There was this one situation, several years back. I was hanging out with some friends I considered my best friends. By that time, we’ve known each other for I think 7 years or so and we started talking about our significant others and I said I would accept any S/O they had the way that person was, because they were my best friends and so their life partners were part of the deal as far as I was concerned. A stunned silence followed, after which one of my friends said: “uhm… I’ve never expected you to feel this way. You say we’re your best friends, but I feel like I don’t know anything about you.” To my surprise, my other friends felt exactly the same way. Now this was absolutely shocking to me, because I felt they knew a lot about me. I felt like I was opening up plenty of time. And so, turning it over in my mind, I came to the conclusion that the problem was with them. I put in so much effort, so if they still didn’t know me, that must mean they didn’t care.
A year later, I was taking a training in leadership. It was quite an intense training: four whole days. At the end of the training, we had to provide each other with feedback. One thing we thought was good about the other person, and one thing we didn’t like. We were with a group of six: four guys, me and another girl. When it was the girl’s turn she shrugged and said: “You seem like you know your stuff, but I just don’t get the feeling I’m getting to know you.” Once again, I was stunned. I felt like I was really open during the training, so how was this possible? Was it just her? But no, my other classmates confirmed they felt the same way.
Now being a rational person, I don’t like being a victim. And since this pattern was clearly repeating itself, I figured the odds of the others being the problem were slim to none. Which meant I must be the problem. And so, the social anxiety I was very clearly experiencing in high school and was able to largely ignore afterwards, reared its head.
When I started reading more about ENTPs, I noticed I was not the only one with this problem. Just look at these quotes from the ENTP subreddit:
“The general consensus in MBTI community is that ENTPs are often cold despite their charming personalities.”
“I struggle with supporting him because he’s not all that open about his feelings.”
The thing is… ENTPs are not actually cold. We feel plenty. We’re just not very good at showing it.
A case for vulnerability
Last week, I’ve discovered this talk by Brene Brown, in which she explores the need to be vulnerable.
The points she makes are valid for anyone, but especially so for ENTPs: our nature makes us happiest when connecting with people, bouncing ideas off eachother. But if what Brené says is true and connection is only possible through vulnerability… well, that might just mean we’re screwed.
So here’s me being vulnerable: I wanted this to be a post with solutions on how to learn to be more vulnerable. Because I do see around me that there’s something there. That people who have managed these skills are happier and surrounded my all kinds of people. And I truly wish I could be more like them. But right now… I haven’t found the solutions yet. Like Brené Brown says:
You know how there are people who realize that vulnerability and tenderness are important, that they kind of surrender and walk into it? A. That’s not me. And B. I don’t even hang out with people like that. For me, it was a year-long street fight.
I feel it’s going to be a fight. And if I find any strategies that work, I’ll make sure to share them with you. But for now… I’d just like to share these thoughts and this Ted talk. That’s me, opening up. The best way I can.
I’m not sure if this is going to work out at all, and some socially anxious part of me goes like: “No, nobody will do this”, but I think I’ll try some friendly INFJs and INFPs (somehow I know a lot of those, god knows why) to comment on this thread with their thoughts on vulnerability. They rock at that stuff, maybe they can help us with this?