An Open Letter to Any INFJs Who Have Ever Felt Different

INFJ different

 

Amelia circle

Amelia Brown

Hello again my INFJ friends,

I’m writing to you today about something I have dealt with my entire life. It is something I struggle with almost every day. This is a topic I am asked about frequently by you, my dear readers, but I haven’t quite had the words to write about it until now. I want to talk about being an INFJ personality type and feeling like an outsider. It’s that feeling of being different, isolated, and even lonely.

Sadly, I have somewhat grown accustomed to these feelings, but nonetheless, I wish I didn’t feel them so heavily. I know many of you also struggle with these feelings. INFJs are rare—in fact, we are the rarest of all 16 personality types. We know this already. We are very aware of how rare we are. We feel it when we struggle to find a deep connection with another person. We feel it when we are called out for being “weird” or “difficult to understand.” Hopefully, by the end of this letter, you will feel some relief. I will do my best.


To begin, I want to share some of my personal experiences of being different from other people. I have always been a loner. My mom explains it best: she tells stories of how content I was playing by myself as a child. I would spend hours reading, making art, and playing make-believe. I never really needed a playmate because my imagination was full of stories I was creating on my own.

I did have friends growing up, but usually only one or two significant friendships throughout my life. I never fit in with a group of people. I felt awkward and would usually only speak to classmates when I was spoken to. I usually felt out of place among my peers, so I would doodle in my notebook and daydream about life after high school.

Now, I understand that all of this sounds like some sort of teen movie about a misfit girl planning her bright and starry future. I don’t want to misrepresent my adolescence. Overall, I was a pretty happy kid. I had meaningful friendships during that time. Nevertheless, there was a lingering feeling of being a little out of place. I never knew how to describe it to anyone, so instead I kept it to myself and grew frustrated and moody.

There were things that I was interested in that no one else seemed to care about as much as I did. For example, I have always had an avid interest in equal rights in a time when most people wanted to turn the other cheek and ignore the issues. I was passionate about humanitarian work, and this bled over into my creative pursuits of wanting to tell a story people can connect with. I wanted to explore the world, have a creative job, and do big things with my life. I was passionate and driven. I knew my heart was getting too big to stay in a small town. So I left.

I want to pause my personal story for a moment and touch on some INFJ characteristics that help explain this feeling of being different from others. As I mentioned previously, we’re the rarest personality type—only 1 to 2 percent of the population—so there aren’t many people like us in the world. Our dominant function is introverted intuition. This means we just “know” things that we cannot easily explain to others—call them hunches or gut feelings. We have inner moral codes that cannot be shaken. We are driven, passionate, and loving individuals. We care deeply enough and we strive to create change when we witness injustice—like Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., and Nelson Mandela, who are all thought to be INFJs. We’re nicknamed the “Advocate” for a reason.

Our second function, called extroverted feeling, allows us to have high levels of empathy. We have the capacity to listen—truly listen—and let other people know they are being heard. We can come across as aloof or standoffish when we are inside our heads, but that appearance is soon shifted into our true, loving selves when someone begins speaking to us. We think deeply about issues and we also actively try to solve them. Yes, we are intense. We can be too much for some people to handle. We are not meant for the faint of heart.

Since leaving my small hometown, I have attended college twice and worked at some interesting places. I eventually found wonderful friends and I’m continuing to find more. I have lived in a few cities and learned how to take care of myself. I have met wildly fascinating people. I have fallen in love and out of love and learned how to love myself. I have pushed myself way outside my comfort zone. I honestly don’t even know what my comfort zone looks like anymore!




I’m in touch with who I am becoming. I am reminded that I am an INFJ, through and through, with every new experience that comes my way. I have learned more than I ever thought I could.

Yes, I still feel misunderstood from time to time. I don’t always connect with people the way I hope to. There are times when I feel moody and frustrated because I lack the intimate relationships I want and need in my life. It’s lonely. But my loneliness has taught me that I am okay—I am enough as I am. Being different from other people allows me to stand out. I have no problem using the voice I’ve created for myself to speak up when I like or dislike what I observe. I have learned to trust my intuition more than ever.

