Otto Kroeger once said, “INFJs nonstop search for learning, self-growth, and development—and wishing the same for everyone else—makes them very reassuring to others and people worth emulating.”

INFJs are sincere, sympathetic, unassuming, easygoing and reserved. Their personal values include spirituality, learning, and community service. They can often be found in careers that involve religion, counseling, teaching, healing, or the arts.

They represent only 1.5% of the population, with females outnumbering males only slightly. This makes them the least common type in the human population.

They are known for their high GPAs in college and they usually stay in college, unlike some of the other Intuitive types.

INFJs are the most likely of any type to seek therapy and they rank highest of all types in marital dissatisfaction.

In a recent survey of INFJs we asked four questions:

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

Almost 500 INFJs opened up and shared their complicated inner world with us! 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 themes. So, I have broken them all down to 5 items INFJs wish they had known when they were 15 years old, in order of frequency.

#1 Don’t Allow Others to Define Who You Are

This was by far the most common thing INFJs reported as something they wished they could change. As an INFJ myself, I found this extremely enlightening. I looked back on a life of service to the beliefs of others and wondered if it was cowardice or love that forced me to succumb. I have a paralyzing fear of hurting or disappointing those I love. And because of that, I’ve only just begun living life on my terms. This seems to be a theme for Extraverted Feelers.

18% of INFJs said they wished they hadn’t given so much power to others.

Direct Quotes:

  • “Others perspectives do not define who you are. Make your own decisions. There are no right answers, only different circumstances and values.”
  • “I would have told myself to keep dreaming and not focus on the beaten paths that the world has laid out – college, 9-5 job, etc. Think creatively about what I can offer and bring that to the world.”
  • It’s okay to be who you are and feel what you feel. You don’t have to live up to other people’s expectations.
  • “You do not have to please everyone else all the time and at your own expense. You should not feel guilty for spending time alone. Try to be mindful and follow your own feelings about your life’s decisions rather than getting caught up doing what others think is best for you.”
  • “No one – no friend, no family member, no boyfriend – is worth you giving up all of your private time. If someone demands that much of you, you probably don’t need him/her in your life. It will drain you.”
  • “”Don’t worry about trying to find, fix, or befriend someone who will love you the way you think you ought to be loved. Work on developing your talents and genius. Don’t try to accommodate others to the point where you have no identity of your own or self-confidence.”
  • “Trust yourself and stop trying to appease others. No one can ever approve of you enough to make everything okay. You have to approve of you, and if you’re the only one, that’s okay. (If I had embraced that ideology when I was 15, I would have saved myself a lot of stress and heartache.)”
  • “You are not stupid. Other people do not define your worth. You are your own person, you don’t have to have someone else’s qualities to be valid, you actually exist. And I love you.”
  • “Pay more attention to bettering yourself, and stop worrying about what others think. You can be your very best when you learn to assess yourself as you do others. Never, ever, compromise your values, morals or feelings for the sake of someone else.”

#2 Take More Calculated Risks

INFJs dominant mental process is Introverted Intuition (“Perspectives” in the Genius system). This process feels great when it is given lots of time to drift, all alone, in peace and quiet. My favorite place in the world is a graveyard in the middle of the night. It’s dark, so there is no sensory stimulation. I don’t have to worry about anybody interrupting me. And there is profound stillness and awe in a place dedicated to the dead. I’ve often spent entire nights just letting my mind drift from one thing to another. I never get bored.

It may be due to this love of our inner world that INFJs struggle with motivation. 11% of INFJs surveyed wish they had tested the boundaries more.

