My Life Changed When I Embraced Being an INFP Personality Type INFP life changed

Ever since I was a child, I felt like a weirdo. In primary school, it was okay, though, because I was the weirdo that everyone knew and liked. But at age 12, something happened that changed my whole life and forced me to reconsider myself: My father accepted a job in France. We left my native Hungary and moved to a new country where I didn’t have any friends, and I didn’t even speak the same language. A truly challenging situation (or in my words at the time: the “worst case scenario”) for a highly sensitive introvert — which I was unaware of being.

Needless to say, I really struggled to make friends, let alone connect with people. First and foremost, it was because of the language barrier (I somehow became friends with a Chinese girl, though – we spoke in a kind of sign-smile language). But that wasn’t the only reason; I was quiet, reserved, and shy. Even though I learned French in about six months, no one knew this for several more months because I didn’t speak at all. When I did, everyone was astonished at my great pronunciation and grammar.

Although I was bright and studious — the opposite of a problem child — teachers were not happy with me. They urged me to speak up, to be more open, to start conversations with classmates I didn’t know. They wanted me to make friends, basically, but in my world, the methods they suggested seemed intrusive and obnoxious. How could I just speak to random strangers, asking them random stuff? I would hate for someone to do that to me. But here, it seemed to work for everyone. I know that it is culturally determined – French people are direct and frank, but Hungarian people like me, not so much. But I realized that there was something else.

I was a classic introvert, but my community wasn’t having any of it. They wanted me to be an extrovert. I know they meant well; they felt like it was the only way for me to succeed and be happy. But not being accepted for who I was had a major impact on my self-esteem and self-confidence. It made me remember that I already had some issues with speaking up and making connections with strangers back home. I was afraid that something was wrong with me. I felt that I had to improve and change to be someone else. I only knew a few people who were like me, quiet and shy. And even I thought that they were a bit weird; their way of being was nowhere near the norm.

Some Unhealthy Coping Mechanisms

This mindset obviously led me to some very unhealthy coping mechanisms. I beat myself up every day that I didn’t speak more or strike up conversations easily. At about 17, I came in contact with alcohol and realized pretty quickly that drinking makes me more extroverted. I started to use and abuse it. One summer, I drank every single day, and I felt accomplished and happy because I made a lot of new connections and had tremendous fun with my friends.

But deep inside, I was often miserable. Sometimes, being an introvert hit me like a hammer. Why couldn’t I just walk up to a person like everyone else and have a conversation? What was wrong with me? If there was a miracle cure, I would have taken it because no one – not my parents, not my extroverted friends, not my first love – seemed to understand me.

I considered going into therapy because of my shyness, but I never actually did. Calling a complete stranger to ask for help? No, thank you!

Then, some years ago, I did it – for completely different reasons, and it was one of the best decisions of my life. It took me almost three years of therapy and extensive reading about my personality type (INFP) to finally figure it out. I was different, sure, like everyone is different from one another. But I wasn’t weird or faulty — I was special (my therapist still repeats that phrase to me every time we meet). Only 4 percent of people fall under this personality type, and we are the official weirdos (in a good way) in the MBTI universe. No wonder I always felt out of place! And no wonder that teachers kept trying to change me; they just didn’t understand how I function. And neither did I, which meant I couldn’t explain to them what was going on in my mind.

PH circle 2What’s your personality type? Knowing your type can help you leverage your natural strengths. Take the free test from our partner Personality Hacker.

If only there was a program in schools to raise awareness about personality types, we would get along so much better. We would learn about ourselves and other people, and be able to show more empathy and understanding to each other. Knowing your zodiac sign can be entertaining, but knowing your MBTI type can actually improve your life.

I have a dream that we will live by the creed that all people, introvert or extrovert, are created equal.

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Read this: 10 Contradicting Things About INFPs


  • Terran43 says:

    Your post reminds me of a graphic novel I just finished reading at the urging of my 11-year-old granddaughter. It is “Escape from Special” by Miss Lasko-Gross, and almost exactly expresses the very feelings you had as you (and many of us) had as we were growing up. Thanks for letting us share a part of your life with you. I’m an INTP so can relate to a lot you went through.

  • njguy54 says:

    Except for the whole moving-from-Hungary-to-France thing, I could have written this piece. Thank you.

  • Iveel Jin says:

    hey i’m a fellow INFP ! omg you and i basically have the same life story its scary. I have been trying to change myself for years too. it was really depressing . I had very low self esteem ,very insecure always stressful. Since last year i finally stopped being so harsh on myself and beginning to embrace my introverted spirit 🙂

  • Vicki Robison says:

    I love this and can so relate, even though I was a weirdo in my own country, speaking the same language as everyone else. Still there are so many similarities, especially when I imagine what it must have been like to walk in your shoes.

  • Orsolya Bagi says:

    I’m also from Hungary and also an INFP. This article is basically my story 😀 🙁

  • Jude Maina says:

    Hey, I’m an INFP too. Took me a long time too to figure that out. Always felt weird and struggled so much to change into what everyone said was normal. Self esteem issues and lack of self-confidence led me to similar habits to feel more normal and like I fit in. I recently started a self awareness journey and I’ve never loved nor appreciated whom I am more. And knowing that there’s people like me who know what it’s like is amazing. Thanks for this beautiful piece.

  • Jimbaux! says:

    Thanks for writing this. I could somewhat relate to your alcohol stories. By the time I passed 30 years of age and learned about and accepted my introversion, I almost completely quit drinking at any place other than home and even then only in small amounts. I realize that that is somewhat common for people who reach that age, but I still see that extroverted people older than I am still post pictures every weekend of going out to events and drinking, including pub crawls, which seem especially annoying.

    Your idea about a program to raise awareness about personality types is a great one and also one that hit me hard. I wish that I had had such a thing years ago. I’d have known myself better and would not have wasted so much time that I’ll never get back trying to be something that I was not but that society expected me to be.

    But, then, you wrote: “I have a dream that we will live by the creed that all people, introvert or extrovert, are created equal.”

    Well, be careful with that. You had just, in the previous paragraph, written about education about personality types, and surely you know that much of that is neurological. If, by “equal,” you mean that no one personality type is better than the other, then that seems reasonable, but what you wrote could be taken to mean “if I can do this, so, too, can you,” which is an open door to put unreasonable pressure on introverts to be something that we are not.


  • Judit Veres says:

    Hi from a fellow INFP hungarian. 🙂 Thanks for sharing your experiences and thoughts with us. Your suggestion having the personality types tought in school would be a big step and certainly would help tremendously in understandig each other. I can relate very much to what you wrote about here: felt myself almost all in my life mis- and uninderstood until I found out that there is such a thing as hipersensitivity and MBTI types. 😀