When INFPs Feel Like They Don’t Fit In

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I’ve always wondered what it would be like to go to university, to go to lectures, like a normal person, on their way to good things in life, to have a group of laughing, fun friends, to go to sushi bars and eat lunch after lectures, study in the library, have drinking games and parties where you steal kisses in bedrooms and get drunk. Go to nightclubs and restaurants, go ice-skating and shopping, holidaying to fantastic places with a boyfriend and friends, have a wardrobe filled with trendy clothing and lots of high-heels, a collection of perfumes, go to work everyday at a well-paying position earned from years of hard work and studying. To be “normal”.

I’m certain this is a feeling experienced by many INFPs, this feeling that we are just too different, that we don’t fit in with everyone else, regardless of the group we’re with. Partly this is because our lives can be on the more unconventional side—in my case, I left school early and decided to pursue a career as a fiction writer while working part-time jobs and figuring out my life; but I know INFPs who went to university but couldn’t find a job in their field and became non-profit organisation workers, volunteering their time and working side jobs; or became painters and solo artists; or realised their true calling lay far from what the education system could provide—and partly because we are inherently a little unconventional. We’re creative, and we’re different—in the eyes of other people, that’s code-word for “weird”. Our thoughts are too creative, too out-there, otherworldly, we feel too much, think too much, the list goes on and on…

So we’re constantly on the outside, looking in. Even if we fake it, pretend we like what others like, sports and the latest fashion, and pretend we’re just as normal and conventional as they are, we can never keep the act up, it simply uses up far too much of our energy. So we smile, and pretend, to keep the peace, then retreat into our own inner worlds, where everything is fantastical and perfect.

I wish I had a solution for this problem, but I don’t. I think, in the end, we’re a little bit tragic, because of who we are, in that we’re destined to never feel as though someone (except for maybe another INFP) truly understands and knows us, because we’re so strange and complicated sometimes.

It would be best, I think, if we could create our own world, somewhere on a planet far from here. A world filled with libraries, and staircases running this way and that, and cats and cups of tea galore, where rain always patters gently against the windows and fireplaces flicker with light and we are free to be as weird and kooky as we want to be.

Our imaginations and creativity, however, are a gift. Everything has an opposite, a positive and a negative; if we didn’t feel different from other people, we wouldn’t possess any originality or creativity, and if we didn’t have our imaginations, we wouldn’t be INFPs at all. And as someone who regularly visits imaginary worlds as part of her calling, I feel as though it’s a fair trade-off. I’d rather be strange and isolated, than unoriginal and empty. Perhaps this is my 4w5 Enneagram surfacing, but I honestly feel this way, I really do. If you asked me to give up my creativity so I could be normal like everyone else, and live the “high-life”, I’d tell you to take your Faustian bargain elsewhere, thank you very much.

So, cheer up: it’s hard to feel like you never fit, and having to always pretend, but there’s a place for us, I know it is, and it exists within our minds, within our hearts and our imaginations. It exists in the world between worlds, where everything is full of magic and adventure, where we get to go on rip-roaring crusades on flying pirate ships and devour the moon. And that’s all that matters.

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What Kind Of Love Stories Do INFPs Like?

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Well, considering how much of a romantic INFPs are, I wouldn’t blame you if you believed INFPs love the sappy, romantic stories, where the prince rescues a girl, or those love-hate stories where two people hate each other, the sexual tension building, until they finally fall in love, or even those stories, to be a little more unconventional, where the maiden manages to rescue the man, and they fall in love and live happily ever after, walking off into the sunset.

No. While those stories are all nice and good, you forget we are quite creative people, and turned off by the banal and unconventional. No, no and double nope: the stories that appeal to us, the love stories which get our hearts aflutter, and put a big, dreamy smile on ours faces, are the kind that are special, unique, and yes, sometimes a little strange. Oftentimes they have a twist to them, or are particularly pure and innocent. Without further ado, here is a list of the kind of love stories INFPs like.

  1. When the love story does not take the centre stage.

What? Yes, you heard me right. We actually like stories, oftentimes adventurous, fantasy ones, filled with magic and intrigue, where the love story isn’t actually the centrepiece of the novel or film. In other words, we like it when love isn’t a character almost in itself because of the importance it plays in the work of art, simply because it’s different and goes against the grain of the endless parade of books and films where the love between two characters is the reason the movie exists in the first place (take Titanic, or Twilight, for instance). Instead, there are films like Princess Mononoke by Hayao Miyazaki (I’ll be referencing him a lot in this post, simply because he is my favourite filmmaker, and, from my interactions with INFPs and endless trawling through INFP forums, one of the most beloved film-makers of INFPs), where the romance is completely overshadowed by the greater plot of a group of people trying to slay a forest god and destroy an entire ecosystem. This is because, for INFPs, romantic as we are, love actually doesn’t play a central role in our lives—more of a sweet, peripheral role, because we are full of dreams, hopes and desires completely unrelated to the search for a mate.

