As most of you know from reading my previous blog post, I am an INFJ woman married to an ENTP male. But what we most recently discovered are our enneagram types. And I wanted to do a second blog post on our relationship for a couple reasons: A) my husband has been home a LOT more often and we’ve gotten to know each other a LOT better, so I feel I have a better perspective on this now, and B) because adding our enneagram types in there adds a whole new dynamic to it.
For those of you have not taken the Enneagram personality test, I would totally recommend it. Although it isn’t as specific as MBTI, it definitely uncovers a few more aspects to your personality to help you understand yourself and others better. This whole quarantine, I have found myself chuckling at enneagram memes on Instagram and how weirdly accurate they are. So if you’re interested, the one I took can be found by clicking the link —> HERE.
So, let’s jump into the whole Enneagram business. There are personality types 1-9, and is structure in the chart I’ve added here.
I won’t even pretend to understand it all yet, so I’ll let all the people smarter than me do all the explaining on that whole “fear”, “image”, “anger” thing. If you’d like to educate us all, feel free to comment below!
That being said, what I do know is that I am a type 9 (Mediator and Peacemaker) and my husband is a type 5 (Observer and Thinker), which I think is pretty congruent with our MBTI types of INFJ and ENTP as well.
Here’s a brief overview according to The Enneagram Institute:
Type 5: The intense, cerebral type: Perceptive, Innovative, Secretive, and Isolated. They are alert, insightful, and curious. They can become detached, yet high-strung and intense. People who are an example of this type include: Albert (freaking) Einstein, Stephen Hawking, Stephen King, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, and Jane Goodall.
Pause. Let that soak in for a minute. I’m married to an Albert Einstein-type guy…. yeesh.
Type 9: The easy-going, self-effacing type: Receptive, Reassuring, Agreeable, and Complacent. They are accepting, trusting, and stable. They are usually creative, optimistic, and supportive, but can be too willing to go along with others to keep the peace. They hate conflict, but tend to be complacent, simplifying problems and minimizing anything upsetting. People who are an example of this type include: Claude Monet, Zooey Deschanel, Walt Disney, Audrey Hepburn, and Mr. Rogers.
So let’s get this straight… My husband and my relationship is like Mark Zuckerberg marrying Zooey Deschanel… and I’m pretty sure Jess from New Girl is pretty close to how Zooey is in real life.
Here’s a brief sketch of what our day-to-day looks like:
Type 5’s always have to be doing SOMETHING. As a Type 9, I definitely don’t but I have to be doing something while he’s doing something to make it fair.
On Saturday mornings, I usually get up a little bit before he does because I use this as MY alone time, my “me” time. I’ll read a book, have my morning cup of coffee, watch nonsense TV, or write. As soon as my husband (we’ll call him K), comes downstairs he is cooking, cleaning, tidying, or starting a new project. I instantly feel lazy and don’t want him to get mad at me for sitting on the couch and not helping, so I get up and do anything that looks like it needs to be done.
Type 5’s capability to think about something WHILE they’re doing something else is beyond impressive.
When K gets home from work, he is almost silent for the first 15 minutes to an hour. Once he eats dinner, he needs at LEAST an hour completely by himself playing video games. And he’s mentioned before that he thinks and problem solves various dilemmas and problems WHILE playing video games…. If someone asked me to even think about what I wanted to eat for dinner while being entirely submersed in a Harry Potter book, that is entirely impossible for me and I’m amazed that he can actually do that.
Type 5’s capability to think PERIOD is impressive.
K is by FAR the most intelligent person I’ve ever met. He has an eidetic memory, comes back with witty remarks without missing a beat, and problem solves in record breaking time. I feel like I’m always 10 steps behind him when it comes to our thought processes, and I feel like I’m a fairly intelligent person. Not only that, he is CONSTANTLY listening to podcasts, skimming through books, teaching himself how to fix/build things, and just cramming his brain with new information.
Type 9’s need time and space to think in the midst of confrontation, whereas Type 5’s want to fix it right then.
K is a fixer. If he doesn’t like something, he wants to fix it immediately. If I see something I don’t like, I hold onto it. I tell myself it’s not a big deal and definitely not worth confronting him about. But what happens is I do that one thing, then two things, then three, then several… until I explode at him one day for everything he had done wrong in the last month or two. Now, I admit… that’s a horrible way to go about things and I’m definitely working on it. But what he has had to work on is allowing me the space to think about things when he comes up to me with some criticism or problem with our relationship. I need time to absorb the information and internalize it, then figure out how I felt about it. But for a long time, he thought I was just running away and shutting down. He hated that we couldn’t just sit down and talk it out right then and there.
Okay, Type 9’s are indecisive, y’all, but it’s because we are trying to think about things from so many different angles. As you might have guessed, Type 5’s do not have that problem.
Recently, I asked K if he liked my hair better blonde or brunette because I’ve had both. He rolled his eyes and said, “Stop trying to get out of making a decision by asking me to make it for you. It’s your hair. Take ownership.”
