Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Why "Js" Struggle with Holidays

Now that the holidays are all behind us, I've been reflecting a bit on why holidays always seem taxing to me. I think I've put my finger on it, at least in part: it has to do with personality and temperament. Please allow me a slightly wonky, Andy Rooney-style rant…

According to the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, my temperament is "INTJ" — and it's the "J" that I have been focusing on. This last dichotomy, between "J" (judging) and "P" (perceiving), focuses on lifestyle: how we relate to the outside world, particularly in terms of order, structure, flexibility, and open-mindedness.

"P" types tend to be the easy-going, "go with the flow" folks; they prefer flexibility, and often don't conform well with structure or schedules. "Js" on the other hand are orderly and highly-structured, and frequently are frustrated when structure is too loose and/or schedules ill-maintained.

As a "J", then, I love my structure. I like my schedule and my routine. And herein is the rub: to a "J" like me, the holidays represent a disruption in all of my orderliness. My routines are interrupted by out of the ordinary events and tasks and other kinds of more flexible demands. Some examples…
  • Extra days off mean that my regular schedule is off. It usually takes me a week or two to feel "settled" back into my routine schedule.
  • During Christmas, the extra worship service on Christmas Eve is a wonderful treat — but it's also a variation that challenges the "J" mindset.
  • Even things like meals can throw things off; if we have a holiday feast, it is usually in the early afternoon — not at lunchtime, but at 2 or 3pm — and then I'm seldom hungry enough for a full supper at the usual time for the evening meal.

Interestingly, the other aspects of a temperament also affect this. The first dichotomy, between "I" (introversion) and "E" (extraversion), describes attitudes — which is to say, how we are affected by being around others or being alone. Introverts are energized by being alone, and drained by being with others; meanwhile, extraverts are drained by being alone and energized when with others.

So, introverted "Js" like me will find the highly-relational nature of holidays draining in a particular way, and that will affect how we respond to the changes in structure and order that attend (as I described above). On the other hand, extraverted "Js" will be energized, and thus might find great delight in creating new, ad-hoc structures, schedules, and plans for these holiday times.

My mother and sister, both fellow "Js" and both extraverts, are perfect examples of the latter description: they love holidays for the opportunity to create great plans with all of the family and friends they are with. (A disclaimer here: I'm not suggesting that I dislike the relational aspects of the holidays — I'm simply describing why I don't respond to them exactly the way that others might.)

Of course, as has been well-established, extraverts expect everyone to think like them — so that part is probably not going to change anytime soon! But at the next holiday, perhaps some of my tens of readers might consider the poor "J" (and especially the "E" and "J" combination) and suffer me — er, him — a little bit more gladly, now that you understand this particular quirk of our temperament!

1 comment:

  1. Well I already understand and so already suffer you glady!! :)