INTJs are among the rarest of the Myers-Briggs personality types. They are logical, objective, independent and determined. INTJs are among the highest income earners in the world. And they achieve some of the highest grades in college. They are also statistically one of the least likely to believe in a higher spiritual power.

In a recent survey of INTJs we asked four questions:

  • What are the top 3 challenges you face as an INTJ?
  • What 3 things do you wish others knew about you as an INTJ?
  • What 3 books/movies/courses/events have most impacted your life?
  • What do you wish you could have told your 15 year old self

We received over 300 responses to this survey! There were subtle differences in the way INTJs interact with the world that made my job finding a common thread very difficult. I hope I have been successful. Here are the top results:

#1 Stop Letting People Get To You So Much

In the survey, 17% of INTJs would tell their younger selves to stop taking everything people say so seriously. This had the highest percentage of any item, and indicates some deep wounds caused by others in the INTJ’s life. An additional 5% would tell their younger selves to “Lighten up!”

Direct Quotes:

  • “Do not be reactive. Be proactive.”
  • “You’re not going to mess it all up, and it’s okay to fail. Don’t worry about looking dumb when you ask lots of questions, other people are thinking the same things. People don’t hate you, they just don’t know you.”
  • “Stop unconsciously apologizing for your intelligence. It may not be “”popular”” now, but you will come to love it about yourself — and so will others. Embrace the nerd! Stop worrying about what other people think. Most people are so preoccupied with their own BS, they think about you a lot less than you fear. You were made very different from others. This will make certain parts of life more complicated for you; especially your social life. You will, at times, feel very isolated, alone, unwanted, dismissed, and prematurely judged. Keep going!!”
  • “First of all I’d definitely tell myself what introversion is, because that would explain a lot of things & it would save me from a lot of trouble. Secondly, I’d say not to care about what other people think/say and to mind my own business. I’d tell my younger self to find my passions and to fight for what I think is right, and that it is OK to make mistakes and to cry sometimes.”
  • “Your strength is diving into and solving difficult, complex problems and designing a strategic solution. Don’t let others put you off with their shallow understanding of the issues. You are capable of seeing the bigger picture as well as the details. Be confident as an introvert. Relax and use your strengths instead of trying to fit in by being extraverted. It can often be more powerful to say nothing. And it is always more powerful to say the right thing at the right time in as few words as possible.”
  • “Please, oh please, realize that you are completely lovable and acceptable exactly as you are. You do not need the approval of people who you don’t even really want in your life. Learn to sink into who you actually are, and allow others to leave you and be who they are. You’ll find that most of the people who leave were never really wanted by you in the first place. Also, embrace the complete nerdiness that you are! It’s badass and you’re going to love it even more as you grow older.”
  • “Things aren’t nearly as important as you think they are. Don’t be so hard on yourself. Your life is really cool, sit back and enjoy the ride. Sometimes things take a really really long time but it’s worth it. You know what you are doing, trust yourself. There are seasons of your life that you will walk into a room and command attention and there are times you will feel invisible; they oscillate, don’t think any season will last forever.”

#2 There’s Nothing Wrong With You

Since I have been reading these survey results, I notice one common thread among all of them:

“You are different. Embrace your differences!”

This is to be expected. After all, we are talking about Intuitives. Intuitives are different from 75% of the world! Most of them will  have grown up in families where they were a minority. Or at the very least, forced to survive an educational system that didn’t cater itself to their learning styles. Some have even been drugged by well-meaning parents who didn’t understand what was “wrong” with them. Therefore, it is no surprise that Intuitives feel lonely and isolated. The silver lining here is that most of them learn to appreciate their differences.

15% of INTJs wish they could have told their younger selves that it is okay to be different. However, as is the case with INTJs in general, they do this a little differently than everybody else. INTJs would tell their adolescent selves to – 1) Stop hiding; and 2) Stop dumbing themselves down.

