To say INFPs are complex creatures would be an understatement. On the outside we might seem ditzy and strange but on the inside we can come up with ideas or understand things in a way no-one else can. Some INFPs have no bounds when it comes to their creativity and go on to create wonderful works of art and fiction that astound the world. Others are esteemed psychologists whose intuition has placed them in good stead over the course of their careers or musical composers with an intuitive grasp of tunes and lyrics. Our minds are like deep wells filled with rainbow-coloured water that flash with bursts of different colours and make people wonder how it is possible our minds could be so interesting and creative.
Other people that do not possess a similar kind of whimsical intelligence based on creativity and intuition – and not everyone is like this; only 14% of the population is actually NF (Intuitive (N) + Feeling (F); otherwise known as “The Visionary” – can oftentimes misclassify us as being incompetent and silly. This is understandable. Their functions are more likely geared towards “sensing” rather than “intuition”, and “thinking” more than “feeling”, which basically means they make decisions based on concrete details of the world around them and are more logic or fact-oriented. Those are the ones that judge us for having our “heads in the clouds” and do not understand our peculiar and more creative ways – or “illogical” as they believe – styles of thinking.
Their judgement of us is also understandable because INFPs do go through life in a slightly dream-like state where everything feels a little strange and not entirely real. We can be out of touch with reality. A lot of the time life feels like a dream or a story that is happening to us. This can make us seem unfocused and our eyes glaze over, something which does not go down well when it comes to impressing “thinking” or “sensing” types. This is also one of the reasons we are so good at writing. Writing, in essence, is like dreaming with our eyes open and we are good at this because life already feels like a dream in the first place.
Some people see us as stupid. Those are the individuals who entirely do not comprehend who we are. When they see us struggling for half an hour to find where we parked the car or hold a logical argument, they see us as lacking in the intellectual department. Nothing could be further from the truth. We are intelligent, only our intelligence is of a different kind. We can spin complex stories in the blink of an eye or understand why someone is behaving or acting in a particular manner just by a glance. Our intuitive and creative skills, while not obvious at first, are very developed and powerful and we are capable of many things, from writing books to gaining psychological insights into the minds of people. Just because we daydream so much we sometimes don’t pay attention to the real world, and lose our keys or can’t follow a recipe, doesn’t make us stupid or incompetent.
Then there are those that might not see us as stupid, exactly, but at the very least child-like and unrealistic. For instance, it is no secret in the MBTI online community that we are known as the “children of the MBTI” and are known for being so idealistic to the point of being unrealistic. We might, for example, come up with make-believe games to make our day-to-day lives more interesting, such as pretending a car behind our car is chasing us, or imagine a world where no animals are killed for meat and everyone is vegetarian. When certain other people see us do or imagine these things, they are usually put off by it or roll their eyes. But these things are part of our unique charm, and if you don’t like it, then, well, by all means, find some different company. We do not need to spend time around people who patronise or look down on us anyway. And we might be child-like, but without our child-like quality, our creativity levels wouldn’t be as high as they were. A child-like mindset is often necessary for creativity as it allows us to effectively play as we come up with new and interesting ideas other people might not think of, just like children. And without our idealism, or unrealistic ideals, we might not be such great champions of the underdogs and use our skills and talents to help people over the course of our lifetimes. After all, if we do not believe in a better world or life for other people, how would we muster the strength to help others or the environment in the first place?
Then there are those that see us as intelligent. Usually those people also happen to be “NFs” or “visionaries”, such as ENFP, INFJ, or ENFJ, or other creative-minded people who can understand our own unique brand of intelligence. For instance, I was talking to a director of an architecture firm recently for an interview for a role in their company and he complimented me on the intelligent conversation I was able to have with him. He respected my creativity and my strengths. Then there are the times we surprise other people with our insights and ideas, and when we do, those are the moments when they suddenly gain increased respect for us. Or, in my case, I excelled at English in highschool and received a prestigious award for it – all of a sudden, people suddenly treasted me a lot more nicely, simply because I proved to them that I wasn’t just a daydreamer but someone with smarts and substance.
Then there are those who see us as being mad. And we can be, in their eyes. Because of our creativity, we are able to make connections between disparate things or ideas or objects and combine them to form new ideas or concepts, and sometimes this can come across as a little “loopy”. For example, recently, my sister and I were having a conversation about supervillains. While she, an ISTJ, went on in a logical manner about the traits of supervillains, my mind was already flying away imagining a supervillain I could use in one of my novels. I got so frightened of the evilness of the supervillain I created in my mind based on the traits she was listing off that I was startled and it showed on my face. When I explained why I looked so shocked, my sister pronounced me “weird” and “crazy”, even though I was simply exercising my creativity in the first place.
But how differently do INFPs see the world? One of the key ways we see the world differently is by using our creativity to embellish the real world. We don’t like reality because it holds no magic, the kind involving wands and spells and pixies, and is too fact-oriented. INFPs would be much happier if everyone used magical, flying pets to transport their groceries and ATM machines spat out your fortunes rather than money. We love the whimsical and weird. Unfortunately, reality is always the same, no matter what, and is governed by its own set of rules. Last time I checked, cats were not capable of human speech and could not fly. So we deal with reality by turning things magical, whimsical or fun inside our heads.
For example, as I touched on a little bit in an article of mine on Introvert, Dear, we might pretend that life is simulation or game, like in the Sims, where you have to work and collect things, and – this is taking it a stretch further – going to work increases “society” points in the game, and visiting friends increases “social points”. This makes going about our everyday lives a little more fun! Or, when I pay money for something, I might imagine that money is not a unit of currency representing time, effort or value, but instead a wisp of someone’s soul. Every time I buy something, I am effectively paying in soul currency – and there are plantations where people have wisps of their soul extracted to create the currency in society; those whose souls are good and kind are worth more than those whose souls are bad or evil. What did I say, we are creative after all. Or, chimneys are not actually chimneys. Did you know that? Chimneys, if used correctly, are actually gateways to homes in other worlds. That kind of stuff. Whimsical, nifty, lovely – if it’s creative and mind-bending, we love it.
On the outside, we can appear to be as blank as cardboard, and average – some of the more experienced INFPs, adept at blending in with society and the crowd, are able to present themselves as more logical or adult than others – but you can bet that on the inside, we are a little like fairies in a world of humans. Our minds, especially our creativity, are wonderfully, beautifully different, and even if no-one understands us, if people misunderstand us, call us mad or insane, find us childish or strange, get along with us in some way, believe we’re quite smart or are slightly in awe of our inventiveness and intelligence, we have our own inner, unique worlds, full of magic, wonder and beauty, of the quirky and surreal, that no-one can and will ever touch, and which is where we will, and always will be, the most happy. What’s more, our creativity is a gift, and it’s no wonder that some of the greatest writers, artists or musicians of our generation, or even throughout history, have been INFPs. We are different, but it’s a good thing, and that is what keeps us going when we feel too different for this world.