Direct Quote:

  • “It’s okay to feel the things you feel. Your opinions are just as important as everyone else’s. If you want to be “seen” as you really are you have to be brave and show yourself; it’s okay that not everyone is going to “get” you, as long as you can live as freely as you can. People can hurt you only if you give them the power to do so. Live more in the moment! Seriously, you live in your head too much. Travel, feel, taste, take in everything and feel it without trying to figure out what it all means.”
  • “You have the potential to be a hero, to be anything you want to be. I know this to be true – although beware of the trap of arrogance and conceit. You just have to accept yourself and remove the masks. You know what I mean.”
  • “Yes, you do in fact move through the world differently…you are not crazy. Just remember to get out of your head and try something that scares you. And most of all, you are enough just as you are.”
  • “Keep calm and channel your over thinking energies into constructive change.”
  • “Stop procrastinating and just do it! You can’t waste your life worrying about a future you’ll never get to create if you’re too busy worrying. Take a chance and have a bit more fun, always put your problems into perspective.”

#3 Everything is Going To Be Okay

The third most common piece of advice INFJs would offer themselves was some much needed insight into the future. Teenagers are notoriously myopic. Perspectives is a future focused process and in its undeveloped state it can become paranoid and fearful of the future. So, although most of the surveys thus far have had this piece of advice, it means something extra special to INFJs.

9% of INFJs would tell themselves the future is bright. An additional 5% would tell their younger selves to stay present and stop obsessing over what may never happen.

Direct Quotes:

  • *Go your own path! No one but you determines your success or happiness. If you’re going through hard times, remember that you’re changing – you’re growing! Sooner or later you will start to see the gifts you’ve been blessed with due to the struggles you have been through. It will be worth it!”
  • “You’re hurt now and you’re bleeding, but someday you will realize that this pain gave you something you can’t get any other way. You just need to let yourself live.”
  • “It gets much, much better. There are others out there who are more like you. You can heal the pain to a large extent. It will be okay. Follow your desires to be an artist, and push yourself.”
  • “Everything unfolds perfectly.”
  • “Not everything is the end of the world and it’s okay to be emotional. Love yourself. You’re going to grow up and have a cool apartment right down the road from that record store you love with the cool zines and it’s going to have a BALCONY (!!!!) and you’ll be published and happy and skinny. Everything you’re going through now is so the adult you will challenge herself harder. I think you would be proud.”
  • “Take the time to enjoy your life. Slow down, you’ll get to the future quickly enough. Enjoy what you have in front of you. You need to find your passions to become truly happy. Start doing the things you love. Stop focusing so much on other people and how much you want to be like them. You CANT be anybody but yourself; it’s impossible and it will never make you happy.”

#4 Stop Being So Hard On Yourself

INFJs auxiliary cognitive function is Extraverted Feeling (“Harmony” in the Genius system). This function concerns itself with getting the needs of everyone around it met. INFJs are particularly good at this because they lead with Perspectives, which gives them special insight into people’s motivations and desires. The dream team combination of Harmony and Perspectives is not perfect, however. Every now and then, an INFJ will say or do something that receives negative feedback from the outside world. This cuts the INFJ to the core because they honestly expect better of themselves. I have been known to torture myself for decades over the thoughtless things I have said or done.

8% of INFJs wish they could tell their younger selves to ease up on the self-criticism. An additional 4% would like their adolescent self to stop obsessing over being perfect.

Direct Quotes:

  • “I’d tell myself to stop trying to fit into some sort of stereotype and use all the bad things that happened to me as a reason to be a better person. There’s also something I try to make myself understand even now, but it’s hard – ‘Stop taking things so personally.’ It would’ve been easier if I had learned this at the age of 15.”
  • “You are special. You are not strange or weird or crazy. Just a beautiful, rare gem. Go with your gut in spite of what other people tell you. Listen to yourself. Love yourself!! (I have always struggled with this. If I’m not perfect then I’m not worth loving.) Cut yourself some slack. Not everything has to be perfect! Sometimes it’s best to let go and just enjoy. Cut others slack. They aren’t perfect either. (Also a hard one for me. I hold others to an impossible standard.) Let go of what you can’t control.”
  • “”Don’t be so self-conscious. Don’t put yourself down so much, you are fine! ACT, ACT, ACT on your thoughts. Calm your anxiety and center yourself. Working on yourself is GREAT, keep at it. Please be kind to yourself. Let go of the idealism, moral conscience and responsibility. Don’t over-analyze, just enjoy the ride.”
  • “Pleasing everyone is impossible so say ‘no’ and accept your decision. There’s no such thing as perfect so your best is enough. Care for yourself along with everyone else because it will catch up with you someday if you don’t.”
  • “You CAN do this on your own. You’re smart enough. You’re intuition WILL guide you. Love yourself and never be afraid of failing. A man will never complete you. YOU complete you.”

