It’s been longer than I’d like since I last truly sat down to write, but I’m learning to give myself grace. Life’s been full, in a really beautiful way, but now that I’m on summer break, I’m renewing my commitment to sit down and just write for goodness sakes! In the meantime, here’s a piece I wrote for my Magazine and Feature Writing class on the INFJ personality type. I know that some people don’t like the way the Myers-Briggs personality test categorizes people, putting them into boxes, but I have honestly found so much freedom in knowing my personality type. More than anything, it has helped me understand why I act and speak and think the way I do, and it continually reminds me that while I’m usually the odd one out in social situations, I’m by no means alone. Even if you’re not an INFJ, I hope this post encourages you to live into your God-given strengths, and bravely be your quirky and wonderful self. The world needs you, just as you are!
Today’s been difficult, hasn’t it? You feel misunderstood, walked on, and so darn tired of marching to the beat of your own drum. And trust me, I understand. You and I are in the 1% together. So sweet INFJ, this letter is for you. Because I know firsthand that, in our continual introspection, we tend to focus on our weaknesses, and sometimes we just need someone to remind us that our personality is good and we are not alone. So here are three things worth remembering about your personality at the end of a difficult day.
In this fast-paced modern world where so many people are harried, hurried, or simply indifferent, you notice. You are keenly aware of the needs of others, and your intuition and empathy aid you in identifying with their emotions. While it can be draining to absorb the emotions of others, it is a trait that can be turned into a means of blessing those you love.
The key to using this trait for good is to do what it takes to care for your own emotional health. You may be frequently mistaken as an extrovert, but INFJ, you are an introvert through and through. I know our personality type struggles to justify self-care, but if you create space in your life to be alone, doing the things that fill you up, you will be much better equipped to pour into those whose emotional needs you’re prone to absorbing.
Fellow INFJ, you have a propensity towards being kind that is desperately needed in our harsh world. It’s easy to feel utterly powerless in the face of the great injustices that ravage our planet; however, in the words of journalist Charles Kuralt, “The everyday kindness of the back roads more than makes up for the acts of greed in the headlines.” Sometimes kindness is painted as weakness, but I’m here to tell you that choosing kindness takes great courage and strength. So INFJ, keep noticing the needs of others and responding with kindness.
You’re a Contemplative Activist
Nelson Mandela, a man purported to be an INFJ (along with Martin Luther King Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi) once said, “There is no passion to be found playing small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.” As idealists, INFJs often have a heightened awareness of the life we are capable of living, and as activists, we are known for relentlessly pursuing our potential.
16personalities.com describes it this way, “When INFJs come to believe that something is important, they pursue that goal with a conviction and energy that can catch even their friends and loved ones off guard. INFJs will rock the boat if they have to, something not everyone likes to see, but their passion for their chosen cause is an inseparable part of their personality.”
In Heidi Priebe’s article “7 Reasons Why INFJs Could Rule The World And One Reason Why They Shouldn’t” she describes INFJs as idealists with follow-through. We’ve also been categorized as contemplative activists, and dreamers who do. The downside of our ability to get things done is that we often have tasks delegated to us that are not within our area of expertise. It can be frustrating to feel like we have to spend our time doing the work of others, but if we can learn how to say no to those things that are simply not ours to do, our capacity to turn our passion into action can be a valuable asset. So INFJ, keep enthusiastically dreaming and passionately doing, while remembering to say no when necessary.
You Add Depth and Dimension
A nearly universal trait amongst the INFJs I’ve interacted with is an acute feeling of being misunderstood. We simply view the world from a different angle, and while this is not at all a bad thing, it can lead to feelings of isolation and frustration. Belonging is an innate human need, and some days it can be very difficult to feel like the ultimate square peg in a round hole.
Last summer, however, my wise friend Kristal told me something that has forever changed my view of marching to the beat of my own drum. She said, “When you march to your own beat, it doesn’t create dissonance. It adds depth and dimension. And I find it to be refreshing and beautiful.”
Think of an orchestra. If all the musicians played the same note, how long would we want to keep listening? It’s the variation that makes music rich and complex. Honestly, without the harmony would we even call it music, or simply label it noise?
So INFJ, keep marching, keep drumming, and keep adding variety and beauty to the collective symphony in a way that only you can.
Kelly, Your Fellow INFJ