Embracing my INFJ personality has helped me in more ways than I can imagine. It’s led to self-acceptance, self-awareness, introspection, and great relationships. Most importantly, it’s led me to you. Using my voice to talk to you about what it means to be an INFJ allows me to feel like I’m doing something worthwhile.


PH circle 2Your gut tells you that you see the world differently than most people—and as an intuitive INFJ, you’re right. Our partner Personality Hacker’s course can help you embrace and develop your intuition. Click here to learn more.


The world needs people like us. Please don’t let anyone dismiss your vision because they don’t understand it right away. I know how big your heart can feel. Sometimes it feels too big for your body. Follow that feeling and let it cultivate the life you imagine for yourself.

Please always remember: you are okay, you are enough, and everything can be amazing if you allow yourself to be exactly who you are. Being different is a blessing. So stay true to you.

Love,

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Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.  Robert Frost  retina_favicon1

Read this: An Open Letter to INFJs



35 Comments

  • Could be describing me;) rare to feel comfortable in a group, the exception being a book club!

  • suresh0807 says:

    Though I (INFJ) keep to myself most of the time, I admired myself on how easy it is for me to navigate through the social wilderness to reach my cocoon.

  • Kellie says:

    Pleased to meet you Amelia

  • angelique says:

    Thank you for this open letter. I am finally becoming comfortable with being different.

  • Emily S. says:

    Thank you Amelia! This was encouraging and affirming to me 🙂

  • Chris W says:

    I can definitely relate to the ‘feeling different’. I hence to say my age but I’m not a teenager anymore. Just a quick advice/hope to younger people, it can get better. For the longest I thought something was wrong with me. From being a basketball player in high school to achieving a BS in Computer Engineering I never felt like I fit in. It was like finding anyone who could care about other people and take anything serious was impossible. Even in my career today it’s assumed I’m a nerd(nothing wrong with that if you are). No one ever gets that I just like to solve ‘problems’ and the details just bore me. Finding the INFJ community and reading so many other’s stories have really made me feel for the first time I don’t belong in the nut house, haha 🙂 It helped give me strength to stay who I am, continue to learn, and still help others. I’d like to think I’m a maturing INFJ. When I was young I didn’t think I would ever get to this point. The end to the beginning is worth the journey.

  • Encouraging to know I’m not alone when I just don’t fit most of the time. As I hear the mid point in my life, I am finally finding contentment with who God made me to be. Learning to fully be who I am and knowing my uniqueness matters and has a purpose.

  • Thank you for writing so honestly and freely about what it’s like to be INFJ. I struggle myself with not “fitting in” and often avoid large social events because I hate the awkward feeling that accompanies them. People never understand our quiet, introspective ways and I have grown very tired of being accused of being shy and anti-social. It’s good to know I’m not alone and as I grow in my self-awareness, I am starting to accept and embrace my strengths of intuition, empathy, and knowledge. Please continue to reach out to INFJ’s and inspire them to make their impact on the world, as only they can.

  • Kris says:

    I love that you wrote this. As a 30 something, I have struggled a lot with my identity and have been trying to find myself as of late. Amelia, thank you for writing this…as I constantly feel different and alone. You are definitely inspiring, as I look forward to your future writings.

  • Sherri says:

    Sounds exactly like me, except that lucky Amelia got to leave her small town… When I was growing up, my best friend’s mother wanted to break us up because I was ‘putting ideas’ into her about equal rights, psychology, etc. I even feel out of place in my own family because I am the only artsy one who loves to learn about new things and new ideas and ways of looking at the world. I have often heard, ‘what’s wrong with that kid’ too many times to count ( back when I was younger) In college, I did not go to the loud bar, but read a lot and I’m sure I will forever be known as that weird transfer at the four year college. The student union got on my nerves, so I would find a quiet place to de stress. A girl came up one time and said, ‘awwh – you look so lonely.’ Not really!
    I have given up believing that people will understand, so now I try to appreciate the person that I am and the unique perspective I have as an INFJ.

