I’ll admit something: I often feel extremely lonely. That might be a strange thing for an introvert to say because introverts tend to enjoy being alone. And honestly, I do enjoy my own company. On my own, there are no misunderstandings. When I’m alone, I’m not constantly trying to pretend that I fit in. I’m not expending loads of energy on being careful about what I say and how I say it.
But I’m not just introverted. I’m part of a special group of rare individuals called INFJs. INFJs often experience a unique kind of loneliness, because we want deep connections with others but we also need plenty of alone time.
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The widely used personality test, the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, separates people into 16 different personality types. Let’s take a closer look at it to better understand why INFJs feel lonely.
There are four parts to the typing format:
1. Introvert or Extrovert?
Denoted by an I or an E in the Myers-Briggs test, the difference between being an introvert or an extrovert is the environment in which you feel the most energized and relaxed. Extroverts flourish when they are around other people. Introverts draw energy from being alone.
That doesn’t mean that introverts don’t like people. Most of us enjoy spending time with others occasionally. We just tire out more easily when socializing and feel the need to be alone to recharge. It’s similar to how extroverts may feel a little “down” when alone and happier around others.
2. Sensing or INtuitive?
Do you trust information you gather from your five senses more than the inferences you make about a situation? Or do you notice patterns and possibilities in a given situation, and look to uncover the meaning behind your experiences? In truth, we all do both. However, we are naturally partial to doing one more often than the other. Simply put, if you spend more time considering possibilities and looking toward the future, you are likely an Intuitive. However, if you live in the moment, reacting to things as they come, you likely rely on Sensing.
The best examples of the two types are Sherlock Holmes and Charlie Epps. Sherlock Holmes was a Sensing personality type. He noticed everything down to the smallest detail and formed opinions based on physical evidence. Yet, Charlie Epps, a character from the TV show Numbers, is more intuitive. He notices patterns in people’s behavior, equates those patterns into mathematical theories, and then figures out possible outcomes derived from those patterns. Together, they would most likely make the perfect crime-fighting team. Assuming they could figure out a way to work together peacefully, that is!
3. Thinking or Feeling?
The third part of the personality puzzle deals with how you make decisions. Thinking personalities are more logical and pragmatic. They attempt to look at the facts as dispassionately as possible. (Think Spock from Star Trek or Sheldon Cooper from The Big Bang Theory.) Feeling personalities, on the other hand, tend to consider how a decision impacts others. Often, Feeling types become caregivers, counselors, or teachers because they are so people- oriented.
Thinkers are often viewed as uncaring or indifferent, yet they do care about others. After all, we are talking about human beings, not robots. Thinkers prioritize the use of logic, putting aside personal feelings, viewing this as the best way to be fair and diplomatic to everyone involved in a given situation. Feelers value harmony and avoid controversy; this compulsion can lead to enabling or appearing too idealistic.
This is where the intricacies of the INFJ personality type start to become apparent. Because it is here that the combination of introvert (a person who feels best in seclusion) meets the Feeling personality that is concerned with the well-being of others. It seems illogical that a person who prefers solitude could be so people-oriented, right? If you don’t like people, than how can you care about them? Well, because being an introvert does not mean that you dislike people. Remember, being introverted or extroverted is about the situation in which you feel the most energized, and the most yourself.
So to fully appreciate the situation, it’s time to consider the fourth part of personality typing.
4. Perceiving or Judging?
This part of the personality puzzle has to do with how you deal with the outside world. Unlike how the terms sound, it is not about being judgemental or perceptive. A Judging person prefers to make solid decisions and is the most comfortable in a more structured, organized atmosphere. A Perceiving person prefers to be open to what may come and is more comfortable having options and going with the flow of things.
For example, a Judger may plan the details of their vacation months in advance. They may research activities and plan what they will do each day. A Perceiver, on the other hand, might book a hotel a few months before hand, but they will decide what to do with their free time once they arrive at their destination. In general, Judgers don’t like last minute events, preferring to have everything already in their calendar weeks if not months in advance. Perceivers are more likely to enjoy a spur of the moment drink after work with friends or coworkers.
This doesn’t mean that your Judging friend won’t take you up on that spur of the moment drink. Sometimes, they will be quite happy to oblige. But, other times, they will already have other plans that they have committed to.
Back to Our Lonely INFJ
INFJs, like all introverts, are not easily oriented to socializing. When stressed, we might lose our ability to keep tabs on our tone of voice or our ability to keep small talk going. Furthermore, introverts tend to internalize our thoughts and emotions, making it less obvious to others when we are overwhelmed and in need of a timeout. However, because of our Feeling personality type, we want to be around people. It’s difficult to take care of people if you aren’t around them.
In my experience, INFJs hit major social roadblocks during spur of the moment events. When we turn down these outings too often, people stop asking us to join in because they assume we don’t like them or that particular outing. Conversely, when we force ourselves to go, trying to avoid being left out or hurting someone’s feelings, we tend to alienate ourselves with accidental rudeness.
I cannot even begin to tell you how many times my exhaustion has gotten the better of me and thoughts slip through my mouth that I instantly regret. Or worse, I was too tired to even realize what I’d said or done to irritate the people around me and too exhausted to remember the situation well enough to learn from it and avoid it happening again.
So what happens? We end up feeling lonely, wishing we had people who understood our special kind of weirdness. We want someone who will forgive our flaws and have the patience to continue inviting us along on the rare and beautiful occasion that we are truly up to it.
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Read this: 10 Type Secrets of the INFJ Personality Type