As the rarest of the Myers-Briggs personality types, you may sometimes feel misunderstood as an INFJ — but these quotes will help.
I’m an INFJ and love a good quote. I don’t have many memories of my childhood, but one of my favorites is this one.
It’s Sunday evening. The day is nearing its end. The last sun rays are flooding our living room. I am snuggled under a blanket and writing down quotes of famous people that I found in a book on the bookshelf. I am too young to understand the quotes, yet trying to wrap my mind around the little pieces of wisdom gives me an immense sense of pleasure.
Twenty years later, and my fondness of collecting quotes and sayings is as great as ever. I just don’t put them down into a notebook anymore, but instead, take screenshots of them on my phone. I have picked four quotes that I believe will resonate with fellow INFJs. We may be the rarest Myers-Briggs personality type, but these quotes probably resonate with many of us.
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4 Quotes That Will Resonate With INFJs
1. Henry David Thoreau
“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately. […] I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms…”
We often speak of INFJs as intuitive visionaries with the capacity to be warm and caring, yet intellectually sharp and analytical. At the same time, they are not necessarily the type that comes to mind when we speak of being able to live in the present and enjoy life to the fullest (or as Thoreau put it, “suck out all the marrow of life”). Or are they?
Truth be told, you don’t meet many INFJs at parties, sporting events, shopping malls, or other social places people typically go for fun. That doesn’t mean, however, that we don’t savor life. We just do it in our own way and at our own pace.
To understand this, you need to know that introverted intuition is our strongest cognitive function while extroverted sensing (our “carpe diem” function) is the weakest one. This means that we often spend our younger years focusing on what lies ahead. Only later, as we grow and mature, do we learn how to let loose and be more in touch with the physical world around us.
In fact, during my teenage years, I was engrossed in studying so much that my ESFP classmate — extroverted sensing is their dominant function — started thinking that something was seriously wrong with me because I didn’t want to go to a party with them. We just had different wants and needs. I didn’t quite understand them at the time, but do now.
Specifically, this changed when I was in my twenties, when I started to seek out fun more intentionally, often at places such as libraries, museums, and galleries, places that would allow me to be deep in thought. I think this is common for many INFJs, as we tend to use our extroverted sensing coupled with our introverted intuition. This makes us enjoy life quietly, realizing way too well that, to quote John Keating from the Dead Poets Society, “sucking the marrow out of life doesn’t mean choking on the bone.”
2. Charles Bukowski
“And when nobody wakes you up in the morning, and when nobody waits for you at night, and when you can do whatever you want, what do you call it, freedom or loneliness?”
Together with ISFJs (the “defenders” of the MBTI types), who are renowned for being very caring and considerate, INFJs are known as the most extroverted introverts. This is because extroverted feeling comes second in our cognitive stack. It is oriented toward others and can be equated with empathy, too. In other words, it manifests as our ability to relate to, and understand, others well, in addition to having the ability to actively listen to, and uplift, them.
But, even though we may seem to be extroverts, we are still introverts at heart (and mind). We lead with introverted intuition, a function that makes us crave a lot of downtime to ponder, reflect, plan, and dream. Many INFJs (and introverts) are also highly sensitive people and experience the world (and human interaction) in a very intense way — we’re more in tune with it than others due to getting overstimulated easily. No wonder our social batteries sometimes run out even faster than those of other introverts.
This constant struggle between the need to be left alone — and hunger for human connection — used to puzzle (and sometimes amuse) not only my friends, relatives, and coworkers, but also myself. It took me a while to embrace it and to realize that if I didn’t want to turn my alone time into loneliness, I needed to learn how to use it sparingly. I came to think of it as chocolate: I enjoy every bit, but I know it will not be good for me if I indulge in it too much.
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3. George Orwell
“Perhaps one did not want to be loved so much as to be understood.”
The feeling of being loved is one of the most blissful in the whole universe. Yet I think so many INFJs would trade this feeling for being understood.
INFJs long for relationships (not just in a romantic sense) where they can be their true selves, yet at the same time, feel accepted. This is often an issue, though, since our dominant cognitive function (introverted intuition) is the one that is represented the least. This means that most people we meet in our day-to-day lives are not able to relate to us instantly (if at all, actually).
We are aware of this — and in an attempt to preserve interpersonal harmony, often tone ourselves down. This starts a vicious cycle, however, where we actually hide our true selves since we’re so disappointed at others’ attempts to understand us. (Yet they cannot really do so because we’ve shown them who they wanted to see instead of who we truly are.) This helps us to fit in (“to be loved”), but inevitably leaves us hungry for more (“to be understood”).
What helped in my case was to accept that the thoughts racing in my head were (and are) far beyond the scope of water cooler chit-chat and small talk. That, however, doesn’t mean that there is not a time and a place for them. Finding an appropriate way of expressing ourselves is one of the most daunting tasks INFJs face. Yet, when we succeed, it is not only we who benefit. Just think of all the famous INFJ leaders, writers, artists, and philosophers — and how the world would look if they’d remained silent.
4. Jonas Mekas
“In the very end, civilizations perish because they listen to their politicians and not to their poets.
Whenever decisions are being made in one’s public or private life, society at large seems to favor the most socially confident extrovert. We put our trust in those who are outgoing, assertive, and decisive, often to find ourselves disappointed later on.
And for good reason — confidence does not necessarily stem from wisdom, having a loud voice is not a sign of having a loud mind, and a large social circle does not mean that the person truly cares about each friendship or person on an individual level.
I am sure that quite a few fellow INFJs have already noticed this pattern and identify with the poet from the quote, rather than with the politician. We are often described as idealists who want humanity to advance. This can be either a curse or a benefit. Think of Nelson Mandela and Mahatma Gandhi vs. Adolf Hitler and Mohamed Atta. They all changed the face of the world, be it for better or worse. And even though most of us never get a chance to shape the world from the front row as they did, we can leave a pretty long-lasting imprint in the lives of those around us.
I personally love INFJ leadership, even though I experienced it just once. The man was gentle, yet persistent, as well as empathetic and resourceful. And very brave indeed. (This reminds me of a discussion in social media where somebody asked which MBTI personality type is the bravest, and the most upvoted comment said INFJ, because the risks they take are calculated.) The man in my example was not in a position of power over me, yet his quiet dignity inspired deep respect in me. Perhaps the deepest I’ve ever felt in my life.
So, onward, INFJs…
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You might like:
- 21 Signs You’re an INFJ, the Rarest Personality Type
- The 21 Most Inspirational Quotes by Famous INFJs
- Here’s What Makes Each Introverted Myers-Briggs Type Angry
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