The Mastermind & the Inspector
How I get along with ISTJs as an INTJ
“Am I an INTJ or ISTJ?” Do you get tired of that? I do. I feel like it’s one of those things that’s just so much more confusing than it should be. But I don’t fault anybody who’s recently new at this MBTI thing. Instead I blame the type descriptions. They only show one side of us. Everything else they didn’t describe has made people assume what we’re not. Due to this lack of detail, I’m seen as this badass with superpowers. You are seen as this dumbass yes-sir bean counter. And that’s crock of shit.
From my experience, the ones most creative at flipping the middle finger at the authority have been ISTJs. It’s done with such conviction that can only be manifested from deep inside your being. When you stand up against what’s wrong with the world and society, you know you’re right. You know you’re in the right. Now that’s badass.
While you fully understand that we’re all cogs respecting order for society to run, your gift is the ability to find deep fulfilling individuality in that environment. So it’s not that you just know your place as the stereotypes suggest. It’s that you have found your place. For those who need to loudly assert how special they are, they should go find a hobby.
With Introverted Sensing and Introverted Feeling, the ISTJ is the type who’s reality is experienced internally detailing their self-identity. Metaphorically, you are sculpting an artwork that fully represents you within you. For any event past, you’re engraving a surface. For any judgement made, you’re carving a line. Each strike is calculated and deliberate. Each of them carries meaning and tells a story. And that artwork is yours and yours only to revel. In other words, ISTJs — you know who you are.
There are about 8 billion people on this earth. Each one is given different circumstances with everyone looking for meaning. For you, meaning manifests in the most direct logistical way, right under your nose. The most constant thing in reality is you. The only thing that you have full control of is you. Life itself is an invitation to build character regardless of what life actually is.
This makes you a much more receptive person than the ignorant close-minded donkey the type descriptions make you out to be. You take in whatever life gives you. Work on distilling it down to facts, and act on what makes most applicable sense. The whole ‘stubborn’ thing happens because others presented their views without showing the same type of work you did. You can more than happily accept new ideas if they were concretely presented.
Coupled with Extraverted Intuition and Extraverted Thinking, you embody the ideas you value. It’s an activity of agency to become a product of your environment. Your passion is more than just the things you collect or the data you memorized. It is about respecting and celebrating any subject’s values, culture, and philosophy wholeheartedly. This can make you the proudest New Yorker for example:
Waiting for the 1 train on Canal to Brooklyn. Your face washed by the muggy summer underground air, your eardrums pierced by the train screeching around the corner, your nostrils dancing around what seems like the smell of inside a piggy bank full of dirty coins. It’s actually from that piss mark by the bench next to you that has always been there, so at least you take solace that it isn’t fresh. But you are slightly disgusted at how it’s shamefully therapeutic to you. You’re not that bothered by it, and no one else seems to be either.
Train arrives, you line up to the side of the doors waiting for people to get off. Like choreography, you hop on the train as soon as the last one hops off. Doors close, you squirm through the crowd looking for seats with an agreed code to reserve the ones for the elderly and pregnant women. Off the train goes through the myriad of brakes and turns which you and everyone else know exactly when to brace yourselves. Next to you is an old man in a suit dozing off. In front standing is a high school girl with her backpack scrolling through her phone. At the kitty corner is a dude wearing a tank showing off his muscles pretending to be reading a book. Far away you can hear a 90’s hip hop beat and a guy dancing like there’s no one around.
Whatever the case may be for each person on the train, they have a story and a reason to be on this train with you. The chance to be acquainted with them is unlikely. Yet you’re all connected on this train, all moving in concerted chaos, all carrying a unique identity that is carved inside each of you by the superstructure that is ‘New York City’. An idea beyond the 300 square-mile area of concrete and steel beams. Being a New Yorker is understood, and it can be expressed in so many ways.
