Coming to Terms with INFJ

INFJ“I’ve been doing this a few years.  I think you’re the first INFJ result I’ve seen.  Of course, most INFJs don’t take Business Management.  Why are you in this curriculum?”

“Those career tests from high school indicated my aptitude was in clerical and organization, so I figured this was the curriculum for me.”

“Have you ever considered psychology or sociology or a degree in the creative arts?”

“They say there isn’t any money in that.”

“That may be true, but will you be happy with a degree in Business Management?”

“I guess I didn’t think about whether I’d be happy or not.  I thought this was what I was supposed to do.”

 She filed the personality test in a red subject folder where it stayed in a box of college papers, next to the history paper with the ‘A’ and the instructor’s scribbled comment, “You have a good mind, try sharing it with the rest of the class.”  She’d also kept the aced Earth Sciences exam that proved she could memorize and regurgitate and retain absolutely nothing if it didn’t interest her.  Mostly, she kept the tests and papers from the Interpersonal Communications class, but she wasn’t sure why.

Not long after, she quit college in the middle of an I&ME class, in her junior year.  The frustration and boredom had gotten the best of her.

Two years later she went back to finish her degree in management (even though she hated the curriculum) because not finishing wasn’t an option.  “Everyone finishes college.”  “You need a degree in this world.”  “There’s no money without that diploma.”


A few years went by filled with boring clerical jobs, and monthly checks written to pay off school loans for a degree that she didn’t identify with.

At one point, she gave up on jobs having to do with business to pursue jobs she enjoyed – jobs full of creativity, working with her hands, and NOT sitting at a desk.  When others asked, she’d make excuses for her jobs.  They’d say, “How is that using your degree?”  She was embarrassed that the pay was so little in these jobs, but for the first time, she looked forward to going to work.

Several jobs, a marriage, kids and a divorce later she re-discovered the MBTI on the internet.  She took the test again.  She had a vague recollection that she’d tested the same in college.  She dug out the red folder and rifled through the papers.  There it was.  The results hadn’t changed.  The INFJ description was the key to explaining so many difficulties – difficulties that didn’t need to be had she embraced the test results while she was still in college.

So many pieces fell into place:

  • A preference – as a child – for playing alone in her bedroom, and wondering if there was something wrong with her for liking to play by herself.
  • Staring at the pink phone – a dream birthday present for most any other 12 year old girl – and praying it would never ring.
  • Having that boy in 7th grade call, only to lay on the bed, count the cracks in the ceiling and wonder why everybody thought it was fun to talk breathe on the phone.
  • Wondering if there was something wrong with her because she didn’t like talking on the phone.
  • Getting lost in books and wondering why books far surpassed anything in real life.
  • Preferring conversations with adults to hanging out with kids her age.
  • Never fitting into a particular group, and not caring whether she did or not.  Identifying with the hoods and the jocks, but not wanting to align with one group, instead choosing to float between groups.  Joining a sorority because everybody goes through Rush their freshman year,” and dropping a year later when she realized that she preferred the company of one good friend to hanging with a gang.
  • Going to bars on Friday and Saturday nights because “that’s what everybody does on the weekends.”   Watching the clock and waiting to go home to coffee and a good book.
  • Assuming her need to connect and inability to do so in a relationship proved that there was something wrong with her.  Others made relationships look natural, why wasn’t it natural for her?
  • Being told she was intense, or mysterious, too sensitive, a mind-reader, an old soul, or just plain different.
  • Hearing a stranger divulge his life story after having only asked him the difference between two refrigerators.
  • Finding it virtually impossible to enjoy watching network TV, but getting immersed in a movie or book.  Not liking the books and movies that are popular.
  • Getting physically ill when having to sustain small talk for any length of time.
  • Not identifying with the desire for money or material possessions.  Wondering about how the Joneses think, but not caring to have their car or their house.
  • Realizing that there are maybe two or three people in her life that really know her.
  • Having to replay conversations in her head to understand nuance, read between lines, and discover hidden agendas – sometimes into the wee hours.
  • Realizing that she over-thinks absolutely everything – always has, always will – and understands that’s why television can’t possibly be of interest to her when there is so much of interest going on in her mind.


