INTJ Survey: 5 Things INTJs Wish They Had Known as Teens

 

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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 58 comments
  • Luke
    Reply

    If I were to give someone advice as an INTJ when they are young it would be to accept that social situations are awkward and never take them too seriously. Don’t waste time trying to mimic the rest of the crowd, if you can find a person or two to talk to at a big event then do so, otherwise just leave and accept that those events are for the rest of the world – not you. I tried oh so hard to socialise in big groups for so many years and felt awful as a result. I didn’t like being there, I quite obviously didn’t fit in and then felt like a failure. I wasted two years of my formative teen years attempting to pull off the impossible – living and socialising in a university residential college that just chewed up and spat out anyone that wasn’t the A-type alfa male. I left there feeling just ruined. Within 12 months of leaving I had a girlfriend whose intelligence, honesty and loyalty just blew my mind (and blew a few other things as well…), I had a small group of smart non-alfa male and female friends and felt like I was living in a different city. I had physically moved about a kilometre – but was finally clear of the crowd. Make the most of being a bit nerdy – i.e. you fit in with other nerds, some of which get up to some pretty cool stuff. Again, I wasted years drinking booze with people I barely knew who I am sure couldn’t care less if I was there, I avoided hanging out with people who – like me – were on the outer and resented the fact that no matter how hard I tried I seemed to also be on the outer. Don’t worry about the inner circle – it’s just not where you belong and even IF you got in there you wouldn’t like it. You won’t be happy until you realise that the world just isn’t designed to make it easy for the minority – and YOU are the minority. But, the world allows the minorities who don’t follow the crowd to get up to some really cool stuff BECAUSE THEY DON’T FOLLOW THE CROWD. I am not saying go live in a cave with your computer, but for f*cks sake, don’t waste time trying to do something you just weren’t built to do – even if most people seem more able than you to do it no matter how stupid, dishonest and screwed up they are. You WILL end up with the girl/guy of your dreams, because THEY will see things in you they don’t see in others (and you probably can’t see in yourself) and they are GOOD things for GOOD relationships, and you ARE really good at important relationships. No, the flash girl/guy looking for the bling partner will walk past you – but THIS is also a good thing. You won’t succeed chasing one-night stands, because even when you do get laid you will STILL wonder what went wrong. Use the power that you have, don’t attempt to perfect the skills you struggle with, they are like birthmarks, wash them if you like, put some make-up on them etc but they aren’t going anywhere.
    Finally – and perhaps most importantly, remember the 80-20 rule – 80% of the positives from attempting to modify how you behave to fit in will come from 20% of your effort. Less is not more, but more will simply never get you there. Use your “fine tune” and ignore the main dial. As you will soon understand, this is easy to get the hang of because it is a simple case of efficiency, stop wasting effort. A smile here and there, a simple hello, how are you etc won’t bog you down in mindless chit-chat and nor will it turn you into a great socialiser – but it will keep you far enough up the social scale you won’t be confused with the scary weird guy who just stares at everyone.

