The Mastermind & the Teacher
How I get along with ENFJs as an INTJ
The people’s champion. It’s always a blast when I’m around you. You take it upon yourselves to ensure I’m enjoying my time. I’m more than happy of letting you take the reins of any situation when it comes to group activities—whether it’s a night out drinking bender or an all-night team project. I also love how basic you are. Like you guys own that #LiveLaughLove hashtag. Your Instagram is full of cheesy quotes and pictures with your dear BFFs. Your walls are plastered with Hallmarks cards and motivational posters.
But we both know there’s a lot more to you. Material possessions and Internet persona don’t wholly define you. They don’t do a good job showing how insightful, intelligent, and driven you are. With the ENFJs I know, we click fast and become close friends who can talk for hours about anything. We enjoy having intellectual conversations about this emotional mysterious rollercoaster that is life. You’re always the one who starts them. That’s where the real you thrives, the human behind the profile pic.
Much to the surprise of many, you don’t see value in being popular. You’re not chasing for hearts and likes. Social standards don’t mean much. Hell, you tend to shun at what society forces people to do. You care so intensely, that energy is reserved for the people close to you. Your focus has always been about building better lives for them. For anyone welcomed in your inner circle, there’s no doubt you got their back. You’ll listen and believe in them more than they believe in themselves.
Let’s stop with the smiles, candies, and balloons for a moment. With your Extraverted Feeling-Extraverted Sensing, you engage with the social enterprise around you. You are in other words a manager of human egos, not a people pleaser. I’ve heard you say ‘no’ way more often than ‘yes.’ Sometimes you may need to discipline and tell an asshole to fuck off. In fact, I think you wear that disapproving angry face better than that courtesy smiling one. You know what I mean—the one that makes people regret for disappointing you.
Being an emotions manager means you apply social lubrication and persuade egos to work together. You have the creativity and confidence to improve culture. But before you do that, it all first starts by becoming the living epitome of your beliefs. You are righteousness personified, a walking moral compass steamrolling your way to the Northstar. Being the shining example is the first step to connect with others. People gotta see your work paying off to start believing in your ideas. It’s a lot of pressure being a role model.
Despite the stereotypes of being fake (which is bullshit by the way), the best of you admit you have struggles. There are days when you’re defeated, when you relapse, when you just can’t. You’re human, that in itself is hard. You understand you can’t do it all alone. And you know how to find help by revealing your true selves, scarred and weathered, but stubbornly pushing because life’s worth believing in something. Sometimes a call to the ether via social media is all you need to channel in some positivity.
That’s the opposite of being shallow! Out of all the types, ENFJs most vehemently press everyone to be as honest and authentic as they can be. There’s nothing more interesting than having real talk with real people. To say it’s about building harmony is too reductive. It’s about doing the thankless work that really matters. You show how to achieve excellence, how to develop trust, how to take ownership. They’re the X-factors that can’t be shown by metrics and accolades. They only manifest if we’re first willing to look deep within ourselves and open up.
You don’t have to be this charismatic leader. Being an Fe dominant doesn’t make you a social butterfly. The more reserved ENFJs don’t have any interest in being the center of attention. Many of you claim to be introverts. Doing the right thing doesn’t mean you have to be sociable or likable. So if these are not ENFJ criteria, then what is? Let’s ask ourselves: Why are ENFJs the way they are? Why is there this need to set social harmony? What are they striving for? To answer these, allow me to present a butchered summary of Plato’s Allegory of the Cave.
The story starts with chained prisoners forced to stare at a wall inside the cave since birth. Their entire perceptions of reality are formed by the shadows on the wall. One day, a prisoner breaks free, turns around, and realizes the shadows were mere projections of their true forms casted by a fire. The freed prisoner manages to get outside of the cave, and is mesmerized discovering the world for what it really is. He then goes back into the cave to spread the truth about reality to the other prisoners. The story ends with the freed prisoner getting ridiculed. He was deemed delusional and dangerous.
Struggling out of the cave to be then blinded by the sunlight, the freed prisoner returned to his friends because what he learned outside was worth sharing. He experienced something that his friends couldn’t imagine. It was something truer than anything he knew. He couldn’t go back looking at life the old way. It was after his eyesights adjusted he realized how deprived the other prisoners were. “Life can be so much more meaningful, if only they could break their chains,” he must’ve thought.
That’s how I’d describe the ENFJ’s Introverted Thinking-Introverted Intuition. You believe in a world that is more beautiful, more free, more real. ENFJs live by their truths. Your principles are the recipes to make these truths real. With all the best intentions, the freed prisoner wanted to show how meaningful life can be. How tragic it is that he ended up receiving death threats. Whatever he said was too good to be true, and that scared others. That’s all the more reason for ENFJs honing their soft skills to better reach people.
