If you’re familiar with the whole Myers-Briggs personality types scene, then you have most likely heard of the ultra-rare/hidden magical intuitive type called the INFJ. A simple google search will tell you that an INFJ is “the advocate,” “the counselor,” the idealists, the dreamers and doers, the people who can “peer into the soul,” the #lessthan1percent.
Upon further reading, you’ll learn that an INFJ often feels like they don’t fit in, hates small talk, has their head in the clouds (more often than not), prefers a small select group of friends, needs deep conversations with said small select group of friends, has the tendency to absorb the emotional energy in the room, cares and feels on a soul-deep level, will not hesitate to cut someone out of their life if necessary.
The internet has painted us out to be these rare, refined, mystical, introverted, all-knowing, people-loving, good-doers driven by our intuition and ideas. The INFJ has been Romanticized. And, as an INFJ, I find this unsettling. Deeply, deeply unsettling.
So, in an attempt to rebel against this romanticized image, I thought I’d shed some light on the INFJ way.
INFJs tend to live in the grey area of life.
Maybe this is why people think we’re wise (whereas we think we know nothing), but INFJs tend to live and breathe ambiguity. And, according to a few articles, we hate the ambiguity. This isn’t particularly true. Do we enjoy the ambiguous? Yes and no. It really depends on the INFJ and their experiences in life. Some INFJs are more accepting of the ambiguities of life than others. In my case, I find the grey frustrating. But I embrace it. This doesn’t mean I think everything is grey, though. It’s all circumstantial. There are situations that can (and will) provide a clear-cut line. Those lines need to be acknowledged (and they are). However, for the most part, I don’t need lines, closures, or definitions. Most are up for interpretation. INFJs like to talk about and consider those interpretations. We probably won’t get a concrete answer but mulling it over helps us endure the grey.
We’re extremely introverted.
Obviously. But I don’t know how to stress just how much of a fault our introversion can be. INFJs have to be incredibly careful not to live in their own head because we can do it so easily. It’s not hard for us to reject reality (especially in times of stress). I can be in the middle of a conversation with someone and I’ll accidentally “check out” (or purposefully, it really depends on the situation and how tired I am). We find solitude way too comfortable and most social situations exhausting. But it’s important to understand that we’re not actively trying to be rude. We care. We really do. But we’re also tired from the constant stimulus and just need to not. Autopilot is a switch easily flipped.
We’re in a constant state of feeling everything and feeling nothing all at once.
This one is a little hard to explain, but I’ll try my best.
INFJs have the tendency to “tune in” on other people’s emotions. We take it all in, even if we don’t want to. This is why social situations can be exhausting…and why we burn out really quickly. But does this little affinity for other’s emotions and whatnot mean INFJs are empaths? Nope. Some INFJs may be actual empaths, but it’s more appropriate to say that INFJs are naturally empathetic. We’re just really great at taking in other people’s emotional energy. It’s a natural talent, and a curse. Our aptitude for other people’s emotions means that we’re usually (severely) out of touch with our own. We feel everything from everyone but we don’t feel anything ourselves. Sometimes, if we’re lucky, we actually remember to register our feelings later on. Do you know how jarring it is to remember that you, the INFJ, have your own feelings? Very.
We think about “what is,” but it is deeply influenced by the experiences of others (i.e. human experience/condition/nature).
This plays into an INFJs talent/curse for feeling everything and nothing. Because we feel for others before ourselves, our grand abstract thinking and answer searching is centered around everyone else. This is how we can be so insightful. But when we’re plagued by big all-consuming existential questions (“What is life?” “What is human?”), we’re typically not part of the equation. Everyone else, their ideas, their life experience, is. An INFJ can easily forget that they are a person who also has experiences in the world because they naturally consider everyone else first.
We tend to have more questions than answers and we crave meaning to no end.
We INFJs ask a lot of questions. Honestly, this (and the feeling everything thing) is why I think the internet has labeled us “the counselor.” But that’s beside the point. Questions, for an INFJ, can lead to us spending hours, days, months, researching and looking for an answer, for some meaning. Universal truth, universal meaning, is always our aim. It’s can be an obsession. But an INFJ will never be satisfied. We know that anything universal is…well, I don’t want to say “impossible” because there needs to be room for being wrong, but an INFJ understands that most (if not all) meaning is created (rather than inherent). This insight pains us, as well as inspires us. If we create meaning, then maybe, just maybe, we can create (or, best case, find) a universal truth, thus furthering our understanding of human nature, thus allowing us one step further towards our ideals. So we keep asking questions, keep learning, keep searching. It’s a quixotic journey. One we love and hate.
An INFJ is a lover of humanity but has serious reservations about those within it.
For this, I quote Fyodor Dostoyevsky (via The Brothers Karamazov):
“The more I love humanity in general the less I love man in particular. In my dreams, I often make plans for the service of humanity, and perhaps I might actually face crucifixion if it were suddenly necessary. Yet I am incapable of living in the same room with anyone for two days together. I know from experience. As soon as anyone is near me, his personality disturbs me and restricts my freedom. In twenty-four hours I begin to hate the best of men: one because he’s too long over his dinner, another because he has a cold and keeps on blowing his nose. I become hostile to people the moment they come close to me. But it has always happened that the more I hate men individually the more I love humanity.”
It’s a fault from our ideals. Humanity, as a concept, has the potential to be perfect but humans, as a concept and otherwise, do not. When we deal with people, we are reminded of this. But it doesn’t mean we’re not going to keep striving towards our ideals or treat you like an equal. We’re all dysfunctional.
The “dreamer/doer” trait is an overstatement.
Yes. We dream about a world where our morals and ideal prevail. A lot. But the internet has the tendency to exaggerate just how big our efforts are. Most of the time our “doing” is on a very very small scale. Like, I live by my own morals and whatnot but I’m not out there directly fighting against the system. If I happen to inspire someone through my way of living, cool. If not, I’m still living by my own code to the best of my ability. Not all INFJs are on King Jr. level.
The whole “rare” thing. Stop it. We hate it.
I get that the internet thinks we’re super cool unicorns or whatever, but I truly, utterly, *insert adjective that suits your taste* hate the fact that this is always mentioned when talking about INFJs. In a world that’s obsessed with social media, the idea of being unique is a selling point, I get it. But INFJs really, truly, do not care about being rare or unique. Being rock is more desirable.
All in all, as an INFJ, I must tell you that being an INFJ isn’t all that it’s cut out to be. Yes, we dream a lot. Yes, we feel a lot. Yes, we think a lot. But, most of the time, I think it’s safe to say that we’re just exhausted people who forget to human…whatever that may mean.