Direct Quotes:

  • “You are not strange and you don’t have to act the way they expect you to.”
  • “It is completely okay to just be you. You don’t have to be afraid of showing your true colours. Just be the way you are and the right people will find you. Those who don’t understand you don’t matter. Everything will be okay, sooner or later. Just hold on and be brave in tough situations. I am proud of you.”
  • “Do not compare yourself with your friends because you are smarter than them. Go your own way. Carve your own path through the jungle of life. You function totally different and THAT IS OKAY. In fact, your talents can only blossom when you accept that being different is a starting point to your life.”
  • “Don’t expect to be just like those around you. Instead, learn to understand, appreciate, and have patience with yourself. Focus on your strengths. Explore your scientific interest. Have confidence that you will excel, but be humble. Ask what you need to ask without being afraid of sounding idiotic – that doesn’t matter. Let the people you care about know how you feel and try to figure out what makes them feel cared for. They may have different needs than you. However, don’t be afraid to part from someone you have let into your inner circle if you are not being cared for reciprocally.”

#3 Don’t Waste Your Potential

The path to growth and happiness for INTJs is Extraverted Thinking, or “Effectiveness.” Effectiveness likes to accomplish goals and make things happen in the outer world. Therefore, it is not surprising that 13% of INTJs wish they could have told their teenage selves to be more effective. This first one is a long one, but I thought it was a perfect example of Effectiveness in the real world.

Direct Quotes:

  • “Life is one huge strategy game, the goal of the game is to win. The different pieces are people and their understanding of the game is different than yours. They are biased by their own perspective and restrictions. You are playing as an INTJ, which also determines how you will move in the game. An INTJ wins the game if he can bring his visions into the world and make the world better. To be able to make the world better, you first have to make your own life better. To make your own life better, you first have to become a better person. To become a better person, you first have to understand yourself as you are now: your place in the game, your moves, your options, and where to go from here. Life is a game of speed chess: you constantly lose some opportunities by not moving fast enough. Never stop reading. Never stop learning. Cultivate your ability to move other pieces on the board around you, by helping people and recognizing that by helping them they owe you. Don’t try to do everything yourself. Even though you are capable of learning anything, it is actually a sub-optimal use of your time. In the long run, it will cause you to fall behind. Learn how to prioritize, do the important things, and outsource unimportant tasks to others. Don’t let social pressure get to you, but don’t upset others either. INTJs operate best in the dark: avoid attention. Temper your need for social expression and blend in. Cloak yourself in an disguise of normalcy. All successful people actually are freaks, who learned how to appear normal. You get way more out of people by looking like them. Let them win petty issues, so you can ask them for strategic points that matter more. Don’t comment on ignorance, run from it. None of this applies however to ENTJ/ENTP friends, so look for them and cherish them. Especially ENTJs, they are so precious. Debate to your own content. Express yourself with no restrictions. Terraform your inner circle to be as high on NTs as possible. These friends will significantly outweigh all others – both short term and long term.”
  • “I wish I could have told myself not to be afraid. I am beautiful, intelligent and kind (to animals at least), and in spite of everything I should have pushed myself to do more because I could have. Now I can’t correct or undo those life choices and mistakes. My life would have been very different if I had just been brave enough to stand up for myself in important matters.”
  • “You are only killing yourself by remaining in your comfort zone.”

#4 Be True To Yourself

“Authenticity,” or Introverted Feeling, is the tertiary function in the INTJs cognitive function stack. It is a very conscious part of their personality. It softens the Effectiveness process by encouraging INTJs to be sympathetic of the subjective human experience. So, where most of us have regrets over blending too much as teens, Authenticity users will feel those regrets most acutely. 10% of all INTJs surveyed said they wish they had been more authentic in their youth.

Direct Quotes:

  • “Focus on school and developing good study and work habits. Be yourself – not who your parents want you to be or who your friends want you to be. Youth is fleeting and you need to find yourself, early and often. You are an individual and you should embrace your quirks, passion, and strengths.”
  • “You are a nice, friendly person and you don’t have to prove it by being a doormat and smiling until your cheeks hurt. You don’t have to make the perfect choice about your future. You can’t waste your talents as long as you are doing something you enjoy. It’s okay to be a book nerd! You should write all your ideas down.”
  • “I would reiterate the words of Thoreau: ‘If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away.’”
  • “You are nothing like your parents. You do not need to conform to their perception of reality. You have talents they do not value. Stop negative self-talk. DO something. Whatever interests you, just do something with it. Don’t conform. Be courageous. Those traits are opposites! You have a gift to design and implement systems that nobody else has. You have leadership potential that has been squelched your whole life. Exercise it. Fail. Learn. Build.”
  • “The best person you can be is yourself. Don’t give away your integrity just to fit in with everyone else.”

