Recently I’ve been really interested in learning about my personality. I find it enlightening to figure out who I am and WHY I am the way that I am. I went a very long time throughout my life struggling to figure out who I was (like most people), so as I’ve been piecing together my true personality it has helped me to feel confident and freed from the bonds I might have placed on myself in the past. Somewhere along the lines I had painted a picture of who I thought I was, but really I wasn’t anything like that person and as a result I was left feeling insecure. I have found it completely beautiful that as I’ve discovered who I truly am, strengths and flaws combined, I have become more confident and alive than I have ever been before in my entire life. I think that clarity really brings with it a lot of joy, even if that clarity means wading through some deep and dark water.
This journey started while I was serving a mission for the LDS church in Portland, Oregon (the best place in the entire world, p.s.). When I left Utah to serve in Oregon for 18 months I thought I understood who I was and what I wanted in life, but once I got to Oregon I realized that I had NO IDEA who I really was. I remember I had only been out for a month and my trainer, Sister Jessica Pauga (the best human on earth), had me talking to strangers about my beliefs. There was one particular day where a woman was being a jerk to us and I just stood there with nothing to say to her. I had no idea how to stand up to her and really started questing who I really was. We went home after the encounter and I started crying because I realized that I didn’t have enough self respect and love for myself. Sister Pauga asked me a really simple question, which was, “Sister Benson (my maiden name), do you love yourself?” I just burst out in tears because I really didn’t love myself at that time. I thought about all of the mistakes I had made in my life, I thought about who I thought I was supposed to be and the imaginary life I was supposed to be living up to and my self confidence was shot to the place where the sun don’t shine. I was a mess, I tell ya. I wouldn’t have gotten anywhere with Sister P in my life. You know what she did after that? We started working on my self confidence. She would ask me questions about myself, my hobbies, likes, interests, opinions (something I had always struggled to figure out) beliefs, and lastly she would have me defend myself. It was a process, but those weeks that I was with Sister P led me to realize that I wanted to truly understand myself the way that Sister P understood herself.
For the next 18 months I basically had what I like to call the “Weeding Out” phase of my life where I would list all of my opinions I had and trace them back to the source. What I came to understand is that a lot of my likes, dislikes, opinions, hobbies, etc came from other people. I didn’t truly know what SARAH liked. What kind of music does SARAH like, not what kind of music SHOULD SARAH like. I don’t know if this is making sense, but I basically realized that my life was a composition of a bunch of “should be’s” based on other people’s manipulations and opinions and influences. I wanted to just be the raw Sarah, the raw me. I didn’t want to be a jigsaw puzzle of other people, I wanted to be unique Sarah Benson (now Rasmussen, but obviously didn’t know that would be my fate at the time).
Fast forward to meeting Levi Rasmussen, only the best human being to be made and placed on this beautiful earth. While dating this perfect creature he helped me to understand who I truly was AND accept who I truly was. He loved me perfectly and I think that’s the exact environment I needed to really blossom and grow in my skin. What I came to understand is that I am what is called an INFJ personality type, or in other words, the “Advocate.” I took the 16 personalities test (link here) which I have found to be the most accurate test I have ever taken. I have never felt so understood in my entire life! If you haven’t taken it, you MUST. However, just make sure you are 100% honest during the test to get the truest result. INJF stands for the following:
They also percentage out those four categories, for example I am 87% introverted but still have 13% extroverted tendencies.
5 THINGS ABOUT MY LIFE AS AN INFJ
- Major Idealist: Although there are some really great things about my personality, it also comes with some huge mental stumbling blocks. One of the biggest being that I am a major idealist. Now, idealism can be a good thing in the ways that I am constantly pushing myself for improvement, making goals and filled with hope for a better life. However the downside is that I have expectations that can be too high to fill, goals that are impossible to reach, and left feeling that I’m living an less than fulfilled life. Fall isn’t perfect unless I smell the fall leaves, take a drive in Provo Canyon, return to the place Levi proposed. Christmas isn’t perfect without my family, sleepover in the living room with my siblings, Christmas Eve pajamas, It’s A Wonderful Life on repeat. My mind is constantly looking around and seeing where I need to improve and what needs to be different in order for me to feel fulfilled and happy. But that’s really not the way to live life. I won’t have a Fall like that, I’m in AZ. I won’t have a winter like that, I’m in AZ. I won’t be with my family every Christmas, I’m married. I won’t get to travel whenever I want to, I’m a mother. I can’t take off to Portland and visit my mission, I’m on a budget. I don’t exercise everyday, I’m tired. My baby won’t sleep through the night some nights, she’s human. You see how my mind works? Ideally I should be anywhere but where I REALLY am right now, presently. It’s a major battle that I’m fighting every single day-to overcome my ideals and be satisfied with reality.