  1. When the love is innocent and pure.

Too often, love stories are about passion, lust and sex. The characters barely know one another, if they were put in a room together for 24 hours they would soon get sick of each other, but put them in a dangerous situation, or in a bedroom, and suddenly, clothes are flying off like feathers from a bird and they’re kissing and everything is happening. It’s a little bit too much for INFPs, if I’m going to be honest with you, a little too much and a little bit unrealistic. Instead, when the love is the enduring kind, where they don’t just fall in love over the course of a day, but grow to understand and learn about each other, seeing each other’s good sides and bad sides— that’s when we truly “fall in love” with the love story. INFPs, although daydreams, can be extraordinarily picky about accuracy and realism when it comes to the books and films we consume—I bet that’s something you didn’t know about us! While I can’t think off the top of my head of such a story—maybe the Sound of Music love story between Maria and Captain Von Trapp?—I do know that such love stories are definitely a favourite of mine and other INFPs.

  1. When the female protagonist is brave, good and strong.

There are so many weak female protagonists in fiction and films, it’s simply unbelievable—so many women who need to be rescued, who fall into the arms of a rich men and stay safe in the shelter of his wealth, so many “transformations” where the heroine turns from an ugly duckling into a beautiful swan and the male lead suddenly falls in love with her, that it’s sickening. Do you know what men in real life are like? Most of them are not here to sweep us women off our feet, or buy us Chanel and Dior bags, or take the time to pay for expensive makeovers so that we can look more attractive—instead, they’ve got their own lives, their own problems, their own fears and worries and desires, just like you and me. They’re looking for a friend, someone to love and lean on, just as much as we are looking for those things. So it’s refreshing when a female protagonist in a love story is independent and strong. She doesn’t necessarily need to be a snarky, kick-ass protagonist—since when did strong equate with being extroverted?—but she must have a well of inner strength and power that makes her shine brighter than any glittery eyeshadow or sparkly blush ever could. Why do INFPs like such stories? Because we’re very strong people. Delicate on the outside, as hard as water on the inside (ever fall from a great height and smack onto a body of water? That’s as good as hitting a slab of concrete). We have to survive in a world that oftentimes doesn’t care about purity or morality, and somehow remain pure and moral in spite of that. We’re diamonds, darling, the un-cut kind, and we adore love stories where the female protagonists have an unbeatable gleam in their eye, and knows exactly how to sacrifice themselves to save the world.

  1. When the male love interest is a partner, an equal, not a shield or protector.

Us INFPs can protect ourselves. Because of our quiet and delicate natures, from an early age, we are often bullied, disparaged or taken advantage of. By the time we reach our adult years, we are in no way in the dark about the ugly sides of human nature or our own resilience and ability to withstand suffering. INFP women, if they’re mature, don’t need a man to shield them from the big, bad world. We know our own way through the woods. We don’t need (excuse me while I throw up) a shoulder to cry on and a good (and oftentimes muscular; if you read enough novels you’ll know what I mean) chest to lean on as we sob and cry, and for him to kiss away our tears and hold us close, like a fragile bird, and whisper, “I’ll always be here for you.” Bleurgh. Double bleurgh. We don’t need that. Maybe it comes from an unconscious distaste for the conventional, but us INFPs would feel so suffocated and unwell, to our very core, if that aforementioned scenario happened to us. Instead, we like love stories where the love interest doesn’t baby us, but instead is a good, solid friend almost, who gives us advice and believes in us and urges us to fight for our dreams. Not some male equivalent of a therapist and pillow in one.

  1. When the love story is funny.

Okay, so, yes, I don’t know many comedy-romance films or books, but surely there must be some out there, right? And yes, INFPs, we do need funny love stories in our lives because we’re so serious all the time. Seriously (ha, get what I did there?). INFPs are incredibly serious people: we take the environment seriously, we take our careers seriously, we take our passions seriously, we take our relationships seriously—heck, I even listen to music seriously, making sure I absorb the full sonic experience of every note properly, in the zone and in the moment, all the while imagining some film or book scene in my mind that fits the tune. Fact is, we need to lighten up sometimes, and there’s nothing that’s better for lifting one’s mood than a funny love story. You know, where the guy makes a fool of himself, or the girl goes through a wild and wacky series of events to find the love of her life. Many Korean and Chinese dramas are good at delivering these kinds of storylines. Point is, even though if you asked us, we’d say we didn’t like these love stories, we actually need these stories in our lives, which is why I put it on the list.

