I’m an ISTJ. If you were curious.
I fit pretty well into that category, too. I’m organized, dependable, traditional, law-abiding (unless I think the law is stupid), hardworking to the point that some people can take advantage of me, factual, out of tune with my emotions, unaffectionate, loyal, logical, effective. I’m pulling these words from Personality Page, and really, there is little doubt in my mind that I am not an ISTJ.
It’s good to know, but in retrospect, I wish I hadn’t put so much value in the Myers-Briggs scale.
All through high school, I’ve had no idea what I want to do after college—I started to look at ISTJ profiles because I thought careers suited to my personality would be perfect and easy.
Executive. Accountant. Lawyer. Doctor. Judge. Police Officer. System Analyst. Military.
Ick. I didn’t want to do those things. In fact, I was incredibly discouraged—I really liked writing, but there aren’t any ISTJ profiles that recommend writing-oriented jobs for ISTJs because we are not creative people. I mean, sure, I’d make it as a technical writer—but I haven’t been filling my writing folder with how-to manuals the last four years.
We readers are all about the feels, but in general, ISTJs are unoriginal, serious, and pretty distant from their emotions. For example, last week I was seriously confused about why I was crying—crying is a sign of sadness, but I couldn’t think what had made me sad. Turns out, it was the other way around. I got lotion in my eyes, and when I wiped away the moisture I’d get even more lotion in my eyes—any sadness I felt was an assumption I made based on the way my eyes were reacting.
So, no. My feelings are mysterious enough without trying to interpret other people’s, and from what I’ve observed people don’t scream and fawn over books written by people accused of being emotionless rocks (to their face, no less).
I’m a rule-follower, and if, as a rule, ISTJs are not writers, then I guess that means I’m not a writer, either. And so, for a long time, I didn’t think I ever could be one.
It bothered me. Like, a lot. I tried doing things I thought would suit me better than Writer, like Crime Scene Analyst, but the fact was I still liked writing. With the help of a lot of pep talks from good friends and some of my own initiative, I finally decided, “I’ll act like a writer and stop second-guessing myself—if it works, good, if it doesn’t, we’ll keep looking.”
I’ve kept writing. Some people have read my writing, and no one’s suggested I should stop writing. People occasionally laugh at my blog posts. And even if I have a harder time with emotions, I’m not completely clueless—I mean, I’ve had nearly two decades of practice.
In the end, writing may be a little harder for me in some ways. Characterization mystifies me. I can be incredibly ruthless on myself instead of my writing. And I worry that I may never accomplish humor the way I want to.
But I’ve learned that these fears are what editing is for. I’ve got it, and I can handle it. Probably.
Still, I also have to wonder—if I never learned that I was an ISTJ, would I still be so unsure that I could make it as a writer? Would I be better? I guess it’s something else I’ll never know.