I just finished the INFJ course, and I wish I could thank you, but I won’t. That class made me see my plan for myself is totally fucked up.

I am 27, and working as an advisor to the government. Going to work everyday is exhausting to me: having to come up with all the things people ask me to do, the meetings, everything related to working in an office is just too much, plus the fact that I need to wake up super early to be able to save some time for myself before heading to the office, and also have at least two hours of alone time (I usually go to yoga) before getting back home to my boyfriend. It’s just too crazy.

My exit plan before following the course was to go into something related to health and wellness. I thought it would make more sense than my actual job, and I did my yoga teacher training and I’ve been practicing for more than 10 years now, so it has always been interesting to me. I know teaching yoga is a lot of marketing, I was thinking more about going back to school to study acupuncture and work as an acupuncture/massage therapist/yoga teacher + counting on my boyfriend to be the breadwinner (he’s an INTJ).

Knowing now, from your course, that I am a planner more than a doer, and that my exit plan might not get me what I need to be happy was kind of a relief (not having to go back to school full time for 3 years without a salary was scary), but now I am left without any plan and I feel totally depressed.

I miss my family, spending time with them is the only thing that makes sense to me, but I still have to make some money to live like pretty much everybody else. I have an amazing boyfriend and might have been interested in the kids plan (even though I can’t quite figure it out and still not sure I could do it), but I have been dealing with a disgusting eating disorder for 12 years which keeps me from having my period, and I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to eat enough to maintain my period, so I can’t and I do not want to count on that.

I have no idea what to look forward to anymore. I feel stuck in my beige cubicle and I want to die. Help.

18 replies
  1. Penelope Trunk
    Penelope Trunk says:

    What is the eating disorder? How extreme is it?

    I hope you don’t think it’s an intrusive question. I was in the hospital for an eating disorder when I was in college, so I know a lot about it, and I think this is an important part of knowing how to respond to your email.

  2. Anonymous INFJ
    Anonymous INFJ says:

    Anorexia mixed in the last few years with exercise addiction. It came out at 16, but the first symptoms started around 13.

    I have been hospitalized for a month when I was a teen, and I got in full-time treatment two other times (at 22 and 25) in a mental hospital specialized in eating disorders.

  3. Penelope Trunk
    Penelope Trunk says:

    My recommendation is that you need to have a family and start taking care of something. You need to get a period and have a baby. Or you can adopt. Your life needs meaning and you, like 90% of other women, will find meaning in your life through kids. Not everyone has meaning in life solely through their kids. But it’s hard to find a mother who doesn’t say her kids give her life meaning. And you need something that has meaning besides how much food you eat or don’t eat.

    You should be getting married. You should move on in your life. It is time. You’ve wasted so much already.

    Does your boyfriend want to marry you? Does he want kids? I worry the boyfriend is bad news because he picked someone who cares more about their eating disorder than about him. If he loves you, then he should marry you. Or you should move along. You need to have a family of your own.

    You should not be a yoga teacher. It will not help you get a life that goes beyond your eating disorder. Getting a job that is in exercise is a waste of your time.

    You probably won’t take care of yourself for you, but you are likely to do it for a child. I think this is true of most women with eating disorders. I found that my struggles with eating stopped when I was pregnant. They didn’t totally go away after I was pregnant, but it’s too difficult to focus all day on eating and not eating when there is a child who loves you and needs you. I cannot find any scientific data on this hunt of mine – probably because people don’t want to publish advice to have a baby to tame anorexia because it’s a little messed up. But whatever. Anorexia is way more than a little messed up. So everything is relative. Anyway, pregnancy puts a halt to many chronic illnesses, so it makes sense to me that anorexia would be among those.

    So look, you can’t control the eating disorder but you can totally control if you get married and have a kid, so you should do that. No woman knows how to be a mom so you don’t need to worry that you don’t know. You can figure it out. The most important thing is that you love your child. Everything else will be fine after that.