“But I just want to know what you like! You’re the one who has to look at me,” I had argued. Yes. Ridiculous, I know. He was right, I was trying to get out of making that decision, because.. honestly, my hair doesn’t look bad either way. I like different things about both colors. As silly as it sounds, brunette makes me feel more dark and mysterious and kind of serious, but blonde seemed more playful and striking against my brown eyes. And this how us Type 9’s think about EVERYTHING. I can’t even choose what I want for brunch without asking the wait staff, “Which would you recommend out of the [blank] and [blank]?” Yup. It’s that bad.
Type 5’s seem to be good at almost everything they do. Or maybe that’s just my husband.
I thought creativity was my thing, so one day (when we were still dating and I hadn’t figured him out yet), I came up with the brilliant plan to have an art day and paint together. We rounded up our supplies from Hobby Lobby, complete with a Bob Ross instruction video, and got to work. I couldn’t wait to impress him with my painting skills and creativity. We picked our different landscapes, and hunched over our separate canvases. I was about halfway done with mine, when I took a break and walked around to take a peek at his piece to, you know, see if I could give him any pointers or help him out at all….. I kid you not, he had painted a Bob Ross-worthy mountain landscape and my jaw hit the friggin’ floor. He had admitted prior to painting that he had NEVER painted before. How was he so good at this already?! From ONE Bob Ross instruction video! And he has been impressing me ever since. He built a beautiful, ornate mud bench with a coat rack and cubbies in our first house together – first try. He built our rustic king size bed frame complete with a TUFTED HEADBOARD – first try. Type 5’s are impressive and like energizer bunnies. It’s incredible.
Being married to a Type 5 as a Type 9 can be a little difficult. He can make me feel lazy and stupid sometimes just by being so hardworking and smart. But I can’t think of more impressive individuals than the Type 5’s of the world. I do hope Type 5’s get just as much from their Type 9’s as we do from them. I’ll take time to write more about Type 5’s and Type 9’s in a different post to keep this from becoming a novel. As always, thanks for reading and please drop a comment below to let me know what you think!
The first week was absolute bliss, y’all. My ENTP husband was working from home, which entailed checking his email 3 times a day and playing video games for hours. I binge-watched Netflix, baked all the things, and cleaned all the things. We got Disney+ and I was reminiscing on all my favorite movies, lighting my favorite candles to make the house smell amazing, and doing yoga every morning.
It’s week 5… and all that has completely turned upside down. I’m definitely an introvert, but I am hurting for human interaction. I even miss being able to go to a coffee shop and sip my vanilla latte near other people – not necessarily interacting, but just being in the same room and enjoying the space. I’m tired of TV and movies… something I never thought would EVER happen to me. I feel unproductive, lazy, and kinda trapped. I can only go on so many walks around my neighborhood before I even get bored with that. Much like most INFJs, I love my alone time…. but I am missing people right about now.
I think what makes matters worse in my case is that I was one test away from gaining my teaching credential. My plan was to substitute teach for the rest of the semester (starting in March), then apply/interview for jobs all summer. My life has come to an abrupt halt. And I know it could most definitely be worse. I’m thankful to have a husband whose job was not affected by COVID-19, in fact, I’ve gotten to spend a lot of quality time with him these past several weeks. But I’m feeling very…. worthless at the moment. I was on my way to pursuing my passion for teaching, and now I’m just waiting it out and there is nothing I can do to help the situation right now.
I wondered if there were any other INFJs out there who feel the same way? I hate to be whining about my situation when it’s really not that bad, but I can’t help but feel what I feel. I have a deep desire to make a difference in the world and I definitely want to help my little family by bringing in some income. Not being able to do either of those things has got me a little down. My other problem is that I hate asking friends to FaceTime or call because I feel like I’m bothering them. Which I know is probably silly. They may need someone to talk to just as much as I do.
Right now, all I can do is wait and try to work on myself in the process. I’ve taken up meditation, trying new recipes for dinner, and my husband and I built a pergola in our backyard (well, he built it and I handed him tools). For all my fellow INFJs – or any other type – out there who are feeling the same way, hang in there. You’re not alone. Try to find small projects around the house that make you feel productive, pick up a hobby that you always wanted to try, schedule a FaceTime date with a friend…. I even know someone who takes a karaoke machine out in their driveway every weekend to sing to his neighbors. I’d never be brave enough to do that, but if that’s your thing, go for it! I know it’s difficult and even with all the projects and efforts to keep busy, it can still get to you. But don’t lose hope, and don’t let this pandemic get you down. We are all in this together, even if we are separated right now.
So… I know what you’re thinking. I thought the same thing.
TEACH-NOW? That’s got to be a scam right? It definitely sounds scammy.
Not only that, but the cost of this 9-month, completely online teacher preparatory program is only $6,000. Most local brick-and-mortar programs I had researched up until that point cost at LEAST $15,000 and took a year and a half to 2 years to complete. If there’s one thing I’ve learned in life it’s this: if something seems too good to be true, it probably is.