Another feature of TiNi is the innate imperative to understand the world and others. Blanketed by the outward charm and warmth, ENFJs are intelligent supercomputers building algorithms personalized for the people around them. You make me feel so seen! You’re studying me. You psychically predict my emotions and lay out my current state of mind. You pick up my body language and my tone of voice, dig my feelings out, and put them up for us to see.
Personally, the way you do that never felt intrusive. I’ve always felt like I was a plain covered book on a shelf for anyone interested in reading me. Having Introverted Intuition-Introverted Feeling, I always look over at how I’m feeling on a philosophical, idealistic, and existential level. This is why we get along. I’m not like the other skeptical prisoners. If you say there’s a bigger truth out there worth seeing, I’m curious. Together, we’ll claw ourselves out from the cave, and enjoy this promised beautiful world.
This promised world… Honestly, I didn’t have an idea of what that actually was. Like what was it supposed to be exactly? All I knew was I had to get there. And that I’d be happy there. I imagined being free, living by my values without compromise, and doing whatever I please. I got rid of whatever didn’t give me joy, like changing jobs and cutting off toxic people. And in turn I spent more time with my loved ones, my passions, and doing things I believed in. Life was great. Just another day in paradise.
But something was off. Deep down, it didn’t seem like paradise. I attained financial security, worked at a dream job, had no health issues. I still didn’t feel free. You know how the bathroom is this sacred place where you can sing and dance like no one’s watching? It’s that one time you can truly be yourself. Well I couldn’t even crack a smile looking in the mirror. Hell to even think about attempting made my skin crawl. Trying to look “happy” was not me.
To do such a vulnerable thing was too humiliating. I was too good for that. My emotional intelligence was too “high” for that. How ironic that I couldn’t bring myself to do a basic smile. Nobody was judging besides my own reflection. I wimped away from the self-inflicted awkwardness and indignation. I hated that about me. All of this time searching for a way out to freedom, I’ve been imprisoned deep in the cave by my own ego. I was stuck, fixated on an idea of a certain “me” that was nothing but a mere shadow on a wall.
True to the allegory, someone had to help me break my chains. It was a struggle at first to externalize my emotions. I didn’t know how to properly express them. I didn’t know if they were the right things to experience. I had zero idea how I came off. I needed to take baby steps. That’s when I understood all of those corny basic bitch things, those lame #LiveLaughLove’s, those selfies and emojis were exactly the baby steps I needed to take. You were my example.
You took notice of my progress. And you were always there supporting me, partaking on the shenanigans, and reflecting together on the more serious things. One time our convo was getting deep, and in that moment I saw how you briskly paused yourself to hear what I had to say. That’s when it all started to click. Whatever I was mulling over was always worth sharing. It didn’t matter how incomplete my thoughts were, they could be insightful for anyone hearing them.
That gave me the motivation to develop my thoughts and feelings, and put them out for all to see. You can’t judge a book by the cover, but hell it can’t sell itself right? Gotta make it pretty with smiley faces and glitter. We’re beyond baby steps now. This experience we call existence is a scary mystery. Why not hear it from an NiFi user like me who’s constantly thinking about how he relates to the world. I’m at humanity’s service to help figure it out. I don’t claim to be a sage dropping wisdom. But you made me believe I’d make a good one.
Finally, I got out of my cave and saw reality for what it truly is. Authenticity doesn’t mean to do what feels good. It means to have the strength to keep my heart open whenever I feel it close. I learned that keeping things to myself didn’t make me free. I’d never know what I actually am by avoiding social interactions. Connecting with others is what allowed me to explore that. I discovered that I’m a pretty funny guy and a kind calming soul. The truth is life is unsolvable. But just like how we strive for excellence and not perfection, let’s do our best to fulfill it. At best we get wisdom, not answers.
When I share my feelings and have heart-to-hearts with people, I found my freedom. The world began to feel more meaningful, more blissful, more intimate. I started to get genuinely excited for sunrises. I feel connected with people of different cultures, and even of other historical eras. The more I learn about nature and the stars above, the more I’m thankful for the life I’m given. Everyday became a chance to let my emotions play and to present the best me—the real me.
Now I look to help others in becoming their best selves too. I’d love for them to experience how I feel about life. We’re not that different after all. I’ve watched you show how you care for people. Inspired by your example, I learned how to better visibly show love to those close to me, and how to better show my true self to the world. You’ve taught me how to love myself and make myself be seen. I hope after reading this blog that, at least to some degree, I gave you that same feeling of being loved and seen.
Thank you for showing me the way.