  • Elizabeth Troxell
    Reply

    I am a 19 year old INTJ female. My whole life I’ve felt “different” than others. Luckily for me, besides from when I was younger than 6 maybe, I never had a problem with that. I think it comes from my being home schooled, and having 2 introverted siblings and 1 extroverted. Both my parents are introverted as well (my poor extroverted younger brother).
    I think because of my being home schooled, I felt different but I naturally assumed everyone was just as different. I got the chance to embrace myself before having this (rather unwelcome) realization.
    In 6th grade I joined public school and I loved it. Except for the students, who I deemed rather foolish, rash, and altogether too concerned with being liked and having a “boyfriend.” I had friends, but never formed the deep connections I craved, I didn’t share my inner thoughts and feelings.
    I became the “advice” friend, and I loved it (most of the time). Because the problems my friends faced had to do with their feelings, (troubles with boyfriends or friends etc) I, a thinker, always gave them a thoughtful, practical, and logical solution, which sometimes was employed to great success, and sometimes was not employed (and ultimately was not met with success). While my friends enjoyed and complained about their drama, I never got into any of it, I didn’t see the point (still don’t). They always envied me for my lack of drama, and I always (rather bluntly) pointed out that they could choose not to have drama too. Overall though, I believe I developed my “perspectives” function at this time, I am highly empathetic and can quite easily “put myself in someone else’s shoes.” Isn’t that what we’re all taught at a young age?
    Now, I am in college. I just finished my first year and I loved it. The fact that there can be so many people occupying a space and NOT MAKING A SOUND is pure bliss. I go to college to learn, not to chat about… whatever people chat about. While I have yet to make any “college” friends in college, I have made friends with my professors. I found a niche with music – composition major – and enjoy meeting with my professors because their extend of knowledge and passion for the subject conjures up in-depth, analytical, and thought provoking discussions that I thrive on.
    And I think I am one of the rare INTJ’s that manages to find a genuine love at such a young age. I have been with my boyfriend for two years now and we base our relationship on growth – both individual and as a relationship. And I think that’s why we thrive. As an INTJ, I rather approached the relationship like a mathematical equation (if this, then that, etc) but thankfully did not deter my partner – he took it and helped me learn how to cultivate the relationship, and I in turn have taught him a thing or two.
    Currently, I think I’m stuck in a part of my life where I do really want those close connections with a friend or two, but at the same time, I just want to isolate myself and be effective. I have a very strong effectiveness drive I think. For now, I’ll let the effectiveness drive produce a lot of music like I want to – but I will do my best to allow social interaction where I can.

  • Marcia
    Reply

    Hello all,

    I wish I could go back and visit my young self at 5 yo, 10 yo, 15 yo and 20 yo. The messages would be different. To my 5 year old self I would say that I love you and you are now and always will be special. Don’t be afraid of being different than everyone else in kindergarten. To my 10 year old self I would say that I you have a wonderful imagination and keep on using it. It will be one of your best characteristics when you grow up to be a psychiatrist (I wanted to be a shrink when I was that age). To my 15 year old self I would say that I know you feel like a social outcast but do NOT blame yourself, you are not defective. Your girly-girl classmates may be head of the game now but you will surpass them and be proud of yourself one day. To my 20 year old self I would say congratulations on making it through your teens. Men will be intimidated by you but don’t settle for the first guy who gives you the time of day. Wait for someone who will appreciate your brains and confident manner. They ARE out there. Be patient, my dear. Find a mentor to help you navigate your 20s. Find like minded people if you can. If you can’t, then love and respect yourself. You are still as special as you were at 5 years old. I love you.

  • Andrew
    Reply

    Interesting article. I would have advised myself to consciously develop Sensing and Feeling as a counterbalance to inherent INTJ weakness generally and my emotional abandonment issues specifically. I’ve unwittingly wasted a whole lot of my life mired in self-esteem issues instead of developing a worthwhile inner game that could have made my outer games much more effective. More specifically, I would have advised myself to do Taoist standing exercises such as Inner-Outer Dissolving and Santi Shi. Both these practices help tremendously in grounding oneself in the present moment by strengthening the mind-body connection and in developing self-discipline. Santi Shi develops strong Yi — what Taoists call intention — which allows one to simply get things done in a direct and steadfast manner.

    • Charis Branson
      Reply

      Thanks for your comment, Andrew! I do Qigong exercises to help ground myself and improve my state of mind. I will have to give those Taoist exercises you mentioned a try. I like the idea of staying present. It can be hard to get out of my mind and into my body. The mind can tell us some weird stories that don’t necessarily serve us.

      • Andrew
        Reply

        I absolutely agree, Charis. My ego would rather practice internal martial arts like taiqi or baguazhang as they are very advanced. However, I don’t have the time or actual inclination to put in the time and effort to get proficient in them. In the end, it is one’s lived experience that counts much more than being able to do external moves. The good news is that neigong exercises — including some forms of qigong — can give their practitioners 60-70% of the benefits of taiqi or bagua without the time and effort expenditure. And finding a qualified instructor for arts like taiqi and bagua is extremely difficult. Inner-Outer Dissolving and Santi Shi are relatively simple but still demanding, especially Sant Shi; however, the more one practices Santi Shi, the stronger the intent becomes to continue to practice. Anyway, for whatever that’s worth to you and anyone else reading this, that’s my two cents.

