How I Found My Purpose as an INFJ
Updated: Aug 27, 2022
This is me at my high school graduation party. I look happy, but I was terrified. I didn’t want to graduate from high school. I had a perfect 4.0-grade point average. I knew the game, what was required of me and how to win. I was good at it. I loved it there.
Graduating meant that I had to play a new game: college. College was a lot harder and I had more responsibility. I had to make a decision about what I was going to do with my life and I had NO IDEA where to start with that.
I remember sitting in my college counselor’s office with her telling me that I had to pick a major. I needed to know what I was going to do with my life so that I could sign up for the classes that I needed and not waste any time or money on things I didn’t need. I felt sheer panic. I had no idea how to make that kind of decision. It weighed on me night and day.
I ended up taking a class on how to decide what you want to do with your life. After 16 weeks of that class, I was more confused than before. I took every personality test I could get my hands on looking for answers. I asked people how they found their careers. So many of them told me this:
The right career will find you.
I hated that response. The funny thing is I find myself telling my niece that a lot.
Keep doing the next thing
My dad kept pushing me to finish college. He kept telling me that it didn’t matter what degree I had, I just needed to have a degree. I didn’t have the luxury of stopping college until I found my thing. I had to keep going. So I singed up for business classes and engineering classes. Those were the 2 things that interested me the most. Twelve years later, I’m really glad that I kept pushing to finish.
Every time I didn’t know what to do, I kept going anyway. I found another thing to do, another class to take, another hobby to learn, another person to ask questions. I didn’t know what I wanted to do, but I also knew that I couldn’t sit around and wait for something to find me. I had to be moving forward no matter what.
All these years later I realized that was the key to my success. My 18-year-old niece keeps telling me that she’s not going to go to college or think about a career until she figures out what she wants to do with her life. I asked her how she plans on figuring it out if she doesn’t do anything. She doesn’t know.
The problem with her plan is that you can’t outthink experience. You’ll never be able to know if you like something until you actually do it! And some things you won’t like until you’ve been doing them for a while.
You see, I wanted to be a writer for a long time. But every time I sat down to write it felt weird. I had no idea what I was doing. So I would give up and say it’s not for me. But then I’d get that little voice in the back of my head telling me I should write. And I’d start over again.
I didn’t actually start to like writing until I actually sat down and did it for a while, like months. I figured out that I needed to write down the ideas that I had when they came to me, because if I didn’t I couldn’t think of anything to write when I had time. I also learned that sitting down and writing about anything helps you get into the practice or habit of writing so it flows more naturally.
My point is that if I hadn’t spent some time writing and learning how to write, I wouldn’t have ever thought that I would end up loving it. You have to actually do something before you will know for sure if you like it or not. You can’t just think about it. You have to do it.
Make a decision
I spent a long time in college. I started when I was a junior in high school, in August 2002. I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice with a minor in marketing in May 2010. Then I went back to school in January 2012 to study mechanical engineering, which I had already started before. I regretted that I gave up on it when it got difficult and wanted to finish it.
In the summer of 2013, I got an internship at an engineering firm, but it wasn’t for an engineering job. It was for marketing. I had some experience in business and a minor in marketing from my first degree, plus it was the only internship that I was offered and it paid well. So I took it.
When I went back to college in the fall, the internship ended and I started looking for a new part-time job. I came across a listing for a marketing manager position with a marketing company that managed race car drivers and sponsors. You see, race cars were my whole motivation for studying engineering. I wanted to work in NASCAR and go to the race track all the time. I LOVED everything about them. So when I saw this job, I thought maybe I would have an opportunity to go racing without being an engineer. Maybe I could get paid to go to the race track this way. After all, that was the dream!
And the thing with college was that it was getting really hard again. I was so poor I barely had enough money to pay my rent. I’d been living that way for years by that point. It was exhausting.
I was also fighting with my professors for equal treatment with the guys that were in the engineering program. I cared about my education, but they didn’t seem to care about helping me at all.