This fall, Personality Hacker has taken on the ambitious goal of flooding our media channels with content on every one of the 16 Myers-Briggs Types. Each week we have been sending out surveys to everyone on our mailing list asking for feedback on their specific type.
This week is INFP week, and we have received the greatest response to our survey of any type so far. Over 230 INFPs took the survey and told us:
- What the top 3 challenges of INFPs are;
- What 3 things INFPs wish others knew about them;
- What 3 books/movies/courses/events have impacted their lives the most;
- What do they wish they had known as a 15 year old adolescent?
The responses were fascinating and we are grateful to our community for taking the time to share their deeply private observations.
In this article, I would like to focus on the last of the four survey questions – What do you wish you could have told your 15 year old self ?
Many of the answers shared some common denominators. So, I have broken them all down to 5 items INFPs wish they had known when they were 15 years old, in order of frequency. And since INFPs are the poets of the world, I have included some direct quotes.
#1 Believe in Yourself
In the survey, 19% of INFPs responded that they wished they could tell their adolescent self to be true to themselves and stop worrying about what other people think. This had the highest percentage of any other item. So, the best thing an INFP teen can be told is that they are okay just the way they are. Yes, they are different, and being different is not only okay – it is awesome!
- “Don’t worry what anybody else thinks. You are you and that is all that matters.”
- “Be true to yourself, always. Never be afraid of who you are.”
- “Don’t try so hard to lose yourself and your pain in the service of others.”
- “Stop worrying! Just be who you are supposed to be and not what others want or think you should be.”
- “Be less self conscious. Appreciate the good qualities you are blessed with and don’t concentrate on your perceived inadequacies.”
- “Don’t let other’s opinions make you hate yourself. Use the fire inside of you to warm the cold-hearted and use your understanding of human nature to bind up the broken-hearted.”
#2 Be Open to Endless Possibilities
INFPs path to growth and happiness is Extraverted Intuition. In the Genius System, we call it “Exploration.” 14% of respondents in the survey indicated they understood this important aspect of their personal growth. Many INFPs wish someone had told them to get out and explore the world while they still had their whole lives ahead of them.
- “Do not aim for the norm. Don’t play it so safe. Don’t even try to be like someone else. Spend a lot of time learning new things. Allow yourself to be happy.”
- “Experience is the greatest teacher.”
- “Play hard, meet more people, and don’t decline opportunities just because you’re afraid of the spotlight. Don’t stop when things get difficult. It will all be worth it later.”
- “Explore more in order to know more about yourself.”
- “The moment is now. Pursue your dreams!”
- “Aim higher than you think is possible.”
#3 Time Heals All Wounds
This next category surprised me in its intensity and frequency. 11% of INFPs wanted to tell their 15 year old selves that “things always get better.” As I read through the survey, I got a distinct feeling that there was a great deal of adolescent wounding in the INFP community. The overall message from adult INFPs to their younger selves was: “Things are never as bad as they seem.”
- “Life is bigger than any problems you think you have. Choose to love life and you can be happy – you’ll find a way to be happy!”
- “Dig deeper to find what you love. Everything unpleasant will wash away in the river of time. Without direction…purpose…You will wander through life never knowing what it is you truly love(d) about it.”
- “Don’t worry, adulthood will be a better fit for you than adolescence or childhood was. ;)”
- “It will turn out okay in the end, regardless of whether you stress out or not. Hate is like a liquid which only destroys the vessel in which it is in, and doesn’t affect the person you hate. People are only human in the end, and events are only chapters in life’s book. Don’t set big expectations. Believe in yourself.”
- “Hard times lie ahead. Even when all hope seems lost, stay true to yourself, persevere, and you’ll find your way.”
#4 Love Yourself
This next category may sound like the first, but it had some important distinctions. 10% of INFPs wished they could tell their 15 year old selves that they had value and mattered. Most important of all, they wanted to make sure their adolescent self started early the never ending project of loving oneself.