#5 There is Nothing Wrong With You

As is true with all the Intuitive surveys thus far, INFJs acknowledge their differences and the pain which comes along with being a Fruit Loop in a world of Cheerios.

7% of INFJs would tell their younger selves that there is absolutely nothing wrong with them. Another 6% wish they could have been more comfortable with who they were.

Direct Quotes:

  • “Everyone is different, and that’s not only OK but necessary. You are the way you are by design. And it’s good. You can give to the world in quiet ways, via depth of conversation, and interacting in your way. You need to be you and not someone else. Do what you love.”
  • “This is clichéd and cheesy but that’s because it’s a universally acknowledged virtue – Be Yourself. Be true to who you are; you’ll be happier that way. Also, before I go, I’d like to share something with you. I know you’re a pretentious little fuck, so you’ll enjoy this. To quote John Keats, ‘Beauty is truth, truth beauty- that is all ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.'”
  • “If I could go back in time, I would tell the younger me to slow down. I had a list of things I wanted to accomplish that was miles long and I got it all done before my 30s… slow down, kid. Take it all in. Live in the moment, appreciate and savor everything you have right now. Stop trying to please everyone and make yourself more of a priority, because in the end the only relationship you have that you can trust, that is eternal, the only true love is the love you develop for yourself. Stop being so critical. You are wonderful, perfect and unique in your own way. Appreciate yourself.”
  • “There is nothing wrong with you. You are worthy of love from yourself and from others. You deserve to be treated with respect and kindness no matter what. Once you learn to love yourself then make self-care your number one priority and everything else in life will be experienced with a sense of joy, even the painful times.”
  • “You are beautiful. You are smart. You are worthy. You are enough.”

Never Stop Caring

I have a vivid memory that has defined my life. At the age of 13, I remember making the choice to never feel again. I was sitting on the floor of my bedroom, my back against the door, and I was sobbing for the hundredth time over injustices I thought my family was experiencing. I knew to the very marrow of my bones that life was never going to get any better. The pain would never stop. My only apparent option was to become a robot.

And it worked. I never shed another tear. Not even at my mother’s funeral when I was 19. My voice flattened and became emotionless. My face became a permanent mask of controlled expression. My body hardened to reflect the shell I was hiding behind.

Now at the age of 43 I am trying to regain my connection to myself and the world. But what did I lose along the way? What connections were never made and what lessons were never learned? I may be a lot further along in my development if I hadn’t shut it all down 30 years ago.

Apparently, I am not alone. 5.5% of INFJs would tell their younger selves to hold onto their humanity, no matter the cost. An additional 3% would plead with themselves to always remember kindness when dealing with others.

Direct Quotes:

  • “I wish you didn’t try to cover your genuine feelings and love for people with cynicism and unnecessary judgments.”
  • “Focus on your emotions, try and understand them as much as you can – you’ll want them later.”
  • “Nothing will ever feel okay inside, until you learn to see yourself through the lens of love and gratitude and learn to be as kind to your vulnerable self as you are to your vulnerable friends.”
  • “Don’t try to give up your heart. Don’t try to be the best at everything because it’s not gonna happen. You can’t stop wars, you can’t stop injustice, you can’t stop hate, you can’t stop greed, you can’t make everyone happy and that’s okay, it doesn’t make you a bad person. You don’t need to punish yourself and you don’t deserve to die. You can’t make your scars disappear but you can fill them with gold, like in kintsukuroi. And I’m not gonna say that it’ll get better because it won’t – you’ll just become tougher.”

Want to learn more?