So, naturally, I was skeptical. Having a teaching credential after only 9 months and $6,000 and having the flexibility to learn completely online? As a military spouse who had the possibility of moving at any moment, a 100% online program was a must. As a woman who had just paid off over $70,000 in student loan debt from undergraduate and graduate school in a completely different field, paying an extra $20,000 for a simple teaching CREDENTIAL seemed ridiculous. And as someone who had spent 7 years working for a career I ended up hating, 2 more years seemed like a lifetime. So… despite my skepticism, I spent months researching TEACH-NOW. I watched YouTube videos on it, read reviews until my eyes burned, had multiple representatives walk me through the process, looked up their accreditations, and even had my mom do her own research to get a second opinion.
The results? Aside from a silly name and a too-good-to-be-true vibe, TEACH-NOW turned out to be completely legit. So I enrolled.
How it works: TEACH-NOW has accreditations for Washington D.C., Arizona, and (just now added) Hawaii. So when you first apply for your credential at the end of your program, you will apply through one of those 3 states. Once you have gotten your credential through one of those states, you can use your new credential to apply as an out-of-state applicant for a credential in your home state. Every state has different requirements for out-of-state applicants, so make sure you do your research by looking at the Department of Education website for your state.
I began my program in June and ended in February and here’s the scoop on TEACH-NOW as a whole:
Overall, my experience with TEACH-NOW was a very positive one. I enjoyed my teachers – shoutout to Dr. Moser – and loved working with everyone in my cohort. I feel adequately prepared to be a teacher. I’m just waiting for this COVID-19 stuff to clear up so I can take my last Praxis exam, and then submitting all of my stuff to Washington D.C. Then I will, hopefully, be a fully licensed teacher!
If any of you career-changers out there are looking to become a teacher and need the same flexibility that I did, I would be more than happy to walk you through my experience with TEACH-NOW in more detail!
Thanks for tuning in!
Also, here’s a pic of the TEACH-NOW platform. Like I said, super easy to use and very intuitive!
As an eighteen-year-old kid just starting out college, I had it all figured out. I was going to major in pre-optometry, and attend optometry school afterward. I wanted to be an eye doctor. I’ve always known that I want to help people in some way, shape, or form, but I figured I might as well be a type of doctor that doesn’t have to deal with the blood, needles, and guts you get while working in the nursing or emergency routes.
However, my freshman year, like many young students just entering college, I had a rude awakening on managing my now VERY open schedule. Juggling class, homework, college soccer, and a social life proved to be too much for my poor 18-year-old mind to handle. If you made a pie chart of how I handled my time during that first year of college, most of the pie chart would be taken up by me doing what I wanted to do, and a pizza-slice size would be class and soccer, and a tiny sliver the width of mechanical pencil lead would be homework and studying. I treated college schoolwork and tests exactly like I treated high school schoolwork/tests – I crammed for each exam an hour beforehand. It worked in high school, so why was I failing in college?
Two semesters, and a 2.0 GPA later, optometry school looked like a distant, unobtainable dream. Nonetheless, I decided to get serious and claw my way out of the gaping hole I had dug for myself. Over the summer, I shadowed my optometrist. Dressed in professional attire and an excited smile, I was ready to see what my future could look like as an optometrist.
…. Until my optometrist began showing me pictures of diseased eyes….
My blood ran cold, I broke out into a sweat, and my vision went black. I freakin’ fainted in the middle of his office. A short moment later, I woke to a concerned yet amused Dr. Plank and humiliation consumed me. As if that weren’t bad enough, Dr. Plank chuckled and said, “Honey, maybe this isn’t the field for you.” Even through my shame, I agreed with him. It didn’t look like the medical field was really my thing. I couldn’t even look at a picture of goopy eye, how could I help someone who came into my office with one, much less make it through optometry school?
Then came Career Choice Change #1.
I transferred to a smaller university closer to home for a bigger scholarship the following school year… and I switched majors. I found Speech Pathology on my new school’s list of majors, did my research and thought… YES! This is what I’m supposed to do!
A Speech Pathologist treats both children and adults for various language and speech disorders. From correcting lisps to teaching those who’ve had a traumatic brain injury how to swallow their own food again, I could choose from an array of ways I could help people. I could work in a school system, a hospital, a nursing home, or even open my own private practice. I dove into my new major head first and loved it. The subject was fascinating to me, and my GPA slowly started to rise… but apparently not fast enough. Even being a fairly decent student, making mostly A’s and B’s with a few C’s thrown in, I made it out of my senior year with a little over a 3.0. Low-and-behold, I didn’t make it into graduate school.
Now, I know what you’re thinking… “okay, so you didn’t get in your first try. Big whoop. Try again.” And you’re totally right. I should have. But being a young, dumb 22-year-old who never REALLY had to work for anything in her life, I was crushed. I took it as a sign from the universe that I just wasn’t good enough or smart enough to be a Speech Pathologist. To be fair to my younger, dumber self, I sent applications to about eight different graduate schools and was rejected by ALL of them. Eight rejections after never having any was a shock to my system and, apparently, I couldn’t deal.
Then came Career Choice Change #2.