- “You’re not perfect. No one else is either. People aren’t judging you like you think they are. You need to accept who you are – the good, bad and ugly – and know that we are all in the same boat. Learn to love yourself and value what you feel and think as important.”
- “There is NOTHING wrong with you. Being smart and sensitive are two of your superpowers. You are wired differently from most people– stop trying to change and start learning to understand.”
- “Have confidence, mate, and people will admire you for it.”
- “Confidence will pull your life together.”
- “You don’t have to hide who you are.”
- “It’s okay to hurt inside. It never goes away it just takes you longer to understand why you feel that way. Stop cutting. Go for walks in the rain by yourself, listen to music, learn how to do something you love (and give yourself credit for being good at it). Do something for yourself that makes you feel special. One day, you will realize that you are a beautiful person. Learn to love yourself. And don’t give up on someone loving you.”
#5 You Are Not Alone
Teenagers are notorious for picking the wrong friends or trying to fit in with people who aren’t worthy of the effort. INFPs are no different. The only difference being the profound wounding that comes when rejection ensues – given and received.
8% of INFPs would tell their younger selves to spend time with people who actually matter. People who didn’t make the INFP feel like they, and their feelings, weren’t important. And 3% of that 8% wishes they had been more aware of the people who did matter and hadn’t taken so many relationships for granted. This is a melancholy statistic.
- “Don’t ever worry about or be ashamed of not fitting in – just find your people instead of trying to be someone you’re not.”
- “You will find your people.”
- “Don’t close yourself off from people. You will find friends that care for you. You are truly and most sincerely not alone. You don’t love who you are now, but I do. You will learn to speak up and not feel embarrassed about it. And, you will come to find a love that you’ve never known before. Embrace it. There are bigger and greater things in life than constantly feeling sorry for yourself. Go take a chance.”
- “It’s perfectly okay to be “weird”. Some people find your quirkiness and mysteriousness intriguing. Those who are interested are the people who are worth your time.”
- “Don’t take relationships for granted, including “trivial” acquaintances. In adult life, out of school, and without roommates, making friends takes concerted effort, as you won’t be immersed in a social pool of people your age anymore. A completely introverted lifestyle isn’t that rose-colored.”
- “The best friends to have are not part of a clique.”
- “”Take the lead on finding friends and don’t wait for them to find you. It doesn’t matter whether you’re the wittiest person in the room, just be nice, caring, and positive, and that matters a lot more. It’s okay to be different — in fact, it’s interesting. Mean people never disappear, but they do become irrelevant.”
Do What You Love
Some of the less common suggestions offered by INFPs were:
- Don’t be afraid (7%)
- Trust yourself (7%)
- Do what you love (6%)
- Don’t give up! (4%)
- Don’t let anyone say you’re too sensitive (3%)
- Nobody else is obsessing as much as you are, so get over it. (2%)
INFPs comprise just 4% of the population. They are the poets and artists of the world. They are the ones who keep us honest and guard us from losing our humanity in this age of technical gadgets and gizmos. They are our societal conscience. I shudder to think where we would all be without their humanity, art and insistence on authentic expression.
We have explored the things INFPs wish they had known as maturing adolescents. Yet, I think their observations can benefit all of us – across the board. Do you know an INFP – adolescent or adult? When was the last time you gave them the time they needed to make a decision most in step with their inner alignment? Or do you become impatient when their choices lag? Have you ever told an INFP to “Stop being so sensitive?” Do you know an INFP who is immobilized with indecision because of a lack of personal confidence?
Our purpose here at Personality Hacker is to help the world realize that each of us has our own unique gifts. Gifts that are so valuable to the world in general, that life as we know it would cease without everyone’s contribution. The first step is recognizing how we are all wired so differently. Then we must give one another space to be who we are – good and bad. Once each of us realizes we are in a safe place for authentic expression, we will be better able to bring our gifts to the external world.
Imagine a world where INFPs were supported in their visions of creative self-expression. What a beautiful world it would be!
Love to hear in the comments below what advice you would give to yourself as an INFP teenager.
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