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


  • Me
    • Me
    • December 16, 2020 at 6:49 pm

    lol. I just realized how bad my grammar is. And how old that comment was, you probably have it figured out by now ;)

  • Me
    • Me
    • December 16, 2020 at 5:50 pm

    Claudia, Alex, I feel that my problems are probably not as bad as yours, but I just wanted to share them to see what you think. I’m going to start with the problems I have and then go to the comments, so stick with me. (It might take me a bit long to get to the point)

    From 0-10 years old, I was a very healthy INFJ. I knew everything about people. I remember once I told my friend why I thought this person was doing something, she believed me, and it turned out I was right! A few more times after I tried this though, I tried it on another friend, this time she didn’t believe me, and I was wrong. It was the first time I was wrong about things like that, but it was bad enough to make me stop. Despite knowing why other people did certain things, I also knew who hated me.

    Nearly everyone in our homeschool group has some type of clique. My family thought that the homeschool group is one of the greatest things that happened to them (it probably is), but everything has a downside. Yes, there was no bullying. Yes, no one was obviously mocked at or gawked at. But the problem was the girls. I’ve been homeschooled since 2nd grade, and my family has 3 boys (excluding parents), so I’m the only girl. The problem with the girls in our homeschool group is that they wanted drama ever since they were young, because they thought the boys didn’t have enough. Now, it’s just casual lifestyle of drama. They’ve had cliques since birth. The painful thing is that I’d know when they were gossiping and who they were gossiping about. Most of the time it would be me or anyone else that didn’t have a clique. I still often say: “If you want a friend in the homeschool group, you either need a clique or your a loner.”

    One-sentence: There were so many cliques I knew which people hated me.

    Another thing is that these people would try to hide it. They’d try to act friendly, and the parents thought they were “little angels” but I was the only one that knew the kids didn’t want us there. I knew no one wanted me near them, but they had siblings that were friends of my brothers. So I decided not to tell anyone about this, especially not my dad, because I never wanted to disappoint him.

    One-sentence: Everyone thinks they’re “angels” (maybe they’re not the type they’re thinking of)

    The problem with my dad is that he thought everything was going all right for me, so my parents would arrange ‘play-dates’, and such, therefore making me hangout with the people that hated me. I was basically being forced to hang around people who I know didn’t want me there, which made me sorry for….. well I don’t know, whatever the reason they hated me for. I was sorry for them, which made me a little too sorry for myself.

    Once-sentence: Basically forced to hang-out with people I hate, making me sorry for them.

    At 12, I was starting to complicate things just a little too much, and I thought: Maybe these people do realize that they’re being gossiped about, but just choose to ignore it. (I had a much more complicated explanation at that time). A lot of things happened to me at this age: I’d see my older brother a lot more, and he’d yell at me right in front of a group of literally 22 people (including us). I was yelled at a lot during volleyball. My mom was starting to loose it and started yelling at me too. This made me, like a lot of INFJs, stop feeling. I toughened up too much for my friends, and they saw me as the type of person that’d start screaming random songs I didn’t know the words too at the top of my head. Some even saw me basically as a hoodlum. From 11-13 I basically started to loose it, which is how everyone saw me as because I was acting too extroverted then. If they had known me when I was -10, they would’ve known the real me, but they don’t.

    One-sentence: I lost my sense of feeling (now I’m gaining it back up).

    12 and 13 are the two ages I never want to act like again. 13 has brought me lots of problems today. At this age, I loved to argue about everything. It’s not like I’d disagree with whatever the other person says, but if I had a different opinion against them, I’d say it. They all liked this one book they read, Keeper of the Lost Cities by Shannon Messenger, and I told them I hated it, and we’d argue for hours about that book (I’d argue about other interesting things, not just books, so don’t worry). My closest friend (I’m not really hers) hated when I talked about books, or debated, but now, that’s all she does. The problem is, she and her new best friend (now becoming a clique), make me feel like the only person in the world who thinks how I do, while simultaneously trying to keep friends with me. They keep trying to start an argument with me, and I keep trying to avoid it, but it always ends up with them saying: “You just want to leave this conversation to make yourself feel good about yourself, because you know your wrong.” One time, their argument became too personal, I hid it from them then, but when I came home, I couldn’t stop shaking because they made me feel so alone. All the time they say: “I think your the only one that thinks that.”
    I shared my weaknesses with my ex-closest friend, and now all she does is use them against me.