  • John
    Reply

    I would say the following to by teen self:

    I grew up thinking of myself, being thought of, and being, weak, immature for my age, and not very smart. I read far ahead in 4th grade American history, was good in art class, and loved adult nonfiction and science fiction, but was to introverted to apply myself in school if subjects did not come easily, e.g., algebra.

    A. Train the body to train the mind, train the mind to train the spirit.

    B. Seek mentor and instruction on sports, school subjects, and career, and lifestyle paths, requirements, costs, and benefits.

    C. Don’t overcompensate as a teen for earlier problems with others, e.g., don’t be too quick to fight, or be insensitive to others.

    • Joseph Mailand
      Reply

      Hey,
      I just wanted to tell you that this
      “Train the body to train the mind, train the mind to train the spirit.”
      is very cool . It immediately hit me, and will he set as my home screen on my phone. I’m not sure why I am telling you this…I just felt the need to.

  • Stephan Brunker
    Reply

    There is not much I’d say to my younger self, except that it is totally ok to be different from everyone else because that is how INTJs are (I needed to reach my late thirties to get that).

    But if I could change something – or better more like trying a theory – it would be: Would I have met (and befriend) other people like me if I went to a school for the gifted? I know for sure that would be hard for my younger self because it meant going to a boarding school and I remember too well how hard it was to leave home at the age of 20 instead of 14. But if the benefit would be growing up in a circle of like-minded and like-abled people, it would be worth the effort. But that I really don’t know. But the isolation in a non-academic environment out in the countryside (well paid, otherwise I wouldn’t do it) is the part I fight hardest at the moment.

  • kehksha
    Reply

    i am shocked after knowing that i have a personality type which is rare..that’s why i always felt myself different lonely ……coz no one was there like me.to understand me………….but now i accept myself …..coz its not my fault .its my personality.so oh world! ! ! go to hell ………….

    • Charis Branson
      Reply

      Haha! Thanks for the comment, Kehksha. 🙂

  • Vladimir
    Reply

    Beautiful. I’m inspired.Thank you so much <3

    • Charis Branson
      Reply

      Thanks, Vladimir! I’m glad you found it inspirational. 🙂

  • serdar
    Reply

    i am very lucky to be an INTJ and know that at 13 years old.

    • Charis Branson
      Reply

      Agreed, Serdar. I’m glad you are starting on this journey early. It will help with a lot of things. 🙂

  • Ehsan
    Reply

    I just wanted to add that one of the great difficulties which I used to encounter (and am to some extend) was my superstitious tendency which made me vulnerable in fact to many things including people! I can easily veil the evaluation function and damage the effectiveness at first place. I am not sure where it springs from but may be of the combination of IN e.i. introverted intuitive!?

  • Ehsan
    Reply

    It was like I was talking for the 90% of the words. I remembered some pains and challenges which I had and had forgotten them or those which simply because of their long existence and accompany, have become habits; like a disturbing background sound which take your attention when it stops or like a long and chronic pain which you simply don’t notice it and even worse, when it stops, you miss it! (specially that I live under a conditioned totalitarian atmosphere!)
    It was a relief to hear reminding, sympathetic, encouraging and guiding words and voices which so far made me feel retarded, mentally retarded, or even being devil which left no refuge even in my solitude because when you are devil, there is no where to go!
    I wish I had my present experience and strength before and the knowledge of the fact (being an INTJ and the system or car-model with its surrounding information…
    And I would rather say; “never late to mend” and in fact the real understanding and remorse gives the courage and passion to stop moaning and to start and tread one’s way. In our country (Iran) we say; “when ever you take a fish from water, it is fresh!” So, cheers…
    My sincere thanks to all shipmates and the managers of personality-hacker.