  • This was definitely something I needed to read today. Thank you so much for sharing your heart with us!

  • Kira says:

    Thank you, Amelia. You highlighted the wonderful struggle of being an INFJ. I am currently altering my original career trajectory because my advocate tendencies are overwhelming and inspiring me to do even better things in the world. Continue to be wonderful!!

  • Gabbi says:

    This was like reading my own life story!
    Loving to be by myself with my stories and creativity, feeling out of place, having few real friends and finally realising I did not fit in the tiny country village I came from.

    I ended up moving to the other side of the country to study art and later I moved to the capital with two new friends. Now I’m a fulltime freelance artist. Something I hardly dared to dream about when I was younger.

    Thanks for sharing this open letter! It means a lot to see people with similar stories in life. <3

  • Katie Kuo says:

    Thank you for this blog post. As an INFJ it’s comforting to know that there are many of us who do feel this way, and that it’s okay to feel different.

  • Erin says:

    Gosh, your childhood sounds just like mine! My mom has the same stories about me: totally content to play by myself, a read-a-holic, how I made up my own stories, etc. The whole shebang! I’m glad you’re coming to terms with who you are as a person, and as an INFJ. I love that God created all different types of personalities. Just because INFJs are uncommon doesn’t mean they are any less! Thanks for posting. 🙂

  • This was beautiful. Thanks for sharing!

  • Bre says:

    This is exactly what I needed. I’ve been enduring a long struggle with my identity, and I think my journey has been more like a fast-track, but I’m learning to accept the fact that I am different from most people in the world. The sooner I accept it, the sooner I can begin using my gifts to better the world.

  • Haha I have the same childhood stories from my mother–I was always content. I rarely, if ever, got bored because I could easily entertain myself in my own head. Unfortunately as an adult I feel like it’s frowned upon to daydream when there are people around; I feel the pressure to have to interact with everyone all the time when I’d much rather sit back and observe sometimes.
    Thank you for posting this, Amelia! <3

  • jwarrenjr says:

    Amelia, thank you for your writing, which is always so beautifully soulful. I wish you and all the readers comfort in times of loneliness, times that can seem interminable but will prove to be only temporary.

  • Lynn says:

    Amelia, you’re an old soul. Thank you so much for sharing part of your journey with us. Your words are heartening, I couldn’t have said it better, yet it’s so familiar. I know we’re not completely alone, ever, and that a few other people can relate too. But it’s still really nice to hear these words anyway, don’t hear them often. Thank you.

  • adleader says:

    I’m always encouraged by other INFJs pushing beyond their comfort zones, keep it up and keep sharing!

  • INFJash says:

    Wow, this was an amazing read. Thank you very much for looking inside yourself to write it. It was so similar to me that it really made me feel motivated and encouraged to keep going down the path I am on. I really wish I could have a career like you, helping people in this way through a blog (and I am sure other ways) – it is amazing!! Unfortunately there are not any opportunities like this that I have seen.

    It is wonderful how encouraging you are to other INFJs, I want to do that too. Your articles are just wonderful and I cannot wait to read more! 🙂

  • Angel says:

    Thankyou Amelia for writing this wonderful article. Being an introvert is something I’m still struggling with.Between feeling awkward and lonely everyday and my self esteem hitting rock bottom, the last couple of years have been difficult for me. Knowing that there are others in the same boat as me and that I’m not alone gives me a lot of strength. You have my heartfelt gratitude.

  • Hunter Holy says:

    I enjoyed reading this and feeling a sense of kinship with a fellow INFJ. I am in my 50s and have recently re-discovered the MBTI type and how it so deeply impacts my feelings and behaviors. After spending years in therapy to find the sources of my “outsiderness” and loneliness (and given my ragtag, slipshod flim-flammery of a family and upbringing there are multiple issues) only to discover that while, yes, my lack of solid familial support saddled me with multiple neurosis, as an INFJ/INFP (I score about 50%/50%) it made the adjustment into adulthood all the more difficult. Also, it made me accept the parts of myself I cannot change (the INFJ/INFP temperament) and understand more about how they impact my relations with the world. I love this website, and if I had a resource like this when I was younger, like Amelia has, I could have learned to accept the things in myself I cannot change and not spend years pathologizing what is actually normal, beautiful, unique and unchanging.