#5 Find Your Tribe

It is fundamental to the success and growth of Intuitives that they find people who are like them. Yet this is the first group surveyed (thus far) who mentioned the importance of this lesson again and again. Perhaps Effectiveness users can more thoroughly understand the efficiency that comes with a support system.

8% of INTJs surveyed would like their younger selves to choose their friends more wisely.

Direct Quotes:

  • “You don’t deserve what is happening to you. That was not how friends are supposed to treat each other. You are allowed to fight back. Things will improve. Don’t try to be friends with others simply due to geographic proximity. You aren’t a freak. There isn’t anything missing from you. Stop trying to be someone else. Find the right people and accept who you are.”
  • “Love will not come as easy as you think. Find someone you trust and respect early on in life and ask them to be your mentor. Actually, find more than one mentor. Don’t lose sight of what you know deep down to be right and wrong. Don’t lose sight of God.”
  • “Relax. You don’t need to feel so lonely and sad all the time. You will eventually find people to connect with, and won’t have to hide yourself so carefully any more. 15 doesn’t last forever.”
  • “Hang in there. Your ‘friends’ are currently dropping away like flies. You stick out like a sore thumb in that girl’s school. You’ll have a small ‘band of sisters’, and at the end you will realize you have faced war together. Look forward to getting out, and know that when you do, you will be awesome. Keep the glasses. Keep the brains and love of learning. Be wary of those few who have glimpsed your soul, but don’t lose the ability to show it to those who deserve it. You’ll have to be alone for a while and, you know what? You’ll thrive through that independence. It will allow you to be the most ‘you’. And, you haven’t got to the best part yet.”
  • “You have a big ego but you’re still smarter than you think you are. People are not bad like you think they are. Learn to value them for their skills and talents even if you can’t relate to them. Stop pitying yourself and hating them and start shaking hands. This empire you dream of can become real but you’re not going to build it on your own. You need to have people who trust you. P.S. Don’t marry Andrea.”

The Future is Bright

Childhood is defined by the desire to fit in – especially in the teen years. By 15, I think many of us reached the conclusion that we were just going to be different no matter what and life had decided to deal us a lousy hand.

Which brings me to another common thread among the surveys:

“It’s not the end of the world! Life gets better. “

6% of INTJs would like their younger selves to realize that it’s not the end of the world. Things get better – way better. This rather poignant statistic indicates a large portion of Intuitive youngsters view the future with dread rather than optimism.

This is what makes the Intuitive Awakening movement even more important. Adolescents shouldn’t see a future filled with isolation and loneliness. They should be made aware of their amazing potential. They should be shown that the world is their oyster and they have the sharpest knife around!

Other common threads found among the INTJ survey were:

  • “Nothing in the universe can stop you, so follow your dreams!”
  • “Invest in Google/Apple/Facebook.”
  • “Learn MBTI and work with your strengths instead of against them.”
  • “Don’t change a thing! I am who I am thanks to the decisions you made. So thanks!”

We would love to hear more about the advice INTJs would give to their teenage selves. Please share them in the comment below.


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Showing 24 comments
  • Charlene

    I love this, especially the conclusion. Adolescence and college were two of the scariest, loneliest, and most isolating times for me as an INTJ.

    I felt trapped on a societally-defined conveyor belt that was taking me down some strange path I wasn’t entirely sure I wanted to go down. And I would dull my anxiety and frustration with videogames and other distractors.

    There’s only ONE thing that has ever worked to pull me out of my past state of “what’s the point” apathy and “no one gets it” depression. That ONE thing is to do things that actually matter to me.

    Helping people I care about.
    Using my knowledge about a subject to create things in the world–art, writing, and other projects.
    Understanding how to be radiant and attractive, so I could date like a pro. (Fulfilling romantic relationships are very important to me.)

    And lastly, learning that it’s OK to be emotional. My whole life I had prided myself on the fact that I almost never cried about anything. Feeling a negative emotion meant shame, and feeling a positive emotion meant a lack of realism. I couldn’t win.