    • Charis Branson
      Reply

      Thanks for the comment, Ehsan! 🙂

  • Sunday
    Reply

    I am an 81 year old female INTJ. I became qualified to administer the MBTI in 1985 in an effort to figure out a place for myself in the world. All of the above comments ring true for me.

    The most efficient counter to depression I have found is to realize that operating from Fi, my Tertiary function, is simply no-win. My Fi is a sick puppy. And, my Fe is waaaay down the line of effectiveness. I make certifiably awful decisions when my F is ruling my life. Therefore, I must consciously acknowledge it to myself (the irrational debilitating aching hurt that is overwhelming) and know that I must stop it!, move to my Ni and Te, think, write, chart: what goes on here? and what is the best long term outcome? Using introverted Intuition and extraverted Thinking my best, reliable sane friends I talk myself out of using Feeling, that aching heart thing, for conducting my life. Ahhh, my unreliable Feeling function…if I had only known how to fence it in.

    • Charis Branson
      Reply

      Thanks for your observations and experience, Sunday! I like the way you describe Fi. That is really the best way to look at it. I have seen so many INTJs get stuck in that Ni/Fi loop and it leaves them frustrated and unproductive. If they could convince themselves to view it as a ‘sick puppy’ they may work harder to avoid letting it take over. Thanks again!

  • Bethany
    Reply

    One theme in this (not all) relies on the assumption that life will get better. It doesn’t, always, I want to hear what my 15-year-old self has got for me to hear now (at 44), to refresh my vision and discover some new direction. Sometimes life moves away from being conducive to using our skills; ideology becomes post-truth and flexibility rather than solidity in the workplace is valued. 15-year-old me needs to be told she is human and will meet other people who understand her but I don’t think 44-year-old me is in a place to give life lectures to anyone.

    • Charis Branson
      Reply

      Thanks for the comment, Bethany. You present an interesting reframe. If we have lost our enthusiasm for life – the enthusiasm we may have held as young people – what can we do to recapture that? Would talking to our younger selves help? When we were young we were naive and hadn’t experienced all the things that make us jaded in later life. Yet I wouldn’t trade all those life experiences for anything. I wouldn’t go back to the beginning for all the money in the world. Every experience I have had has made me who I am.

      I think it might help for you to practice some radical self-acceptance. Start seeing things from a more positive perspective. I know that can sometimes seem like a monumental task, but it is really worth it – trust me. Start a gratitude journal. Write 5 things you are grateful for every day. Start working on healing yourself. I believe that optimistic child is still inside all of us. She’s just buried under years of trauma, heartbreak, or disappointment. There are ways to strip away that trauma and reach that creative inner child. It begins by wanting to and then consistently working at it.

  • Eun
    Reply

    As a 47 year old intj mother, what would I tell my younger self?? I would tell her: 1. Anything is possible as long as you can figure it out.
    2. Don’t drown yourself trying to figure out where you fit in the world.
    3. Enjoy your thoughts and see where they lead.
    4. It’s OK to be outgoing and a loner at the same time.
    5. Life is like a chess board: the other person becomes predictable

    • Eun
      Reply

      Just wanted to expand on the chess game comment. This is one analogy I’ve always used in describing just about any situation. An an intj, one of my strong points has always been able to observe and figure out a pattern. I love observing and making connections. However, as a teenager, people thought I was a bit odd in that I would sit back and watch. I just wish someone had told me early on so that I may fine tuned that skill at a younger age

      • Charis Branson
        Reply

        I was the same way, Eun. I spent much of my life observing so I would know the best way to act in a social setting. As a result of my observations, I understand people and their motivations really well. My observations were a matter of survival when I was young and inexperienced.

  • Austin
    Reply

    I would tell myself that intuitive learning is not the same thing as the way that most people learn. How you want to study and learn is fine. Do not stunt your learning trying to learn the way other people do. Also, don’t get caught in the “perfect scenario” loop. Act! Don’t wait for the stars to align. “Done is better than perfect.”