She’s been around the block enough to know that the MBTI isn’t the be-all-end-all, but she sees the patterns.  She understands that she spent too much time apologizing for being different.  Understanding herself better through studying personality type has made the journey less difficult.  Learning her kids’ types has made her a more compassionate parent.

Now that she has come to terms with being an INFJ, she is able to be more compassionate with herself.


That’s why, last night, when the kids wanted to go to the neighborhood ice cream social in celebration of the new play structure, she agreed to go.  She stood in the ice cream line, smiling at folks she’d met, saying “hello” to only a handful that she’d actually conversed with.  She introduced herself to the new next-door neighbor, who’d been in the house for a month already.  She breathed a sigh of relief when, after exchanging pleasantries, she observed that the new neighbor was an introvert, too.  (That should preclude any unnecessary chatting or socializing with the neighbor to the west.  Whew!)

She and the kids stood at the edge of the gathering (where INFJs are most comfortable).  She waited for either kid to express interest in staying longer.  She asked if they’d stayed long enough.  They said, “Wow, it’s crowded.  Should we go?”  She smiled and started walking in the direction of their home.

They’d made their appearance.  She’d lasted 15 minutes.

Later they would take a long walk, enjoying the warm spring evening, laughing about golf, fairy gardens and cats who act like dogs.

She arrived home to make an excellent cup of decaf and finish a decent book.

She DID NOT lay awake into the wee hours wondering if she should have stayed longer at the ice cream social.  She did not regret any words said, or attempt to read between any lines.

She DID think to herself, “Geez, it would have been nice to have come to terms with all this INFJ business a long time ago.”

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  1. Isn’t it interesting how much we push ourselves to not be ourselves when we are perfect the way we are? ;)

  2. Z,

    Yes. What a waste.

  3. To be fair to ourselves, who told us it was ok? Almost no one…even those that were supposed to love us the most. Ideology, when used for personal gain, can challenge us to strive for something better. Otherwise, it is used to beat us into submission when it’s for someone else’s benefit. I had to laugh when you mentioned there being too much going on in her head to enjoy tv. There are so many times I wanted to kick myself for saying something awkward in a conversation (see previous ideology statement lol) because my thoughts had run too far in analyzing it. Oh well, I am me. :)

  4. Z,

    That’s what we can do differently with our kids… allow them, teach them to be fair to themselves – acknowledge who they are.

    To this day, I preface what I’m about to say with, “Ok, this’ll probably sound weird, or woo woo,” or even, “You can count on me to say something bizarre…” Always making excuses for myself, with those that are close to me.

    When I blurt out something bizarre with someone I have just met, well, I just immediately assume that they’re walking away, shaking their heads, thinking “Huh? What is her deal?”

    That’s why I SO cherish my close friends, who continue to be friends, even when they hear the stuff that comes out of my mouth.

  5. I am so glad I am not the only one. ;) I usually realize I did it again when the awkward silence is deafening. Ha.

    My inner circle are my lifeline. I crave to be my unedited self more and more lately, but then find myself looking for solitude afterward. Short spurts of crazy are enough, I guess. :D

  6. Arturo Tolentino

    My experience as well. Even today, I find myself trying to do things because “the money is good” or ” that’s what is expected of me”. But my true desires are so far away from that. I yearn for the freedom to be what I am regardless of what others think, to walk on the beach, to watch movie after movie, by myself, and even to explore “forbidden” thoughts! Thank you for your inspiring article. I thought I was weird and socially inadequate. When I learned about my INFJ-ness, then I realized it was okay to be me. I wasn’t abnormal, just different.

  7. Z,

    Oh! I know the deafening silence, and the strange looks. ;)

    I have this vision of turning into an older woman – with lines from experience on her face (already got ’em), the grey hair cork screwing off the top of her head (got a few of those, too), and her nose always in a book, or a trowel in her hand. If you’re brave enough to strike up a convo with her, she’ll pop off with the most unexpected stuff, and she’ll never make excuses or apologize. I can’t wait!!

  8. Hello Arturo,

    Thanks for reading and leaving a fine comment. It’s always interesting to connect with fellow INFJs.

    And, yes, I have felt weird for a very long time, but now I find myself rather content with my uniqueness. Studying the MBTI has made my weird world understandable… for me, anyway. ;)

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