This same approach goes for any subject. You could be a dedicated Jazz player. You not only learn the skills but also learn about its history and its cultural influence. You could be a big basketball fan. You know all the rules, the legacies, and the sneaker scene. Or you could be a proud New Yorker who likes Jazz and Basketball with a healthy work-life balance! It’s not uncommon for ISTJs to compartmentalize many of their sides. It can even surprise their peers to find out how multi-faceted they can be.
You see, I kind of took a scenic route while searching for meaning. My Introverted Intuition and Introverted Feeling (NiFi) builds a global scale worldview omitting a lot of details for breadth. From my bird’s eye view, New York City is just another city like Paris, London, or Tokyo. All are densely populated areas filled with people who pay too much to live there. All have a multicultural variety of high end fashion and cuisine. All with a Starbucks and McDonald’s. It’s all the same.
How about Jazz? Basketball? Nah. These are just things we humans do to pass time entertaining ourselves. Humanity has much bigger problems to solve, why are we wasting time fucking around with making sounds and bouncing balls? It’s all the same here too.
That was the younger me talking. And boy, was I wrong.
I zoomed my view too far out and felt like I figured it all out. I had a God complex, and was fixated so much on the big picture that nothing else mattered. I didn’t hold any kind of sentimental value on things. All possessions were replaceable. Pizza is pizza. I didn’t care if it was from your grandmother’s recipe. I didn’t care about how she lifted the hearts of her community with her cooking during the rough times of years past. I didn’t care that what you’re doing is carrying on her legacy, and for it to continue being an influential part in people’s lives. I just looked at the pizza for what it literally was, not what it represented.
For someone who vehemently balked at materialism, I ironically looked at the world too literally. I believed we all lived in our own NiFi reality, I was the only real person in mine. All we had in common is this earth and its resources we had to fight for according to my Extraverted Sensing and Extraverted Thinking. I traveled to different places, tried different hobbies, worked in different companies because I’d get bored. I admit I projected that fear of getting bored onto you.
My turning point was when an ISTJ friend consulted me about how she was supposed to emotionally deal with something. While it was a simple casual text, I started seeing how we were alike. INTJs and ISTJs are very much alike. We can appear hard and robotic on the outside, but we’re actually deep emotional beings. It’s a personal and private experience. Emotions may ooze out, but very rarely would we ever outsource the management of them.
Since then, more and more intensely I felt her love for self-help books, her job, the foodie scene, and New York City. One day she looked happily at peace gazing at the downtown skyline while we were carpooling on Brooklyn Bridge — that day I learned empathy. I understood she was in a place she could call ‘home’, an idea that can only be felt like everything I described earlier. And there was nothing she would change about it.
Looking at the skyline I softened my gaze and invited in the vibe. There’s nothing woo-woo about it, it’s an emergence of human cause and effect. A sum of all of us. We were all in it and contributed to it. For a little bit, I started appreciating being part of something bigger than myself. I started to believe that the little things really do count. That there’s a reason for everything and to really trust the process. ‘Trust’ takes a long time to build. There’s no other type like the ISTJ that would put so much of their heart and time into building it.
My identity is abstract. I wanted to be original, I wanted to do it my way. SeTe is how I materialize who I believe I am. The big irony is that I had to copy others to learn how. Meanwhile NeTe is what makes you a New Yorker, not just anyone who lives in NYC. It’s what makes you a professional, rather than just sitting in a fancy chair wearing a fancy suit. Earning your stripes means something. Having character is what people rely on. And being a good person overall is what really matters. We show who we are through everything we do. What shines is the consistency of our character.
NeTe is the way, the right way. I did everything out there to prove myself, when the proof has been within me. You are the physical manifestation of honor, wisdom, and integrity. Quite figuratively like how diamonds are made. These qualities are hard to find. So I ended up copying you. I strive to help build a better world by first taking a hard look at myself. I strive to live the right way with every fiber of my being, letting my actions speak for themselves.