When you’re an INTJ or introvert, life can be filled with awkward moments. I’m going to share some of the top awkward moments for me as an INTJ (introvert in the Myers-Briggs typology). This may not apply to all INTJs or introverts, but you may be able to relate with some of these.
- Awkwardness in grocery or retail stores: I’ve realized that shopping is filled with awkward moments for me. First, there’s that awkward scene when you almost run into someone coming around the isle with your buggy. You awkwardly smile and try to go left, but they also go left. Then you try to go right, and they go right. Then, you both stop and try to figure out who’s going to go where. UGH! Another awkward moment is when someone is looking at something you need to grab. I’ll often “pretend” to look at some product until they leave. Finally, you have the dreaded small talk with the cashier. Can shopping be any more of a nightmare for INTJs or introverts?
- Awkwardness around kids: Although I can be funny and playful around children (when I’m in the mood), I still find many awkward moments, especially with the really young kids. For example, women will ask me if I want to hold their new baby. Do I, as an INTJ male, want to hold a baby? No, but it sure get’s awkward when you say, “Oh, no, I better not.” Then, there’s that awkward moment when you try to reason with a child, only to realize they haven’t developed enough cognitive ability to reason. The only conversation you can come up with is, “So, how’s school going?”
- Awkwardness in crowded areas: I absolutely hate being in crowded areas. I go into shutdown mode. I just get uneasy and tense as people are bumping into me, stopping right in front of me, etc. I often find myself having to weave through people like in The Matrix movie just to get through. My wife actually got aggravated at me once because I literally just had to weave through people because they were driving me so crazy. She thought I cut some people off. Oops!
- Awkwardness during small talk: Every INTJ knows the pains of awkward small talk, but it’s worth mentioning again. I find that small talk is most awkward when it catches me off guard. For example, my family and I recently went to a theme park. When I take a vacation, I’m in this mindset that I’m not there to socialize and I’ll likely never see those people again in my life. So whenever someone tries to strike up a conversation, I find myself going into this strange cyborg mode. It’s like my brain tries to process things like I’m Arnold Schwarzenegger in the Terminator movies: “Incoming Stimulus: Extroverted civilian attempting to initiate small talk. Response: Awkwardly respond while scanning the environment for a way out.”
- Awkwardness in dating: I’m so glad that I’m married and that dating is over for me. First, there’s that awkwardness of trying to approach a person to ask them out or let them know you’re interested, fearing the awkwardness of rejection. Then, I’d always be paranoid of stuff when I was dating. For example, I’d be checking my breath to make sure it was good. If my nose had an itch, I’d be paranoid that I had some booger in it. I was constantly rubbing my tongue around my teeth to ensure I didn’t have a huge piece of food lodged somewhere.
- Awkwardness in school: School was filled with so many awkward moments for me. First, those dreaded ‘ice breaker’ moments where the teacher asks you to stand up and introduce yourself to the class. Next, those dreaded group projects or presentations. In addition, you have those experiences when the teacher will call on you in class, and you realize that you’ve been creating this imaginary scenario in your mind for the last ten minutes and have no clue what he or she is asking you. I’d always hate being called on in class because I could sense that everyone was watching me, and it was like my brain shut down. I couldn’t think. I have to have silence and concentration when I think!
- Awkwardness when caught in imaginary dialogue: It’s always so awkward when I’m pacing back and forth having imaginary dialogue in my mind, only to realize that someone has been watching me or listening to me go back and forth. I often think to myself, “Hmm, how can I convince this person that I’m not clinically insane?”
- Awkwardness while driving: First, there’s that awkward moment when you realize that you are a complete idiot with driving directions, and you cling to your GPS like a fly clings to feces. Next, there’s awkwardness at those dreaded 4-way stops. Because I’m always thinking of so much random stuff while I’m driving, I almost never know which car arrived first. So, I’ll wave the other cars on, but they’ll wave me back. I hesitate a second because we both waved at the same time. Then, I start to go, but they start to go too. So I stop, but they also stop! I just want to burn the tires and drive off. Ugh, I hate 4-way stops!
- Awkward touching: Few things feel as awkward for an INTJ as an unexpected hug or touch for someone you don’t know well, or even worse—someone you do know well but don’t particularly like. Awkward! By the way, touch an INTJ female at your own risk!
- Awkwardness during emotional displays: INTJs have introverted feeling as their third function, so they prefer to deal with their feelings privately, and we use our thinking function much more. It can be mighty awkward when someone has a crying fit and you just stand there awkwardly and ask, “Are you okay? Is there anything I can do? I hope you feel better.” I’ll bet that in a room full of crying people, the ones not crying will be INTJs.
How to Overcome Awkwardness as an INTJ
You can’t avoid those awkward moments in life, but here are a few tips for some of those awkward moments.
- Force a smile. You can never go wrong with a smile. it’s a universal facial expression that implies “friendliness.” George Bush mastered the ark of smiling after saying or doing something really dumb.
- Always try to take an extrovert with you to social events. If not an extrovert, then at least an ISFJ or INFJ with a highly-developed Fe so that they come off as friendly and extroverted. They’ll help you carry conversations while you back away, smile, and nod.
- Practice makes perfect. If you’re never around people, you’re going to develop social anxiety—it’s just a given. The cure is to place yourself in social situations more often. Try to do it at least weekly.
- The most awkward of times is when an INTJ is caught off guard. Try to plan some conversation ideas , but have a more “open” mind during the social events and try to go with the flow.