8 Unexpected Traits of the INFP Personality

In the Myers-Briggs world of memes and viral one-liners, INFPs are portrayed as daydreaming, fairy-like creatures who doodle away in their notebooks and sip nectar from bluebells. While that sometimes is the case (minus the nectar), it certainly isn’t the entire picture. So, here are eight unexpected traits of the INFP personality type, attributes you may not expect us to possess.

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Unexpected Traits of the INFP Personality

1. We’re only relaxed and easygoing about certain things.

Now, I’m just going to put it out there: INFPs can be anxious people. Very anxious, in fact. We’re the type to get stressed and worried about everything and anything. But we can also be incredibly relaxed and easygoing about certain things that other people are most definitely not, like whether we’ll have a roof over our heads — hey, the nomadic lifestyle might be fun!

Simply put, INFPs don’t care about certain things that other people care deeply about. Whereas others may chase hard after money, status, and accomplishment, INFPs are usually content living a simpler, more personally meaningful life. As long as our basic needs are met and we’re free to pursue our hobbies and passions, we’re good.

2. We can actually be very productive.

That’s right, INFPs can be productive. But if you go by the stereotypes, we’re more like these airy-fairy creatures who paint things at odd intervals throughout the day or write songs out of the blue in the middle of the night. That is not always the case. In fact, most INFPs, if they’re healthy and mature, are incredibly productive. We can be highly motivated to go to a job or wake up to produce works of art on a schedule.

However, there is one catch: We have to feel inspired to do so. We have to want it. Unlike some other types, who might slog through an unfulfilling job for the sake of a paycheck, INFPs always dream of more. We can’t do things just because we’re told to do them — they have to be meaningful and fun. It has to light up our hearts and minds and make us believe the cause we are working toward — whatever it is — is worthy. Only then does our productivity skyrocket, propelling us to greater heights of achievement.

What’s more, we know that productivity is integral to our happiness. Only when we are productive and engaged in activities that we enjoy do we truly feel happy.

3. Although sensitive, we can be incredibly resilient.

In the MBTI world, there’s this idea that INFPs are crybabies who can’t handle things. Although we are sensitive, deeply emotional souls who can get upset rather easily, the other side of the coin is we recover from negative experiences quickly. Idealistic and positive, we’re generally full of hope for the future, making us resilient and able to bounce back from setbacks; we believe in the possibilities that tomorrow may bring. An INFP, for instance, might get very upset at receiving a rejection letter from a book publisher, then will be up the next morning scribbling away at a new novel.

4. Although emotional, we’re both rational and calculating.

Rational and calculating? That doesn’t sound like touchy-feely INFPs. But INFPs are smart. In certain situations, we can be incredibly rational and calculating, using our imagination and creativity to think two steps ahead of everyone else in order to achieve something we want. For instance, as artists, we might come up with a very creative but calculated way of branding ourselves to make us stand out from the competition.

This can mean other people are suspicious of our kind and angelic natures, but INFPs know that sometimes, even the fairies of the MBTI need to come out on top.

5. Although introverted, we can be remarkably talkative.

When INFPs are in the right mood, we’ll talk your ear off, simply because we have so much to say, so much has happened, and we’ve been thinking about so many things we’d like to discuss with you. Yes, although we are introverts, we’re also deeply interested in the world and other people, and, if we’ve overcome our anxiety, eager to engage (in certain ways). We would love, for example, to talk about a cause that is close to our heart (like the environment or the suffering of animals). Afterward, of course, we’ll retreat to our own little introvert caves, but while the conversation is happening, we might be quite the chatterbox.

6. We obtain comfort from structure.

Did you read that correctly? Yes, you did. Sure, INFPs are perceivers who favor openness over rigidity, and they’re also intuitives who get more excited by ideas than concrete reality. Yet we, too, obtain comfort from structure (and the real world of the five senses) rather than find it stifling and horrible — but in a weird way.

Basically, we turn it into a game. If you’re like me, society becomes a game, all the people its players, and you play along with the rest of them, working hard and going to work along with everyone else, feeling like you’re part of a team, part of the flow of things. It can be incredibly fun and comforting. What’s more, structure itself, an integral part of the real world, can make us feel centered and stable in our whirling sea of emotions. It can ground us in a way that nothing else can.

7. We have the capacity to be incredibly happy.

If you believe everything you read on the internet, you might get the impression that all INFPs find themselves adrift in life, feel alienated from others, are unable to decide on a career path that suits them, feel not so talented or good at their interests, and are incapable of finding a romantic partner. Yes, we INFPs can struggle with these things, however, once INFPs achieve the necessary self-growth, we can find happiness in this world in spite of the fact that we’re different. INFPs can actually be incredibly happy. We’re very good at marvelling at the wonders of the universe, and sometimes being alive is fascinating and wonderful enough. Our appreciation for books, art, and film brings us great joy, because our sensitivity allows us to appreciate things on a deeper level.

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8. Yes, we can have ugly thoughts at times.

Like anyone else, INFPs can have ugly thoughts. We’re not always lovely and angelic the way we’re sometimes described. For instance, vindictively, we might wish harm and misfortune on someone who wronged us, wishing they’d lose their car or something precious to them. Or we might wish bad luck on someone we dislike. However, that being said, our thoughts never turn into truly evil ones, and we’re generally very kind and nice people who wouldn’t even hurt a fly. Our ugly thoughts likely stem from a sense of powerlessness and a lack of control we feel when other people wrong us, rather than any real feelings of cruelty.

INFPs are unique individuals, that is for certain, and we are not always what the stereotypes paint us to be. We are multifaceted and interesting, just like everyone on this planet, and can often surprise you!

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Written By

Annie Gao is a librarian student by day and a writer by night, writing young adult and children’s fantasy novels. She is fond of cats, books, and strangely enough, insects. She blogs at www.dreamerrambling.wordpress.com, where she writes about her everyday life and what it’s like being an INFP.