I can’t help but stare.

I have always been a starer.

I don’t mean to stare, it just happens. I am a very deep thinker, and quite often my mind is racing with various thoughts that come in an endless stream. I’ll be lost in thought for long intervals before I come back to the present, and then I realize I had been staring at someone.

I usually never know if the person was aware of my staring. If I happen to meet their gaze, then I become acutely aware of what I had been doing. I will proceed to awkwardly smile, inwardly reprimand myself, and declare to never stare again. If they do not appear to see me, then I wonder to myself if they had seen me staring, then looked away because I was making them uncomfortable. Or, had they never noticed my gaze in the first place?

I torment myself with all these what ifs, and I stress over what other people think of me. Do they think I’m a weirdo for staring? Or maybe luckily, no one ever notices me staring.

Does anyone else ever have a problem with staring? Any tips on how to combat it?

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I love self-checkout lanes.

I’m not a fan of small talk. I can fake it if necessary, but I really have to force myself to appear interested and friendly. It’s not that I don’t care about people, it’s just that if I’m going to say something, I want it to be meaningful and important. I just don’t see the point in exchanging general pleasantries like “how are you?” or “how’s your day going?” with random strangers. I’m sure they don’t really care how my day is going, yet society dictates that we make this small talk.

That being said, I sure love self-checkout lanes at grocery stores! If they are an option at a store I am shopping at, I will use these lanes 100% of the time. It saves me having to talk to a random person whom I would otherwise forget moments after leaving the store. For me, the less human interaction while shopping, the better. I prefer to do my own thing in the store, leisurely peruse the aisles, and check out by myself.

It’s too bad that Trader Joe’s, one of my favorite grocery stores, does not have self check-out yet. Granted, their employees are always super friendly and pleasant to be around. However, sometimes I simply do not feel like uttering a single word, and it would be nice to be able to check myself out there without having to seem rude by not engaging in conversation.

When Your Dreams Are False

I loved my job working as a veterinary technician. I was able to learn many new skills that would provide a solid foundation for a veterinary career. I worked for a solo doctor practice and my boss was a wonderful mentor. Somewhat introverted himself, he understood my quiet proclivities and provided a nurturing learning environment. Since it was a fairly small practice, I got to know several of the regular clients well over the few years I worked there, and I formed bonds with them as well as with my coworkers. I saw firsthand what it was like to be a vet, and I knew that was what I wanted to do.

After two and a half years of working as a vet tech, I got accepted to veterinary school. I was so excited to take the next step towards my dream career. Finally, all of my hard work in school and in the workplace had paid off by being accepted to vet school.

Later that year I went off to begin my veterinary education. I struggled in the beginning, because I had been out of school for three years and the curriculum that first term was extremely intense. Somehow, I passed. I continued to feel challenged as the year progressed, as there was constant information overload and seemingly not enough time to absorb it all.

As an INFJ I take longer than other types to process information and this posed a particular challenge to my education. Vet school is so fast-paced and one cannot afford to fall behind because there is no time to catch up. Also, as an INFJ I prefer to concentrate on the big picture and overall concepts, rather than memorizing minute details.

Unfortunately a lot of the veterinary curriculum involved memorizing vast amounts of extremely detailed facts—think drug names, mode of action, side effects, drug class, drug interactions, etc. I think pharmacology was the bane of my existence! I admit I didn’t study pharmacology as thoroughly as I should have because I just had no interest in all the particular facts and it bored me to death. I ignored a lot of these details against my better judgment and I knew it was important for a vet to know everything about the medications they prescribe. But I could just not be bothered! I was miserable.

As the terms went by, I continually struggled with not wanting to study the incessant details but knowing that they were really important to know. Instead I focused on understanding broad concepts. Somehow I managed to remember enough theory to pass exams, although my marks were never that great due to not being able to back up my answers with specific facts. Usually I managed to barely scrape a passing mark by explaining general concepts. I knew I had the capacity to get better grades if I studied harder and made myself memorize more details, but I really had no interest in doing that!

As time progressed, I had growing doubts about continuing in vet school and about becoming a veterinarian. However since I am extremely introverted and private, I did not share these concerns with anyone. I buried them at the back of my mind and would not allow myself to explore those thoughts. I kept telling myself that since I had gotten so far, it would be impractical to back out at this point. Getting in to vet school is no easy feat, is quite an honor, and I thought it would make me look like a failure or an ungrateful person if I dropped out. So, I carried on.

Then everything changed in the fall semester of 2014.

The courses offered that semester were farm animal medicine and veterinary public health. I knew before the term started that I would not be very interested in those topics (I’m more of a small animal lover), but they were required classes so I figured I’d have to get through them.

