The rarest of all the 16 Myers-Briggs personality types, INFJs make up only 1-2 percent of the population and are known for their paradoxical blend of “dreamer” and “doer” all in one. Their “NF” component, revolving around Intuition and Feeling, leads them on a constant quest to obtain soaring goals and idealistic solutions, while their “J” component of Judging makes them seek fulfillment of those goals through action and effort. This seemingly contradictory blend can make for tremendous success and accomplishment, yet it can also bring feelings of dissatisfaction and angst for those frequently called visionaries. With big dreams and the heart of a fighter, the struggle is real, never-ending, and, in my INFJ opinion, totally worth it.
Here are nine brutally honest confessions of an INFJ.
Most people finish a task and feel satisfaction; rarely does that happen for me as an INFJ. On paper or in action, the project is over, but not in my INFJ mind. I’m left constantly pondering “should have’s” and “wish I had’s.” Most days, I run four miles at a high incline, and during the run, I’m almost always thinking, “I should go higher” or “I need to up the speed.” Finishing the workout, I do feel a bittersweet sense of relief — yet that relief is often followed by a critic’s review of my performance. Unfortunately, that critic is me, unyielding and brutal. Long story short, rarely do INFJs like me pause to savor a sense of success before they’re on to the next level of optimization.
Although INFJs are known for their high levels of empathy and compassion, I’m often guilty of critiquing others — though I rarely speak my criticisms out loud. As a veteran teacher, I become a bit embittered when students and other teachers say things like, “I am so proud of my ‘B’ on that test,” or “I’ll just use the same lesson I used last year.” Yes, my silent criticisms begin. Why get a “B” when you could get an “A”? And I know your lesson is good, but surely you could refine it just a little bit, couldn’t you? If I’m being completely honest, perhaps my criticisms stem from my jealousy of their ability to be so easily content, for, as described in the first point, this is something INFJs seldom feel. If it’s any comfort, though I may be secretly judging you, I almost always judge myself more harshly.
As much as INFJs may secretly browbeat you for your lack of perfectionism, rarely will we reveal ourselves. Personally, I fight so many internal demons that to attack anyone else feels hypocritical. Yes, we INFJs have great insights — and often wisdom beyond our years — but we don’t feel it’s our place to go “fixing you” when we at times feel so broken. If you decide to take advantage of our intuitive nature, rest assured: We will “break it to you kindly” in soft strokes rather than hard slashes. Remember, we feel deeply, and our goal is usually to help, not hurt.
At times, INFJs get very frustrated with the world. So many people who trod on others, so many pointless, painful conflicts, and so many people who seem to absolutely NOT CARE AT ALL. At times, we need to step away from it all, be alone, and remind ourselves that we can continue forth on our journey to improve ourselves and the world around us.
For example, as a mother of teenagers, sometimes I need a “time out” from my children. While other people brush off sibling conflict as natural, I often find my mind going to dark and wide-ranging places, wondering, “Maybe I didn’t teach them kindness,” or “Maybe they will never learn to love each other, “ and “Is this anger and insensitivity indicative of how they will treat others in adulthood?”
But time away — that precious alone time that all introverts need — provides perspective and settles my worries, slowly giving me permission to realize I cannot fix the world all at once. Mother Nature must lead, and I must be content to let her work.
If you’re looking for an INFJ (or studying one to see what makes this rare personality “tick”!), walk straight to the books lying around their office, next to their nightstand, or check their Kindle. Never completely content with ourselves or our world the way it currently is, always looking for answers to the big questions in life, our books are our lifeboat. We use them like patients use prescriptions. They satisfy our endless quest for knowledge, from self-help books that help us eradicate personal and emotional weaknesses or improve relationships to classic literature, which we believe holds infinite wisdom about ourselves and the world. To be honest, sometimes we use them to escape. By jumping into another’s skin, we release ourselves from our inner critic and never-ending “fix the world” to-do list. Books are our teachers, psychologists, and vacations all in one.
As a teacher of literature, colleagues tease me about the dark themes and works I study with students. I relish these readings, scoffing at the happy-go-lucky, sunshine-and-roses books with their foreseeable happy endings. Students of both life and people, INFJs understand that rarely is the “fairy tale” real. We see behind the mask shown on social media and polite, surface-level conversations others hold over lunch or at the grocery store. We want the truth behind the happy. The truth is, people are complex, and at times, life can be a struggle to find peace, acceptance, and happiness. Well, at least for an introverted, intuitive type like us, it is. INFJs celebrate the struggles, the honesty, and the painful truths about life and human nature. We want to talk about these issues — not pretend they don’t exist. Otherwise, we remain inauthentic and un-blissfully ignorant.
INFJs can be the dog with the bone — the ones who won’t let go no matter what. When we undertake a task, there is a marriage of sorts. We dedicate ourselves to that mission, even when the chips are down. People are sometimes amazed at an INFJ’s ability to accomplish daunting and seemingly impossible tasks, often while juggling other responsibilities as well. The truth is, we only focus on things that matter deeply to us, and to admit defeat is to let the world down — and most importantly, ourselves! There are days when I can only take “little bites” toward my goals, but wolf or not, I am definitely GOING to Grandma’s house.
We believe the world can be beautiful; we believe we can be winners at life and happiness; however, we understand this requires work. Often, you will see the INFJ at work long after all the other lights in the building are off. If we leave work “early,” it’s rarely to Netflix and chill. Most often, it’s because we feel we can work better in our introvert’s sanctuary — home. Yes, I can be a workaholic, and yes, my loved ones sometimes have to pull me away from my latest “mission.” The truth is, I feel compelled to make my dreams come true, and I know that my diligence is the key. Our bosses love us and our coworkers think we’re crazy, but that’s okay. Our job is rarely just “a job.” It is a purpose — and no purpose is achieved without hard work.
Yes, INFJs need to be praised for their work ethic and thoughtful nature — but sometimes we also need some taming. Tackling the world is a huge project, and sometimes we get discouraged. We may work to exhaustion, and our ever-questioning, perfectionistic nature can at times imprison us. We lose the beauty of butterflies in flight and moments of serenity found in the babble of a child’s laughter or a family pillow fight. Bring us back. We crave those few unthinking moments of bliss where everything just feels “right.” Help us get there. Help us live in the moment and see that, in spite of a world that needs fixing, some moments in time are perfect just the way they are.