I’m an INFJ, and I Have Resting Sad Face

You’ve heard of “resting bitch face.” Well, I have something different. I have “resting sad face.” As an INFJ personality type, I spend a lot of time in my head. If I’m not talking to someone, I’m probably lost in my own thoughts—and this makes me appear sad.

(Not sure of your personality type? We recommend this free personality test.)

People always ask me, “What’s wrong?” At work, with my friends, with my family. If I’m not up, it’s assumed I’m down. Which makes me feel like it’s not okay to be anything other than what others feel I should be.

INFJ: The Extroverted Introvert

The INFJ is known as the Extroverted Introvert. We tend to be so desperate to people-please that we strive to make others feel comfortable in our presence, resulting in us coming across as chatty and bubbly. But we’re usually not naturally like that—it takes energy and effort. Afterward, we need to recover from that energy-spending by being alone.

When I’m not in a situation in which I need to talk to someone, I turn inward. I’m often told that I’m in my own world (which often results in me walking into things or other people, but that’s a whole other can of INFJ worms). When someone asks what’s wrong, I understand that it’s out of concern, but it’s also frustrating.

It’s even more frustrating when I’m told to smile. Thinking isn’t really conducive to smiling, and in my opinion, it would be much stranger if I was pondering to myself with a huge grin on my face rather than my normal, concentrated look. Is it wrong for me to be just thinking? Why should I owe anyone a smile?

INFJs are walking controversies, because we are perceived as happy-go-lucky, outgoing people because of our desire to make others happy. But internally, we can be brooding, worrying, or simply contemplating without the outside world knowing. This confuses people. When they ask us what’s wrong, they inadvertently put pressure on us. Suddenly, we feel expected to make others happy all the time by putting on a façade. And that’s not fair. No one should be expected to be happy all the time, no matter how smiley they seem to be.

Feeling Like a Fake

The expectation to live up to being outgoing and happy all the time often makes me feel “wrong” for being in my natural state. I tend to like sad music. I cry a lot, over lots of things: movies, books, even TV sitcoms if they get to be too sentimental (I’m also a highly sensitive person, which doesn’t help). I struggle with mental health, especially anxiety, so I’m nearly constantly worrying. I enjoy spending time by myself, especially reading, running, or doing yoga. I prefer to be in small groups of people that I know well rather than in a large group of strangers.

When people assume something is wrong with me when I’m in introvert-mode, I feel guilty. Why am I not socializing? Why am I not happier? Why aren’t I making others happy? And then I feel like I’m not good enough.

I have no problem being overly friendly when I’m socializing. I like to make others feel at ease, feel listened to, feel cared about, and important. I’m terrified of conflict and confrontation, and I try to never push anyone’s buttons. I want people to enjoy the time they spend with me.

But I’m learning that INFJs shouldn’t feel the need to devote themselves to others 100 percent of the time. It leaves us feeling burned out, stressed, and irritated. We can’t make anyone happy if we aren’t happy ourselves. We need to have our quiet thinking time in order to be there for others.

The INFJ Chameleon

Like a chameleon changing its color to blend in with its surroundings, INFJs naturally adapt our personalities to whoever we are with. So, say I’m with a really bubbly and outgoing friend. I will begin to almost mimic that friend by becoming bubbly and outgoing myself. If I’m with a quiet person, I become quiet. I feel that each of my relationships is different, because each person in each relationship is different; therefore I take on different characteristics around each person.

I’m not being fake. I still maintain the basic elements of who I am. I don’t go against my deeply held values. Rather, I like to make each person comfortable and happy by matching their energy. It’s least draining to be around someone who is similar to my natural self, but that doesn’t mean I can’t have deep relationships with those different from me. It allows me to explore different areas of my personality and find out what I’m capable of.

But a problem happens when an extroverted friend sees me in my natural INFJ state: reflective, mellow, even moody at times. This isn’t how an extroverted friend usually sees me, because, as an INFJ, I’m trying to adapt to that person’s personality. Therefore, said outgoing friend will feel that something is wrong with me, when really I’m okay. I end up feeling a constant battle between being my true, introverted self and the desire to please others by molding to someone else’s personality.

So, if you see me with a frown on my face, please don’t tell me to smile. My thoughts don’t always result in a smile. If I’m told to smile, it makes me feel that my contemplation isn’t respected. Don’t be offended if I’m not outwardly happy. Most of the time when I’m not smiling, I’m just catering to reflective or anxious thoughts. You’re welcome to talk to me to break me out of my head, but please don’t place your expectations on me. I can’t be who you want me to be 100 percent of the time. In the times I’m not, let me have my resting sad face.

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Read this: 21 Undeniable Signs That You’re an INFJ  retina_favicon1

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  • Melanie says:

    Amazing article! It’s rare that I read something where I feel every word applies to me!
    Thank you for make me aware that I’m not alone in this…

  • Emily says:

    I loved this article so much. You hit the nail on the head.

  • w.kier says:

    Fantastic article, and oh, so true!