    One-sentence: When I’m around other people, they make me feel alone.

    Currently, at 14 years old, it hasn’t been so bad, but no one will want to text me or talk to me. I go to this school, Cardinal Kung Academy, which allows people to go part time, meaning that homeschoolars are also able to go because they have biology, history, literature, and religion all in two days, that way you can homeschool the rest of your classes. There, however, wasn’t so bad the first few days, and this boy I really liked who was probably an ENFP was the only one to actually understand me, but then who used to be my friend, told me I liked him, and now he won’t talk to me anymore. I’m just a creep to everyone in that school now, and no one my age wants to talk to me. I started talking to the 7th and 8th graders instead, but even they don’t seem to want me and don’t understand that they’re the only people that will listen.

    One-sentence: Now no one wants me near them because I’m just a creep.

    Ask yourself sometimes: Is it better to live alone, or live in a society that makes you feel alone? With you, it might be different because you wanted to be heard, but couldn’t. Think again. If you were heard by all your friends, would it be worth it? Would they still hate you the same and only talk to you to make you feel better? Even if it was worth it, would you still be the same? Did you change anything about yourself to make the others like you more? I always try to remind myself: Other people have there own problems, we all think they’re worse than the others,but are they? Maybe yes, but it depends on how we chose to act on them. We all want the other one’s problem, but if we did, would we want ours back? My brother’s an INTJ and he suffered the same basic issue, but eventually he found his group of friends, maybe a little earlier than you (he’s nearly 17 now), and he’s doing all right.

    I asked myself the same question, and no, you are not unworthy of being an INFJ. Maybe you took a little back route, to figure this out, but you are still whoever you say you are. I also quit my daily routine pretty recently and thought there was something wrong with me, and I’ve never been stressed. I figured out sooner or later that I was stressing out about nothing. Don’t try to be an INFJ if you feel like your losing it. Try to be yourself. If your not sure what that’s like, try to be your old self, start with the biggest thing you had in common with young you.
    You sound just like my brother when you say: “I believe in God, but I don’t agree to his ways, and to this day I’ll still believe his sparing me not a mercy.” I believe you when you say that God didn’t grant me out of this situation. I did. I actually applaud you for that. I know a lot of people that think the opposite. Remember though, God is still watching over us, but he wants us to figure these things out on our own. He’s still watching over us. He still cares for us, but he will let us find out how to cope with our own problems. He has a plan for us. He wants us to figure this out on our own. Possibly for some reason we need for the future…… (I don’t mean to sound like a free-mason)

    I hope this’ll help!

    PS My problems seem so lame. I think a lot of INFJs struggle with relatively the same issue. I’m sorry if you think I’m being a little too over dramatic.

    PPS Don’t take this the wrong way. I did not intend to write this for attention and drama. I just wanted to let it out for once….

