What Each Introverted Myers-Briggs Personality Type Was Like in School

a backpack, notebook, and laptop representing each introverted myers-briggs personality type in school

A lot of ink has been spilled about the Myers-Briggs personality types as adults: from their earning capacity to their relationship needs, all the way to what gets them angry. But what about as kids?

Turns out, personality starts early, and it can profoundly shape our life at school — from how we study to how we make friends. Here’s what each introverted Myers-Briggs personality type is like as a kid, told through the lens of their own typical day at school.

(What’s your personality type? We recommend this free personality assessment.)

Each Introverted Personality Type in School

ISFJ

One of the “good” kids

You come to class, do what you’re told, and follow the rules — well, except for talking in class sometimes, but you’re never the one who started it! Why doesn’t that kid (probably an ESFJ) get in trouble?

You’re even cautious on the playground. You don’t mind playing games, and you head to whatever new activity has the most kids interested. But you’re not interested when people are leaping off the top of the jungle gym or playing “chicken” on the monkey bars. Actually, maybe “not interested” isn’t the right word… you won’t be caught climbing up there, but you’re on the edge of the group watching in silent excitement. If things get rowdy, you hang back, but you sure don’t mind gushing about it to others later on.

You also get along with people — most people. In true introvert fashion, you only have a couple of close friends, but you’re on friendly terms with just about everyone else who isn’t too much of a rebel. People who flaunt the rules annoy you; are they doing it just to get attention?

The only thing worse is a bully, and you won’t tolerate cruelty no matter where it comes from. They can call you a tattle-tale if they want, but you will tell the teacher when someone’s being mean. And if teachers themselves are unfair, well, that might be the one time you’re willing to say something against them — in a whisper, of course, only to your friends.

ISTJ

Rules exist for a reason

You’re a good kid, but you push it. Later in life, you’ll become more and more about consistency, but right now, you’re okay with some pranks and jokes, and you simply cannot make yourself pass up a dare. Quiet much of the time but occasionally boisterous, you’ll be the first to point out when someone in class isn’t following the rules — but you’re quick to cover for your own close friends. Sometimes, the teachers don’t know what to make of you.

As far as homework goes, it seems obvious to you that everyone is good at some things and bad at other things; that’s just how it is. If you’re good at math, great, you’ll work hard and ace every test. If writing is tough for you, though, it’s a waste of your time; you’ll do the assignment, but you’re not going to try to make yourself into Hemingway. It’s the same for sports, art, or any other subject: Kids just are who they are.

And, all in all, you’re easy to get along with — as long as everyone is playing fairly by the rules. Normally you can ignore the annoying kids, but no one tells you what to do (except parents and teachers, in that order). You will become surprisingly assertive or even work to tear down a bossy kid, at least until they leave you alone and go boss around someone dumb enough to listen to them.

ISTP

Ultimate dodgeball champion

School can be a challenge for you, although it depends on which teacher you’re dealing with, which subject is being taught, and whether your uniqueness is being rewarded or punished. Some teachers think of you as a budding genius — most likely in science and math, although you can soak up info like a sponge just about anywhere — while others get upset you don’t follow every. little. dumb. instruction.

The truth is, you’d be much better off learning in a more hands-on fashion and coming up with your own solutions to a problem. The fact that this isn’t allowed, and often punished, makes you think that school itself is pretty silly, and much more about controlling kids than about teaching them anything.

Recess is where you really shine, dominating in any sport and coming up with crazy new feats to perform on the playground. In more structured games, like hopscotch or duck duck goose, you can lose patience and become disruptive, but in the chaos of dodgeball, you’re a champion.

This need to be in motion stays with you all the time. Sure, you’re pretty quiet — though never spacey — but you learn and do best with your hands. Sitting at quiet attention all day long is not for you. Neither are forming straight lines or keeping your locker spotless and tidy.

Art class, gym class — is it time for anything fun yet?

ISFP

Art club for life

You don’t have an Elsa or Star Wars folder like everyone else: You chose the one with the blue and orange swirls that seem almost three-dimensional when you tilt your head. You had the most perfectly mismatched socks, too, but the other kids made fun of them. (You were so upset you threw both socks out, but later took them out of the wastebasket and apologized to them.)

Usually, though, you’re easygoing and friendly, although quiet. You’re also very good at putting yourself in other people’s shoes, whether it’s your classmates or the people mentioned in history class. When someone gets picked on, most of your classmates steer clear of them, as if the unpopularity might be contagious. Not you — you’re the one who quietly goes up and makes friends with the person who just got bullied.

As far as your schoolwork goes, well, a lot of it is so boring (you could easily be president of the Put Off the Project Till the Last Minute Club). You excel at art, music class, and anywhere else where your creative abilities can shine through. Occasionally, your class gets to watch a movie or act out a story you’re reading, and that’s when you truly get interested.

Truthfully, though, the only really hard part of school is the rules. You never, ever want to misbehave, but you react instinctively to your surroundings — talking suddenly when you have an idea, walking over to touch something — and, well, sometimes you just forget you’re not supposed to do that. This brings inevitable disapproval, which strikes to your heart. The last thing you want is for a teacher to not like you!


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INFP

Daydreams, doodles, and adventures

What is this school thing you keep being sent to? Is it a place of learning, or a place for making friends, or is it about adults having power over children? Why do some people fit in there, and others don’t? Why is everybody so loud all the time?

