It’s been requested and since I aim to please, here it is. While it’s exceedingly easy to parody one’s own type, it’s a bit more difficult to make fun of INFJs. In fact, I’d rather not even try. For one, they’re a lot smarter than I am…and they know all my secrets so I have to be gentle here. Secondly, they’re mysterious social chameleons who live among us like agents in the Matrix. They are everyone and they are no one (not the first geek reference and it won’t be the last so just get used to it) so how do you go about pointing out their shameless stereotypes? I’d have a much easier time if this was a post about ESFPs.
I almost always initially mistake this guy (and I say guy because they’re usually men) for an INTP. In my defense, it’s an easy mistake to make. INFJ includes Introverted Thinking (Ti) in the stack of functions; the function an INFJ uses for Thinking versus Feeling. It also happens to be the Dominant function of INTP. INFJs of this caliber like to pick careers heavily populated by Rationals and other Thinking types: Scientists, Engineers, Networking and IT, Doctors, etc. Some of them even opt for positions of leadership in the brutal, dog-eat-dog world of business and financial investments.
Unlike other NFs, INFJs can actually manage to pull this off with relatively minor collateral damage to their psyche and personal well being. How? Well, first of all, they’re hardwired to multi-task a series of tasks which collectively form the ‘big picture’. INFJs are ‘visionary’ people who aren’t terrible with the details, either. They can compute math in their heads without getting a migraine, are driven to answer philosophical questions using the tools of hard science (and money helps, too), and have excellent communication skills. They may not able be remember their own name in the process..or what day of the week it is but they sure as hell will solve the world’s energy crisis or the problem of world hunger.
The thing that makes INFJs of this type so much more interesting than all the other smarty pants of other types is that INFJs do it for completely different reasons. It’s usually not so much for the wealth, fame, glory or power. Primarily, it’s the pure altruistic passion for it. A great analogy would be how Professor Xavier from X-Men (also an INFJ) feels its his calling to use his superpower of telepathy and his genius to unite mutants and the rest of mankind. It’s less about ego and more about doing the right thing. That’s why you see INFJs of this sub-type shy away from positions of leadership despite being perfectly qualified for the job. Not only that, they also naturally garner loyalty from a fellowship of wannabe apprentices, whom they invariably treat like equals. Followers of this type don’t just love the work the INFJ does, they also sincerely love the INFJ; a phenomenon rarely seen with geniuses of other types. This sub-type loves their work but possesses neither the self-bravado nor feels the need to trample others under their oxford, suede leather, highly tasteful shoes.
The only problem with the INTP Wannabe sub-type is that they’re easily sidetracked by Extraverted Feeling (Fe) so throwing them off their game is as easy as complaining to them about your personal problems. Unlike an INTJ who really doesn’t give a shit what your boyfriend said about your weight that made you feel insecure..the INFJ actually heard you, understands how you feel, and wants to help you. He just can’t do that and save the world at the same time. Something’s gotta give and it’s either gonna be the world..or your feelings. That’s why INFJs who don’t work specifically as therapists try not to wear the therapist’s hat at work. That’ll just have to wait until 6 PM…but not before the obligatory hour/hour and a half of drinking alone at the pub across the street from the lab/office.
The Philosophical ArtistInitially, I didn’t believe it when this website claimed that Marilyn Manson was an INFJ so I did some research (for science, of course). With the assistance of elongated baths, copious amounts of wine, and an iphone streaming youtube, I proceeded to watch hours of Manson interviews where the shock rocker was permitted to speak candidly and I could analyze every nuance of what he chose to focus on, how he said it, and what it could tell me about his use of cognitive functions. Surprisingly, the INFJ guess wasn’t too far off base. It wasn’t just his signature gentle candor which convinced me. It was the conceptual ‘vision’ Manson seems to demonstrate time after time which suggests that there is more to this man’s prerogative than the thrill of controversy or the art of entertainment.
More than once, Manson described his career as a ‘mission’ for humanity; a way of holding up a ‘mirror’ to society and reflecting back to them the depravity and perverseness. That, my friends, is what I call philosophy, comparable to anything produced by the likes of Rousseau or Tolstoy. The thing about INFJ actors, musicians, writers, and artists is that each sees his/her own art seriously as something profound and more than just a form of escapism.
INFJs, like all NFs, naturally take to the arts like a duck to water but the difference is in the motive and the source of inspiration. XNFPs produce art through various mediums in order to showcase the fantastic sounds/imagery encased in their minds. It’s kind of an over-glorified form of sharing. INFJs, on the other hand, want to open the world’s mind to new ideas. Those ideas originate from the truth-seeking function, Introverted Intuition (Ni) so it’s more like teaching than sharing. By contrast, XNFPs derive inspiration from the fiction-creating function, Extraverted Intuition (Ne). That’s not to say that other NF art isn’t philosophical. It’s just tends to be much more so when its source is the mind of a Ni-Dom.