My mom was looking on a university website for other graduate degrees I could pursue, as I was now adamant that I couldn’t be a Speech Pathologist. Quick back story: I had been coaching soccer for the last few years and loved that, too, but it didn’t really make enough to live off of without coaching like 7 teams. My mom found a master’s degree program in Intercollegiate Athletic Administration (IAA), and there was a lot I could do with it. I could work in the administration side of the athletic department of a college or I could even coach college soccer. Without thinking or doing research, I applied, and I got in. The work was boring and tedious and didn’t really excite me like Speech Pathology did. You would think that would serve as a sign, but, of course, it didn’t. I graduated with a Master of Education and a truck load of student debt.
By then, I had moved 1,600 miles across the country, gotten married, had a house and a dog. My life was in a whirlwind of change. And now I was starting a new career in admissions. Spoiler alert: I hated it. I spent nearly eight straight hours sitting at a desk, auditing student files, correcting and creating spreadsheets, and answering phone calls. I was required to go get the President’s dry cleaning, clean the front windows, water the plants, serve water for meetings. I understand that everyone has to pay their dues, but after two years and no promotion. I was over it. Sitting at a desk was wearing on me and my life and job seemed void of meaning. I applied for countless jobs at other universities, and barely even got a call back.
After seven months of fruitless job searching, frustrated tears, and enduring more of my life in this job, I started taking a different approach to this. I asked myself: Even if I got a job at another college, would that change anything? I would still be sitting at a desk, probably still answering phones and speaking to angry students or parents, and probably still unhappy. I thought about trying to get into graduate school for Speech Pathology again, but after doing some research, the list of prerequisites for a master’s degree in Speech Pathology had changed. It would take me at LEAST 2 years to even be able to APPLY for graduate school. That’s more money and more time than I was willing or able to spend.
I thought back to the jobs and subjects that truly interested me: Speech Pathology and coaching. Then I broke down exactly why I liked it: I like helping people, working with people, having the freedom to be moving around rather than confined to a desk, designing lesson plans and watching what I planned actually improve performance, and I like kids.
What job could I do that includes all of these things I like to do?
A lightbulb went on…
Then came Career Choice Change #3.
I immediately started looking into what I needed to do to become a teacher. With a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in two different types of education, I was a little shocked at the state of California’s requirements – even from somebody with my education and experience. I would either have to go back and get a second bachelor’s degree in elementary education (yet over half of my Speech Pathology classes were education classes), get a second master’s degree in elementary education or something similar, OR I could spend a year and half in a teacher’s prep program – in which case, why wouldn’t I just spend another 6 months getting a second master’s degree?
I started researching my options. As a military spouse who might move at any moment, my options were somewhat limited. Attending a brick-and-mortar school in California was probably not a smart idea, because if we had to move before I could finish the program, it would be a waste of a LOT of money. So I started looking at programs that were 100% online and would allow me to do student teaching in my state, wherever I was.
It was then that I found a program called Teach Now.
Yes, I know. I thought the same thing. There is no way that a program called “Teach Now” could be legit. It sounded like a scam waiting to happen. I researched this program for a month, reading blogs, watching YouTube videos, reading reviews, but, to be honest, there was not a whole lot of information out there. What I DID know is that this program only cost $6,000 (rather than $15,000 like the brick-and-mortar schools) and was a 9-month program (rather than a year and a half to two years in other programs). From what I heard, it was financially affordable, challenging, rigorous, convenient, and, most importantly, accredited.
This is how it works: the program is based out of Washington DC, and, by the end of the nine-month program, I would have my teaching credential in Washington DC, but I could perform my student teaching in California. I could also transfer my teaching credential to pretty much any state in the US (with some additional requirements in some states).
I decided to go for it. I am now 7 months into the program.
Now that you’re all caught up, I wanted to create this blog to discuss my experiences. I know there are probably a lot of people out there like me who are looking for a career change and have no idea what to do or how to do it. There are NOT a ton of resources out there that you can rely on, so I wanted to provide one more HONEST point of view for those who are looking for a path toward their true passion.
So here’s my journey from surviving to thriving, from Teach Now to teacher. My name is Taylor, and I am excited to have you along for the ride as I become a Taylor Made Teacher.
Well, guys, I am officially out of my twenties. And let me tell you, it is not nearly as scary as everyone made it out to be. I cannot tell you how many friends or family members told me, “Just wait until you’re THIRTY. Everything just goes down hill from there.” According to these older and wiser friends and family members, my life was about to start its decline. According to them, reaching age thirty was a magic (or cursed) number in which I would instantly start disintegrating into an old woman. I would immediately become out-dated, grey-haired, arthritic, peri-menopausal, and begin my decline toward death. How morbid, right?
So, needless to say, the weeks leading up to that fateful day were filled with dread on my end. I spent my days wondering how in the WORLD I had already reached this formidable age. I still felt young. I even still looked fairly young – save for the tiny wrinkles beginning to form underneath my eyes (years of squinting into the sun during soccer games and, of course, smiling). How could it be that I had already passed the prime of my life? There was so much in life I still wanted to do, but now felt I was running out of time. I had only been out of the country once, never gotten a tattoo, and I hadn’t even had kids yet! Should my husband and I take the plunge into parenthood simply because the clock was ticking? It was almost like a mini mid-life crisis!