    It took me absurdly long to accept that even INTJs, the supposed “robots” of the MBTI landscape, are allowed to have feelings. It especially helps if you can examine them, understand why you are feeling them, and create a plan to help you feel whatever you’d LIKE to be feeling instead.

    If you are angry: accept it, resolve the annoying situation, and cultivate a more productive emotion in its place.
    If you are bored in your life, or job, or with your friends: do the research and introspection to find out what you want instead.
    If you are infatuated with someone: figure out exactly what it is that you like so much about them, and decide whether the strength of your feelings is appropriate.

    We INTJs have a powerful capacity for dissection and objectivity. Use it to create an existence that Past You could only have dreamed of.

  • Charis Branson

    Thanks Charlene for your comment. You make some interesting suggestions to help INTJs use their copilot more effectively.

  • Afshin Nejat

    I have one that pops up in my mind immediately:

    Realize that people are the problem. Subtract them from the equation. Move on. Would have been real handy to know from the beginning. But some nasty skeletons are so deep in human beings’ collective and personal closets that they’ve done mastered the art of pretending that they’re not there, and that the foul odor emanates from some scapegoat, especially whomever seems keenest on the Truth.

    So, expect to see lots of flipped scripts in your future, would be social engineer types with delusions of godhood.

    • Lilly

      Oh scapegoat! Boy do I know about that. Woah if people could blame others for all their own problems for a living, everyone would be rich. Probably the scariest part of being a “truth-seeker” is that ain’t nobody wanna hear it and you’ll likely be hung for it.

  • proud INTJ femail

    The description of INTJs on this site is awesome – describes me to a tee. And this post and accompanying comments really resonate with me. Some of the quotes given are so prophetic for me. Heck, I wish I knew these things when I was 30 !! Now that I am older, I have come to realize most of these, but as always, I am a work in progress. I find that a little exercise and a little meditation every day helps to slow down my constantly busy brain, and allows me to be more mindful – something that I think is quite difficult for INTJs. I also find that I need to regularly do things with my hands rather than with my brain – gardening, sewing, painting etc where I can see tangible results. These things also help me with mindfulness.

    • Charis Branson

      Thanks for the feedback! I think your suggestions about doing instead of thinking all the time are really valuable. 🙂

  • A Good Different

    Feedback from others was what I had learned to manipulate and learn from as I noticed a sort of gap between me and others. Before too long, I had done enough research early on for assurance and luckily enough discovered the personalities that had cause this separation. I didn’t and still don’t have a problem with this and enjoy it with my best interests. The earlier you learn your actually a good different the easier it is to cope with these thoughts and regrets. ^ -early adolescence

    • Charis Branson

      So true! Although, I wonder what would be considered a bad different?

  • Kate Arcangeli

    I am an ENFP-T that was married for 6.5 years (10.5 years together in total) to an INTJ crossover breed with ISTJ. We met when I was 19 and he 23. INTJ males are extremely drawn to me as well as INFJ males, I mean soul-binding connections. I am drawn to them too! Some of my best female friends are also INTJs and INFJs. I dearly love you all, but as a very emotional person who also has extremely strong intuition, I encourage all INTJs to spend more time giving back to their community. I encourage all INTJs to spend time with the poor, the broken, and the lost. I think one of the deepest weaknesses for INTJs is a lack of empathy. I experienced this on such a profound level with my ex husband that I was no longer able to stay married to him. The marital bond had been broken irreparably. I encourage you to exercise this much-needed skill of compassion and empathy. The INTJs I know that spend time supporting others and not just their “end-goals” are much kinder human beings. The INTJs I know that spend time on only their own projects are not very kind people. Strike a balance between giving your genius to your goals and giving your genius to others in need. Lots of ENFP love…

    • Amanda W.

      I am an INTJ and I can tell you that I have so much empathy that I have had to learn to turn it off in order to keep myself from drowning in others’ problems! We may come off as cool and disconnected but it’s honestly a self defense mechanism! We feel too much!

