Chasing the Human (Fe) Experience
The other night I saw the new Captain Marvel movie. What I found particularly interesting were the movies over arching themes, and how they related to humanity.
One of those themes was that of strength, and the merciless resilience of humans. The other was the element of feeling, and how this entity is an essential part of what it means to be human.
Of course to someone who was born with a thinking function over a feeling function (Te over Fi), this only reiterated my thoughts of feeling like an alien on a human planet… my entire life.
I’ve never been good at Fe but not so long ago, I started to make an actual effort on improving it.
About a year and a half ago I had an experience that jolted me into an area of self growth that I felt was unbelievably vital to my existence on this planet… as a human. It happened when someone who I had worked with experienced the tremendous loss of a parent while she was at work. She was sitting in my office waiting for a meeting crying her eyes out and I was completely at a loss for what to do. I am usually someone who is not at a loss for knowing what to do in most situations … except for ones that involve emotions.
After her meeting I had a second chance to do something, anything, to make this moment just a little bit more tolerable for her. She sat behind me for probably five minutes continuing to cry over the loss of someone so close to her. And there I sat, completely powerless, with no confidence in how to address the situation. So I didn’t do anything, I didn’t turn around, I didn’t put my hand on her shoulder, I didn’t sit next to her, I didn’t do anything. And doing nothing in that moment made me feel like the greatest human failure.
I was unable to react to the situation because I couldn’t get out of thinking what was the “logical thing to do” instead of what was the human thing to do.
Not long after this incident, I discovered typology. This sent me down a road of hardcore study to learn about understand my functions, as well as improve on a very particular function I didn’t have… which was extroverted feeling (Fe).
I believe extroverted feeling is such an amazing function because it is able to understand and work within the human experience. It is ultimately in tune with the realities of what it means to be human.
As an INTJ I have a lot of confidence in my ability to figure out basically anything once I have comprised a plan on the best way to get to that established goal.
So I set my sights on extroverted feeling and have been plugging away at its skills ever since.
Reasons why Fe is so beneficial and why you should seek to develop it in your own life:
An improved ability to connect with your own species. People with extroverted feeling are able and aware of tuning in to the human world around them.
Understanding the actual needs of others. People with extroverted feeling have a better understanding of what people going through “human situations” actually need in the moment. Not all situations can be rationalized (sorry thinkers) and the extroverted feeler does not try to rationalize these experiences.
Great at marketing. No matter what field you are in, you should be decent at marketing. Whether that is marketing a product, a skill, a service, or even yourself! Understanding what people like (separated from the reasons) is vital to success in this area.
As for myself, I am very satisfied and fulfilled with my accomplishments as they relate to “things”. But I don’t want to miss out on the human experience on my way to conquer the world. I could have had life as a beetle, a cat, a butterfly, but here I am... an actual human. I would be amiss not to take advantage of this opportunity.
How I’ve approached the feeling function in the past as it relates to human connection - through my Fi.
So because I have introverted feeling third I am relatively in tune with my own feelings towards a subject. There are things that I feel deeply passionate about, and one of those things is my realm of art. About seven years ago I started practicing the aerial arts as a form of alternative fitness. I couldn’t stomach going to the gym with lots of people spending time on a skill that ultimately delivers me know value outside of just better health. So, when I started practicing aerial arts not only did I find a form of exercise that was literally the most challenging thing I have ever experienced, but it was also a way to create this art and therapeutically process the emotions of my inner most being.
A few years into this I became good enough to be offered a paid position as a performer. The pay was... great, and I thought it would be a good experience, especially with all of the money I had put into training. At one of these early performances I had a person come up to me as I was leaving the venue to share with me how moved they were by my piece.
I couldn’t help but think… are they serious? For me, the feeling and the conceptualization I had put into the choreography of my piece was so introverted and personal, that I didn’t really think it would affect someone externally so deeply. I accepted being wrong on this.
Did I do a suedo Fe? Had I connected to someone on a feeling level by taking my personal Fi and sharing it? At that time I didn’t know what was happening in function land, but I did know it felt nice to have that interaction with someone. It was an interaction not based on me solving a problem for someone, or fixing a situation.
It was genuine, it was human, and it was different.
So I continued to perform and still do. Separated by a stage, sharing my Fi, and making art. Like I said… it’s my therapy.
But now, back to my Fe journey and where it stands today.
So basically my life right now is conducting one large experiment on Fe. I test these theories on what it means to be human on multiple platforms, reddit, instagram, youtube, and in real life with day to day interactions. I’m constantly working concepts relating to; does sort of thing, or will this sort of thing connect to people. Will people like something better this way, or that way. I’m always refining, CONSTANTLY learning, and it’s all because I’ve chosen to make myself aware of this spectrum and have committed to improving it.
Some things I’ve learned:
Not all problems need fixing, sometimes they just need listing.
Being heard - by someone, is really important to people.
Genuinely expressing how you find another person valuable, means the world to them.
Taking a moment to find out how someone ACTUALLY is, has importance. ( I used to not ask because I was afraid if they said something… more serious, and I wouldn’t know how to react to it.).
Expressing you interest in someones being, and not just what they can and can’t do for you, matters to them.
Some other things I’ve learned:
It’s ok if you screw it all up. Imperfection is a part of being human (omg what) and if you’re perfectly articulated plan or tactic doesn’t work out. It’s ok. I didn’t like this at first. I like to use my Ni to have a completely predictable snapshot of what should happen. This works amazingly well for things… not always so great for people. This is because people tend to be more unpredictable… unless you have Ni and Fe, in which case you are Derren Brown and I’m jealous.
I used to look at people as functional entities. They served purposes, had skills either positive or negative, and I would engage with them based on the summary of those items. - That is not being a human, and I’m happy that I am growing beyond that mentality.
As I eluded to before, I have this one opportunity to be human. Life is here for a moment and then it is gone the next. For me, the Fe function will take consistent work… forever, because it’s a function I don’t posses. I’m merely trying to figure out how to replicate it and understand it with the functions I do have.
In conclusion, I see the overwhelming value in devoting the time to develop Fe. And the true human experience is one I’m committed embodying - as awkward and painful as it might be in the process.
I’m either going to do this human thing, or I’m going to die trying.