However, that day came and went and what I realized is that…. nothing changed drastically. I didn’t feel or look any different, and even though my husband DID find a grey hair, I found I was more proud than appalled. Thirty wasn’t so bad after all. I was definitely different than I was when I was 18, but all these changes weren’t horrible or scary, and they obviously didn’t happen all at once as soon as I turned thirty. In fact, a lot of the ways I had changed, I wished I had made these changes years ago. I started wondering: how was I different? What had changed? Then I decided to write a letter to sweet, naive, scared eighteen-year-old me. Obviously, eighteen-year-old me will never be able to read this letter, but maybe it will speak to other young women out there… possibly even my future daughter (or son).
So here goes nothing…
Dear Teenage Me,
First of all, every part of you is beautifully and uniquely you! Stop wanting to change everything about yourself. The tiny gap between your two front teeth is cute and your thighs are NOT big, they are muscular and athletic and evidence of your years of hard work in soccer. You have a healthy, beautiful body and to wish for it to look any different than it does now is a waste of a wish, sweetheart, because you’re perfect the way you are.
Take joy in all the little things in life that give you joy. Focus on the positive and let the negative roll off your back. Take time for yourself to do those tiny things that give you joy: read books under fluffy blankets, put on acoustic music in the bathtub, put on fuzzy socks and pajama pants during a thunderstorm and revel in the comfy-cozy feeling.
Start putting more time and effort into your friendships rather than your romantic relationships. One day all those guys won’t look so cute when they have beer bellies, drop out of college, and have bad attitudes like the world owes them something. But your friends will always be there. They will drive hours and spend the money to fly in for your wedding even when they haven’t seen you in a long time and those dork boys won’t be anywhere to be found (because you’ve married literally the coolest guy on planet earth – fist bump).
Don’t be in such a rush to grow up, but also don’t be afraid of getting older. Each stage of life is wonderful in its own way. Be present in each stage and enjoy every minute. There will come a day when you look back on your early twenties and teenage years and miss them, even the “bad” moments. Wrinkles, just like your muscular thighs, are a testimony of the millions of smiles you’ve smiled and crinkled your eyes, the many trials that creased your brow with worry or concentration… they are a testimony of your life and they’re beautiful. Embrace them when they start showing up.
Next, take school seriously. I know you’ve coasted your entire life, but college is really freakin’ hard and you’re about to get a wake up call. For Heaven’s sake, woman, DON’T take out student loans just to pay for your apartment!! Suck it up and live in the dorms (FOR FREE), even though you really want to stay in the nice, sparkly new apartments. School isn’t cheap and it is NOT fun putting most of your hard earned money toward student loan debt every month. There’s this thing called “interest” that comes back to bite you in the butt after college (and grad school). Which brings me to my next point, pay attention to things that will affect your future! Don’t put something off for “future you” (AKA me) to worry about. Take control of your own life and your future: do your research and make an educated decision.
This next one is important, so read carefully: anything worth having takes WORK. Don’t be lazy! Put the work in and just get it done. Don’t convince yourself that you don’t want something or aren’t meant to do something just because you failed ONCE and you don’t want to put the work in to fix it. Failures are not indicative of your ability or potential. Failures are learning opportunities! What matters is how you RESPOND to your failures – do you learn from what you did wrong, improve, then try again? Or do you make excuses and quit? One failure is not a reflection of who you are as a person, so don’t let it define you! I’m not saying it doesn’t suck to fail, so cry for a minute if you need to, punch something if it makes you feel better (but maybe not a person), then wipe your eyes, roll up your sleeves, and get to work. The same rings true with mistakes. You are so smart, hardworking, kind, thoughtful, and fun. Mistakes don’t change or define who you are, but how you respond to those mistakes does. “You are what you repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act, but a habit.” – Aristotle.
Lastly, miss Taylor, it is not your job to make everyone happy and like you! It’s okay if not everyone is your best friend. It is OKAY to disagree and to have an opinion! Live your life as fully as you possibly can. Memories are not made from sitting on the couch eating potato chips. Go explore and don’t be afraid to try new things. Sushi is actually delicious and you’re missing out! Don’t talk yourself out of going somewhere or doing something just because you’re getting your introvert on and binge-reading Harry Potter or you feel “tired”. Get out in the world, put your phone down, and I promise you won’t regret it.
I’m so proud of us.
I took in the smell of my pillow with my face smashed into the downy softness. Maybe if I pushed my head hard enough into the pillow, I could stop the hot sting of my tears and push them back into my eyes somehow. My pillow smelled like home and shampoo from all the nights I’d slept with wet hair. I focused on that smell. I tried to decipher every different scent that made my pillow smell so comforting.
Tide laundry detergent.
Warm vanilla. My mom’s favorite scent to spray around the house.
The floral scent of my shampoo.
