I Was An Unhealthy INFJ.
I spent the first year of my college career getting myself into some weird situations. I look back at all of the things that took place, the people I knew, and the way things played out and wonder “How the f*ck did I get myself into all of that?”
I pondered on this a lot.
After what I still consider to be the most unhealthy and intensely impactful year of my life, I spend the next three and half years trying to put myself back together and improve myself so I’d never have to live that way again.
Did I? Yeah sure. I guess.
For all intensive purposes I was like Leeann 2.0. An extremely different Leeann.
Physically, mentally, emotionally, and even socially.
I cut my hair, pierced my lip, lost some weight, and looked/acted like a whole new version of myself.
Then I started doing things to take care of my mental health. I seeked regular counseling, made good friends who listened to me (and friends I could listen to), and I even started to do a little bit of writing and recording to keep track of my progress. (This would be what I call the ‘Workout College’ Era of my life. If you look that up on Instagram you can see why I cringe at it and don’t share it often.)
Next I became obsessed with documenting everything and reflecting.
I thought about what happened that year so much it began to define me and everything I was doing.
Every thing I created became a reaction to that year of my life: my short stories, my unfinished novel, my first few songs, and any other little thing I was inspired to try.
And after a while, this new obsession made me feel happier.
I was deeply unhappy my first year of college, but everything settled down I was determined to enjoy myself and create more then I ever had before.
I started to spend spent more time focusing on myself than others (something I never did my freshman year). And this spiraled into a world of “Self Development”.
I went from the big bad time to the hyper good time.
But the big question I often ask myself is “Was I really happy during either of those times?”
My freshmen year I thought I was making myself happy by doing things to take care of other people all the time. I did have happy moments, but when I look back I realize that I definitely wasn’t happy.
I didn’t have any real direction or plan for my life. I didn’t do anything for me and I wasn’t even sure I know who I was.
Sophomore year and beyond I do think I was happy (though I didn’t do anything crazy impressive).
I was living for myself. I had passions I kept up with (it was mainly working out, but I also started a YouTube channel where I made guitar covers). I socialized with friends more. I made improvement a constant theme in my life and always looked for opportunities to grow and learn.
Most of all I always called myself out when I noticed I was slipping.
This is a very brief explanation by the way. It was not bad bad bad and then good good good. As I said I had good days my freshmen year, and you better believe I had some awful days and sad times during Sophomore year and beyond. But what I’m talking about is a general pattern, a majority that rules.
I lost weight because I learned a simple principle about diet and exercise: it’s not about what you do some of the time, it’s about what you do the majority of the time.
The biggest issue with people who go on a diet, or try working out, is they go all in and feel like they have no room to mess up. If they eat one bad thing they think it’s time to over-indulge and feel guilty after. If they aren’t doing perfect 100% of the time they feel like giving up because they think healthy living is an extreme.
It’s not. If you eat good most of the time and stay consistently more active then before, you will see results. You’ll realize it’s not scary or hard and you’ll fall in love with the new lifestyle. It’s a slow and steady process, but trust me, as someone who has lost weight a few times, this is the only way that is both enjoyable and long-lasting.
Why am I telling you this? Because a weight loss journey can be applied to anything in life. We don’t have to be extreme or perfect, we only have to do what’s best for us the majority of the time.
There is room for error.
And hear me when I say, there will be errors.
There will be days and times when you feel really bad, there will be times when you “slip up” or otherwise let yourself slide out of whatever good habit you’re trying to build. You need to accept that before you try and do anything.
So yeah, getting back to the story, emotionally I felt a lot better during my sophomore year.
This also ties back into my fourth big area of chance which was “social growth”.
The majority thing is key when it comes to how other people perceive you. I’m not telling you to care what other people think, don’t do that, but if you want to understand why people have opinions on you (and why it can be helpful for people to see you as you see yourself) just know that the majority rule applies here too.
If you are working your ass off to better yourself, then you probably know how it feels for someone to comment on your likeliness to fail.
Here it is. Something I don’t think I’ve ever talked about openly, but something I want you to hear if you’re like me. People need time to understand these changes as a part of you. They need time to develop new opinions on you. To trust that you have changed for good.
Trust me, I know it’s annoying. But the key for me was to focus on how I felt, to be true of myself.
But I also know that it’s really hard to hear people doubt you when you’re trying hard to believe in yourself, so I cut myself off from hearing that stuff.
If someone didn’t believe in me I had to distance myself from them. I didn’t want negativity towards my personal growth to be the thing that was holding me back from growing.
This might sound cheesy, but I swear to you that nothing is worse then working on yourself and being surrounded by people who think you’ll never be better.
