I am an INTJ. It means, among other things, that I have a good sense of pattern recognition.
When I first encountered that idea, I mentally scanned back through my life and realized that this made sense.
I’ve since observed it quite frequently, this ability to locate patterns pretty easily. It’s kinda cool, really. In some ways it is like a shortcut to understanding stuff. But it can be hard to articulate the process behind the pattern.
For example, sometimes I can solve an algebra problem without thinking about it. I just see the answer and write it down.
The first time this happened to me was in physics in high school. On one of the problems on a test, I just wrote the answer down because I saw how the problem worked. The teacher didn’t give me any points because I didn’t show a step-by-step solution. So I had to explain the solution to him after class, and it was hard to do because I just SAW how it worked. I don’t know how else to describe that experience. That was a fun class and he was a great teacher. But he didn’t let me slide! lol I had to work out the solution. This is him, Mr. Halsey. He wrote a very touching note to me in my senior yearbook. I’m friends with him on Facebook now.
So I think that happens a lot to me, more than just with math problems. I see how something works and I move forward based on what I see, but I have to struggle to describe the mechanics behind it.
Like when I decided to become Catholic. Not long after I left the cult I knew that I had to reject the gnosticism I had been taught there. I wanted to return to my first love of Jesus, son of God, second person of the Trinity, that I had when I was younger. For a couple years I considered returning to some sort of Protestant church but intuited that I would eventually become Catholic anyway. Meandering through Protestantism first, then converting to Catholic later, was a definite possibility, but at some point I realized that it would be inefficient. So I went straight to the Catholic Church. Seeing what I saw about contraception and how it harms the “one flesh” teaching of scripture was the main pivot point, but there were other things as well. For example, I needed a firm historical basis for the church I would join, and I found that in the Catholic understanding of apostolic succession. So again I saw the pattern of how things would play out and made a choice based on that. But articulating that pattern came later, and, in fact, I’m still working on it.
I have sometimes wondered if my friends and family thought I acted impulsively when I became Catholic, because it may have seemed like a sudden decision. But it wasn’t impulse. Setting aside the obvious role of God’s grace in all this… as far as I could see at that time, it was just me seeing the pattern of how things would play out eventually, then making a decision based on that.
Perhaps this gift of pattern recognition is one reason my childhood was so distressing. There was no pattern to my family. Nobody else had the “family” that I had. I bet most reading this can’t imagine being the lone member of a family. That doesn’t make sense, it is a contradiction, but that’s the way it was.
Read more about INTJ and pattern recognition.