- Always Need to Have a Cause: When it comes to my pursuits in life, the groups I’m affiliated with, the career or non career life I choose to pursue. Literally everything in my life needs to have some sort of underlying cause. I really struggle with the mundane. I struggle working jobs where it is routine and pointless. I struggle being involved in things that don’t have a cause that I believe in. When I truly believe in something, I am extremely passionate about it and will fight for that cause to the end. I’ve had many many jobs since I was 15 years old and most of them I found very dissatisfying simply because they lacked cause. The way I see it, earning money isn’t cause enough for me to work. I just can’t do it. I get so burned out and I feel like my job is slowing killing me. I don’t care if I was earning top bucks, if it doesn’t have a cause-I’m out. My personality type has an extremely hard time picking a major in college due to this fact. And what do you know! I still am struggling with that aspect in my life. I am constantly questioning the cause behind college. I HATE generals. I don’t see the point of taking classes that I don’t care about. The good news is that when I do find my niche, that little sweet spot in life, I will flourish in that niche. I will be satisfied and completely happy. I want to be able to use my creativity and insight to help other people. I want every single aspect of my life, career included, to be beautiful.
- Emotionally Hypersensitive: So when I was a little girl I used to get these “bad feelings.” I would imagine that because I had this “bad feeling” we were going to have a fire that night, or a kidnapper was going to come into my room and take me away. Of course none of those things happened, but I would let my imagination go wild. This one particular night, September 10, 2001 I couldn’t go to bed because I had a horrible feeing. I remember running into my parents bedroom (a common event), tears streaming down my face, my limbs trembling, and I told my parents I had one of those “bad feelings.” I told them that something REALLY bad was going to happen. They let me sleep in their bed with them (another common event) and assured me everything was fine, as always. However the next morning when the towers fell I knew why I felt that way and my parents were shocked. Ever since that day whenever I get a “bad feeling” I always kind of freak out.Now, I’m not saying I’m psychic or anything like that, it honestly could have just been a coincidence. I haven’t been able to predict anything like that since that night, but what I will say is that I am very emotionally hypersensitive, as are most INFJ’s. The best way to describe it is that I “sense the energy around me,” or I can feel other peoples “vibes.” Not only that but I seem to take on other peoples energy and burdens when I am around them. When I was a missionary in Portland it was really hard to meet so many people because everyone is hurting in someway and I literally felt like I was taking on each persons pain. It became really overwhelming sometimes. I just am really sensitive to how others are feeling and that feeling consumes me at times. Because of that, I am obsessed with creating harmony in my relationships with loved ones. I just know when things are “off.” When I was a teenager I would sometimes get into little fights (lets just call them that-haha) with my mom and I literally couldn’t sleep until we worked things out. My mind wouldn’t rest until I made harmony with her. It was so strange. I’ve always been acutely aware of how other people are feeling and sometimes when something is “wrong” with them my imagination can take over and I literally think they are dying or something.
- Intuition is my Guide: I am the biggest believer in listening to your gut instinct! I ALWAYS make decisions based on my gut and what intuition is telling me. I was reading how it is very common for INFJ children to lean toward becoming little conspiracy theorists. This makes me laugh so hard because I am a total conspiracy theorist! I do not trust the world one bit. I have always questioned every “system” in my life. I never trusted the school system-I would always wonder why we had to take certain classes or follow certain rules. I just didn’t trust motives. Do not get me started about college. Intuition has always been the reason for doing things in my life. I have made some pretty big decisions simply based on the fact that it felt like the thing to do. Now that I am a mother I am super grateful for this attribute because I lean on my intuition 100% of the time. Most of the things that I do for Clair are things that might not make sense to other moms, but are things that I feel really good about.
- Accepting of Others, Hard on Myself: I have always been super open-minded and accepting of other people. In fact, I find them absolutely fascinating! I LOVE meeting people that are different from me. I have always felt love for other people, regardless of what choices they are making in their life. On the flip-side, I have the hardest time loving myself and accepting myself for who I am. I am a complete perfectionist and because of my extreme idealism I feel really bad about myself when I fail to reach those unattainable goals I set for myself. I just have this vision for what I’m supposed to look like and how I am supposed to be and when I’m not those things I am super super hard on myself.
Why the “Advocate?”
As an INFJ I do think it is super fitting to be referred to as an advocate simply because my greatest joys come from advocating for issues, people and things that I truly believe in. When I am passionate about something, I hold on to that passion and tirelessly work to have my voice heard. Although I am a very soft-spoken person, I can sometimes shock people with how blunt and bold I can be about my opinions and beliefs. As an advocate for people, I love the idea of charity work and rescuing people, however my REAL joy comes from helping people to get to the root of their issues so they need not be rescued at all. I think that’s why I loved being a missionary, even though it was really hard at times. I loved being able to help people to turn all of their struggles and pains to Jesus Christ, the true healer of their souls. I didn’t have to save them, they could be saved by the true Savior.
The last couple of years have been such an enlightening time for me as I’ve been learning more and more about my personality. I have been validated in ways I didn’t think were possible, which as left me feeling a lot more confident and happy. If you are struggling to feel validated and understood I recommend trying to figure out more about your personality. It has helped me to more fully understand my strengths as an individual, mother, wife, and citizen. I understand what sort of environments I need to be in to flourish. I’ve been able to set goals that are reachable and fulfilling. I also have come to recognize and accept the weaknesses that I am more vulnerable to, which has helped me pinpoint areas I need to improve and what situations I need to avoid. I can honestly say that I’m starting to truly love myself for who I am simply because I am understanding myself.