Introverts! Embrace Your Weirdness! (10 things about INFJs)
In the past year or so, since a nasty bout with depression, I have set out to learn more about myself. I want to know what makes me tick. Why do I think and act the way I do? Why do things that matter to others, not matter to me and vice versa? Why am I so different? And why does that bother me? Last year I wrote, 10 Things You should Know about Introverts. It was well received by my fellow introverts. A few Extroverts even thanked me for explaining why introverts are so odd…
Today I will narrow the scope to focus on the “brand” of introvert that I am, and what I am pretty sure my daughter is. We are INFJ . What is that? ok let’s get the dry stuff outta the way…Here is a simple definition:
INFJ (introversion, intuition, feeling, judging) is an abbreviation used in the publications of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) to refer to one of the sixteen personality types. The MBTI assessment was developed from the work of prominent psychiatrist Carl Jung in his book Psychological Types. INFJs are gentle, caring, complex and highly intuitive individuals. Artistic and creative, they live in a world of hidden meanings and possibilities. Only one percent of the population has an INFJ Personality Type, making it the most rare of all the types.
Ok dry stuff is outta the way.
Recently, my 9 year old daughter asked me why she was so different from her peers…why she was so weird! I laughed and told her it is my fault that she is weird. She corrected me and said, “No, God made me like this.” I told her to embrace her weirdness. So she hugged herself…giggled, and walked away. INFJ’s often feel “weird”, like we don’t fit in, that we were made for a different time, place, or world all together.
Here are 10 things I have learned about INFJ’s.
- We despise spontaneity. I have my next 3 months of meals and exercise routines planned out. (That makes me a little odd I know.) We plan things. When plans are taken out of our control it stresses us out. Like when we suddenly have to work late or have to follow someone else’s plan for the day. When it comes to social events, give us at least 3 weeks notice. Nothing strikes fear into an INFJ’s heart like answering a phone call and hearing, “Hey we are having a get together, want to come over right now?” When someone asks us, “Are you doing anything tonight?”, and we respond with, “No.”… that does not mean we want an invitation! We have actually planned to do nothing! That is right…it is written in our schedule to do nothing. I often plan to do nothing and I really look forward to it. That may sound boring, and stick-in-the-muddish, but doing nothing is how we recharge our batteries!
- We may come across as unintelligent in group conversation…especially in settings like a Bible Study. But we really are quite intelligent! Really! We tend to be the quiet listeners in groups. In our minds we may have formulated brilliant responses, but if asked to speak or offer input on the spur of the moment, those same words often dribble incoherently down our chins… However, when we are comfortable and are given plenty of time to think over a question and organize our thoughts, we can usually speak clearly, persuasively, and passionately. Though spur of the moment group-speaking is not a strong point, give us a platform like a blog, and we can often write like Nobel laureates.
- We love people. In fact we often desire to be with people, which may seem strange considering our introverted nature. But, to our friends and loved ones, we can appear to be sociable and extroverted. Which can cause confusion when our batteries become depleted and we withdraw to our secret hiding place, curl up in a ball, and turn our phones off. In large prayer meetings or bible studies we often keep quiet, but one on one, we can talk and pray for hours. We definitely prefer quality over quantity in our relationships. When we make friends, it is usually for life because we pour our entire heart into that relationship. When we have many relationships, which can easily happen in the context of the Church, we can easily become overwhelmed. It can be maddening to us that we are unable to give 100% to each relationship. This can lead to feelings of depression and eventual burn out. This is partly due to the next point…
- We are perfectionists. In every area of life…from school, to exercise, to church, to our jobs, to our relationships. It is exhausting. While having grace and compassion for others, we often don’t have grace for ourselves. Because we strive to such high ideals, we often disappoint ourselves when we fail. When we sin, we often put ourselves in the penalty box, rather than immediately turning to Christ for grace and forgiveness. When I publish a blog post and notice spelling and grammatical errors, afterwards, I tend to tense up…
- We are hyper-sensitive. To everything. EVERYTHING. Seriously….everything. And this is really difficult when you have a blog or “put yourself out there” for everyone to see. The slightest criticism is dissected, analysed, and taken to heart and replayed over and over and over… If you want to get on our bad side, just question our motives or tell us we are wrong. You will witness Yoda turn into the Incredible Hulk in mere seconds! Trust me, INFJ rage is not pretty, you don’t want us to go full Capslock on you…If you want us to never speak to you again, simply call us out in public, lie to or about us, or harm us or a loved one. We’ll disown you, and then destroy you in our minds, wiping out your existence from our lives. (Did I mention we also have a flair for the melodramatic?)