    • gunneos

      As a female INTJ who has been accused of the very same crime of being unsympathetic/lacking in empathy, I must honestly say that it’s an inaccurate (and hurtful) assessment, especially when it’s been delivered by a loved one. I speak only for myself but I think we might be a self-sabotaging bunch, and tend to act somewhat opposite to how we actually feel. Deep down, INTJs are self-aware, more so if the INTJ has dedicated time to analysing his/her own emotions. We just have a huge problem expressing our emotions, and the behaviour that ends up being observed by other people often ends up being the EXACT OPPOSITE of how we actually feel. Sounds crazy, I know. INTJs don’t wear their hearts on their sleeves (think ice-capped volcanoes). If anything, the INTJ has so many emotions going through them that they’re just sort of paralysed by it all, so nothing is reflected on their features.

      I consider this a crazy sort of self-defense, and conclusions like yours will tend to make the INTJ feel misunderstood, or a general sense of disappointment, that you ‘never really saw them at all’. We feel plenty, we know we feel plenty, but because we are overwhelmed and ruled by our need to be effective, these feelings get divorced because they’ve been labeled as ‘distractions’.

      I also think that most INTJs want to improve the world, but on a far larger scale that involves building rewarding and effective systems, instead of on an individual, one-to-one basis. Being sociable or leading through our emotions just isn’t our modus operandi. We also like to think deeply and for long periods of time to find sustainable solutions, and I think one of the best ways to tell if we’ve been moved by a cause is to wait and see if we come up with a solution anywhere between a day to 10 years down the road. We let things stew, and then we deal with them when we’re done stewing; you’ll hardly ever get an immediate reaction, or a display of emotion from us (hence again, the apparent lack of observable empathy).

  • entPOP

    From ENTP: INTJ’s have it all. Self-mastery. Mystery. Drama. Determination. Vision. Power.

  • Fauna

    I am an INTJ teenage girl and this is one of the moments in life where i feel totally depressed and down almost over nothing…The worstest of all depressions, over nothing… Idk what to do, i feel like i need the support, i really do, but no one near me has the ability to give me constant personal one. I have an INTP bestie but she is pretty busy, i m just feeling hopeless. Is there a way i get sick for a few months n go to a hospital so i can figure things out hopefully? Peacefully…Like right now i cant even focus on anything, i m in a strict af boarding school, its just hopeless. P.S. Thanks a lot to this post , it makes me feel i m not so alone.

    • Allison

      I just wanted to say that I’m in a similar situation and you aren’t alone! I’m an INTJ as well who suffers Anxiety and Depression. It’s some sort of lethal mixture designed to create people who can barely keep from self destructing several times a week. But please know that you can overcome it! Embrace your INTJ uniqueness and work around your depression. Music helps tremendously, as does writing and other creative outlets. Yoga is also a very good de-stresser. Have you looked online for INTJ forums? There might be others like you who need some support! Sending lots of support and encouragement your way!

    • Charis Branson

      Thanks for reaching out, Fauna! It sounds like you could use some quiet time. Is there any time of the day or night where you can get away by yourself and have some quiet contemplation? Maybe a dark corner in the library? Or a study room with the blinds closed? Have you tried journaling?

    • Sally

      Fauna, I’m so sorry to hear this. Hang in there — when I was an intj girl at a bitchy girls school, I felt just like this. But it gets SO much better. When you’re out in the world, you’ll find your peeps and they will appreciate you. I’ve travelled the world, studied at Harvard, found a good husband, have 3 kids and a stimulating job, and faith in God. You will find hope and joy. In the meantime, try some exercise, music, enjoy nature, try not to be too hard on yourself.


      I used to read A LOT in my middle school and high school days. Science fiction and high fantasy. It helped me focus my Introverted Intuition function, Extroverted Thinking Function, and Introverted Feeling. Meaning I read books to learn concepts, ideas, and relationships, then it helped me relate them and build my morals and values and that helped make me, me. Nowadays I read self help and watch movies to do those same things..

  • AP

    I too experience depression easily and find that doing what I enjoy (reading fiction, scrap booking and gardening) helps me through it by giving me time alone doing what I love to do most. This time also allows me to think deeply and assess the situation. Exercise also really helps as health is important to me, I know I’m doing something good for myself and I can feel the tangible results. After this reflection time, it is important for me to reach out to my best friend (husband) because we shouldn’t be alone all the time. We need time with those with whom we connect so we can share our reflections. It helps to let it out with someone you trust once you’ve reflected. I hope you’re able to overcome. As an INTJ, you have it in you! Be brave, strong and determined and all will be well.