As it turned out, attending those lectures was like pulling teeth to me. I hated them. I found most of them to be boring as heck, and the many to be downright gross. I am a vegan, lover of all animals, and sensitive person. I had to sit through a whole series of lectures about slaughterhouse design, the slaughter process, how to inspect carcasses, and how meat is processed. Suffice to say, I was not happy about this. I would get so affected by these lectures that I would just shut down for the rest of the day and not be able to get any work done. I was just in a negative state of mind.

Even worse were the practical classes where we would have to inspect carcasses and practice stunning techniques on them. My classmate would laugh, joke around and poke the carcasses. I would stand back and observe them in horror. These were once beautiful living animals that only hours earlier were slaughtered for research purposes. I couldn’t concentrate during these classes and never engaged in them.

When it came time for midterms that semester, I barely studied. I hated all of the lectures, the material did not interest me, and it quite frankly horrified me. I tried reading some of the notes to study but after a while I realized it was fruitless. There was no way I was going to pass. I had missed too many lectures, neglected studying too often, and had emotionally and mentally shut down for most of the term. I tried to motivate myself but just couldn’t.

Finally, on my last day of attempting to study before the midterm, I had an epiphany. “Why am I doing this?” I thought. “Why am I torturing myself? I don’t have to be here. No one is forcing me. I’m doing this to myself. This is my life, I have control over it. If I don’t want to do this, then I won’t.” Once I made that realization, it was like a switch had been flipped. I realized I could leave if I wanted to. And I wanted to very badly!

Now before you think it was just me not being able to cope with the demands of vet school, that is not the only reason why I wanted out. I knew vet school would be no walk in the park before I started, and I was prepared to deal with how rigorous it was. I thought about what if I pulled myself through this term, finished vet school and imagined my future life as a vet. And that future was not a pretty one.

After starting vet school I worked in more clinics and shadowed more vets. I got an even wider understanding of what a working vet’s life is like. The hours are long, the demands are great, stress levels are high, and there can be days with no breaks at all. As an extremely introverted individual, I knew there was no way I would be able to cope with this lifestyle and be happy.

I saw extremely extroverted people who excelled at being vets because they gained energy from working with all their colleagues, bossing their techs around, and meeting dozens of clients throughout the day. They got a buzz from the chaotic energy of the veterinary clinic. I, on the other hand, reacted quite the opposite. I would get drained after a long shift, and would try to separate myself from my coworkers as often as I could to get a moment of peace. This meant I spent a lot of time in back doing the laundry. When I was forced to interact with the clients, I would get nervous, often jumble my words and appear flustered. I envied my fellow techs who could talk to people so smoothly and look so professional. I just looked like a bumbling fool.

After weeks of introspection and thinking about every aspect of the future, I made the definite decision to drop out of vet school. I told my friends one by one, and it was not easy to do at all. I had made a group of great friends and I was sad to have to tell them goodbye, but I knew it was the right choice for me. At first some people could not understand why I would want to quit after so many years. They were shocked—they thought I was happy in school. However once I fully explained my reasoning, everyone eventually understood where I was coming from and supported me.

I’m trying to see my time in vet school as a learning experience rather than a failure. At times I still get frustrated and wish I had never pursued that path in the first place. But then I tell myself that I can take what I learned from my past experience to help others, and perhaps some of the skills I learned will be useful in a new career.

Currently I am interested in pursuing a career in the counseling field. I’m still researching grad schools, but from what I’ve read I think I would really enjoy it. I’ve also been talking with lots of people in the field and they all have been really enthusiastic. Now that I know myself better and I know what I want out of a career and lifestyle, I can make a more informed choice about what grad program to enroll in. I know I want to help people, and feel more comfortable working one-on-one with people rather than large groups.

I love the idea of becoming an educational counselor because I would help students reach their educational and career goals while taking in to consideration their personal preferences and unique personalities. Because I have recently gone on my own intense journey of self-discovery, I would like to help others in that process as well.  I would love to be able to share with students my own educational and career path, so maybe they can learn to be true to themselves as they pursue a career.

My School Experience

“I’ve wanted to be a vet since I was three!”

“I’ve always wanted to be a vet as long as I can remember!”

“There’s nothing else that I could ever imagine myself doing!”

These are phrases I’ve heard many, if not most, of my former classmates say over the years. I wished many times I could honestly say the same things, but I just couldn’t. It wasn’t my dream to be a vet since childhood. Other careers did interest me, but being a vet seemed like the best fit, was what I thought.