I then wondered what kind of flower my shampoo was supposed to smell like. As soon as I thought it, a vision of him putting that STUPID daisy behind my ear played like an old movie in my brain. I could just see myself smiling, blindly in love, and him looking back at me with those navy blue eyes like he loved me. Pain seared through my heart like I was being stabbed with a white hot metal rod. A muffled sob escaped from my throat at the sudden stab. I cursed at myself for even giving him a single second of thought, and, worse, letting that second hurt like hell.
But now, I couldn’t stop the memories; they came flooding in and suddenly I was drowning in them. Choked sobs were lost in my pillow as I swallowed memories of his kiss, his smell, the day we met, our first date, and the day that he left. It was all there, playing in my head as some form of cruel and unusual punishment.
I sat wallowing in pure agony and the self-pity came rolling in like a heavy fog. The tears slowed, but the pain stayed.
An inner battle raged in my head. I knew I was being pathetic, but I couldn’t stop feeling that way. I couldn’t change what I was thinking. I couldn’t be that tough, emotionless girl I wanted to be. I’d let him reach a part of me that no one had ever gotten to, and never would again.
Slowly, the numbness tide ebbed up, covering me with its sweet nothingness. I could almost feel my heart hardening, scabbing over into a calloused shell. I stared off toward a blank spot on my wall, thinking nothing, feeling nothing.
Sweet, blissful nothing.
I merely blinked and breathed.
I’m not sure how much time passed before I heard Ellie drunkenly stumble into our dorm room, giggling with her man of the night, slapping me out of my stupor. I blinked a few times adjusting my eyes to the darkness that had settled into my room. Rolling off the bed, I stood and strode to the door with one thought in mind:
I would never let anyone make me feel this way ever again.
Now here I was, two years later, standing in my apartment in front my full-length mirror, donning on shirt after shirt, unable to find one suitable for today. I inspected my auburn hair which badly needed a trim, my pale skin, and my timid dark brown eyes stared back at me. I silently wished I could steal my best friend Ellie’s natural platinum blonde hair, bright blue eyes, and olive skin for a day. I looked painfully ordinary, and I was suddenly self-conscious.
Why was I getting so worked up over this? Grey was just taking me to ride four-wheelers, for crying out loud! He would take any friend, guy or girl, to do that! This isn’t a date. I groaned at my stupidity and tossed the latest loser-shirt onto the mountain of other loser-shirts. Just keep it simple, Dev. You don’t care what this guy thinks of you anyway.
Exasperated with myself, I threw on a plain white tee with my cut off jean shorts and Nike running shoes, and then topped it off with a turquoise baseball hat to match my tennis shoes. I strode quickly through the bedroom door before I could change my mind and made my way to the living room to wait. But before I even made it out of the hall, I heard a knock on the door. My heart skipped and suddenly my apartment was way too warm. In a sheer panic, I thought about rushing to my room to change yet again.
Pull yourself together, woman!
I took a deep breath, strode to the door, and gently swung it open, an impassive mask set on my face. Grey stood there, hands in the pockets of his dark wash jeans and white tee. My eyes trailed up to his royal blue ball cap. We basically matched. How embarrassing. But despite my sentiments, a smile automatically curled the corners of my mouth. When his gaze met mine, he grinned.
“Alright, one of us has to change.” I joked.
“And ruin our perfect wardrobe collaboration? Not a chance. Let’s go, twinkie,” he gestured for me to follow. I followed him down the stairs of my two-story apartment building. The air smelled like summer: chlorine, barbecue, and sunscreen. It was an early summer morning in Oklahoma and it hadn’t had a chance to become unbearably hot yet. The ever-present Oklahoma “breeze” even had a slight chill to it, making me wish I had brought a light jacket. But as soon as I stepped out into the sun, the chill was gone and a pleasant warmth permeated my skin. I closed my eyes briefly and sighed. When I opened my eyes, Grey was opening the door to a very nice, very huge black truck; from the looks of it, a Ford Raptor. My brother, Dax, would be drooling right about now.
“New ride?” I asked, grimacing at asking such an obvious question. Grey smirked and rubbed the doorframe affectionately. Typical guy.
“Just one of my toys that I use to impress beautiful women. Is it working?”
My heart stopped.
I think he just called me ‘beautiful’.
Was I wrong? Was this actually a date?
My mind raced and all I could do was stare. It wasn’t until he bit his lip uncomfortably that I realized I hadn’t answered his question.
“I’ll take that as a yes,” he said, gliding over the awkward silence like a pro. He held out his hand, palm up to help me in the truck. I ignored it and pulled myself up and in with one swift move. Looking through the window as he shut the door behind me, I saw him shake his head and smile. And while he walked around the car to his side, I smiled, too.
Awestruck, I gazed up at the beautiful creature standing before me. A huge dark chocolate eye gazed back at me curiously. One white and gray-flecked ear was turned in my direction as I spoke.
“You didn’t tell me you had horses,” I almost whispered. I stretched out a hand and stroked the silky black mane of the majestic gray dapple. The horse turned its long face toward me and impatiently nudged me with its velvety nose.
