burn.” But I always say that I sing ‘purty’ to which Alan replies, ‘purty bad.’

But that song does apply. Sometimes trying to be that ‘perfect girl’ is just too much. Sometimes we have to take a break. Retreat into the mountains. Build an ice fortress around ourselves. And freeze the rest of the world out.

The sad thing is that as much as we all need to do that, it is not socially acceptable.

One of my favorite intellectual toys is the Myers-Briggs personality test. My first ex-husband, the preacher, introduced me to the concept through the book Please Understand Me by Kiersey & Bates over thirty-five years ago. We even played a mental game where we would guess other people’s profiles.

Of course, like any of the social sciences, this is a SUBJECTIVE thing. That means it is not and never can be completely accurate. No matter what anyone tells you.

Take me for instance. When I first tested back in 1985, my result was INFP. Except when I read that profile, I hated everything about it. It seemed to focus only on my negatives. (More on that in a bit.) So, over the course of the next decade, I decided to change. Yes, to change my whole personality. And I did, sort of.

In 1997 or so, when I was in university, I retook the test in some training or the other. I smiled and patted myself on the back when my results came back ESTJ. I liked that personality profile better.

For another decade or more, it worked. I even built my career as a fundraiser on it. I stood in front of hundreds of people and spoke. I met mayors, celebrities, and Dukes & Duchesses. I planned and executed elaborate parties for hundreds of people. I was a ‘success’ by worldly standards.

But it came at a cost. In 2009, I was living in a foreign country, with a failing marriage, a sick child, and I had a miscarriage. That ESTJ mask that I had worn for over a decade shattered. I have never been able to collect the pieces and glue it back together. I don’t want to even try.

A few months or a year ago, I retook that online and was back to INFP. Now, whether it was how the description was worded or how I read it, I was much more content with it.

But like I said, these things are subjective. This morning as I was writing this blog, I retook it again. Same website. It has been too long since the previous one, so I cannot say it was the exact same questions. They probably rotate the questions a bit from a larger pool. This time though I came out an INFJ.

Have I changed? Again?

Not really. The thing is that with the wedding looming on the horizon, I have forced myself into a more structured routine. I am more focused on organization, setting, and hitting goals and objectives.

I always try to do that. It is like the gravity between the Earth and the moon. My organizational notebooks and goals quilts are my gravity that keeps me from spinning off into chaos.

But in times of stress, such as my job and this wedding, I just naturally cling tighter to those goals, objectives, and schedules. This year, 2020, in particular, has two major factors that are motivating me towards more structure. The wedding, of course, I have already mentioned. But this self-selected goal of #1Mwordsin2020 (one million words in 2020) is the other.

The thing is I had just managed to hit and exceed my daily average of 2,740. I was close to 2,800. A nice comfortable cushion. And then yesterday, I blew it. Honestly, I probably will blow it again today. I will be back to playing catch up.

So, again, I ask: WHY?

Back to what I was saying earlier, these traits, these characteristics are supposed to be natural and neutral. Neither good nor bad. But society does not see it that way.

Let’s break it down…

Extroverts are valued over introverts. You see this is the pressure that people place to introverts. You need to get out there more. Come on, it’s Friday, live a little, let’s go out. All of these imply that there is a right way to be, outgoing and extroverted. And that to deviate from that is not ‘healthy’ mentally. Staying home on the weekend is not good for you. It is for some of us.

Sensors versus Intuitives. This one may be a bit more challenging to comprehend. Google puts it this way:

The second letter of the MBTI test, Sensing (S) and Intuition (N) is how you process information. Someone who is strong in sensing lives in the now and enjoys facts. While being Intuitive means you try and find the deeper meaning in things.

That is fairly neutral until you investigate a bit more to discover that S is seen as ‘down-to-earth’ while N is considered ‘head-in-the-clouds.’ Not much doubt which one of those society places more value on?

Thinker and Feeler. This one, for me, has always reeked of misogyny. The message is clear and consistent. Thinking is better than feeling. We even teach our children from a very young age that they must control their feelings. I could go on and on about how unfair, biased, and chauvinistic this one is. And I might on my new blog The Feminist Homemaker. But I have dishes to do and a house to clean and I think most of you can think of examples all your own.

Judging or Perceiving. The Myers-Briggs Foundation defines this one as:

Do you prefer a more structured and decided lifestyle (Judging) or a more flexible and adaptable lifestyle (Perceiving)? This preference may also be thought of as your orientation to the outer world.

You have only to spend a few minutes on Medium scanning all the articles about goal setting, time management, and being a ‘success’ to figure out which of these two society favors.

So, is it any wonder that my twenty-year-old self was so horrified at being labeled an INFP?

Ironically, writer is one of the careers most compatible with this type.

Way back when, if I remember right, the Myers-Briggs test that I first took was simply agree or disagree with the statement. These days with the advent of the internet and greater computational powers, many of these tests are weighted or scaled. The one I took had about nine options from highly agree to highly disagree with neutral in the middle. These means that the results can also be scaled. For instance, today’s test results were:

Introverted – 78%, Intuitive – 76%, Feeling – 60%, Judging – 61%

I tend to agree. I am highly introverted. The 22% extrovert that comes into play there is two things: training and fear. I trained myself to be outgoing, especially in social situations such as parties. The primary motivation for that is fear. By taking the control, by being the one that puts myself out there first, approaching others, being loud, interesting, and the life of the party, I take control of the situation. I am in charge, and that always makes me feel better.

Likewise, there is no doubt that I am strongly Intuitive. I am always looking for the deeper meaning to life.

I am much closer to the centerline when it comes to the final two. With Thinker-Feeler, as with extrovert, I think a great deal of that is self-training and societal influence. I have quite literally learned to stop, analyze, and think about all my feelings. I do tend to go with my gut. But I always have a logical reason for doing so.

But Judging-Perceiving is the fulcrum of my personality, the one that plays the central role of keeping all others in balance. And that was the one which was off yesterday. I constantly walk a tightrope between chaos and order. I go to great lengths to create order, patterns, and schedules in my world. Yet like the universe itself, my life tends towards the chaos. The Second Law of Thermodynamics would predict days like yesterday.

For me, I even know what is the catalysts for that tendency towards chaos. People. When that Extrovert/Introvert balance is off…as it has been lately…it exhausts my energy, making it much harder for me to maintain the order in my universe that I crave.

The thing is…we ALL need days like yesterday. We need those days where we throw schedules, spreadsheets, and formulas out the window and do NOTHING. Well, maybe not nothing. We turn our brains lose with the mush of shifter romances. (Thank you, Harmony Raines.) We quit being who we are supposed to be and are just us for a moment in time.

Then you wake up. Write a super long blog, because hey, you’re behind on your word count now. Then you rush off to do laundry, clean the kitchen, and the most wonderful thing of…

You create order out of that chaos by organizing your brand new, old study and making Virginia Woolf happy that now you have A Room of One’s Own.

Hopefully, by Monday, I will have photos of my new study to share with you. I am excited because it is pulling together all the pieces of me into one place: my writer, quilter, photographer, reader, and the lifelong learner will all have their place in that room.

But right now I hear the dishes in the kitchen sink calling to me. And I know I will feel much better, more confident, and more in control when that Judger gets some back from the Perceiver. I’m okay with that. Funny aside, my personal job description as a feminist-homemaker is…

Making order out of chaos.

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