According to Myers-Briggs, I am a mastermind. That’s the personality type listed in the square box I find myself in. I’ve just completed Myers-Briggs’ DIY map for coming out of an identity crisis alive. Based on my answers to the questionable (at least to reputable psychologists) questionnaire, I’m an introverted, intuitive, judgmental thinker. I imagine a blue and white sticker in my head: HELLO! MY NAME IS INTJ.
It’s not nametag shock. I don’t disagree with the results. In fact, these past few mornings I’ve experienced my INTJness in all its god-awful glory.
Some people can’t think until they’ve had their morning cup of coffee. I’m the opposite. I think too much. Pre-caffeine, I am the poster child for Adderall. My brain behaves like a six-year-old who just pounded a pack of Pixy Stix. It’s almost as if there is a pinball machine carved into my skull. Every thought is a ball, ricocheting around at 100 mph, activating sound and lighting effects that spur even more thoughts. Have you ever tried to play pinball with 50 balls at the same time? Nobody wins. My mental game is even more maddening when other people enter the picture.
For example, I’m currently on an ultra luxurious cruise that has disrupted my usual ritual. At home, I roll out of bed and follow my feet down the stairs and into the kitchen where my right hand instinctively reaches for the cabinet containing my fix, Folgers Instant, Classic Roast. Within seconds I’ve mixed one tsp. of the finely ground far-from-premium beans with 6 ounces of water, one Splenda, 2 TBSP. of International Delight* and enough almond milk to attain the desired color. (In addition to being INTJ, I’m OCD.) The result is a shea butter beige concoction as smooth and creamy as Maybelline mousse foundation. Yes, my mind is racing until that first sip. But it’s okay. I am the composer of this sweet symphony. I know how the song ends.
On the cruise, however, I have as much control over the outcome as a B-rated oboe player. In the ship’s breakfast room, I am at the mercy of a waitstaff consisting of overly polite Filipino and Eastern European men who unapologetically wear white after Labor Day. They call me Miss Laura and act as though their sole purpose in life is to please me while keeping my cloth napkin neatly folded and my silverware so shiny I can see my reflection’s reflection in it. It sounds like nirvana, but if you’re an overthinking INTJ, it’s a nightmare.
For starters, just when I get used to one waiter fawning over me, another appears and attempts to take over. It’s like the passing of the breakfast guest baton. Say Amir greets and seats me in the breakfast room. While I settle in, he leaves to attend to another guest. Before I can unravel my napkin sculpture and cover my lap with it, his colleague Jurgis is smiling down at me, asking if I’d like some coffee.
I shouldn’t be, but I’m internally conflicted. I desperately need a cup of coffee to mute this overthinking mastermind mind of mine, but if I let Jurgis get it for me, will Amir feel slighted? Seriously. It was just the two of us a minute ago. It seems far too soon to introduce Jurgis into the equation.
Then there is the issue of ordering. My order makes me come across as a bit of a diva. I always ask for a cappuccino with two shots in a takeaway cup—a contradictory request given the fact I’m dining in. Still, this is an Arctic cruise and in the event of an evacuation, I don’t want to be in the lifeboat empty-handed. My fingers get cold real easily.
Adding to the stress of my order is the fact I secretly want my cappuccino made with nonfat milk but I’m too self-conscious to say so because I think it means extra work for the barista. Let’s say, hypothetically speaking, that I did ask for fatless milk. Then let’s say the barista forgets or is lazy and he makes my drink with the 2% milk already in the machine. Would I even notice it wasn’t skim? Am I as sensitive to foamage as I think I am or does my fat percentage radar suck?
While I’m still pondering those questions, Jurgis returns with my drink. I add 1.5 Splendas (even though, according to my roommate, they’ll give me cancer), and give it three stirs with the plastic takeaway stick that comes with my drink. Painfully aware of the ceramic cup and saucer and oh-so-shiny mini spoon at my place setting, I feel badly for using the plastic stick because it will be thrown away. Still, I always forget to tell my waiter I don’t need it, and I don’t want him to see me not use it since he took the trouble to bring it to me. Perpetually living in self-loathing mode is no way to go about confronting your carbon footprint. But I digress…
Finally, I take my first sip of coffee. My vital signs approach normalcy and my mind stops trying to keep up with Usain Bolt’s legs. My neurological system recognizes this familiar substance and calls it savior. My tongue savors each sip, starting with the foam. A foam that would probably not be so dramatically frothy if it had been made with the nonfat milk I was too afraid to ask for. The best part of the experience is the syrupy liquid at the bottom. Contrary to what Bono sings, synthetic sugar is the sweetest thing. The caffeine courses through my body and all is well with the world.
Until Amir stops by. Shit. I had almost forgotten about him.
Noticing my empty cup, he asks if I’d like another coffee. He’s trying to act nonchalantly, but I can tell he really wants to be of assistance. He needs to get even with Jurgis. Although I’m digging the high of the caffeine, I’m not sure I want another cup. Between analyzing my carbon footprint and dealing with my inability to ask for the nonfat milk I want, ordering the first cup was stressful enough. Still, I want to help the poor guy out.
So I say yes. In doing so, I throw myself into another tailspin. It’s not even 8 a.m. and I’ve just accepted a gift for the sole sake of making the giver happy. It’s an honorable principle, but at what point do I put myself first? If I say yes to an unwanted cup of coffee, then what else in life am I saying yes to that I don’t really want? Am I a doormat that people trample all over?
No. I’m just an introverted, intuitive, judgmental thinker. Make that over-thinker. INTOJ.
*Is it called International Delight because it has an Irish Crème and French Vanilla Flavor? I feel like if you’re going to call yourself International Delight, you need to represent more nations.