The Mastermind & the Performer
How I get along with ESFPs as an INTJ
On the surface, nothing seems to be in common between these two types. None of our 4 letters are matching. Here’s me — an INTJ — someone who thinks through his path and future. I intensely focus on a vision and dedicate my life to achieve it. You’ll find me scheming inside my head or observing from afar. ESFPs on the contrary live in real-time facing life head-on and act so fast, it’s almost instinctive. And I gotta ask…
Like how?? Like why??
ESFPs… When it happened, did you think through it? Was it a good idea? How did you seem so sure? Did you consider the repercussions?
You’d smilingly answer back: Why not? Who the hell knows.
And you’d be right. I mean, who really knows what will happen? Why spend my time worrying about all the possibilities of what would happen if most of them won’t happen? Or if none of them will happen? I think back about my life and how it isn’t a straight path at all. It’s full of luck, mistakes, and surprises. I have no regrets and it’s been fun as hell. I stayed true to who I was and did what I wanted to do.
Maybe that’s it. As long as I’m not lying to myself and stick to what I believe in, I’ll be alright. I look back at you realizing that maybe you’re the one that has life figured out. And you have the stories and accomplishments to show. I’m humbled. Your motto is to catch what life throws at you and do your best. Why did I think so hard? I strive to become more like you. In return, I hope that you can see me as somebody to model too.
First, let’s throw away the stereotypes. You’re not (always) a party animal. You’re not this loose canon that’ll combust spontaneously. You aim for a straight path to accomplish anything you focus on. It can be completing a list of errands, goals, project tasks, milestones — You’re getting shit done. You’re not unfocused, in fact you can be hyper focused and industrious. You learn fast and can master anything. You understand that the world is chaotic and turbulent, and that you might as well dance with it. The world is literally your oyster.
What drives you is the sheer fantasy of what you could be, sometimes it’s to test yourself. Anything is a challenge to overcome, to level up, to be better than you were yesterday. That’s your Introverted Intuition-Introverted Feeling pushing you. Adversity doesn’t have to be playful, it can be grueling and tough. It’ll reveal viscerally right in front of you what you’re made of. ESFPs live for that mixed sensation of anxiety and excitement, these two feelings can sometimes be the same thing. What’s a hero’s journey without some conflicts right?
Very importantly, you’re not a selfish asshole. You won’t allow yourself to be. You’d personally own up to anything you do. You reflect a lot on the things you’ve done during the day: Did the decisions you’ve made aligned with your values? Could you have better expressed yourself? What is and always will be true is your authenticity. It needs to be conveyed straightforward without hindrance. You seek an environment that grants you full creative freedom and authority of expression. There are many dimensions to your character that is worth exploring and understanding.
You springboard to action off of your gut feelings. While springboarding is figurative, it’s quite the actuality that those gut feelings are grounded, firm, and deeply rooted. Gotta have a solid base to move around effectively. Everything around you are physical manifestations of your identity. It can be your job, your friends, your music and hobbies. And that’s a dilemma because systems, roles, and groups around you all fail to sum up who you actually are. You know that some four letter personality type doesn’t define you. As human beings, we’re much more than that.
It’s funny really, ESFPs are described as one-dimensional characters when in reality you are a very complete human being who’s continuously adding tangible dimensions to yourself. Like maybe you’re not just some guitar player, you’re not just whatever your job title is, or you’re not just a groupie of some subculture. You’re beyond labels in your own unique way. You’re you.
Each day is a chance to prove that. Using Extraverted Sensing-Extraverted Thinking leads you to acquire a wide array of skill sets and experiences. INTJs are known to be able to do anything they put their mind into. I’d like to think that ESFPs can do everything they put their mind into. You and I are big dreamers. And out of all types, you’re the most likely to realize your goals. It’s not a bucket list. It’s more like a faucet that’s continuously running, adding and checking things off the list.
There’s a lot we can relate here. These last paragraphs above could have totally described me! We are writers and main characters of our own stories, and we want our plot to be something we can be proud about (I love imagining some Hans Zimmer music playing in the background of mine). We have the same cognitive functions. It’s simply flipped on where our ego mainly resides, either in our internal NiFi mind or external SeTe reality — and I live more in my head. In other words, I am the introverted version of yourself.