Becoming a veterinarian is a calling, and not for the faint of heart. Vet school is tough—extremely tough, frankly. Arguably, it can be said that it’s even more of a challenge than medical school. Not only do vet students have to learn medicine and surgery like med students, but they have to learn it for multiple species rather than just in man. I knew this before going in, but I was up for the challenge. I wanted to be a vet, and I was prepared for the hardships it would take to get there. Veterinarian was the perfect career for me, I thought. There’s nothing else I would be so suited for, was what I told myself. Little did I know that I wasn’t fully listening to my intuition. Let’s go back a few years…

I first started seriously thinking about careers when I was in high school. Up until that point I had worked hard in school, got good grades but didn’t give serious thought about what I would do when I grew up. As I drew nearer to college, I started thinking hard about what I should study and what career path to pursue. I have always been a huge animal lover, and I figured a career working with animals would be fun. Since I always excelled in school, I decided that becoming a veterinarian would be a perfect fit since I would be helping animals and using my smarts on a regular basis. Once I made this decision I worked extra hard for the remainder of high school to ensure I would get in to college.

Flash forward a couple of years and I got in to all the colleges I applied for (there were only two ha ha). I decided to major in Biology which gave me flexibility in the courses I could take. This way I could take all the pre-requisite classes I needed to do to get in to vet school, and have them count towards my major as well. I studied hard, took a variety of classes, volunteered at a local animal shelter and worked as a kennel attendant in a local veterinary clinic to get experience working with animals.

Many of my fellow pre-vet students were already working as veterinary technicians, and I wondered how they were able to get these jobs that gave them so much more responsibility than I had as just a kennel attendant. I wanted that experience too. I applied for a few tech jobs, but didn’t get them. I chalked this up to the fact that I did not have enough experience in the field. But how could I get experience if no one gave it to me? Now that I reflect back on it, I am pretty sure it was my interview skills and the way I presented myself that caused me to not get those tech jobs. I was too quiet, too unsure of myself and unassertive. I didn’t know at this point that I was an introvert, INFJ or HSP. I was not familiar with those terms. I just thought I was too shy and abnormal. I just thought I wasn’t smart enough.

Upon college graduation, several of my classmates got in to vet school and were excited to start that chapter of their lives in a few months. I had not applied yet because I didn’t feel ready and I didn’t think I had enough experience to be a strong applicant. My plan was to keep working in vet clinics for a few years, and then apply to vet school. I figured I would be more prepared if I took that route.

Well lo and behold, the first job I got out of college was…kennel attendant. I still couldn’t find a vet tech job! I was starting to seriously doubt my capabilities. I had worked in that job for about 6 months when I saw a job posting for a full-time vet tech position. I was delighted that it said they would train the right person. Finally someone who would give a newbie a chance! I applied, interviewed, and got the job! I was so excited to take the next step to becoming a vet. Finally I would be able to learn new skills, work more closely with a vet, and get more of a real world idea of what it was like to be a veterinarian. I was finally able to put my kennel days behind me and gain some invaluable clinical skills. I was both nervous and excited to start this new job, and I knew it would lead to great things…

To be continued!

Where To Begin?

I have been struggling for weeks over how to begin this blog. I wanted it to have some sort of cohesive theme that made it stand out and be unique. But after over-thinking things as I always do, I figured I would simply just write what is on my mind. Even if there is just one person out there who connects with what I have to say, that will be enough for me.

Since I titled this blog INFJ thoughts, that is what it will be! No shocker there. I am new to studying the Myers–Briggs typology, but the more research I do in to my type, the more amazed I am over how accurate the descriptions are! In the past year I had done a few free MBTI tests online that all came out as INFJ, and after reading up on this personality type I knew I was definitely one.

Recently I have been struggling with finding a good career fit for me so I did a professional career assessment including the Myers-Briggs as well as the Strong Interest Inventory. Not surprisingly, the results confirmed that I am INFJ.

I just love reading up on INFJ characteristics. All of my life I felt different than others, and it is so comforting to now know why (we’re the rarest personality type!) and to know that there are others out there like me! Now I have a title to ascribe to my weirdness! When I am feeling overwhelmed by something about life, or just life in general, I’ll start googling INFJ and read others’ stories. I am so grateful for the INFJ online community and for people sharing their experiences on blogs and other social media.

In addition to being INFJ, I am also a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP). I feel like having both of these traits make life a little bit harder. I don’t breeze through life like others seem to do so easily. The more learning I do about these traits though, the more I seem to understand myself and how to cope with certain situations.

I have always been one to keep my thoughts and concerns to myself, for the most part. I just live inside of my head most of the time. Sometimes it gets to the point where I drive myself crazy with all these worrying thoughts racing through my mind. I’m going to try to express myself in writing more, in hopes that it helps me organize my thoughts. I find expressing myself through writing is much easier than verbalizing. If I tried to say all of the stuff I just wrote out loud in a conversation, well, it just wouldn’t come out so smoothly!

Well if you made it this far, thanks for reading! Feel free to leave a comment or message me if any of my thoughts meant anything to you. I’d love to get to know other INFJs, introverts, HSPs, or anyone who is interested in these topics!

More to come. I’m thinking I’ll write about my educational/career path next which is a big focus in my life right now as I am going through a major shift!