The Myer Briggs labels me as an ENFJ, which at first glance captures the essence of who I am as an individual. Online definitions suggest that I’m someone who lives with an external focus on other people, in a world full of people possibilities. ENFJ’s are the, “benevolent pedagogues of humanity with tremendous charisma and interpersonal skills by which many are drawn into their nurturing tutelage and grand dreams.”
To a certain degree I concur with these nominal labels that embody who I am: a dreamer, a leader and someone who heavily values relationships. However in reality, I fight a constant battle of figuring out my identity amidst prescribed expectations for a twentysomething as a Berkeley student, a prescribed ENFJ, an Asian American, a dancer and a Christian.
I’m an active explorer of this world and despise the feeling of being comfortable and complacent with my dreams and relationships. Nothing compares to the rush and adrenaline of when I’m standing on top of a waterfall with great company. I value the sense of accomplishment of conquering challenges and climbing mountains together. I thrive in social environments where I get to interact with strangers — whether it’s shaking hands with the homeless man on the corner or being inspired by the rich entrepreneur sitting next to me on the plane. I find it meaningful to be able to connect with others outside of my bubble, even for a brief moment to be reminded that there is more to this world than being a student. Ultimately in establishing connections, I believe it’s imperative to be vigilant to not condemn and to make assumptions of other people and their stories. I’m committed to learning more about myself through others and to sharpen and spur the other person to become a better version of themselves.
Consequently and often time I feel trapped and suffocated by obligations and expectations that have been casted upon me by my parents and peers. These unrealistic meritocratic achievements have distorted my own self-perception of who I should become. I innately know that I am not the ambitious leader who is on the track to become a corporate tycoon as much as the voices around me emphasize that I have the skillset to do so. As a matter of fact, I found myself at ease and in my own skin, when I’m standing up for the causes I’m most passionate about, such as fighting for justice for human trafficked victims. I aspire to be someone and in a career that strives to make my community and world a more just and safe place.
Ultimately, the most important values that shape all of the above-mentioned qualities and characteristics of my life are fundamentally found in my faith of being a Christian. Being a Christian isn’t just a nominal practice and obligation, but rather the truth, joy and hope that I’ve come to believe in. Granted there are a fair amount of struggles and challenges that make me want to give up sometimes. But, I realize to have meaning in my dreams and relationships I need to depend on something everlasting and eternal and that isn’t myself. Life is fleeting, but I live with absolute awe of Christ and understanding the true and everlasting joy that comes from knowing Him.
At the end of the day, I’m figuring out what it means to be simply Tiff without the nominal expectations attached to my many roles and identities. Sometimes my passions and values function both as my strength and weakness, but that is what I perceive to be apart of the struggle in figuring out who I am. I strive to love with boldness and to not live day by day with the fear of getting hurt or not being loved back in return. Granted, the insecurity of unreciprocated feelings or rejection can be detrimental in the pursuit of my ambitions and development of relationships. However, the most important characteristic in my identity is to live in way that catalyzes me to live a fulfilling life in Christ fueled by compassion and humility.