 

So there you go folks, a couple of types of love stories that INFPs love. Maybe next time you’re picking out a book or film for your INFP friend or significant other, you’ll keep some of these in mind as you make your choice. Of course, any love story, no matter how banal or bad, is better than no love story, or, worse, a horror movie, so feel free to give your INFP loved one whatever movie they like, as long as it’s fun, entertaining and imaginative. That’s all from me folks for today—see you in the next one!

Girls Bring The Boys Out!

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I’ve written quite a few posts on love and romance regarding the INFP personality type, but I haven’t really ever written anything about the INFP women themselves—in other words, while I’ve detailed what INFPs like or want in man, and the kinds of man they might marry, I haven’t yet talked about the kind of partners INFPs women will make. And a disclaimer: I apologise for writing from this only from an INFP woman’s standpoint, and not an INFP man’s point of view—that is because I am an INFP woman, and cannot comment on the romantic qualities of INFP men with accuracy. However, if you’re an INFP man and reading this, feel free to comment and let others know what qualities INFP men bring to a relationship! Second disclaimer: these thoughts and opinions are my own, based on my experiences and interactions with other INFPs and my in-depth understanding of myself; other INFPs may be different, and that’s okay, because we’re all unique. Now, without further ado, lets find what makes INFP women bring the boys out!

Well, to be honest with you, before I begin, the truth is, most INFP women are overlooked by men. Sure, we may be pretty, and lovely, and “sweet” (I loathe that word; I don’t like it when I’m referred to as “sweet”, it makes me feel so flimsy and powerless for some reason) and kind, but we often radiate a kind of “don’t-come-near-me” aura, or a “I’m-lost-in-the-clouds-and-can’t-see-you” type of personality aspect that makes men very wary to approach us (they’re intimidated, in short), and oftentimes, this is a smart move, because us INFPs, being sensitive, can be very particular about the appearance, personality and aura of the man we like. One wrong move, one wrong word or behaviour, or a certain lustful gleam in one’s eye, and we are out like a too-slow person in musical chairs. So finally, for real this time, without further do, these are the qualities INFPs can bring to a relationship, if you can manage to get to be with us (it’s not that we feel superior to men, it’s just that we’re very sensitive and picky and gentle creatures).

1. Intelligence.

We’re a very smart and intuitive bunch of people. That’s just a fact. So be prepared for someone who has the ability to occasionally read your mind, know when you’re telling a whooper, and can sense, with the accuracy and sensitivity of an otherworldly creature, if you’re cheating on us (or even thinking of cheating on us). Let me just put it out there: it’s not easy being with an INFP, because we will look deep into your soul, into the dark and light, and see whether we like what we see—or not, in which case, we will break up with you. Instantly. INFPs, once they’re mature and fully-evolved, never hold onto anything that is bad for them, or toxic. Take it from me. What’s more, we can tell, from a mile away, if you only love us for our appearance or for the opportunity to “get in our pants”, and such men we do not even revile, they’re so beneath our notice.

2. Possible disgust and contempt.

Did you hear me right? Disgust and contempt? INFPs bring disgust and contempt to a relationship? What in tarnation do you mean, Anne? Well, what I’m trying to say is, the slightest thing, since INFPs are so sensitive, can trigger disgust or contempt for a person in an INFP. Let me give you an example. I once dated a guy who decided that the best way to get me “sexually attracted” to him was to go on and on about how much money he was capable of earning. This rubbed me the wrong way. In fact, it made me feel physically ill: he was lecherous, and greedy, and money-grubbing, and all-round entirely horrible. Suffice to say, I didn’t like him very much, and soon broke off the engagement. Likewise, if we can tell that you’re not the type of person to risk yourself to save, for example, a child, or don’t have it in you to make the moral, good choice when the time comes (and trust me when I say we can tell, even if the situation never arises), then we’re not going to be interested in you. Period. In fact, no matter how rich or handsome you are, we will be turned off. INFPs are angelic and pure creatures—we’re the closest thing to a completely kind human being that exists on this planet, and if you don’t measure up to our barometers for purity, morality and kindness, if we so much as catch a whiff of poison or evil in you, then you’re out.

