When you think about ISFJs, what are the first characteristics that come to mind? Do you think ISFJs are obsessed with neatness? Overly emotional? Perfectionists? That’s what I used to think until I lived with an ISFJ for 2 years. Here is what I was surprised to find out:
1. ISFJs are not obsessed with cleaning.
It’s true that many ISFJs do commit to living in a clean environment. But you should have seen the suffering in my ISFJ roommate’s eyes when we were about to clean our tiny apartment. It’s not that Alice, my roommate, had any problems dusting the shelves or washing the floors—no, not at all. But the very process was overwhelming for her. Alice didn’t know where to start and thus, could not make herself start. Too many things were lying around. She would focus on her notes, her books, her clothes scattered in a funny pattern, and do anything that would keep the mop out of her hands.
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2. ISFJs are very capable of logical thinking.
My ISFJ roommate was emotional, no doubt about that. She would cry over sick kittens and God forbid she hit a deer on her way to work. She would turn into a firehose watching Titanic (I mean seriously, who still cries about DiCaprio? He has an Oscar for God’s sake!) and shell out her entire salary into the jar of a homeless man. But did it influence her ability to analyze and make considerate decisions? Not in the tiniest bit. Once she regained control over her feelings, there was nobody around who’d give me better advice about my career and life. In fact, I owe it to Alice that I am still on good terms with my stepmother who drove me crazy for years. My ISFJ roommate talked me into calmness and self-control whenever I felt like I was going to knock that woman’s head off.
3. ISFJs are not easily messed with.
Many people think that ISFJs are natural victims to con artists and pushy sales people. But I would very much like to see one of them approach Alice in the street. Mind you, I have never seen anything like it, but I am quite sure they’d have more success pitching their services to a stone wall—at least there would be less of a chance of being told off. For the same reason, my ISFJ roommate never bought lottery tickets or any other bullshit merchandise that was aimed at easily tricked minds. She didn’t tolerate any BS in relationships as well.
4. ISFJs can be creative.
I thought ISFJs couldn’t be creative because they were not capable of thinking of new ideas. The truth is that they can be creative, but their creativity stems from past experiences. Let me give a real life example. Alice could draw rather well. Nothing genius, but something only gifted people can do. She’d draw the smallest details on an object she was working on—the folds, little cracks, light, etc. Yet if you asked her to think of a picture, she’d feel completely lost. She needed to have seen the objects herself, and she preferred to have them in front of her to copy. Creativity without basis scared her. In all other respects, she was just as creative as me, and maybe even more so. Anything related to home decoration was her favorite, but there were other applications for her creativity as well.
5. ISFJs can have a great sense of humor.
We often picture ISFJs as being serious-minded and uptight. But this was far from the truth with my ISFJ roommate. Her sense of humor could be peculiar, but she could be hilarious when she wanted to be. What made it special was that she often was too shy to make jokes, so she just murmured something to herself, and only the few people around her heard it. Another thing—Alice was funny without knowing it, probably because she was used to spending time in her own company. Often she’d say something, and only after a burst of laughter did she realize that it was extremely funny to the people around her. I liked that sort of funny. It was free from any kind of attention-seeking.
6. ISFJs can go with the flow.
It is a common belief that ISFJs are bad with changes, because they fear new things and can’t adjust fast enough. I can see where this mistaken belief sprouts from. My ISFJ roommate started packing, I kid you not, a week before any trip she took. She had to be prepared for anything. She needed an extra pair of shoes in case the other three pairs she’d taken got wet, were lost, or eaten by dinosaurs. But once she was sure everything was taken care of, she was ready to move.
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Basically, she wanted to be prepared for any change. It was the unknown that she feared, not the process of change itself. And when you come to think of it, is there anything wiser than wanting to prevent mishaps? The same goes for public speaking and other events ISFJs are supposedly scared of. You might be surprised how confident they can be once they’ve done their homework.
It took me years to realize that a lot of what’s written about ISFJs on the Internet is not true. Sadly, my path and that of my ISFJ roommate eventually split, but I will remember her as an incredibly warm and smart person, who was always ready to help at the expense of her own needs. And I will remain incredibly grateful for that for my entire life.
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