If you’ve spent any significant amount of time with INFJs online like I have, you find out pretty quickly that as a whole, they’re obsessed with sex. This is shocking, considering that we typically view INFJs as the (seemingly) sanctimonious do-gooders of the MBTI world. There is nary an INFJ forum, group, or website out there that isn’t positively laden with posts about sexual connection and links to articles on fetishes/tricks and otherwise sexual debauchery. The very same type which claims Jesus Christ and Mahatma Ghandi as one of their own also delves shamelessly into every aspect of human mating habits. In fact, they are experts at it…sexperts.
I bring this sub-type up because it stands in stark contrast to XNFPs, who rarely broach the subject and when they do, it’s usually just to say something like “It’s nice if you have a real connection with someone.” and they leave it at that. INFJs, on the other hand, possess a notable preoccupation with sex. Interestingly enough, however, they make it very clear that they don’t engage in casual sex. They insist that they don’t go to bars and wake up in a stranger’s bed, wearing a strap-on and someone else’s t-shirt. They tell me the Swingers lifestyle of promiscuity is for Sensor types. Sex without emotional connection is the ultimate (and only) taboo of the INFJ ilk. But if you happen to be an INFJ’s chosen soul mate, prepare yourself to be amazed, they tell me. I don’t know if they study anatomy textbooks, watch a lot of instructional porn, or just have a natural knack for sensuality but if you have a Loveline type of question, there’s an INFJ with an answer.
So is this an actual subset of INFJs or this some kind of secret side to all INFJs that we just don’t get to normally see at work or in casual friendships? For science, I purchased and read the erotic series of a very well known INFJ author, Anne Rice. Her Sleeping Beauty series under the pen name Anne Rampling as well as her 1985 erotica novel Exit To Eden are so gratuitously laden with fetish fantasy that they make 50 Shades looks like children’s novels.
Pre-dating 50 Shades by 20 years, most of it entails the same dominant/submissive theme with bondage and mind games. The writing itself is far superior and it’s characters are more fluid with their sexual orientation; intermittently engaging in sexual activities with the same sex without stigma or pretense. What’s even more interesting is the mixture of pain and pleasure, teasing through humiliation, and the switching of roles from dominant to submissive and vice versa. Of course, the main characters also become emotionally attached to each other, which serves as the true climax of the story. You see, for INFJs, sex and emotional attachment are irrevocably intertwined so these stories really couldn’t go any other way. Just when you think INFJs are the most perverted human beings out there, they introduce a true romance element to it; the converging of two souls, if you will, making the world of kink palatable for the rest of us.
I’ve mentioned before that throughout history, INFJs have served as oracles, prophets, shamans, and chiefs of human tribes. I suspect this goes back as far as there have been humans. Even when we were hunter/gatherers, someone had to lead the spiritual journey and tell the old stories of the ancestors. That someone was the INFJ.
INFJs make the ideal spiritual leader because A: they seem to know everything and B: they are gentle, confident, and reassuring. Before we had things like physics, geology, math, psychology, and western medical science, we needed some explanation for the phenomenons of the natural world. Ni would have looked like magic to people who didn’t have any other explanation for pattern recognition capabilities. It’s been said many times before that INFJs seem wise beyond their years. As children, INFJs are the shy, calm ones who precociously develop bonds with adults and encourage their peers to come to mature, diplomatic understanding between each other.
As they grow older, this knack for harmony develops even stronger and takes on a more esoteric quality. By the time they’re old, INFJs seem positively ancient, like the very trees they meditate under. People naturally gravitate towards INFJs for exceptionally wise advice and for good reason. If you come to an INFJ with a problem, they already know what you’re going to ask and have already analyzed all the possible outcomes and seen the consequences of your actions. What they advise you to do will be the most reasonable and morally righteous course of action which will spare the most suffering and preserve the good karma of your soul, invariably. Very few who have taken the advice of an INFJ to heart have regretted it and for this reason, INFJs are everyday prophets.
While all INFJs have some proclivity for being sage, some are more prophet-like than others. Throughout history, there have been a few notable INFJs of this variety, including the one we define time itself by his birth and death: Jesus Christ. The Son of God was most definitely an INFJ, which raises the question of whether or not he really was the Son of God (or God Himself) or if he was just an especially influential Ni-User (I’m open to both possibilities). Jesus walked, talked, and prophesied like an INFJ duck. Most telling, his style of leadership shows us what kind of person he really was. He’s described as washing the feet of his followers, breaking bread with them (which he miraculously produced out of thin air), fishing with them, and even working as a damn lowly carpenter. What kind of extremely important, self-proclaimed King of Heaven with mystical, God-like powers and tons of influence makes furniture for a living? An INFJ, that’s who. Because although they are rare and extremely important people, they still have the attitude of a servant and a penchant for DIY projects.