3. Devotion.

If it so happens that you’re attractive to us, both physically and mentally, that you’re kind and pure, and we happen to actually fall in love with you, and our heartstrings actually get entangled with your heartstrings, then, let’s face it, you might as well have made a loyal friend for life. I cannot stress this enough: once INFPs are in, we’re in. We are highly loyal creatures, and our love, the strength of our hearts, knows no bounds. We will be your life partner, we will stand by you, whether lightning or sunshine strikes the sky, and you will never, not on this entire earth, find someone more devoted or caring. This doesn’t mean we’ll be submissive or subservient—devotion doesn’t necessarily entail us being a doormat—but instead, it means, although we retain our independent lives and identities, our existence becomes irrevocably tied to yours, and we would, if necessary, give up our life for you.

4. Have a love for anything exciting or fun.

By “fun” we don’t mean clubbing and waking up with a hangover the next day, or visiting places all around the world; instead, what I’m talking about is the consumption of fiction. Reality is boring. Fantasy is where the good stuff is—where we enjoy ourselves the most, live lives we could have never dreamed of living, be people we could never possibly be in real life; and if, somehow, you share this love for excitement and fun, or better yet, if you provide it, by gifting us our favourite books or movies (without the intention of getting us to fall in love with you; INFPs are immune to bribery), then we’re pretty much going to like you very much. By gifting us books and movies in the genre we love, you are essentially giving us pieces of magic and showing you care and understand us, and if that isn’t swoon-worthy, then nothing is.

5. Be unique.

INFPs are special, in the truest sense of the word; we retain our childlike wonder, have fantasy worlds bursting inside our heads, love animals, are kind to a fault. We are special. Of course, all personality types are special in their own way, but there’s something unique about INFPs. We’re like butterflies: beautiful to behold, fragile to the touch, and incredibly sensitive. Without us, the world would be a much darker and boring place; in a way, we’re almost like creatures of light, dispelling darkness wherever we go. So, by the same token, it helps if you’re quite a creative and unique person yourself, such as a filmmaker, or a writer, or an artist, or a children’s book illustrator, or a painter, etc. Creative types tend to gravitate towards other creative types, because imaginations blossom when they’re closer to other imaginations; and if I had to marry someone, in an ideal world, it would be the illustrator of the pictures and front cover of my future books.

 

So that’s it, so far (I might make a part 2, depending on the reception of this post) of my list of things INFPs might bring to a potential relationship. It takes a special kind of person to love and be with an INFP, and oftentimes, INFP women never find someone who loves them as much as their father or brother loves or loved them. Although we are quite happy on our own, and find solace in being a part of the universe, it’s good to have someone around, to lean one’s head on someone’s shoulder and feel safe and protected. If you’re interested in an INFP women, keeps these 5 points about what INFPs bring to a relationship in mind, so that you’re properly prepared for and aware of what you’re really getting into.

An Update On This INFP’s Life

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I’m listening to the song “Strawberry Fields Forever” by The Beatles as I type this; it’s a very sad, trippy sort of song, and I can’t help but fall in love with its whimsical, mournful sound. In fact, it’s so distracting, I almost forgot what I was meant to write about in this post—an update on this INFP’s life. My life, my thoughts. How very interesting. Ah! Welcome to my silly, little world, dear friend, and may you find it a pleasant enough place. Continue reading

12 Life Tips For INFPs

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This post is courtesy of Louis, who wanted to read a blog post about INFP life stuff and tips. Thank you, Louis, for your suggestion, and if you would like to donate to my Patreon page, you can find it here, at http://www.patreon.com/dreamerrambling

Onto the blog post. Here is a list of 12 life tips for INFPs. While I have written quite a few lists over the years, I don’t think I’ve written one exclusively on tips for INFPs. So, here we go.

1. Carry a book around with you wherever you.

Not only is this a good idea for the average person, for an INFP, it is a must, as it means you can dive into a fantasy world wherever you go. Sounds pretty good to me.

2. Carry some lollies with you wherever you go.

Hear me out on this one. INFPs go through a lot of stress in life, whether it be a job interview or having to make an important, nerve-wracking call, and sometimes, after feeling so frazzled, you feel the need to give yourself a treat. This is where the lollies come in. Don’t chow down the whole bag—just give yourself one, because, as an INFP, you deserve it. It can be whatever kind of food you enjoy most, in an easy, accessible bag: chips, sweets, any sort of candy, you name it.