“I didn’t know you liked them,” Grey explained. He stepped up to the horse as well and patted her broad, speckled neck affectionately. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw him look at me speculatively. I ignored him as I continued to admire the horse. “You wouldn’t like to ride her, would you?” I whipped my head around to face him, and nodded fervently. I heard Grey chuckle slightly as he turned to saddle up the horse.
After what seemed like an eternity, Grey had two horses saddled: the dapple gray whose name I learned was Hazy and a horse whose coat reminded me of a Dalmatian: black and white spotted all over. His name was Rowan, and he was just as gorgeous as Hazy.
Grey gently guided Hazy out of her stall.
“Now to mount her, you put this leg…” Grey began to explain, but I knew what to do. It was like I was born to be a cowgirl. I stepped my left foot into the stirrup, held onto the horn, and hoisted myself up in a single movement. Once in the saddle, I secured my right foot into the other stirrup, grabbed the reins and patted Hazy’s neck. Grey stared up at me, mouth ajar. He shook his head to shake off his surprise.
“Right then,” he said making his way to Rowan. He hoisted himself up just as gracefully as I had and we were off, slowly trotting out of the stables. I felt Hazy’s muscles flexing and releasing underneath me, heard her snort in excitement to be free, and it lit my heart on fire. My eyes scanned Grey’s impressive property. A fairly steep, green hill sloped down toward us; massive, round hay bales dotted the open land. A white picket fence surrounded us on three sides, disappearing behind a deep thicket of shumard oaks. I found a small break in the trees that looked like a trail. It was a solid two to three hundred yards away.
Plenty of space.
Giving Hazy a firm heel to her side, we were suddenly off. She lurched forward with impressive speed. I raised my bottom off the saddle like they did in movies and found my body moving rhythmically with hers. Laughter erupted from my throat as the wind rushed through my hair. An indescribable feeling of freedom and joviality soared through my soul. I gave her another small nudge in the side and she whinnied in pleasure as she sped up.
We were flying through the field, a blur of white, gray, and auburn. I barely heard Grey’s voice calling after me as I guided Hazy toward the trees. I knew I shouldn’t run away like this. Hazy wasn’t mine and he might think it rude of me to have left him. Reluctantly, I decided I had to wait on him.
As we neared the foliage, I tugged on the reins and Hazy slowed her pace. I turned her around to face Grey and was surprised to see him galloping up to where I sat. I giggled as he neared, still on an adrenaline high. He stared at me, as he steered Rowan up beside Hazy. His brow was furrowed and, in that moment, he looked like Chris Hemsworth with dark hair. My stomach did a flip. At first I thought he was angry and I opened my mouth to apologize, but as soon as I had, his lips were on mine, hungry and insistent. I sat in shock, my body and brain not knowing how to respond. But when he didn’t pull back, my body remembered what to do before my brain could catch up and my eyes closed, sinking into Grey’s kiss. I felt his hand cup my face and his thumb stroked my cheek as he pulled back. Yet once again, my body seemed to forget how to respond. My eyes remained shut for several moments. I slowly opened them and felt myself smiling like an idiot. Grey was gazing back at me, a look of amazement filled his eyes and he shook his head slowly.
“You are something else, Devyn Cooper.”
I smiled shyly up at him through my eyelashes, just like in all those sappy movies.
Wait. What the hell was I doing? This wasn’t a date. And I was buying into this… this facade. Again. The face of my ex flashed through my mind and I shut down instantly. I turned away from Grey and wordlessly urged Hazy forward into the trees. She obliged without hesitation, just as ready to get the hell out of there as I was.
“Hey!” I heard him call after me. I didn’t slow Hazy’s pace.
“Hey hey hey…” he said gently as he came up beside me at a trot, “What happened just then?”
“What?” I asked, faking ignorance.
“Back there. I saw the way you looked at me. Then you did a one-eighty. I want to know what happened.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” I said dismissively with a wave of my hand.
“You’ve been hurt.” It wasn’t a question.
If it wasn’t a question, I didn’t need to answer it.
I nudged Hazy’s side and began galloping away as the wound in my heart began bleeding again.
Don’t let him see.
Don’t let him know.
He can’t know that I’m weak. Vulnerable. Broken.
Fear gripped at my throat. I couldn’t talk about this. Nobody knew. I gripped the reins, all the while grasping at the metaphorical reins on my emotions. Focusing all of my thought on slowing my shallow gasps for air, the thrumming of my heart also began to slow. The image of my “happy place” automatically flooded my mind and I was transported.
Crisp autumn air nipped at my cheeks, and shocks of red and yellow leaves danced in the wind around me. I sat high in the branches of my favorite maple that stood tall and proud on my granddad’s acreage in Guthrie. This was my safe space, which was ironic considering my favorite perch was 30 feet up. I looked out over the sea of multi-colored treetops. Billions of shades of brown red, yellow, green, and orange sprawled before me, surreal and striking against the pale blue October sky. The breath-taking view seemed to transcend all reality. Up here, nothing else was real. Nothing else mattered. Only this. Only this moment, this beauty, this feeling.