So what does that mean? Think of it this way, all of us have an introverted and extraverted side. One which we interact with ourselves, the other with the world. I introspect, you explore. I imagine, you research. I simulate, you do. Naturally, we see how both sides compliment each other. Learning from you will help me become a more developed and well rounded person.
For me personally, I don’t see ourselves as a dichotomy like being two sides of the same coin. No, I believe we’re one and the same. The truth is most of us live somewhere in the middle of the ESFP/INTJ spectrum. Both the ESFP and INTJ are extreme models that most of us don’t perfectly fit, but they’re easy to understand to serve as good reference points. They’re made up archetypes.
Nothing stops a pure ESFP to get things done with their SeTe, but they need that NiFi sense of purpose to make what they do meaningful. Otherwise, they’ll just bounce off the walls without conscience. A pure INTJ envisions anything to fabricate purpose with their NiFi. But they need that SeTe entrepreneurial spirit to make it happen. Otherwise, they’re just living in their heads doing nothing. In that sense, NiFi is self developing that sense of purpose, SeTe is rolling up your sleeves taking matters into your own hands. To be in either extremes is toxic.
So we need to do both! To do anything, we gotta have the tenacity and the drive. And we first gotta have dreams to do anything. Most of us subconsciously remind ourselves to check with our opposite cognitive functions. That’s why I value being so no-nonsense and logical. It’s my ego overcompensating for what it really is a deeply emotional soul. You have that same energy when it comes to not betraying your values. For you know that everything you do reflects who you are as a person.
With SeTe being a concrete and empirical perception, there’s no where to hide. Everything is presented as stated. There’s no deeper meaning. Your friends, your possessions, your place in society, your mistakes, your failures all root back to you. Whatever you associate with, you’re accountable for them. Imagining that I’d be responsible for everything I touch used to give me a lot of anxiety. What if I fail? What if I’m not as good of a person I think I am? What if I cause more suffering? I just couldn’t bear it.
They say to think before you act. No matter how much I think, I gotta act sooner or later. But as soon as I feel like I’m ready to act, the fear of being exposed reels me back in my NiFi sanctum. It’s much easier to keep on dreaming, and “masterminding” in the comfort of my imagination where no one knows what I’m trying to do or getting hurt. Ideas are cheap and harmless when kept to myself. I can run hypotheticals all day long to come up with an invulnerable strategy.
At the start of this blog, I asked how you act so fast when, really, I’m the one who’s acting so slow. I overthink. I want to be invulnerable. I want to always be right. I want to be seen as reliable, as somebody people can count on. If I made a mistake, a miscalculation, a misjudgment, that whole idea of who I am would crumble. People have always seen me as a methodical, rational, and intelligent person. What if they see that was all a front? What if they think I’m stupid? What if they don’t accept the real me? What if I can’t accept that my idea of “me” isn’t who I really am?
And then I look at you. You keep asking questions. Many don’t regard you as stupid. In fact, you’re brilliant. When learning a new concept, you just naturally get it. You may even have a hard time to explain it, as it just seems information is self-evident to you. But even when you don’t know, people still gravitate towards you. In the face of hardship, they believe in you because belief is what they need. And there’s no one that believes in you more than yourself.
The way you’re so open. The way people have nothing else to see but the real you. How your will to show all of you and giving your everything with all that’s perfect and imperfect about you. There’s no mystery for who you are, yet words fail to fully tell. You’re the first to admit you’re only human. And that’s the greatest thing you can be, that anyone could be. That touches people, including me. That’s really what it means to write a story to be proud of.
That’s when I realized it’s not knowledge that matters, but trust. I need to trust myself more. Rely more on my instincts. Remind myself not to overthink. That it’s okay if I’m just not okay about something for no logical reason. I shouldn’t always have to rationalize my emotions when I feel bad. I have to understand I can’t realistically attain the highest moral ground, I’m human after all. Taking the high road isn’t to keep my emotions in assuming I’m the better person, but to act and become a better person.
You taught me to have faith in myself. To fully embrace being a student of life. To absorb everything it gives me, knowing it’ll make me a better person. In a weird way, it’s as if nature believes in me. No one’s judging besides me. And we can’t judge unless anything happens — so let’s make it happen. Plus it’s not like life takes me seriously, so I shouldn’t take myself seriously either. There’s a difference between living in my dreams and living the dream. Watching you living yours has helped believe in mine. Who cares how silly my goals are. If they speak to me, then why not? Who the hell knows.