I: Introverted – reserved, independent, composed, and focused
N: Intuitive – idealistic, imaginative, perceptive, and complex
F: Feeling – ethical, compassionate, sensitive, and empathetic
J: Judging – dedicated, conscientious, loyal, and steady
I’ve been classified as an INFJ since I first took the Myers Briggs Personality Indicator in high school. I remember the exact moment we got our test results back and our teacher asked each person to raise their hand if they had the personality type she read out. When she came to INFJ, my hand shot up, then immediately retreated back down.
I had realized, by a quick glance around the room, that no one else had their hand up. All of a sudden, I didn’t want to be an INFJ. “Awesome, another reason to call myself a weirdo,” I thought.
While my friends around me all exclaimed gleefully with their shared-personality peers, I sat silently scanning the page in our booklets about the INFJ, trying to find a reason why I should be proud of this lonely combination of letters.
I don’t remember finding anything I particularly loved. I’d been positive I was an extrovert. At that age, I was itching to grow up. I loved my new high school friends and I wanted to be with them all the time. I was loud and distracting during class, even warranting a few one-on-ones with my teachers where they kindly told me to be quiet.
I felt a little betrayed by my test results, but a deep pang inside my gut told me they were true. For a while, I refused to listen to it, but as I got older and forgot about this so-called personality revelation, I became more self-aware and started questioning why I was the way I was.
Small events throughout the past few years have reminded me of my INFJ combination of letters. It comes up in conversation every now and again, and during university it was part of several personal-development workshops.
The difference between now and grade nine is that now I’m first to volunteer my personality type. I’m proud of it, because somehow without knowing, it’s given me answers and made me ask bigger questions. And that thing that used to upset me the most, how no one else I knew shared my personality type, now makes me cling to those letters. As much as I hate feeling different from everyone else, I also kind of love it. And that’s amazing because like many things about me, it’s one of the symptoms of being an INFJ.
Always in search of a deeper meaning
I can’t seem to excel at things unless I’m passionate about them, and that often involves finding the deeper meaning in whatever I’m working on. In my career, it’s easy to get on a track where the day-to-day work flow is satisfying, but the underlying core reason why my job provides meaning is missing. I’ve often chosen communication or marketing roles at a post-secondary institution with a student audience because the deeper meaning in that career is that my work aims to improve the student experience, something which I’ve lived through and can understand. In that sense, I desire this type of career because it isn’t selling anything. It’s deeper meaning is authentic and well-intended. This search for a deeper meaning is the same reason why I’m a big believer in fate. Every action or event is meaningful in some way, even if we don’t understand it for years.
Difficult to know
I’ve been told many contradicting things about what it’s like to know me. I’ve heard I’m intimidating, but that I wear my heart on my sleeve. Some people have been stunned to learn I’m an introvert, and others can call it immediately. And for me personally, I’ve always had an itching feeling that few people really understand me. I constantly feel like I have to explain myself and my feelings, but there are some people who just get it, and those are the people I let see my true self. There’s three strong versions of myself I can identify. The first impression is the shy, reserved, and pensive thinker. She doesn’t say much, but talks when things are important to her. She’s quite boring and happy being alone. The second impression is the witty joker with a lot to say, always speaking the honest truth, and expelling confidence through her pores. The pensive thinker often turns into this girl after you get to know her. She’ll tell you how she feels, always and often without being asked. The third impression, which very few ever get to see, is the perfect combination of the pensive thinker and the witty joker. This shines through in her work and her creative outlets. Because this impression can often be interpreted as a bulletproof powerhouse, you’ll be surprised to know just how critical she is of herself and how sensitive she is in the outside world.
Highly empathetic and sensitive
I refer to this one as one my greatest strengths, yet also my greatest weakness. I seem to have a keen awareness of how those around me are feeling, which helps me adjust my behaviour around them to improve or maintain how they feel. I love deep and meaningful conversations with others that help me better relate to their experiences. Simply, I enjoy discovering the little things about people that define them. On the other side of the coin, this awareness can burden me and wear me down. I can sense tension and stress, and therefore I feel it too. When others are sad, I’m sad, yet I feel it’s my responsibility to make them feel better. And because I have such a keen sense of what others are thinking and feeling, I can pick up on negative vibes toward me. My sensitivity kicks in and I go full on crazy-mode trying to figure out what’s gone wrong and how I can fix it. Oddly, depending on the situation, sometimes I just don’t care and let it go. Those are the best times.
Exhibits both extrovert and introvert qualities
The other day, someone was shocked to find out I was an introvert and tried to convince me otherwise. I laughed because I know loads of people must think that way. I can give off the impression that I’m an extrovert when I want to, depending on who I’m with, but at the end of the day, I need my time to recharge.
Some people feel productive if they’ve ticked off everything on their to-do list. I can feel productive if I literally do nothing, yet I learn something. Sunday afternoons watching documentaries are always a good idea, reading thought-provoking books are the only kinds of books I read, and lately I’ve been using my personal time to learn new skills. One of my all time favourite activities is having D&M’s (deep and meaningful conversations). Learning about people’s lives is one of the most fascinating things I can do.
Strong opinions and driven by values
We all know there’s a time and a place to offer your opinion, but for INFJs it can feel uncontrollable at times. There are moments where I so badly need to butt into a conversation with my opinion that I literally have to bite my tongue. I know from experience that being “too opinionated” can turn people off, and so it’s best to use this trait with caution. Unconsciously, my opinions and values leads me to choose friends with common beliefs. Whether you call that a bad thing or not, I feel more comfortable around people who value what I have to say and won’t tell me I’m wrong.
Forgets to take care of themselves
While I always fit in my daily shower, there are things around my life that get completely neglected when I’m busy. My room gets straight up dirty, my eyebrows get bushy, my visa bill gets forgotten, and I lose track of the last time I got my hair cut. It’s not that bad. But there is a part of my life I completely neglect when I care too much about other people. I’ve found myself in situations where I am trying so hard to better someone else’s life, that I let them make me feel like shit without realizing it. People take advantage of my loyalty and care and believe they can get away with anything. While it might take me months or even years to figure out that I’m in one of these relationships, it’s always hard to make the decision to put how I feel first and let them go.
Loyal to a fault
Another double-edged sword trait of an INFJ. When I feel loyal toward something, the deal’s been made. However, this causes me to often overlook the bad side of things, like the downsides of a job I love or the poor treatment from a person I’m with. I can miss opportunities to try new things because I feel a guilded loyalty to something else or someone else. I’ve been friends with people who have treated me like the piece of gum stuck under their shoe, while I treat them like royalty for no apparent reason. And I find myself buying things that might be lesser value or more expensive because they’re under a brand I’ve used again and again. Trying to get me to switch toothpaste is a challenge still left to be conquered.
Fulfillment through expressing oneself through the arts
I feel I don’t have to explain this one as I am writing it on my blog that is full of artistic self-expression. Nevertheless, writing my feelings down is the most cathartic thing I can do. Translating it for a deeper meaning or career? One of my biggest dreams.