These are questions you ask yourself but don’t really voice to anyone else. Everyone else seems very interested in what’s going on in the here and now, but you spend your classes imagining up whole fantasy worlds. You know exactly what those notebooks are for, too: an endless canvas in which to sketch out everything you can imagine. Wait, there was a test today?

This same tendency to daydream means you often feel clumsy or out of place. You’re not a lone wolf; you generally like others, and you’re good at listening and understanding their point of view. But you’re very private about your own thoughts — despite having very intense emotions on the inside.

Just about the only thing that really pulls you out into the real world are the handful of people you consider very close friends. With them, you can open up, and spend whole summers doing nothing but chatting and going on adventures together. As you grow older, certain topics and values will become just as important, and you’ll be able to see vividly the change you wish to make in the world, and you’ll live your life to match those ideals.

For now, though, there are treehouses, and blankets that let you fly, and those one or two people who are always ready to be pirates.

INTP

Searching for some real answers

“Why?”

“Why?”

“How do you know?”

Why?”

So starts another argument with one of your teachers, and from the look on their face, they’re going to do that thing where instead of explaining a real answer, they just use their authority to shut you up — or call your parents again.

All of which is a pretty good reason to give up on this class and go back to spacing out in your own inner thoughts (which are way more interesting anyway). The only problem is, you’re actually good at school when you try, and your parents explained to you why they need you to start trying more. No more just scribbling in answers at the last minute without paying attention.

Not every class is this way, of course. Some of your teachers actually encourage questions and discussion, and then you do just fine. You’ve also come away with awards in all kinds of special clubs and groups: science fair, debate club, chess, even a summer robotics workshop a teacher talked your parents into sending you to. You enjoyed each of these activities, but you get bored quickly and want to try something new. The adults are always disappointed you don’t “choose something and stick with it.”

As you get a little older, you’ll start to see these tendencies with almost a sense of humor. You’ll start to just accept the absurdity of “the way things are done,” and your sarcasm will never fail to impress the right people — the ones who are actually in on the joke. Eventually, you’ll even see how to game the system, and come out ahead without playing by the rules.

That’s a ways off, though. Right now you’re supposed to <sigh> write another 5-paragraph essay.

INFJ

School is a social laboratory

Being around other kids is strange. You like it, and it’s like you almost fit right in — but not quite. You’re probably pretty shy, especially at the start of the school year or if you have to move to a different school, but when you’re with the friends you’ve known for years, you can easily become the ringleader.

The “school” part of school is not challenging for you. You follow the directions, do the assignments right, and in most cases, you make sure to give yourself plenty of time to spare. Some kids might call you a goody two-shoes or a teacher’s pet, but you know that good grades are important to your future (something you’re always thinking about).

The social part of school is different. For you, it’s like a little laboratory. You try on different personas. You watch carefully how others interact. You’re starting to understand how people work — you can see the triggers behind their reactions and what’s motivating their behavior. You know to be nice to everyone, and how to butter people up — and even why kids can suddenly become mean, or why some people don’t get along at all.

This troubles you, because it almost always ripples outward to hurt even more people’s feelings, and you can always see it coming before anyone else does. When it comes, it hits you hard; you will feel the anger, or the sadness, or the shame right along with whoever just got tormented.

And that leaves you with two strong reactions. On the one hand, you’re becoming a (quiet) natural leader and peacemaker, the one people come to with their problems (already!). You give good advice, and you genuinely try to help people out. On the other hand, sometimes conflict breaks out anyway, and you’re getting the first glimpse of the fact that the world can be a very, very painful place. That makes you want to pull back hard, and sometimes you need to just be completely on your own.

Your bedroom is quickly becoming your sanctuary, the one place you can be truly safe and surrounded by your stuffed-animal friends, who never fight except when it’s part of a fun story. Maybe, one day, the whole world can be like that.

INTJ

I already READ this one…

Back to School prep is more important to you than the first day of school itself, and you show up with a color-coded system of folders, notebooks, and binders (although these quickly fill up with doodles and notes of your own, unrelated to class, as your mind wanders far afield).

Your actual schoolwork is routinely A+ quality, which you aren’t afraid to reveal to your peers. But, while this may be a point of pride, it’s also almost an annoyance; you can see what’s wrong with the assignments themselves. You’re sick of doing repetitive math problems when a few would suffice, for example, and you find many of the essay and project topics pretty droll. Does school have to be this boring? (Catching the teacher’s own grammar errors on quizzes and worksheets offers a rare moment of satisfaction.)

The playground is a different story. You might enjoy playing games one day, but wander off to be on your own the next. If you do join in, you’ve always got a better way of running things than anyone else, but no one seems to listen. You know how to handle this: logic! Even at a young age, you’re able to give a reasoned 5-step argument why your way is right. You’re shocked when your classmates, rather than capitulating, spend the rest of recess making fart noises.

Summer vacation was so much better — you got through stacks of books, and didn’t have to be around people who annoyed you.

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Andre Sólo is an advocate for introverts and highly sensitive people, and the co-founder of Highly Sensitive Refuge. He writes about heroism, spirituality, introversion, and using travel as a transformative practice. In 2013, he released Lúnasa Days, a novella set at the height of the Great Recession. Reviewers have described Lúnasa Days as "a masterpiece of magical realism." In his spare time, he pesters his cats, makes up stories, and swears he's fixing his bicycle.