  • Thank you for sharing your thoughts and writing this open letter to us! I have always felt like an “outsider” whenever I attend big groups, and I have almost never felt at home anywhere. Lately I have just like you stepped out of my comfort zone. I studied abroad in Spain for 3 months and lived in a shared apartment with complete strangers, but I turned out okay! Now I feel like I want to challenge myself all the time, I love being an INFJ! 🙂

  • Larisa says:

    I can’t tell you how thankful I am for this letter. I am 21 years old struggling with all of my relationships. I have been hearing all my life that I should change and that I will never be accepted as I am because I am too weird, stubborn, not flexible, always in my own world etc. Thank you for reassuring us that there is nothing wrong with us!

  • Juha Stark says:

    Thank you for your honest words!

    I bet we all INFJs feel like this… Free souls wandering among the dead living.. It is hard to explain how we experience life since it happens all within.. Only very few worthy ones will ever be introduced into our rich and colorful inner life where everyone’s needs and desires are taken in concideration. Nothing to be shamed of.. But something to be uniquely proud of ☺️

    Best Regards!

  • Lora says:

    You’ve described so much of me and thank you for affirming our identity

  • Dear Amelia … I think you have one a wonderful job of describing the INFJ — along with the highly sensitive person in general — whether introvert or extrovert. As we know, according to research psychologist, Dr. Elaine Aron, the highly sensitive person makes up 15-20% of the population. Characteristics we all share are : D.O.E.S. : Depth of Processing ; Overstimulation; Emotional Intensity and Sensitive to Subtleties. These four things manifest generally with following : Misunderstood; Social justice advocates; Empathy; Good Listeners;
    Thinking deeply about most things; Intense, passionate, intuitive (but not all HSPs are naturally intuitive (the ISFJ, ESFJ, ESFP, ISTJ for example;) strong inner moral code; Loving;; Creative; Longing for meaningful work
    and a small circle of friends. Please know my reply is not to take away from your excellent writing and work, just to broaden the reach to more highly sensitive people – again, whether introvert or extrovert.

  • ~ K ~ says:

    This feels so familiar that I almost feel like I could have written it myself! Each of us has our own story, but I think the rudiments of many INFJ’s stories run similar. Thank you for sharing so that we can all feel a bit less alone & a bit more understood.

  • This resonated a great deal with me. I too jumped out of my comfort zone, in similar yet different ways. Moved from Kansas City to New York City. My work is entirely outside my comfort zone, and so is much of my life. I struggle with personal connections and often feel disconnected. Many of the things you wrote above, I’ve thought this week…worrying if it will ever change. Thank you for this post, it was reassuring to know others feel the same and I’m not as alone as I think I am.

  • Susan says:

    I wonder if other INFJs find themeselves opening up to certain people when they feel comfortable and then they overwhelm those people. I often get hurt because I”m “too much” for people when I trust them or like them.

  • jennah2005 says:

    This opens up a new world to me. This is freeing from the things I thought was the reason I felt as an outcast, or invisible at times. Interesting.

  • Angel says:

    Thank you so much. I’m exactly the same way–I only ever had one childhood friend and I chased her away with my intensity. 🙁 I didn’t really understand until I found out I was an INFJ–I just wanted a deep, long-lasting relationship and I guess she didn’t? But my days were usually on my own reading or coming up with stories or yeah, make-believe. I was a total loner as a kid and still am now, with exactly two friends. It’s just…thank you so much for describing this. I really needed this.

  • I’ve never been so identified! Sometimes I doubt of being only 1 – 2 % with many people writing here! Anyways… thank you ! It’s such a great feeling to know that I’m not the only one , and you all are the same as I am.

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