- We want to save the world. But we don’t want to be noticed doing it. We tend to be altruistic. Helping others comes naturally to us. Not so much in the mowing-the-lawn or carrying the-groceries sense, but in the sense of helping people to grow spiritually and emotionally and in overcoming barriers in their lives. We tend to see helping others as our purpose in life, but we believe in teaching a man to fish, rather than giving him one. God has given us an ability and desire to help others. We thrive in helping people better themselves and reach greater heights. In the Church, we love being involved in leading people to a closer relationship with the Lord. We are most fulfilled when we are helping others understand themselves and their problems, and helping them to overcome these problems.
- We are psychic. I can read your soul…Ok, not really, but we do have an uncanny insight into people and situations. We get “feelings” about people and intuitively understand them. Our ability to intuitively feel and sense things around us is a large reason why we help others so easily. This is more than mere sympathy or empathy, we literally feel what you are feeling. We enter into the emotional state of our closest friends and family. Seriously. I don’t expect anyone but another INFJ to believe me. But it is true… it can be overwhelming sometimes. We can also see through lies and manipulation from miles away and we intuitively know what a person’s underlying motivation is. One of the hardest things for us is when we stand at the door growling like a dog at the nice man who doesn’t just want to deliver you some mail…and no one will listen to us…
- We are extremely private. We don’t open up very easily. We don’t trust very easily. This goes along with our perfectionism and psychic abilities. Often we will present our selves as an ideal (One Christian Dad much?) to avoid having to open up. Since we can sense when someone is fake, or if we have ever been hurt by them, opening up to that person is not going to happen! We tend to judge these ulterior motives harshly, but instead of calling them out for these sinister motives, we prefer to slip away and let the relationship fizzle out…rather than wasting energy on it. But if your motives are pure, and once we open up to you, you will discover that under that cold shell is a vast chamber of compassion, love and warmth. We want friendships that are deep and meaningful and we give 100% to those relationships.
- We despise small talk and gossip. Oh how we despise it. It wastes valuable energy that could be used for meaningful, up building conversations! I will say, “Hi”, to anyone, but if an INFJ asks you how you are doing, we actually mean it. We want to know how you are. What’s going on in life. What pain you are feeling. We want to rejoice in your victories. We want to weep with you in your sufferings.
- We will rock the boat…Gently (at first.) Along with our perfectionism comes a deep-seated idealism. But we are not merely idealists, we are decisive idealists, which means that our beliefs are matched by a determined action to see these ideals come to fruition. Rocking the boat is a typically rare thing for introverts, but it is something that INFJ’s tend to do if there is a felt need. Being altruistic, we do it not because we are trying to make ourselves look good or bring ourselves attention, but because we are trying to advance an idea or cause that we truly believe will make the world a better place. Usually content to sit at home with a book and a coffee, when we come to believe that something is important, when that thing sets off the passion grenade in our hearts, we will pursue that goal with a conviction and energy that can catch even our closest friends and loved ones by surprise. A friend once said that we are the quiet revolutionaries. That sounds about right.
- Money is nice, but it isn’t what motivates us. Most people do not get us. Even after reading all of this, most of you are probably still confused about us. I admit it. We are different. We don’t need many material possessions to be happy. Things do not impress us. Money does not really matter to us. But we are in good company. Jesus, Ghandi, Mother Teresa, Martin Luther King Jr. and other altruistic sorts have also been identified as INFJ…I am not sure how we can pigeon hole the Son of God into a made personality type theory, so just in case that goes to our heads…Here are some not so nice INFJ’s: Adolph Hitler and Osama Bin Laden. Hence the reason I used the qualifier, “usually.”
Oops, that is 11 things. Did I mention we are verbose? I even edited out about 1000 words! Well, there you go. Now you know a little more about me, without me having to open up! We are not perfect by any stretch, well, Jesus was, but the rest of us are sinners and kinda weird. But to my fellow INFJ’s, God made you that way. Embrace your weirdness!
What is your personality type? Since I have not knowingly met any other INFJ’s, I would love to know if there are other INFJ’s reading.