I am INFJ-T. Now What?

A friend encouraged me to take the 16 Personalities test recently. But this isn’t one of those trivial, joke personality quizzes you find doing the rounds on Facebook. It is formally called the “NERIS Type Explorer” test. The theory behind it is based on the research carried out by Carl Jung.

The test took about ten minutes to complete; there were a significant number of questions. Always reassuring to have one’s personality broken down and pulled apart so thoroughly. If you’re going to have something done, have it done right!

“One of Jung’s key contributions was the development of the concept of Introversion and Extraversion — he theorized that each of us falls into one of these two categories, either focusing on the internal world (Introvert) or the outside world (Extravert).”

I’ve always known I was an introvert. Even so, I progressively became more extroverted in my late twenties. Or, rather, I became better at mimicking extrovert behaviour.

I have plenty of personality quirks that I am aware of, but I have never stopped to systematically assess them. So, after completing this test, I now have a new label I can stick on my clothes or slap on my forehead. I am an INFJ-T.

Eye-Enn-Eff-Jay-Hyphen-Tee.

Catchy. What does it mean? In short, it means that I am an introverted, diplomatic kind of guy who does a lot of judging. You can read more here:

As I dug deeper into the various personality traits outlined by my personality report, it was like reading the blueprint from which my brain had been formed. Scary.

I have decided to dig a bit deeper and expose myself (mentally!) to you all by commenting on the various aspects of my personality blueprint.

Now, for your consideration ladies and gentlemen, here are a few bits of my brain…


“INFJs need time alone to decompress and recharge”

Indeed I do. I appreciate my alone time, and I had no trouble living alone before I got married. I fully appreciate the danger of receding too much into myself, though. It has happened a few times, often triggered by particularly nasty external conditions, but I am aware of the inherent dangers.

“INFJs find it easy to make connections with others, and have a talent for warm, sensitive language, speaking in human terms, rather than with pure logic and fact.”

I have always had the ability to understand fairly technical problems and solutions but I am also able to communicate well with non-technical people. I seem to be good at distilling the important bits of information and coming up with analogies to help simplify the concepts I am trying to explain. Being good with techies and good with non-techies is both a blessing and a curse. Sometimes I feel like I am stuck in the middle between two camps, perpetually straddling, always switching modes to suit my audience.

“… if their zeal gets out of hand, they can find themselves exhausted, unhealthy and stressed.”

Totally. I have very little physical stamina, but I can certainly perform when I am called on to do so.

I wouldn’t last a week in a full-time nine-to-five type job. And if I had a daily commute? My body (and mind) wouldn’t stand a chance. I admire those souls who can pummel their bodies into submission and repeatedly put in twelve-hour days. (I admire them, but I have no desire to be them.)

“To INFJs, the world is a place full of inequity”

Surely anyone who bothers to stop, look up, and think for a minute sees the same? Anyone?

“…their sensitivity forces them to do everything they can to evade these seemingly personal attacks, but when the circumstances are unavoidable, they can fight back in highly irrational, unhelpful ways.”

So this relates mainly to conflict or criticism. Yes. This is true. Absolutely true. In darker moments when life has been tough, I have been anything but a rational being, and those around me have caught the brunt of that. Even with more common occurrences of friction (in the workplace or with clients, for example) I have a tendency to want to burst into flames and rebuff mildly stupid remarks with brazenly aggressive responses. It’s the equivalent of being poked by someone with a pencil and then pulling out a sledgehammer and landing it on their head. (But I do it because I care so much!) Shut up Jon, take the criticism. (Ok, ok.)

“INFJs will go out of their way to seek out people who share their desire for authenticity, and out of their way to avoid those who don’t.”

Consider yourself warned!

“INFJs are all but defined by their pursuit of ideals. While this is a wonderful quality in many ways, an ideal situation is not always possible”

I have impossibly high standards. But I think this is tempered by my habitual self-loathing. I know I’m not perfect. Far from it. Yet, I still have a tendency to think I am superior to others. There, I said it. I admitted it to the world! Sometimes I think I am superior. It is wrong. Wholly wrong. There are, of course, perceived reasons for me to think I am superior to people on occasion. Deep down, though, I know we are all as equally flawed as each other. Nobody is better than anybody else. This is the truth, but my brain argues otherwise on occasion.

“INFJs need to find meaning in their work.”

Ya think? I could write a book on this. But I won’t. I struggle to find any real meaning in the realm of websites and web development, hence my constant struggle. This is why I write, among other things.

I find myself at a stage in my life where I am completely losing patience with the seemingly meaningless parts of my life. They need to go. I want to pursue meaningful endeavours all of the time, one-hundred-percent. Come on! Why isn’t it happening yet?

But then I remember that a reality check is in order as I have impossibly high standards (see above), I am prone to burnout (see above), and I’m really just a tad over-sensitive at times (see above).

(But you’re not that bad Jon. Don’t beat yourself up.)

Ok. I know. See above, I guess.