Are INFPs are “useless”?

It is exactly 7:22pm, and my brain is fried after a day of studying, so please bear with me as the writing in this post will probably be less stellar. But onto the topic of this evening’s post, which is the way that some people seem to treat INFPs as useless. I know this isn’t everyone, but as an INFP, I have been treated quite badly by several people over the course of my life and have been told I’m an ‘idiot’ or ‘useless’ or any number of variations of that word.

Sometimes, it’s because I was daydreaming and forgot something. Or I did something while I was daydreaming, and did it poorly. Or because – and I don’t know if other INFPs experience this – for extended periods of the day, I sometimes turn my brain ‘off’ because it’s tiring to be thinking and alert all the time, and when I do that, I tend to make mistakes that make other people think I am stupid or foolish. I will leave the oven on for too long so the food gets burnt or forget to bring in the washing – things that make my family members highly irritated with me.

This has had a pronounced impact on my self-esteem, more than some people in my life could possibly imagine. I doubt myself and my own capabilities every single day, because I’ve been met by outrage or disgust at the extent of my foolishness. When I didn’t understand something, I very clearly remember a family member of mine getting extremely angry and irritated. Nowadays, whenever it seems I am on the precipice of doing something wrong or being found out that I did something wrong, my stomach sinks and I panic. Here we go, again. Here I go again, being foolish and stupid. I just don’t use my brain, do I?

And perhaps this is just even more foolishness on my part, but sometimes when I imagine having a boyfriend, I imagine him saying those very same things. After the honeymoon period of the relationship, he will discover the truth of the matter, which is that his girlfriend is downright imbecilic at times and even ‘switches off’ her brain at times during the day. It makes me wonder when I switch off my brain and go off into la-la land is it because I am tired, or is it because, another adjective which I get labelled by people, that I’m ‘lazy’?

One time, when I dropped a course, a friend of mine said that all I wanted in life was to be ‘comfortable’. At first, I believed her. I thought, I am a comfort-seeking, lazy disgusting excuse for a human being. But then I thought back. After going out for a grocery shopping trip, I am oftentimes exhausted because I get anxious around people and overstimulated by all the bright lights and colourful array of foods on the shelves. Does going grocery shopping less mean I am lazy? Does dropping a course because I didn’t like it and felt like it wasn’t suiting my sensibilities mean I am lazy?

I do not have any sage words of wisdom or advice for other INFPs who get called stupid, weak or useless. The truth is, when it comes to practical things, I am a bit useless. But there are so many other parts of me that are not useless or stupid – I am great observer of people, I like to write, I like to read and delve into the world of the imagination, into the lives of characters. The problem is, I barely possess an ounce of logic. In fact, when I try to be logical, my brain protests against it, as if the sparks of thought are travelling down the wrong neurons. At the end of the day, I think I want be me, myself, even if it brings down disgust or scorn or impatience onto my head, rather than try turn myself into some kind of practical, logical creature. Of course, I can be more careful, set alarms so the food doesn’t burn, but there’s only so much I can do before my natural personality starts seeping out and my supposed idiocy starts irritating and offending people.

I don’t mean to sound bitter in this post, especially after not posting for so long, and I hope my words don’t come across, at the very least, too bitter. It’s just that I have dealt with this terrible, sinking feeling in my stomach each time someone curls their nose up at my impracticality for so long that I felt like I just had to write about it, talk about it. It makes me feel like a child, that’s what all this makes me feel like. It makes me feel like a silly, naïve child who could never truly be able to survive in this harsh, cruel world all by herself, that I’m incapable of doing things properly on my own, that I’m not an adult, that I’m incompetent and incapable and unreliable. Sometimes, the only time people take me a little more seriously is when they catch a glimpse or two of my writing, and realise there’s a whole person behind that daft young woman.

I do hope you, dear dreamers, are doing well. Other than what I mentioned in this post, I am doing fine. Nothing particularly bad has happened, and nothing particularly good – things have just been moving along as per usual. Let me know in the comments if you relate – or perhaps don’t relate at all – to what I wrote in today’s post. I just sometimes wonder, am I doing that good of a job of hiding who I really am, if everyone I meet, until they read my writing, think I’m a foolish creature who doesn’t know her left foot from her right one? What am I doing wrong, how am I not expressing myself properly? Granted, I do prefer the written medium to speaking – in fact, I don’t think I’m that good at talking at all – but surely some parts of who I am must shine through when I interact with others. It just gets tiring, to put up with this metaphorical beating each time you daydream or switch off your brain.

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An INFP and writer, living life, dreaming of castles in the sky.

15 thoughts on “Are INFPs are “useless”?”

  1. Hi! Thanks for this. When I was young, I received these same criticisms. Called a “loner” or a “space cadet”, I thought it meant I was a weird, dumb person. WRONG. I’m decades older now, and delighted to be an INFP. I live in the flow, I’m comfortable being alone to read, or think. So I forgot some orthodox task… but I was enthralled with Mother Nature and sketching a once-in-a-
    lifetime opportunity to catch THE perfect butterfly I found in nature. I’m happy when I’m free to be me, and I am a big thinker. And smart as hell. I ponder. I study philosophy. I love who am, you’ll see in time that your soul and mind are rare, and THE MOST attuned to Mother Nature and vast thoughts. This INFP congratulates you! So don’t assimilate. Love!

    1. Thank you AsilAlev! Your words are encouraging to me. It’s reminded me that I do have so many infp strengths that I haven’t allowed myself to fully appreciate. We are smart. And deep thinkers. I’m so glad you’re delighted to be an infp now. I’m still going to have days where I wish I wasn’t, but I hope to have more days where I’m proud to be who I am. Thank you.