BUT, to challenge that thought, some people probably don’t realize they are hurting you by saying these things. And I am in no way saying “cut out all the friends who doubt you”.
That might sound off after what I just said, but like I said life isn’t about extremes.
As an INFJ my intuition towards understanding others motives is high. It is easy for me to see people who just need time to understand my growth versus people who truly didn’t want me to grow.
The statement “You seem so different, wonder how long that will last” may be harsh no matter what, but it can be said with some very different intentions. People only understand you based on what they’ve seen from you, so understand that some people close to you might need time to get to know you again. You don’t have to keep them super close, but you probably shouldn’t ghost them either.
Life isn’t about extremes.
If you’re struggling with this like I did, make new friends. And by that, again, I don’t mean anything extreme.
Keep your friends, please, but if they aren’t ready to watch you grow then meet some new people who don’t know your past. Meet some people who will be open to this different version of you. Once your friends see you being who you want to be they’ll either change their view of you and start to interact with you as your “Leeann 2.0” or they’ll simply not interact with you because you no longer appeal to them.
And that’s okay. They aren’t bad people. Our culture needs to stop teaching us to run toward extremes.
As The Front Bottoms said this year “everyone blooms in their own time”, and everyone blooms in their own way. Maybe you and someone you know are both blossoming into beautiful and healthy people, awesome, but maybe their focus is now on building a family and yours is on building your hobby.
People can grow in different directions, it’s the neat and scary thing about growing up.
Wow I’m getting sidetracked, sorry.
You know being an INFJ with ADHD really makes talking to me an experience that you either really enjoy or really hate.
If you’re down for me getting way too deep way too often and falling on random tangents (because my mind has no idea how to stay focused for more then 10min) than hit me up I love meeting new people.
So yeah, the social change is usually the last when you’re on a “self-improvement” journey, but it is key to maintaining that lifestyle. If you get your shit together, but your surrounded by people who don’t want their shit together, you won’t be on that high long.
If you want to fly with the eagles, can’t kick it with no seagulls.
So why am I talking about all of this?
What was the f*cking point in reading this long ass post?
Once I graduated college, in the middle of this forsaken pandemic, I lost a lot of those wonderful things I started doing during the second half of college.
The gym was my rock, as dumb as that may sound, but losing that actually did nothing to me.
When this pandemic started I still had everything I needed to maintain my lifestyle.
I got some at-home workout equipment, I started taking my podcast more seriously (there’s a lot of gaps in this story sorry but let’s be honest it doesn’t need to be longer then it is), I lived with two good friends who I would workout with and play games with, and I still upheld my social status of being a newly put together human being.
The problem is the pandemic persisted, and I lost some of those things. I started getting tired of working out from home, and my workouts continued to get interrupted as virus scares entered my life and put me through periods of inactivity.
I changed living situations and, in the chaos, I lost touch with those two friends.
As time went on, having no friends around me physically took its tool on me and I started losing passion in the work I was doing. My podcast made me happy at times – but not nearly as much as it used to. Until it brought me almost no joy at all. Just stress that was compounded by life events.
Once I started losing those healthy habits and that “healthy lifestyle” I became an unhealthy INFJ again. That’s the thing about not taking full care of yourself, you fall back into unhealthy habits.
I’m in a relationship right now too (yes, there are many gaps here, but I’ll fill you in someday), and as I started slipping in my personal life I started exerting my unhealthy INFJ tendencies onto my relationship.
As I now watch James Frank videos on YouTube, and relate my personal experiences to his explanations, I realize that the thing I had halfway through college (and lost) wasn’t my friends, my hobbies, or anything tangible. It was my understanding of myself.
I lost myself in the chaos. I wasn’t reflecting or understanding myself. I was putting blame in the external world and I felt like I was losing control over my situation.
But in all truth, I wasn’t losing control of anything but myself.
So here am I am taking back that control.
Control over my own thoughts, tendencies, and actions.
I’m slowly trying to improve myself by understanding myself and the things I do.
I’m seeing flaws in myself and setting necessary changes in my life to make my strengths shine and my weaknesses wither.
I’m getting more sleep, staying productive, and trying out hobbies I was starting to ignore. I’m putting aside things that weren’t working for me, I’m talking and engaging with my friends more (from a distance), and most importantly I’m keeping constant watch over myself.
That’s why I’m starting this website and blog.
I was an unhealthy INFJ, I’m sure a lot of us are at times, but we don’t have to continue being that way.
All we need is to reflect a little, keep constant watch over ourselves, and always stay psyched. So…
Until Next Time,