  • Jon Thomas
    • Jon Thomas
    • March 24, 2020 at 8:14 pm

    Claudia and Alex,
    You will probably never see this, but for what it’s worth, I’m so sorry for what both of you have been through. I really am. I hurt to the depths of my soul reading these accounts. I cannot help you, but I wish I could. I’m 15 years old, an INFJ (I feel I can safely claim this, I’ve done a lot of soul searching), and while my experiences are nowhere near as terrible as yours, I feel that I can understand some of your pain. I, too, have struggled greatly for friends. From elementary school I was the outsider and bullied, and then in 5th grade my parents divorced and all I can remember from then was crying…crying…crying. It was as if my soul was torn in two. Then, I remember, kind of like in the article above, telling myself to stop feeling, to forget, forever. While I’ve regained some of that sensitivity and emotional vulnerability, I still cannot understand what I truly lost then. Moving into Jr. High School, I was alone. Totally alone. It wasn’t until one precious person reached out to me and helped me to feel, to grow, to love. But since then, I’ve realized that the problem was within me. I’d lost the motivation to make friends, because I’d stopped believing that I could. So I gave up. I submitted to the darkness. Until one light lit up my world and changed it forever. And I believe that is what so many people need, especially at this age. One light, one person, someone to help and offer pure kindness and love. I wish I could be that person to both of you, that I could show you love, but I can’t. So, I pray that you find that person, both of you, or that they find you. I know you’ve both been through incredibly hard times, and so young, and it may seem beyond hope, but God is still watching over you, He still loves you. I know, I’ve been there before. When all you can see is darkness, and it seems impossible that He is still there. But I assure you He is. You may be angry at Him, for giving you this pain, for not interceding, in your time of greatest pain. And I cannot give an explanation, other than this: He loves you, greatly, eternally, more than you could ever understand. And He’s waiting to take you back into His arms.
    I know it may seem that the darkness is closing in, that all is lost, that it’s without hope, but I’m here to tell you there is always hope. Because self-love and God’s love are everything. It will get better. I promise.

    Wishing you luck, love, and happiness,

    Alex, here’s something you might find useful: I know this is absolutely TERRIFYING, but if someone you thought loved you walks away, or abandons you, or doesn’t support you when you need it, then you were better off without them. I know, it’s so hard to hear, but it’s true. And this probably won’t be very helpful either, but I promise someone sees you, someone admires you, you ARE NOT ALONE. So, while it may be hard, reach out, meet people’s suspicions and meanness with empathy, for as the old saying goes, “hurt people hurt people”, and those who’ve been taught to fear vulnerability or unusuality won’t change at the drop of a hat. The most important thing is to not compromise yourself, but to bring empathy and love, for that is what they really need, even if they’d never admit it. Good luck!
    Claudia, just because you feel broken beyond repair does not mean that you are unworthy of being an INFJ. On the contrary, I would say that because you have experienced so much, that you now have a profound worthiness of being an INFJ, because we are the healers, the counselors. You’ve experienced so much hurt, now you know how to go to other when they are in that space and help them, give them what you needed when you were there. I’m in no way downplaying what you’ve been through. I wish you could have been spared of it. But you weren’t, and while you will carry those scars with you for the rest of your life, you have a profound gift given to you in it. I would challenge you not to fall into the trap of self-pity and despair. This world will knock you down, but it is your decision to stay there. You are worthy of yourself, of love, of care, of all your needs being fulfilled. Never let anything or anyone convince you otherwise. Good luck!

  • Daniel Yang
    • Daniel Yang
    • March 14, 2019 at 10:55 pm

    I absolutely love this article. It helps me to understand myself. I’m just 13 years old, and will only be 14 months away again, but I can still feel myself stuck in the past because our elast time always haunt me. It makes me to trust more myself, and do not need to be always as the other people want, it helps me to be myself whatever it is, and keep trying to help others by my own way, not by being another person, but by being my own self.

  • Dustin
    • Dustin
    • August 31, 2018 at 4:36 am

    Alex, I understand you. I travel alone literally everywhere. I feel like I can’t relate to very many people around me. And honestly, I’m probably way too antisocial, but I’m okay with that. This is because of many thinks. I’m not willing to go into all of it on here. Bullying, insecurity, troubled childhood, and a lack of identity until my Sophomore year in high school are just a few things. I’m now a college Freshman who is very content with himself. Sadly, I’m crossing that fine border of harmless aloneness to loneliness. That combined with my other stresses is just an interesting blend of thick haze just waiting to mislead me eventually.

    Simply put, I’m longing for intimacy that I’m barely willing to make happen. I don’t like talking to people, not usually, anyway.

    For what it’s worth, I would be willing to be your friend, wherever in the world that you happen to be. Good luck, and I hope that you haven’t shut yourself down too much.

    P.S. I’m supposedly an INFJ.

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