Sometimes people say I’m too happy to qualify as an INFJ. INFJs are brooding, grumpy, sad creatures that should hide away in caves and grow long beards, developing wacky conspiracy theories about the world. Aren’t introverts supposed to be anxious? Aren’t judging types supposed to be more tense?
Me, myself, I see myself as “the smiling melancholic”. I’ve always identified as a melancholic, and especially as a smiling melancholic. Growing up as a child, I was called happy Erik. I think as a child I learnt quickly that a smile and a bit of optimism can get you much farther in life than a frown and a negative attitude. Looking at my dad, who would run a short fuse and would easily get upset, I took on a mediating and peacekeeping role in the family and my smile became a way to keep everyone happy and patient.
As long as I smiled, people would feel reassured and would know everything would be alright. My smile was a big part of the defence I came to develop towards the outer world. My smile got me into any circle of people, and made me blend in with any crowd. I could be my quirky, weird self, but as long as I smiled and laughed, any joke would pass over my head and everyone would quickly rule that “Erik’s okay.”
So no matter my personal mood or feeling I took a vow to always keep smiling. No matter the setback or the difficulty of the setting, I had this attitude that I would be able to save and overcome the situation by MORE OPTIMISM. Beyond the hood, I would run a grumpy, distressed, frustrated mood, and everything would be wrong. But outwardly, projected to others, I would be smiling and optimistic. I’ll make it work out! I would tell others.
How I learnt To Stop Smiling
Only later in life did I ever learn to open up about my feelings to other people. True friends would begin to pick apart my mood and would ask me what was really going on. I had to learn to admit that everything wasn’t fine. I had to confide in others that things were more difficult than I let on.
I had to ask for help and let people know when I was taking on more weight than I could handle. Books like Ayn Rands Atlas Shrugged taught me that I needed others to survive. (Yes, I know, hardly the message of the book…) Books like Jonathan Franzens Freedom taught me that happiness and life was complicated and that nobody has it all together, like, ever. A physical burnout put me in the position where I had to let go
As a YouTuber, I came to realise it was my responsibility to let my followers see me struggle, and so I would post videos talking about how lost I felt, and how difficult things got for me at times. Just to let people know I wasn’t that bubbly at all. Among friends and coworkers, I still smile, but most people today can tell when something’s wrong, and I’m not as good at hiding it as I used to be. Luckily. I used to hide it so well I didn’t even know it myself. But now I do, and that means I can’t hide it anymore.
What is a Melancholic?
I’m the smiling melancholic, and what is a melancholic?
A melancholic is someone who is always trying to hold it all together.
While the Sanguine is adaptable and free-flow and adjusts to circumstance, the melancholic is the tree everyone can lean on, the wall that keeps all evil out, the foundation that everything else rests upon.
The melancholic is the force of inner stability and the model of self-restraint. Melancholy emanates through every aspect of this types being, and in their desire to hold it all together, they’re constantly walking around as if they are burdened by a massive weight. Life is serious to this type, and this control freak is not going to relax until it has carried it’s burden to the finish line.
The goal oriented, slow-moving aspects of the melancholic makes it seen as steady, emotionally consistent, deliberate, and consistent. When the choleric pushes on and lets the ground shake when he is upset, the melancholic keeps a steady mood and presses onwards carefully and diligently. The melancholic introverted judging type has composure, patience, and dedication. That’s our charm. And that’s what’s most infuriating about us.
The smile? The smile is just make-up. Learn to see past people’s facial expressions and learn to ask them what they are really feeling. Trust me, that’s the best way to deepen friendships.