  • Kit says:

    Love this. I always find it strange when people tell me to smile. If I were to walk with a smile all the time, I would look very odd, no?

  • Melissa Cook says:

    Excellent article! Loved this so much and I can relate 100% as I am an INFJ as well.

  • So well-written and every word rings true! Thank you for sharing how my mind operates! I am sharing this article with everyone I know to help raise awareness and understanding of our INFJ complexities!

  • Bre says:

    Honestly, this could not apply to me more! Being told to smile is my third worst pet peeve (right next to ruined plans and interrupted alone time). I am not a clump of clay waiting to be molded by the opinions of others; I am an individual in my own right and I can brood, and or stress out if I want to! Only those who don’t understand how messed up the world is can smile all of the time, but I am not one. I reserve the right to engage in Resting Sad Face whenever I please.

  • You lost me at “worrying” – what a negative and completely un-creative word to describe our thought process.

  • After I moved to the conservative religious Bible Belt ( to care for my mom) I went from being that bubbly involved interested person to putting on an invisible coat of armor and never talking to anyone again.

  • Sveta says:

    You literally took the words out of my mouth. This is by far the most accurate thing I’ve read. Totally relate 100%!

  • singerna says:

    This is exactly what happens to me and how I’ve been describing myself for years– as an extroverted introvert and as a chameleon (but not one who goes against their values). Thank you for expressing this so clearly so I can share with others

  • Wonderful article. I’ve often been accused of looking depressed when I’m just being quiet or (usually) processing something in my head. I also do not get why so many guys tell women to “smile.” That’s just wrong.

  • Thank you…. From the depths of my soul. Thank you

  • This is really great!

  • This is right on the money, thanks for articulating exactly how I feel!

  • Loved reading this because it speaks so much truth about INFJs. The more I read, the more I understand myself. I am loving my journey to discovery.

  • I feel like faking has become my instinct

  • Andreas says:

    Thank you for writing this great article, I can totally relate to your description of ‘chameleon’ behaviour. Although i must say that it doesnt bother me that i get talkative and start to behave like an extravert when i’m with extraverted people (even infj’s have to just let go sometimes), what does bother me is that when i’m with a group of pessimistic people with a negative vibe, i pick up their feelings and start to feel like them. At the end of such a day i can get home feeling drained and down for no reason, even if i felt great when the day started. So I think its really important to choose positive company for us chameleons!

  • evenstar says:

    I’m the same, an INFJ HSP. (Gesundheit!) In the past when I’ve been asked what’s wrong or been told to smile, I’ve answered “nothing” and given a grin. Sometimes I’ve felt resentful because of the assumption that there’s something wrong with my normal, thoughtful state complete with RSF. But I realize that it’s pointless to expect others to change; I can only change how I react. So now I try to educate (“I’m thoughtful, not sad”) and understand that the way I am isn’t the way this person telling me to smile is, and that he is speaking from a desire to make a situation he perceives as negative into a positive, and that’s ok.

  • Brenda Popp says:

    I could have written this article! Thank you for your honesty….it is so encouraging to us all. As a writer myself, I have a hard time believing that anyone else feels the way I do. After reading your article, I have been encouraged yet another time that I am not alone, and that it is ok to be the person God created me to be. I am going to make a concerted effort to continue declining invitations I do not feel would be positive experiences for me. In the meantime, I will be starting to write myself, thanks to your example. Perhaps I can also encourage someone in the things I experience. Thank you so very much.

  • Lisa says:

    This is awesome. I can totally relate!

  • Fino says:

    I love this article so much! There are times when i just sit in classroom and my extrovert classmate will check me out like “don’t be like that! You scared me, you know? What are you thinking about right now?”. This article really relate with me.

    Do you sometimes feel that you are unwanted by your friends? Or feel lonely? I know that i am introvert and like being at home. When i see my friends share their photos when they’re hanging out i’ll be like sad.. or feel lonely. But really, i know they didn’t hate me. Do you know how to prevent this feeling?

    Sorry for my bad grammar. I hope you understand it.

  • I was never taught how to smile, and I find it quite annoying when people tell me to do it. Also, when I’m thinking, I’m not using my eyes, so trying to figure out what I’m looking at is pointless. I’m in my mind, okay?

  • yunmi says:

    that’s really is me!! everyone always ask “what’s wrong with you?” when I am just being quiet. nothing wrong really, but they always think I’m not. that’s really annoyed me. I just lost in my mind but they never get it..

  • Yes! It’s in words!

  • Nikki says:

    I was placed as a different personality, but this matches me exactly! I couldn’t have put it any better myself!!!!

  • Linda says:

    I am 74 years old and just now realized that this is my problem. So sad, isn’t it? I simply cannot
    cope with more than a very few people at a time. I tend to melt into the background. And it happened last night. Our daughter and her family came by plane to visit the rest of the family who all live in the Raleigh, NC, area and we went out for dinner. I think I spend most of the time just listening to everyone else. After a while I didn’t want to sample any more of the tapas being served so graciously by the chef. I felt like I want in the center of a whirlwind and all the voices and noises just kept going around and around in my head. Several times I had to ask them to repeat what they’d said. I never felt so alone in my life. When we got home I went to bed after the news and slept until 1 the following afternoon. That’s my cocoon of safety.