    In fact, maybe you should adopt first. You’ll get your period back because you will need to focus on keeping the baby alive. And then you can have your own kid. You need to date someone who is on board for this.

    The job you do does not matter. Your life is not about your job, your life is about learning to take care of yourself and other people, one step at a time. That’s what all our lives are about, just some people learn earlier in life than other people.

    Penelope

    • TD
      TD says:

      I really liked this reply.
      I used to scoff at the idea that pregnancy and children cure many ailments. I have changed my mind on this now. Caring deeply about someone or something like children can change one’s perspective entirely and it does cure plenty of mental ailments. It can also make physical illnesses bearable. I would still not recommend this to people I know because I worry about what will happen to the kids if the parent fails to rise to this challenge and care for themselves.
      Thanks!

    • Mark W.
      Mark W. says:

      I disagree with your last paragraph. I think the job does matter to the extent to which it takes away from her alone time. Her alone time appeared to very much matter to her. Maybe a job that’s more flexible would be better for her.

  4. Victoria
    Victoria says:

    Fellow INFJ here. I do not have an eating disorder unless you count persistent chubbiness – I’m sorry to hear you’re struggling with that. I don’t know the answer to this, but it might be worth exploring whether you are doing the kind of yoga that is so enriching it makes you healthier and less focused on whatever feeds your eating disorder, or whether your yoga practice is drawing MORE focus to your body and self-isolation/insularity in a way that makes the eating disorder worse. You cannot have a child and have that much alone time – and it’s not clear that the alone time you describe is actually good for you – so maybe you need a job that offers some of that alone time and is less draining. Like I’m writing this from work right now, in a nice little lunchtime alone time! Consider getting a desk job that is not a high-pressure situation, and consider hiking with friends (or something like that) or doing some volunteer work instead of doing intensely introspective body-focused exercise like yoga. It sort of breaks my heart that you used the word “disgusting” to describe your eating disorder. It is not disgusting. It sounds rather serious. Hugs to you.

    • jessica
      jessica says:

      This is meant to be a legitimate question that may come across as insensitive, but maybe in her case perspective is lacking: Is she disgusted at the disorder or at herself for not being able to handle it and put it behind her (or at least at a much lower priority) by moving on to other things? Are you very hard on yourself about where you are in recovery?

      How do you recover from emotional issues if you stay doing the same things over and over (yoga crutch, exessive alone time, keeping a job thats a bad fit, keeping the boyfriend that may or may not want to marry, not sure about kids or future plans).

      It just doesn’t seem like your life is organized in a way that will solve the problems you are having.

      I would:

      A) talk to the boyfriend about marriage. See his response. Don’t let it go as a conversation for later. Be open.

      B) Look for part time work that is engaging and focused on others. No exercise. Yoga is too self focused.

      D) use your extra time to either get pregnant, plan your wedding, see your family more, or plan on a place to settle. If the BF is not interested in commitment any time soon- start using that time to date again.

      Good luck! You’ll be ok.

    • Pirate Jo
      Pirate Jo says:

      Agreed. She already has a hard time carving out enough alone time to recharge. That’s not going to improve if she has a baby latched on to her 24/7.

      I find the advice “have a baby to fix yourself” disturbing anyway.

  5. Gymzilla
    Gymzilla says:

    Having a baby sounds like a drastic step to me, especially if you’re struggling to take care of yourself. Is the appeal of health/wellness field there because you feel the need to take care of yourself — or even that you might not be doing a very good job at it so this is your way of fixing it? Recognizing that you’re in a bad fit of a job is a good step and you should listen to that instinct. Keep in mind that turning to a marriage/baby-making situation to solve your problem can add tremendous stress to a relationship. I’m an INFJ, recovering Type-A, married-but-childless woman who found a good fit by managing an office full of people — my role is taking care of their careers. I’m behind the scenes and it’s perfect for the empathetic and planning strengths of my personality. I need a lot of time to recharge, and I would not have that if I had kids.

