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!

Direct quotes:

  • “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.

Direct quotes:

  • “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.”

Direct Quotes:

  • “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.

Direct Quotes:

  • “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.

Direct Quotes:

  • “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.

Want to learn more?

Discover Your Personal Genius



  • JP
    • JP
    • August 28, 2019 at 1:48 pm

    Wow! I am so glad to learn that I am not as weird as I thought, or should I say that I have a whole family of peeps out there that are just like me? I am so grateful for this post!! I hated school as well, and NEVER wanted to be in the spotlight. Whenever my dad got promoted in his job, we’d have to move and I’d start a new school. Being so quiet, it was hard for me to make friends especially the ones that I could trust. Then we’d move and I’d have to start all over again. I feel I was taken advantage of a lot, by the wrong type of “friends,” because I was always trying so hard to fit in and I still struggle with being a people pleaser. Ironically, though I hated school, I loved Massage school. Now I know why. We had to take a psychology class as part of our Massage training. We were told to dress up as a person we had always wanted to be. I didn’t dress up and came as myself. When asked why I didn’t dress up, I told the instructor that I have always wanted to just be myself. As you can imagine, my answer was met with some rolling eyes. People didn’t understand that and thought I just chose not to participate. Even today, I am in my 50s, and I still have people telling me how I should dress, how I should wear my hair, and how I should wear my make up. Some friends say I should wear my hair up, some hate it up and say I should keep it down. It doesn’t stop, and it’s exhausting to try, and to assume, we can be someone that everyone likes. It’s impossible. So I shared all of that to say that I would tell my 15-year-old self to JUST BE YOURSELF!! You are unique, not weird! God created you just the way you are for a special purpose. If we were all the same it’d be a boring world! God blessed the world with our kind because we are the compassionate ones who can feel what others feel, we love to listen and we can give compassion and understanding that some can’t. We love to help others and we are gifted at writing and music, and many other things. Yes, it is sometimes a scary world out there, but we need to get out more and experience it, and others, so that others can also experience and learn from us. We all play an important part. And I say all of this after planning to stay in today! Lol! ;D I’m still working on being me, but I will not give up!! Thank you all for sharing!! I’m really encouraged!

  • Michael
    • Michael
    • July 5, 2019 at 2:28 pm

    Wow. And I relate pretty strong to what you wrote. About feeling numb, that nothing seems to interest me and I also lived too long on autopilot. How are you feeling right now?

  • samera kachacupt
    • samera kachacupt
    • June 29, 2019 at 4:39 pm

    as a 15 yr old INFP i would tell myself "please dont freek out when your brain doesnt rememember crap or that you mind races with things so you sorta BOUNCE from subject to subject….you will grow up and be an awsome poet and do beautiful flower arrangements that most will never beable to even Figure out how to do and be respected cause you can…and the people that have said that you cant do sht…will learn that they are the ones who are Limited and not you….so be proud because you are smarter than you Think you are…..i am 66 and i am just learning this and at 55 i started going to far off places i would of been terirfied to go..even those most are just 2000 miles away from where i started…and do it without even knowing a soul where i was going…yes…you will surprise everybody…even yourself

  • N
    • N
    • April 28, 2019 at 9:39 am

    Hi Kelly, I’m sorry you were betrayed. I too HATED high school but blossomed and fell in love with life in college. Find the college that fits you and let’s you be whoever you want to be. The real world is nothing like high school- I am sure you will find your niche.

  • Truth Seeker
    • Truth Seeker
    • March 26, 2019 at 10:13 pm

    I think I can relate to what you just said. During my teenage years I struggled a lot because I felt that no one understands me. At high school I almost fell out because I didn’t care. School became so suffocating and restrictive. What I wanted was freedom. So I started skipping classes and started going to cafes and beaches because there I was free. I used to write a lot during that time. Those inner thoughts seemed endless. Writing was a good way of expressing myself because I lacked a lot of social skills. On paper my thoughts seemed more clear. I also wrote some poems which are unfortunately faded into history, can not find them anymore.

    For years I have been idle as well. Mentally paralyzed. Tried to study psychology but could not finish it. As I look back I couldn’t analyze myself well enough as a teenager. Now I have realised that there is so much to discover about myself. I am attending a psychiatrist again and this time I want it to work. I need to fight. I just have to! There is no better time than now. Somehow I need to find measures to unlock myself to the world. I need to find a way to accept myself truly.

    About a year now I have been very restless. Nothing seems to interest me. It seems that I have been on autopilot for years. No enjoyment, just mundane tasks day in, day out. All of this because I have closed myself to emotions. I just can’t handle them. I don’t know what to do with them. Just let them flow through you and forget right? Such a hard task. Right now I am just a window-shopper when it comes to life. I am an observer rather than a doer. Time to turn it around.

    When I was 6 I remember one moment where I was eating an ice cream and I wanted to share it with all the world. Throughout the years I have attracted a lot of broken people, mostly on the streets. Many of them have asked for some money. But there have been moments when a complete stranger have started talking about their personal issues. And I enjoy listening to others. I have read a lot about psychology, healthy mindset, healthy eating etc. It was like a year ago when I started to read about spirituality and spiritual awakening. I felt that something in me could deeply relate to that. I need to figure out what lies deep within.

    Just a fraction of my world. Even now as I am writing I feel so numb and distanced from my thoughts and feelings. But at least I got something out.

    Take care

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