Confessions of an INFJ

How these four letters have shaped and defined me

lf17-AlyLee

I am an “advocate,” “protector” and “counselor.” I find purpose in helping others. I am idealistic, yet realistic; gentle, yet passionate. Sometimes, I can be a perfectionist to the point of exhaustion and can be intolerant of others’ weaknesses. I place extreme importance on order in my external world and tend to internalize conflict manifesting in physical signs of stress.

Are you a little uncomfortable? This is a lot of intimate details about a girl you’ve probably never met. Well, I’m uncomfortable. Technically though, this is public information. These are various descriptions of the INFJ — the Introverted, Intuitive, Feeling, Judgmental type from the ever popular Myers-Brigg Type Indicator. I am an INFJ, which means, apparently, that I yearn for authentic relationships, that I am simultaneously like Jesus (wow) and Hitler (yikes) and that I am indeed a very private person — which explains my discomfort on baring my soul to you.

I’ll admit when I first was forced to take the MBTI at a career-readiness day back in 10th grade, I didn’t think much of it. My punchy adolescent self scoffed at this test that claimed to know everything about me. After reading through a few articles about the INFJ though, I felt like I had met a lifelong bosom-buddy, someone that could tell me things about myself that I hadn’t realized.

Just this past weekend I spent all of Friday night reading my own profile, comparing it with friends, seeing who I was supposed to be compatible with, what careers I should choose … Why did I like this? Doesn’t the sheer fact that my personality can be boiled down to four letters make me not so special? We are a generation fiercely dedicated to the notion that we are unique. So why do we cling to the Myers-Brigg or to Hogwarts Houses where our personality is reduced to a category?  

Maybe this is my personality type speaking, but these tests were beyond just interesting psychological tidbits. They seemed to validate things in me that I thought were weird or distasteful. For example, I often have lots of thoughts rolling around in my mind during a conversation. Sometimes this makes me seem more reserved or even cold to others. I have always seen this as a detriment — marking me as socially awkward. I learned this is common in INFJs. The test made me see how it’s normal, innate and something I should recognize but not be debilitated by.

After this revelation, I wanted the world to read my profile and understand me — “I’m not socially awkward! I just think a lot!” I also wanted all my friends to take it so I could learn more about them. Reading through my peers and loved one’s profiles, I began to see how my dad’s fierce rationality stems from his INTJ-ness and not necessarily a lack of emotion. I saw how my brother’s tendency to dominate a conversation stems from his ENTJ-ness and not necessarily selfishness. 

So yeah, maybe it’s a little disheartening to know I’m not as unique as I thought I was (though INFJ is the rarest type). And maybe it’s a little weird to draw confidence from an unempathetic psychological test. But these four letters have led me to more acceptance and discovery than any hippie self-help book. They have placed me in an abstract community of other INFJs, and have helped me see the ways people think that might seem different to me. Lastly, to any ENTPs out there, apparently we’re soulmates so hit me up.

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