    • Charis Branson

      Thanks for this beautiful comment, AP! You demonstrate a really important point. Mental health doesn’t have to be complicated. Sometimes it’s the simple things that keep us going. 🙂

  • Vojtěch

    Another thing I´d say to younger version of myself is: don´t ever expect that someone will support you in your visions, plans and ideas in the way you need. Others just aren´t capable of understanding you.

    • Charis Branson

      Thanks for the comment! Sometimes the best support system you can have is yourself.

  • Leann

    The biggest struggle I have faced is my depression and dealing with myself. A big struggle was when I realized I was an Intj. I didn’t want to believe it as it would be another thing that proved I was different from the people around me. Middle school was especially bad. I already was teased for my intellect and berated by teachers for questioning ‘every Godamn thing I tell you.’. When I saw that I was a female Intj I took more and more tests and received the same. I felt defeated almost. I didn’t want to be like everyone and I felt far superior in a lot of ways, but at the same time I wanted to be like everyone else and felt inferior to them. I have always felt at war with myself. I want a best friend who I can hang out with a lot but then again I don’t because I prefer to be alone. I want someone smart to discuss things with but hate when they act smarter than me. All that fed (and still does a lot) into this swirling storm of confusion and stress that was amplified by my depression. The worse part of it though was my intense hatred of myself. I hated that I was letting my emotions run free and control me. I felt as if I was weak for not keeping my emotions in check. I still struggle with some things like my emotions but I find role playing and writing helps me a lot. Honestly though I still feel like I’m not an intj even if that is all I get.

    • Laura

      Your comment really hit home with me! i don’t suffer from depression but have lately been experiencing strong stress symptoms, and struggling to accept the fact that i can’t control these emotions, that i’m that “weak” (i will clarify that people with stress and depression is nothing near weak, it is my inability to handle, manage or even understand and explain these feelings that i’m referring to as weak. furthermore this is highly a personal experience of it and not the way all see/experience it). i was told i asked too many questions as a young child as well, and learned to really suppress my curiosity and my high understanding of things, to a point where i didn’t identify with those traits anymore, and denied it’s existence. though i have never thought i hated my self, i have disliked myself strongly for not fitting in, for being weird and for being “boring” because i preferred being alone or with few friends. as i learned to conform to how people expected me to act(both socially and educationally), i think i lost a part of myself which i’m still very much struggling to reconnect with. the best friend thing and talking to smart people are my exact thoughts. music helps me a lot too, it helps sorting out emotions when i don’t know what i’m feeling and keeping the loneliness at bay.
      Honestly when i first tested as an INTJ i was very convinced it was a mistake, surely i misunderstood the questions they where very vague, or maybe i was contaminating it with bias and thought to highly of myself therefore typing what i wanted too see instead of what i really am, i am no where near smart enough to be in this company. so i get the feeling of not believing what you type as, and tough iv’e tested as both INFP and INTP in the past i’ve never really connected with the INFP’s because i’m much more ego focused than on other people, i like animals better than them, and though i do always calculate the human factor and what effects different solutions have on us, i do not have their way of approaching life, and though my work method is much like INTP i’ve never related to the lack of emotional understanding, they often pride them selfs in. so i don’t really think i’m an INTJ it’s just the one type thats least incorrect

  • VL Ramnghaka

    Although I am quite a misunderstood Intj as a child but i did’t even understand that that i am not like them because i am so drawn to what i am thinking that i didn’t notice others at all. But my teenage live was most favourable that I feel comfortable, happy and understood but i feel like something is missing deep inside. On my twenties this year I am acting as if was destroying myself, depressed and misunderstood (Yea becauae, love affairs goes wrong). I keep wondering what went wrong, halted my extroverted thinking for sometime and continue destroying myself and finally i found me, my trueself Here in Personality Hacker. As i know all my history, and all thing happening and thing i have done right or wrong. Now, i am fixing up myself from my damaging act to be more powerful, although my teenage was happy, that was not me, my childhood was me, but fixing myself with a little twist to be more productive, that i concentrated only on my strength and using others on my weakness i have made a good team, (probably my fellow team members didn’t know i was placing them on the work based on their personality, not actually with their degree. Because I want a happy team, not a musfit team). That’s how i begin to rise a week ago. Hope it helps.

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