3. Try to reduce your daydreaming.

Now, I know this is a hard one, but I’ve found that it is better to daydream less about what your life could be like and spend more time in your actual life. Otherwise, you will miss most of your life as it reels past you, and, what’s more, most of the daydreams never come true—a handsome prince, riding out of the sunset, anyone?—so following this tip prevents you from suffering any disappointment.

4. Push yourself to go beyond your boundaries.

If it were up to us, we’d just spend our days at home all day long, indulging in our creative pursuits and films, movies and books. But that’s not how the real world works, and in this world, one has to work, to socialise, and put food on the table. Pushing yourself to do things, such as going shopping, or going for that job interview, will not only make you feel happier with life overall, because you feel more confident and able, but it’s a very good INFP habit to practise, as it means you will not stagnate.

5. Try to date.

Nerve-wracking as it is, INFPs are the type to yearn for a partner, so it is a good thing to go out there and join the dating scene. Whenever we are alone, or single, no matter how good the rest of our life is, some part of us feels a little lost and miserable. All of us need that one, special person in lives, and INFPs do more so than others sometimes—someone who can understand us, who wants to peel away the layers of our guarded personalities to the true treasure underneath. So, give it a try—what can you lose? My advice with dating, though, is to take it slow, be safe and never jump into things if you have a bad feeling about them. If you’re dating online, always make sure to meet in a public space.

6. Try to reduce the amount of public transport you take.

Sometimes, this isn’t possible, especially if you live far from your workplace, but it is a good idea to take less public transport, as it is something that can drain INFPs. The crammed carriages of a train, the busy commute—all of that isn’t conducive to an INFP’s happiness. So, try to walk, or even ride a bike; it’ll take a lot of the stress and anxiety that comes with commuting, and the close proximity with strangers, away.

7. Never be afraid to leave a bad situation.

This can be harder than it sounds, especially if the bad situation is a job, which you do not like. But I’m not just talking about a job you do not like here—I’m talking about a toxic situation, so, if it were a job, it would be one where you not only not like the work, but you are bullied and belittled every single day. Bad situations are absolutely psychologically soul-destroying for INFPs, and can take ages for us to recover from them, whether it be a situation where you are being bullied, or a job you loathe so much just the thought of going to work for another day makes you want to melt into a puddle of despair on the floor and never get up. Whenever a situation makes you feel like that, you know it’s time to leave it.

8. Reach out to other INFPs.

Whether in real life, or through the internet (actually, through the internet is more likely), it’s always a good idea to find other like-minded people, so if you can somehow communicate with INFPs, such as in a forum or through an email correspondence, you can find it does wonders for your mental health. As INFPs, we can understand each other on a level sometimes other people can’t, and relate to each other, help each other, and give personalised advice that can strike us to the core.

9. Depression is often common amongst INFPs, and that’s because we have a habit of mulling over things too much.

We get inside our heads, and never come out of them. One of the best ways to beat depression is to keep yourself busy, whether that’s with work, or job searching, or interviews, or friends and family, creative pursuits, etc. An INFP that has nothing to do is more likely to get depressed.

10. Have a safe haven.

This almost goes without saying, but every INFP needs their own bedroom, or couch, or a special place where they can relax and unwind. We need this because we often find our jobs and the outside world quite stressful. In fact, scratch that: the outside world and our jobs, since they are both stimulating, is extremely stressful, and if we didn’t have our own room to go back to at the end of the day, to recharge and rejuvenate, we would go mad. So, a safe haven is a must.

11. Try to be involved in your creative pursuits on a daily basis.

Sometimes, INFPs, especially if they don’t work in a creative job, neglect the creative side of themselves, and this can be a big mistake. Creativity is a natural aspect of our personality type, and when we are allowed to flourish creatively, we feel more whole as a person. Whether it’s writing, dancing, singing, drawing, painting, or even just doodling, try to incorporate it as part of your daily routine, so you always have a creative outlet.

12. Make friends who do not drain you.

You know very well the type of people who drain your energy instead of give it. They are loud, boisterous, and all they do, taking advantage of your kind, giving and calm nature, is offload all their problems onto you, or jabber about themselves all day long. Let go of these people, and make friends who are a little more staid, who listen to and care about you, and provide a kind of haven from the rest of the world instead of someone that buffets the storm that is life even further.

Look out for a Part 2!

