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!”
- “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.
- “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.
- “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.
- “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.
- “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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