  • Pixie says:

    Another for team ‘resting sad face’. Though it might be resting grumpy face in photos which isn’t so good…
    Also, I only recently discovered this website and am SO happy I did. Thank you to all the contributors!

  • Angel says:

    I identify with this so, so much. Thank you for putting this in words; I really am exactly like this–contemplative, melancholy moods and faking enthusiasm. It’s so tiring, and I’ve recently found a friend who encourages me to be real and always prompts me to vent at her. It’s very therapautic, but this website has also been a great help. Thank you so much!!!!

  • Fiona T says:

    Argh I hate it when people say such things….”smile, it might never happen;” “Cheer up” etc etc. One colleague would come over to me at work and say “Is everything alright, you look upset” and after a multitude of times I said “I’m coming to work, how the fk am I supposed to look?” She didn’t ask again! Oops.

  • Carla says:

    Ah! Great article. Such a good feeling to read about and understand myself. It has been most annoying being told, “smile, it’s not that bad” all my life. Feels freeing and I feel validated. Also, thank you for putting a name, INFJ chameleon, to the thing. I have noticed my personality matching that of whom i’m in the company of numerous times and questioned myself about being fake. It’s a relief to know it’s a personality trait.

  • Rene Zemlin says:

    My biggest problem as INFJ is that people think Im sad or worse: bored when I try to show my INFJ side as a quiet, warm and calm person.

  • Rene says:

    My biggest Problem as INFJ is that, when I try to show my INFJ side as a calm, warm and quiet person people say I sound sad or worse: bored!….

  • Liz says:

    This is me! Great, great article! Thanks so much for writing it!

  • crowbones says:

    Thank you for this article. I always thought i was being “fake” when i became a “chameleon”. so glad to hear that other people are the same…and NOT fake! thanks for explaining so well.

  • Waahh feel so relief! (thought, am not normal). Thank you so much for writing this article. All that been written.. exactly me. Now I understand and it feels good to know myself and know that somewhere out there ..are like me.

  • Alicia Ross says:

    I am in INFP, but this is so true for me. Since I was a little child, my family constantly told me to “smile”, “cheer up”, or ask me if I was okay. It still is aggravating, I’m fine, okay? It’s JUST MY FACE. I spend the majority of my time in other worlds and thoughts in my mind. Sometimes I smile for no reason and sometimes I only do it when it’s necessary. It’s okay. I’m okay.

  • Nicole Allais says:

    This describes me to the T! I would often feel furious with myself after wanting to leave bars early or wondering why I had such a hard time socializing with new people. If someone comes up to me and wants to engage in a meaningful conversation, I am thrilled to talk to that person! But I have realized that there is an expectation when going out to social settings. You need to realize how you appear to other people. If I find myself starting to retreat and just want to be in my head, I know it’s time to go be by myself or else I will have to put on a fake smile for people which is ultimately purposeless.

    • davidkristof says:

      I totally feel the same. This is the first time in my life that I read about this. Maybe, thanks for the article and your comment, I’ll be less frustrated in the future. Or at least I can start to dig deeper in myself. Thx guys

  • Elizabeth West says:

    I can totally relate. Maybe show your co-workers your article and just say “I am happy I work with you and don’t have to prove it with a constant smile.” If someone asks you what’s wrong, say “a world where you get criticized for needing some time for yourself.”

  • Transbutter says:

    I’m so happy I came across this blog. This was me all through high school and my 20s. My family would always make me feel as if something is wrong with me.

  • Chi says:

    I’ve been waiting for this kind of article to appear. So worth waiting and reading. This is very 100% true for me. I’ve been struggling this when I was a teen and up until now. I often claim myself as fraud and every word you can associate with it. Thank you for this wonderful article. I feel it so deeply.

  • Melissa James says:

    Thank you for this article. This is exactly how I am. I get so tired of people thinking there’s something “wrong” just because I’m not smiling or talking all the time.

  • LoveAndTattoos says:

    So much of this I can relate to. I get so frustrated being told to smile (I’ll smile when it suits) or constantly asked what’s wrong. I hate the awkward stage of being out somewhere and somebody trying to small talk me. It gets so weird because I tend to just nod and zone out. It bores me and I feel horrible for feeling that way, but what’s the point in lying about it? Thanks for this article. It’s nice knowing I’m not alone in this.

  • Paul O'Donnell says:

    Thank you for naming ‘Resting Sad Face’ and for providing a picture. I look forward to the next time I encounter a Resting Sad Face. I will understand and respect it. Meanwhile, I will embrace my own.

  • Andressa Melchioretto says:

    I love your writings and identify with what you share <3 hugs from a brazillian INFJ! -Andressa