Hello again my INFJ friends,
I’m writing to you today about something I have dealt with my entire life. It is something I struggle with almost every day. This is a topic I am asked about frequently by you, my dear readers, but I haven’t quite had the words to write about it until now. I want to talk about being an INFJ personality type and feeling like an outsider. It’s that feeling of being different, isolated, and even lonely.
Sadly, I have somewhat grown accustomed to these feelings, but nonetheless, I wish I didn’t feel them so heavily. I know many of you also struggle with these feelings. INFJs are rare—in fact, we are the rarest of all 16 personality types. We know this already. We are very aware of how rare we are. We feel it when we struggle to find a deep connection with another person. We feel it when we are called out for being “weird” or “difficult to understand.” Hopefully, by the end of this letter, you will feel some relief. I will do my best.
To begin, I want to share some of my personal experiences of being different from other people. I have always been a loner. My mom explains it best: she tells stories of how content I was playing by myself as a child. I would spend hours reading, making art, and playing make-believe. I never really needed a playmate because my imagination was full of stories I was creating on my own.
I did have friends growing up, but usually only one or two significant friendships throughout my life. I never fit in with a group of people. I felt awkward and would usually only speak to classmates when I was spoken to. I usually felt out of place among my peers, so I would doodle in my notebook and daydream about life after high school.
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Now, I understand that all of this sounds like some sort of teen movie about a misfit girl planning her bright and starry future. I don’t want to misrepresent my adolescence. Overall, I was a pretty happy kid. I had meaningful friendships during that time. Nevertheless, there was a lingering feeling of being a little out of place. I never knew how to describe it to anyone, so instead I kept it to myself and grew frustrated and moody.
There were things that I was interested in that no one else seemed to care about as much as I did. For example, I have always had an avid interest in equal rights in a time when most people wanted to turn the other cheek and ignore the issues. I was passionate about humanitarian work, and this bled over into my creative pursuits of wanting to tell a story people can connect with. I wanted to explore the world, have a creative job, and do big things with my life. I was passionate and driven. I knew my heart was getting too big to stay in a small town. So I left.
I want to pause my personal story for a moment and touch on some INFJ characteristics that help explain this feeling of being different from others. As I mentioned previously, we’re the rarest personality type—only 1 to 2 percent of the population—so there aren’t many people like us in the world. Our dominant function is introverted intuition. This means we just “know” things that we cannot easily explain to others—call them hunches or gut feelings. We have inner moral codes that cannot be shaken. We are driven, passionate, and loving individuals. We care deeply enough and we strive to create change when we witness injustice—like Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., and Nelson Mandela, who are all thought to be INFJs. We’re nicknamed the “Advocate” for a reason.
Our second function, called extroverted feeling, allows us to have high levels of empathy. We have the capacity to listen—truly listen—and let other people know they are being heard. We can come across as aloof or standoffish when we are inside our heads, but that appearance is soon shifted into our true, loving selves when someone begins speaking to us. We think deeply about issues and we also actively try to solve them. Yes, we are intense. We can be too much for some people to handle. We are not meant for the faint of heart.
Since leaving my small hometown, I have attended college twice and worked at some interesting places. I eventually found wonderful friends and I’m continuing to find more. I have lived in a few cities and learned how to take care of myself. I have met wildly fascinating people. I have fallen in love and out of love and learned how to love myself. I have pushed myself way outside my comfort zone. I honestly don’t even know what my comfort zone looks like anymore!
I’m in touch with who I am becoming. I am reminded that I am an INFJ, through and through, with every new experience that comes my way. I have learned more than I ever thought I could.
Yes, I still feel misunderstood from time to time. I don’t always connect with people the way I hope to. There are times when I feel moody and frustrated because I lack the intimate relationships I want and need in my life. It’s lonely. But my loneliness has taught me that I am okay—I am enough as I am. Being different from other people allows me to stand out. I have no problem using the voice I’ve created for myself to speak up when I like or dislike what I observe. I have learned to trust my intuition more than ever.
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Embracing my INFJ personality has helped me in more ways than I can imagine. It’s led to self-acceptance, self-awareness, introspection, and great relationships. Most importantly, it’s led me to you. Using my voice to talk to you about what it means to be an INFJ allows me to feel like I’m doing something worthwhile.
The world needs people like us. Please don’t let anyone dismiss your vision because they don’t understand it right away. I know how big your heart can feel. Sometimes it feels too big for your body. Follow that feeling and let it cultivate the life you imagine for yourself.
Please always remember: you are okay, you are enough, and everything can be amazing if you allow yourself to be exactly who you are. Being different is a blessing. So stay true to you.
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference. Robert Frost
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Read this: An Open Letter to INFJs