    • Charis Branson
      Reply

      You are so right, Austin! I’m married to an INTJ and “Done is better than perfect” has become his personal motto. INJs really struggle with analysis paralysis. If you have found a way to bypass that tendency and ACT, I say Bravo! That is a hard-won lesson.

  • VL Ramnghaka
    Reply

    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.

    • Charis Branson
      Reply

      Thanks for sharing! I’m glad you are finding some hacks that seem to work for you. 🙂

  • Leann
    Reply

    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
      Reply

      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

    • Charis Branson
      Reply

      Thanks for the comment, Leann! I feel a lot of frustration and sadness in your post. It sounds like you may be stuck in a dominant/tertiary (Ni/Fi) loop as discussed in this podcast: https://www.personalityhacker.com/podcast-episode-0173-can-your-personality-loop-be-helpful/
      It is imperative you get out of your tertiary and work on developing your copilot – Extraverted Thinking. It is very important for introverts to have a balanced extraverted part of themselves. It will help with the depression.

  • Vojtěch
    Reply

    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
      Reply

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

  • AP
    Reply

    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
      Reply

      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. 🙂

  • Fauna
    Reply

    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
      Reply

      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
      Reply

      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
      Reply

      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.

    • YEELENG VANG
      Reply

      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..

  • entPOP
    Reply

    From ENTP: INTJ’s have it all. Self-mastery. Mystery. Drama. Determination. Vision. Power.
    USE IT, AND KNOW YOU LOOK HOT!

  • Kate Arcangeli
    Reply

    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.
      Reply

      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
      Reply

      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).

      • Nicole Tietie
        Reply

        Wow
        Thank you for that so well written and spot on

      • Elizabeth Troxell
        Reply

        Your comments on how we INTJs can tend to display our feelings really resonates with me. Particularly “If anything, the INTJ has so many emotions going through them that they’re just sort of paralyzed by it all, so nothing is reflected on their features.”
        I often describe myself when I am feeling a lot of (negative) emotions as having the demeanor of a rock. The same goes for when I am concentrating or thinking, so that my facial expression 90% of the time is a neutral-negative expression that often is interpreted as angry/mean etc.
        Even when I am incredibly (insert positive emotion here), if I am thinking or analyzing the information, I still don’t look happy, so people often ask me if I’m happy and then don’t believe them when I say I am (which is frustrating, because why did they ask if they weren’t going to take me at my word?!). Anyway, I’ve learnt to try to smile on the outside as well as the inside for the sake of people I care about, although it always feels a bit awkward.

  • A Good Different
    Reply

    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
      Reply

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

  • proud INTJ femail
    Reply

    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
      Reply

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

  • Afshin Nejat
    Reply

    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
      Reply

      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.

      • The Feral Sage
        Reply

        Me too! – with years of experience.
        I say, “Lies are designed to sound better than truth.” to those who are as naive as I used to be.

  • Charis Branson
    Reply

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

  • Charlene
    Reply

    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.

    • AnotherINTJgal
      Reply

      Per the “be yourself/accept yourself” themes, I’d add that enjoying and pursuing non-traditional things or ideas is not shameful, despite what society tends to tell young people. I always felt ashamed of having a vivid imagination and an artistic side in addition to very strong “fangirl” energy that I’ve realized was my way of expressing emotions. It didn’t feel right next to my interests in STEM and politics and my business-like work ethic. People kept telling me to pick a side, usually pitting business-based careers vs. the time invested in creativity and whimsical things. And that’s just sad, promoting the idea that this side of me is “toxic” or “holding me back” if I’m not 100% + 24/7 invested in STEM + business and only using my free time to socialize/network/hit the gym and read nonfiction or the news. Looking back, I’ve realized that this is a horribly self-denying thing to do. It represses a part of myself I should accept and celebrate, not neglect. I don’t need to choose among all my interests just because one or another doesn’t fit the mainstream. I can have it all as an INTJ and it’s truly a gift.

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