People always misunderstand me, because I’ve got such a rare personality type.
This is kind of a joke, but I’m also deadly serious.
Sometimes even my humour hits a brick wall with people who don’t know me well. I’m quite a serious and reserved person, but that doesn’t mean I can’t let my hair down and have a laugh too.
Less than 1% of the population are INFJs. After feeling misunderstood so much as a teenager, the fact that it hasn’t stopped there has meant finding out my personality type has offered some explanation as to why that might be. If not a lot of people are like me, then how can they totally understand me?
Some people don’t like labels, and sometimes I even resist depending on who is saying it. I’ve often felt sensitive about being called an introvert, or shy, or quiet. So much so that I’m wanting to write something about these things. The idea got long-listed and high commended for the Sky Arts Scholarship once, so it’s something I definitely want to pursue. So as much as I identify as an introvert or whatever, any comment from people I don’t know that well having noticed something, and because of our society’s often negative depiction of those who are this way inclined, I can get a bit defensive.
Sometimes being an INFJ feels like being a mass of contradictions. Although I don’t like conflict, I do get angry about things and vocalise that anger when I feel I’m able to do so. This means the people I’m closest too don’t see that anger as a surprise, but why I once had a colleague who found it very funny when I would go on my little rants about someone who’d irritated me, or something that had irked the feminist part of me. When I was younger, I maybe tended to be more agreeable, but I’m now very opinionated and decisive about things, so as much as I might agree with certain things, sometimes it can be “my way or the highway”. Reading through the description, which can often seem very complimentary, and the notion that it’s a “rare” personality type can mislead you into thinking there’s something elevated about being an INFJ. But we have flaws like anyone else, and as much as being altruistic, caring and supportive is important to us, getting riled up and fixating on particular expectations can mean upset for both parties when there’s a conflict.
One of the things that got me interested in exploring my affiliation with this personality type, was a Burn After Reading workshop on projected identities. Because at different points I may project different things, and people will make assumptions based on that. Because I’m able to communicate well the more I know people, and have learnt to adapt to situations where I’m with strangers, I find the acquaintance-friend gap really hard to get my head around and sometimes I worry about coming across rude, simply because I find certain situations hard to navigate. If I don’t expect to see someone in the street, I may pretend not to see them, or if someone calls but I’m focused on something else and unprepared to talk, I might screen the call and get back to them. Not because I intend to be rude, but I just find it very difficult to handle.
There is so much more to say about the INFJ, as with all personality types, but I just wanted to highlight a bit about the type and why we can often feel misunderstood.