And that was all it took. I gently pulled on the reins, slowing Hazy to a walk, and allowing Gray to catch up. My cheeks warmed in embarrassment as I heard him approach, but I mustered the best smile I possibly could as we came to a stop. Before Gray could even speak, I clambered down from the saddle, albeit much less gracefully than I had mounted Hazy, noting a stiffness in my legs. I could feel his eyes on me as I heard him climb down as well.
“Race you to the river?” I asked with a grin. Gray’s heart-wrenchingly beautiful face was twisted with confusion, but I don’t think it was from my question. He glanced up ahead at the bank of the river before us as if he hadn’t even known he had a river on his property. Slowly, one corner of his mouth curled into a mischievous smirk. He was going to play along. Relief flooded my body and my grin turned into a full smile, as I took off without any warning at a sprint toward the river’s edge. I heard him cry out and then his footsteps behind me. My heart raced as he closed the gap between us. But I had enough of a head start that my legs splashed through the shallow water first. I threw my hat to the riverbank and dove headfirst through the water, letting the rushing water wash away all that had just transpired, all the awkwardness. I emerged refreshed, renewed, and turned to face Gray.
“I won,” I said with a smirk.
[Thanks for reading! Let me know what you think, but be gentle! I love constructive criticism, but I’m not good with just plain old criticism.]
[Note: It is difficult for me to remember a lot of my childhood, so I do rely on quite a bit of outside information from my family members and friends. I’m not sure why, but I only remember short clips here and there from my early years, even from when I was in my early teens.]
As early as two or three years old, I was quiet, introspective… “But not shy,” my parents have always said, “You would go to anyone, let anyone hold you.” I was content to play alone in my room with my toys or watch a movie alone over and over and over again. I loved anything to do with mystical creatures, talking animals, or imaginary/made-up characters, places, or things (still do to this day). I loved books, movies, roller-blading, and pretending.
I had a next door neighbor named Sarah who was a couple years older than me and always invited me over to play. It was Sarah’s mom who first noticed that I was a little odd and pointed it out to my mother.
“Taylor’s version of ‘playing together’ is ‘you play in that corner and I’ll play in this corner’.” Thinking back on it, I do remember preferring to play by myself because other people would absolutely ruin my story-line to whatever I was playing with. I wanted things to play out the way that I wanted them to, but I never would’ve told the other person that for fear of hurting their feelings.
As I got older, I tended to only have one or two friends at a time. Sleepovers seemed to tire me out and I remember fading into the background at birthday parties. The other girls would scream and talk loudly and laugh, but it was overwhelming for me to even be around. I much preferred focusing on one friend. When we would travel for soccer tournaments and my teammates would be riding up and down the elevators, splashing around in the swimming pool, and exploring the hallways of the hotel, I would watch movies and go out to eat with my dad. I liked hanging out with my dad. He understood me, he wasn’t loud, and I could be silent around him without him asking what was wrong or thinking I was weird. The other girls just didn’t get it. As kids, they thought I was weird. As early teens, they thought I was stuck up.
Phrases I heard quite often throughout my adolescence were things like:
“Don’t you think you’re being a little overly sensitive?”
“All the other girls are doing that. Why don’t you join them?”
“You need to grow thicker skin.”
“Please read something that doesn’t have a dragon in it.”
My entire life, I felt like I was too sensitive, not tough enough, too tomboyish, not girly enough.. always either too much or not enough. When all the other little girls wanted to be Belle from Beauty and the Beast, I wanted to be the Beast… much to the chagrin of my parents. When most kids played together in groups, I could only tolerate one to two other people. I always felt like there was something wrong with me.
I was always very in-tune with the the emotions of others around me, especially toward me. I could almost feel the emotions of my father even when I was on the field playing soccer. I knew by the time the game had ended that he was angry with me and I would get an ear-full in the car, or that he was so proud of me and we’d be going out for ice cream on the way home. I hated disappointing or displeasing anyone: my family, my teachers, my friends, and sometimes even strangers. Because of this, I was probably the most obedient child on planet Earth. I did what I was told the first time, without hesitation or question. It’s been hard for me to break out of this habit even as an adult.
Elementary school and middle school were unbearably easy for me. I would finish my work well before anyone else in the class and, therefore, never had homework and never had to study. This may seem like a really good thing, but when I began high school, it wasn’t as easy to get by without studying, but I did it anyway and my grades suffered a little. My first year in college was a nightmare and I escaped with a 2.0 GPA, the worst I’d ever had. I had no clue how to study, how to take notes, or how to have the discipline to do my homework in a timely manner. To be fair to myself, I was playing soccer for both my high school and a competitive club team throughout high school, and I played college soccer. Juggling all of that while going to school full time is no easy feat, but it would have been much more manageable had I gained the necessary skills earlier on.
If I could tell everyone just a few things about INFJ children, it would be this:
As with anything I write on this topic, I can only give you my perspective and my experiences. Every INFJ is different and is different even as a child.
Thanks for reading! Happy Hump Day!