  2. Hi Annie, I hope everything is well. We are all a little different, and maybe lacking in certain aspects. It doesn’t make you worth less than your peers. All life is fundamentally unique, there can never be another individual just like us. I hope this comment finds you in a good mood.

    1. Hi Sebastian. I am in a relatively okay mood haha, but thank you, as always, for your comment. You always have sage and calming words of advice. You’re right. We’re all unique, and just need to remember and remind ourselves of that. I hope this comment also finds you well, and that you have been well in general. Thank you.

  3. The only colleagues at work that even remotely respected me were the ones I never saw and only communicated with via email. It is very discouraging to constantly be treated as “less than” and idiotic simply because I’m socially inept. Admittedly, I am a little socially awkward and borderline unbearable with my lack of filter but if people would just let me keep to myself without taking it as a direct personal attack, this could all be avoided.

    Its like I want to keep to myself and keep the weird in because I don’t trust these people and I always get ridiculed for being “me”. It is simply a form of protection but it seems as if I’m not allowed to just do my work and not have to make a fool of myself trying to socialize. Forced corporate social participation.

    I made an observation at my last job that the quiet ones are the most disliked over the ones that are outright rude and mean. That has proved to be a true story at every single place I’ve worked at.

    It’s tough being an INFP. I hear you and relate 100%.

    1. Wow. The quiet ones are the most disliked over the ones that are outright rude or mean. That really hit me — I felt it in my chest. It’s a disappointing reality, that those with the gift of the gab are often praised above those who might have bright minds but don’t have the ability to speak well. I am sorry to hear that you have struggled at work because your traits and personality. It’s so hard to deal with a lack of respect, that’s something I can highly relate to.
      People generally find me more intelligent through email. And I want to cry, that’s because I get a chance to formulate my thoughts. I can’t just think and talk as quickly as some people. I am a little socially awkward too, hence why I wrote that people sometimes think I’m daft. Why I don’t have any magical cures for this, I do believe cherishing ourselves and who are is important. There’s lots that introverted and awkward people have given to the world, from art to science. And, like Sebastian said, we’re unique, and I think it would do us good to remember that and cherish it. Take care, and I hope that things go well for you.

  4. I’m a INFP female, and I completely relate to this. My family has called me “stupid, weak and useless” multiple times because I am very easily discouraged by stress, find it difficult to multitask and be productive, super emotional/sensitive, constantly forgetting things… Even my coworkers have underestimated me…. It is VERY hard to keep your chin up when people constantly give you reasons not to.
    What is SO wrong with wanting to be “comfortable” in life? If you are exhausted from the stimulation in the grocery store, you deserve to go home and recharge… You should not be treated like a pariah and be called “lazy.” People need to understand not everyone enjoys constantly being GO GO GO, on 24/7, and high-energy all the time!!
    I think the world needs more be compassionate, and adapt to our idiosyncrasies, rather than force us to conform to their standards. Sure, we can be more organized and practical, but we don’t need to be scorned and ridiculed every time we make a mistake….
    I think you are doing absolutely nothing wrong. We are both doing the best we can in a world,designed to cater to other types.
    Please keep doing you! I hope you know you are not alone and you have the support of this amazing INFP community. 🙂

    1. Thank you so much Sheetal, your comment was amazing. Thank you for helping me feel less alone, and yes, I do have the support of a wonderful infp community on here. You’re right. There’s nothing at all wrong with being ‘comfortable’ if comfortable means not being overstimulated or stressed every second of the day. I doubt the world will ever understand us, but at least we can know that we should and must take care of ourselves. Thank you.

  5. I don’t think INFP’s are useless. But I often feel I don’t work as hard as other people and make absent-minded mistakes. And you’re right in that most other people find that irritating. We do tend to need more downtime and time to dream and immerse ourselves in another world. YEs, we need to learn to put that aside sometimes and work hard and try to be present. But I also just think a lot of the time that if INFPs are feeling useless it’s because they haven’t found their niche so to speak. We aren’t like other people. We need to accept that and make a life that suits us as best as possible on this earth. My perfect life doesn’t exist, it’s just not possible, but I do what I can in the real world to be authentic to myself, work in a way that I can deal with, and be someone who contributes. It’s a delicate balance.

    1. Sorry for the late reply – WordPress has not been sending notifications on my phone for some reason. I do sometimes feel that way too, that I don’t work as hard as people or make absentminded mistakes. As I probably mentioned in the post, I’m a very scatterbrained person who kind of seems ‘ditzy’ at times (though I am not stupid). You’re right. A very delicate balance indeed. It would about finding the right job, perhaps the right coworkers who understand and get us. I really hope we all find our niches in our world and therefore our happiness. Thank you so much for your comment, Cheanné.

  6. Hi there 🤗 I feel so, so similar, and our thoughts on the topic are almost identical.

    I’ve had that feeling that I’m not too suitable for this world either. It used to drive my suicidal ideation, as I always have felt I didn’t belong here and i’m just too inept to try to stay. I feel your frustration so deeply; I’m really clumsy, goofy and sorta childish in social settings; people often forget my age and tend to patronise me; I talk about things slight, yet deeply related to whatever I start talking about and others are weirded out. Some people enjoy it but most see it as foolishness, as you say.

    Much love. Lew

    1. Hi Lew! Sorry for the late replies, WordPress has clearly stopped sending me notifications on my phone. Wow, it’s so great to meet a kindred spirit. Yeah, I can understand suicidal ideation a bit as I struggled for a period with pretty bad depression. Being clumsy, goofy, childish, being patronised, going off on tangents—it can sometimes make you feel SO out of place, like a child in a world of grown-ups. Much love to you too! I sent you my email in another comment. Feel free to email me any time and we can chat about anything haha.

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