As an INFJ, the word “balance” has been scribbled throughout my journals for years. It always finds its way to the top of things I want to achieve, and it is something I think about quite often.
My constant pursuit for balance is only interrupted by some contradictions that I feel every single day as an INFJ, one of the 16 Myers-Briggs personality types. In the past, I’ve found myself resenting being able to feel such opposing ideas and emotions, but I’m learning to see this as an opportunity to be a more well-rounded individual — and, perhaps most importantly, to not begrudge the unique way I see the world.
Wherever you are, fellow INFJ, I hope reading this makes you feel less alone, and that you are patient with yourself as you learn to find the beauty in feeling things so deeply.
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Contradictions of the INFJ Personality
1. We find beauty in everything but we’re not easily impressed.
It is nothing for an INFJ to notice a small bloom in an array of flowers or find significant meaning in placing their bare feet on the ground. On the other hand, they are not easily impressed by people or things that sometimes intimidate or intrigue others. I think it is the sincere curiosity of the INFJ that causes this — we believe there is more than what’s on the surface. So if something is presented as beautiful, we look for something else. Whereas if something presents itself as broken, we will still find beauty within it.
2. We value community yet we feel alone.
Often, we’re the ones to bring like-minded people to the table for meaningful discussion. Yet unfortunately, I’ve lost count of the times that I’ve walked into a space and instantly thought, “Oh, these are my people, I’ve finally found them” only to sit down and quickly realize how wrong I was. I can be in a room of people with shared interests, passions, and opinions, and still feel completely alone and misunderstood.
3. We’re fiercely independent yet we desire deep connections.
You will most likely find an INFJ being completely self-sufficient, beating the odds of who or what they should be despite their upbringing, swinging 2-3 jobs, while also taking on solo projects for a cause important to them.
Yet despite the ferocity of independence that we are so proud of, we desire deep connections within our relationships. Despite our love for independence, we are not afraid of commitment if it seems worthy of our time. We need vulnerable conversations, words of affirmation, and quality time to ensure that a relationship is worth pursuing. The intriguing love of independence vs. the aching desire for something meaningful can be confusing to someone who doesn’t understand the INFJ.
4. We desire to be free-spirited but we need order.
As easily as you can find me curled up on my couch with my dogs reading Lolita, you can find me at dive bars tossing back shots and dancing with strangers. There is something about an INFJ that comes alive in environments that allow them to be free-spirited and light-hearted. But when they come home from their night reveling in the zeal of life (no matter what that may look like for the INFJ), you will find their space organized with their to-do list pinned on the fridge.
5. We’re proud of our uniqueness but we focus on meeting others’ needs.
If you’re like me, you’ve had to learn to take pride in the fact that you’re a little different from the rest — because we INFJs have been different our entire lives, often painfully so. I’m not saying we think we’re superior to other people, rather, there’s power in embracing the quirky attributes that make us us, and praising uniqueness in others as well. However, INFJs are notorious for immediately noting the needs of others, then accommodating them. Does this person need someone silly or are they up for a deep conversation about philosophy and religion? INFJs tend to meet others wherever they are, and for better or worse, put their own needs aside.
6. We’re both logical and emotional.
INFJs are creative individuals, but unlike some other personality types, they’re not only dreamers, but they also thrive in environments where they’re asked to be extremely focused.
Depending on the setting, we can play one role or the other. We will meet someone new at work and be introduced as the logistics person skilled at overseeing the details of projects. Other times, we’ll be introduced in a different setting as the creative idealist, perfect for helping launch a new brand or idea.
This also seeps into our personal relationships — friends and partners have been surprised at how I handle conflict as I can objectively pick apart pieces of an argument or misunderstanding and put them back together peacefully. You would not expect someone with this skill to also be the person to cry easily at the result of some harsh words.
7. To us, everything matters, or nothing does.
Every day, I have to wake up and make the intentional effort to note that there is a balance between “everything matters” and “nothing does.” One moment, I will feel as if every step I take and every word I speak matters immensely to the universe. I will become overwhelmed at the thought of the ripple effect of my actions. The next moment, I will feel like nothing matters at all and think deeply about the fact that we’re all born and then we die — and that’s the end of it. Maintaining a balance is something that seems to come natural for some personality types, but for the INFJ, the temptation to live in one truth or the other is a constant struggle.
8. We want to be loved but we can make it hard for others to love us.
INFJs are not alone in their desire to have love and meaningful connections in their life. I think what differentiates them from other personality types, however, is feeling like they rarely experience the connection they crave. It isn’t often that we feel truly seen, so when we do, we cling to the person that may finally be able to provide it. However, sometimes we make it hard for others to love us, because we may feel that if something hasn’t been fought for, it doesn’t mean anything. We love radically and often first. We love fearlessly, but with walls just to see if you’ll push them down.
9. We see the good (and bad) in everyone.
I intentionally walk into every interaction keeping in mind that each person I meet is a collection of stories and experiences that make them uniquely who they are. This is something that I have reflected on deeply, and if you’re an INFJ, you probably have, too. When people are terrible to us, we can easily process why and evaluate the root cause of their actions — and sometimes even excuse them.
With that said, unfortunately, the opposite is true as well. For as easily as I can quickly develop a long list of positive attributes of people that are hard to deal with, I can just as effortlessly create an equally long list of questionable traits of people that are easily loved. INFJs are constantly inquisitive — especially when it comes to people — always knowing there is more than what’s on the surface.
10. We’re confident in our values and beliefs but we’re able to empathize with other perspectives.
INFJs tend to stick to their guns when it comes to their convictions and values. Many of us have a precise moral compass, but sometimes we struggle to know which side to join, because we can always understand both sides of an argument — even when we don’t agree with all its points.
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11. We know the importance of listening but we constantly get annoyed in casual conversation.
Unless INFJs feel that the other person is being thoroughly authentic, we get bored and easily distracted. We have the ability to zone in and focus meticulously on someone we feel is being transparent but sometimes get impatient and even rude if we feel that is missing! Small talk does not come easily to us, and our intuition is high — we don’t make time for false pretenses.
12. We give others grace but strive for perfection.
INFJs value forgiveness and pursue justice. We can find a strange beauty in mistakes but crave success. I believe life is a continuum, and we will inevitably meet hardships and fail several times before we get things right (if we ever do). This belief is evident to my friends as I consistently encourage them to be patient with themselves on their journey. However, I have a crippling addiction to perfectionism that constantly keeps me from taking my own advice.
13. We don’t want to feel trapped but we crave strong, meaningful relationships.
Everything has to have a meaning with an INFJ. If something does not have meaning, whether it’s a job or a relationship, we will eventually walk away. Perhaps where this truth is most obvious is in romantic relationships. The contradiction that we find ourselves in cannot be understated. We do not want to feel trapped nor do we ever want to trap another, yet we desperately need to (almost immediately) know if the relationship we’re pursuing is going anywhere.
14. We desperately want to feel “alone” with another.
INFJs need time alone but crave intimacy. One of the highest compliments I’ve given to only a select few in my life is, “I feel alone with you.” There is no specific way to describe this feeling, but if you understand, you understand.
You might like:
- How to Cultivate Happiness as an INFJ
- How to Get the Most Out of Therapy When You’re an INFJ or INFP
- 4 Ways INFJs Are Their Own Worst Enemy
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