Which brings me to my next point about this sub-type. With the exception of Jesus and Buddha, they are rarely, if ever, rich or famous. They usually work behind the scenes and are greatly under-appreciated. Today, the Prophet typically works in the field of Psychology or as a Life Coach. Some don’t even do that but they are a prophet in their own, small way in their tight circle of friends and family. Wealth, fame, and glory fall decidedly low on the priority list of true Prophet sub-types since they have the humility to live moderately and quietly as equals among their people. So even though they are far superior to others in terms of intelligence, talent, and spiritual understanding, they go too often uncelebrated and go without the endowment of society’s fame and fortune. They do, however, win the “Employee Of the Month” certificate and have primo parking spaces.
The Creme de la Femme
Years ago, I walked into an office for a job interview and noticed a young woman behind the front desk with her tits practically popping out of her bright yellow blouse. “How do you get away with that?” I asked her out of curiosity, hoping she wouldn’t take offense to my frank question. As someone with a Journalist’s personality, I tend to throw people off by digging for answers from total strangers with borderline rude questions.
“Actually, my boss likes me so she doesn’t care.” She replied, thankfully haven taken no offense (and apparently having read my mind). “She?” I parroted.”Your boss is a woman and she doesn’t care?” I was extremely curious. How did she manage to not offend a female boss with obvious cleavage in the workplace? The answer, I found out over the years, was that this young woman, (we’ll call her Chelsea) could get away with such things because A: it’s part of her charm and B: she’s such a likable person that even the most insecure, jealous, catty women out there find her disarming. That young woman started as a receptionist making $17.50 an hour and climbed her way up into Operations, running grant programs and helping kick-start manufacturing facilities in less than five years. She’s organized, she’s helpful, she’s calm under duress, she’s charming..she’s an INFJ. She’s also a friend of mine.
Chelsea is a sub-type of female INFJ I like to call “Creme de la Femme”. She is by far the most feminine woman I’ve ever met in my life. She’s owned and embraced her gender and embodies it with purpose. The tight dresses and high heels are more than just about personal enjoyment; they’re a source of power. If you were born a woman in a man’s world, according to her philosophy, then you might as well use it to your advantage.
And she does..with some gusto. It’s earned her work connections, promotions, the love and trust of everyone around her and positive male attention. Luckily for me, she gave me a few pointers on being female that I’ve taken to heart which is good because at the time, I dressed more like a ten-year-old boy.
So here’s some tips as taught to me by my friend Chelsea:
- Grow your hair out long: and keep it down. Spend the requisite hour/hour and a half every morning to curl it, straighten it, whatever. I don’t always do this because my hair is pretty damn awesome even without all that. The thing about this is that it’s like leveling your feminine prowess from 5 to 25 at least. Men like long hair. It’s a fact. They don’t mind your cute pixie cut but long hair is a readily recognizable statement of femininity.
- Wear dresses: preferably tight and curve hugging with lots of cleavage, though sundresses will also do the trick. Women don’t wear dresses anymore and that’s a shame because it’s the dresses which help empower us.
- Wear heels: this is a tough one for me because I can almost never justify buying another pair of shoes to myself but it’s a must. Keep it simple: 3 inch heels in tan, black, and red. One pair of wedge sandals and a couple of pairs of ballet flats to give your poor feetsies a break. Ballet flats are also great for making sure you’re not taller than the short men around you. Being taller is a no-go unless the image you want to present is that of intimidation.
- Smell nice: I fuck this one up all the time, either by overdoing it or not doing it at all. The key is a light scent which can be picked up if someone within 6-8 inches of you..not when they’re two hallways down from your office.
- Enjoy the girly things: go ahead and wear florals and pinks and other pastels. I prefer green myself simply because it goes well with my hair. Plan a gorgeous decorating scheme for each of the rooms of your house, inspired by a favorite antique. Go shopping. Get your nails done and have the Korean ladies do some fun little design with an airbrush and tiny plastic gems. Watch youtube videos on how to create a ‘smokey’ eye look and let your friends marvel at your flawless blending technique. Be shamelessly feminine in lots of other small ways as well. My friend Chelsea doesn’t simply write with a black ballpoint pen..she writes with a pink pen with plastic flowers taped to it. Combined with a bunch of pens, they make a pretty bouquet of flower pens in a little vase on her desk. She’s also an avid Disney and Sailor Moon fan. No apologies.
- Smile: I know it sounds stupid simple and perhaps even a bit contrived but smiling at people tends make them like you a bit more. This is coming straight from the Fe-User horse’s mouth, no pun intended. Extraverted Feelers know how to make other people happy so I’m going to take their word for it.
- Be assertive..but only when you have to be: believe me when I say Chelsea has no problem being assertive when she has to be but for the most part, she’s pretty easy going and non-judgmental about most things. Learn to pick your battles and when you do decide to pick one, make sure it’s important enough to be battling over. This is essential, especially for dealing with men. Men tend be nicer, treat you with more respect, and want to do things for you when you’re not constantly trying to challenge them. Imagine that. It’s the lost art of being a woman. You’re more powerful when you’re mostly kind but also willing to stick up for yourself.