My friend and I were recently discussing Myers-Briggs personality types, and how less than 5% of the population shared our type, INFP. I thought about that. Fewer than 1 out of 20 people even think the same way as I do. It’s no wonder it sometimes feels like the world is looking at me with a giant blank stare.
While it’s true that there’s a slightly higher concentration of intuitive feelers in artistic professions, the general population of the world, and most certainly that of the US, neither understands nor rewards that type of personality. Even when surrounded by other creative people who may share some or all of the same letters, such is the traits of the type that he or she still feels, more often than not, totally isolated.
That’s why I so appreciate those rare shining moments when I don’t feel so singular. A couple weekends ago, my good buddy and I took our annual trip to the Rennaisance Festival, as we’ve done since we were little. We go more out of nostaligia than anything else, as the festival rarely changes from year to year, right down to the position of the vendors and the quips of the actors. There were, however, a couple of acts we’d never seen before. One of them was an aerial acrobat who worked with silks (dead cool, btw). She’d renamed the childhood playground move commonly known as ‘skin the cat’ a nomer with more pleasant connotations from her own youth: the ‘my little pony.’ I’m only slightly embarassed to admit I felt an instant kinship. After the show I heard her tell one of the kids in the audience her birth year, which was the same as mine.
A bit later we watched a martial arts act with two guys. One of them looked familar–which isn’t unusual at the rennaissance festival when you’ve been in Atlanta theatre a long time–but I couldn’t place him. When my friend said she recognized him too, we realized he could only have gone to our high school. We went up to speak to him after the show and sure enough, he graduated in the class behind us and remembered me well; he even said I looked exactly the same. Besides the kung fu act, he told us, he also washed and walked dogs to pay the bills.
It gave me some sort of weird sense of commraderie to know these other people my age..that is, hovering dangerously close to you-should-have-your-shit-together-age, are working at a reenactment fair for the second/third/fourth year in a row. The work may be a bit closer to their Myers-Briggs type, whatever it is, perhaps, but probably not any kind of life goal. Is it really so different than what I do? I.e., the good waffle?
Maybe, maybe not, but the idea is one that I cling to during more difficult times when I feel like the weight of the world is mine alone to bear, and that I’m the only person struggling with what society says should be simple. This sense of, for lack of less-fruity term, cosmic companionship is a big part of what attracts me to social artistry like theatre in the first place.