    I think it’s better to try out other things that lets you practice the caretaking side before you have a baby. Nonprofit work that focuses on others isn’t going to make you rich but working in an area that serves your values could be a good iterative step to filling that need, while giving you space to work on the personal issues that you have been struggling with for so long. There are plenty of non-profits where you do field work, so you wouldn’t necessarily be trapped behind the desk, stuck on the phone, or going to meetings and dealing with people all the time.

    • jessica
      jessica says:

      I thought it was a bit offensive at first as well, but the INFJ emailer does not seem to realise she is going in circles instead of moving forward or maybe lacks the motivation to move forward. This is why she emailed, no?

      P is adding a sense of urgency to her situation because it is the only way to get the ball rolling at this point. To be fair, a lot of people do have their lives sorted and full of direction by 27. Maybe not married, or with kids yet, but they have their career path laid more or less and are prepping for more commitment.

      I know someone like this- my brother’s ex- and they switched careers around 28 to exercise fitness instructor and all she does is obsess over her body and anorexia now 24/7, and she is now 32. Her business hasn’t grown, and her life is still on hold. It’s sad, but what can you do. She hasn’t reached out for help as far as I know, although she does frequently talk about is how unhappy she is.

      At least this person is trying to figure out a way out of her situation, and the responses here are laying a path that she might be interested in, so she doesn’t end up in that scenario at 32 or beyond.

  6. Joyce
    Joyce says:

    Hi, Anonymous INFJ! You may also want to consult a doctor to see if you have other medical conditions for not having your period, if you have not done so already.

  7. ellen
    ellen says:

    she said she feels stuck and wants to die and you’re telling her to have a baby, this is irresponsible advice (at best). she needs to go to a hospital for the eating disorder before doing anything, why wouldn’t you tell her to go to therapy? what if the baby she has ends up being a fat kid? i have an eating disorder and i would NOT like to have a fat child, i am self conscious about my fat dog. married or single, with children or without, struggling to find happiness is part of life. why encourage women to be dependent on men and children? it’s 2016 not 1955. there is no blueprint for happiness for human beings.

    • Mysticaltyger
      Mysticaltyger says:

      Actually, there is a blueprint for happiness in human beings. And Penelope has read all the literature on it. The How of Happiness by Sonia Lyubomirsky and Happier by Tal Ben Shahar are good reads for starters.

      • ellen
        ellen says:

        I know she thinks that there is, and has done a lot of research regarding happiness, and the readers of this blog have benefited from that research (myself included). And it would be great if there were a blueprint, but there can’t be – think about the complexities within each human, it makes a blueprint for happiness impossible because each person is different. To tell anyone under age 30 who struggles with anorexia (one of the most fatal psychiatric illnesses according to recent research) and exercise addiction to have a baby is irresponsible. Penelope projects what she wants and what has worked for her on to the people she gives advice to, everyone does this. I am doing it now, it’s irresponsible advice. She needs to seek professional help for the anorexia and exercise addiction, 12 years and no periods leads to osteoporosis, premature aging, and premature death. Marriage and a baby isn’t a recipe for happiness. ps i love penelope’s writing and this blog and i am thankful for the research she has done on so many things. but this is dangerous advice. and i know she’s quick at coming up with advice as well. so i don’t know how long she considers things, which makes me think more deeply about the advice…but i do love this blog and her writing. and i respect/value her advice about 80% of the time.

        • Pirate Jo
          Pirate Jo says:

          This was my thought, as well. Having kids does not give life meaning or solve problems. You just end up with all the same problems you had before, but with less sleep and money.

          Penelope seems to tell an awful lot of people they should have kids, and – setting aside for a moment whether it is even a good idea for the person who is asking for advice – it NEVER seems to be from the perspective of what would be good for the kids.

          Having kids to give myself something to do, or provide an excuse to quit my boring job, will most likely end up being a bad deal for the kids for a lot of different reasons.

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