Another Melancholy Ramble (And A Thank-You)

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I have been listen to Sufjan Stevens a lot recently, particularly his song “The Only Thing” and “Fourth of July”. There is such a melancholy air about his songs, and it makes evenings rather strange and magical. Such is the transformative power of music.

Less depressed. In case you were wondering, I am a little less depressed than I was before. I’ve been re-reading a paragraph or two of the book I sent in, and, honestly, it’s not half-bad. If it weren’t missing a huge chunk right in the middle of it, which I sent to publishers without realising its existence, the book may be half-decent.

Enough. I’ve been talking about the book I sent in to publishers far too much recently. I can’t help feel as though my life is going nowhere. As a child, I always expected life to be filled with magic. I expected—I don’t know. Something different from the life of adulthood people all over the world lead, a life spent on work, going on holidays, eating out, hanging out with family and friends, buying a house and pets. All the normal, ordinary things—well, they just don’t cut it for me. I always wanted to be a writer, to see my books published, and to daydream and dance and sing forever and ever, with a beautiful husband and living in a house that was rather like a tiny world of books and cats. Spending my days imagining things, through writing. Visiting caves filled with fireflies, drinking in the magic of the world. And yet, here I am, unemployed, with no book contract in sight, very little money, few friends, few family members, and no handsome man in sight. It’s all very disappointing, and I hope, sincerely, that I do come across as arrogant or spoilt when I say all of this.

I am not an entirely unhappy soul, but I am a disappointed one. Everyone else seems to find life satisfying as it is, but, I’ve always wanted for adventures to happen, rather like those in movies. I want to save a planet from an alien species. I want to hunt for treasure, with a band of pirates, and fall in the love with the greatest buccaneer that there is. I want to go wandering in a midnight garden, dewdrops on all the flowers, and meet my Prince Charming, underneath an apple tree. Don’t you think? I guess that’s why we have films and movies: so the magical things we wish would happen end up doing so, but only on the silver screen. I’d like to think life will work itself out one day, like a piece of crumpled paper that gets flattened. I hope, wherever you are, that your life works its kinks out, and becomes the kind of life you always hoped to have. Life is too short not to try and live the life you want to lead, even if there is risk of failure if you walk off the beaten path.

I will get published one day, I make a promise to you. Once I put it in writing, it’s bound to happen—isn’t that how these things work? I am smiling. No. I don’t know. This life is just so interesting and horrible, all at once, I can’t even begin to grasp it with words. I feel elated after listening to a song that reminds me of a period of my life, then crushingly disappointed when I read a paragraph of one of my own books, then bored at the job agency I attend everyday, sick of taking medication for my mental illness (Anxiety and Depression), and then, in the comfort and quietness of God, silently happy again. It seems that, as I’ve grown older, I’ve only become more confused.

I hope these rambles aren’t boring for you. I can just imagine someone out there reading this, someone who is like me, who grapples and struggles with these same issues, feeling as though they’ve found a kindred spirit. It’s good, I think, to post regularly, because then I become a regular, human voice, speaking to you through the screen, bringing a little interest and comfort to the world. At least, that’s how I like to think of it. All I know is, if I were ever to stumble upon rambles like these, I would find them interesting and be greatly comforted—so, who knows, maybe there are others like me, out there. I know there are. Just by reading and replying to all of your comments, I know my words have resonated with you.

Thank you for always being there for me, especially those who take the time to write comments, providing words of solace, comfort and advice, it’s truly means the world to me. When I started this blog, I had no idea it would grow into a kind of small community, of dreamers and misfits, I really didn’t. Well. What else is there to talk about? I’m just in a very quiet, melancholy sort of mood. I get the feeling that if I posted my book online, on my blog, so many people would enjoy it—but then, I would no longer be able to get it published, because it would have already been made public. I’ve written a good book this time, and I desperately hope publishers will pick it up, I really do. Here’s to another lonely evening, spent watching romantic Hallmark movies. Here’s to living, and dreaming and loving. Here’s to books. Here’s to you, for following me on this journey.

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Click HERE to become a patron. Or this link: http://www.patreon.com/dreamerrambling. Thank you!

So, recently, I decided to build a Patreon page. It is a kind of platform where people can become your “patron”, giving you a couple of dollars every month, in return for certain “rewards”. So far, my rewards are getting to talk to me through Skype (nervous about this!), writing a blog post on a topic of your choice, getting the chance to get an email filled with advice about life in general and being an INFP, and getting blog posts early, sent straight to your email.

I decided it was preferable to selling a service. The layout was fun, and I had an enjoyable time coming up with names for the different “types” of dreamers. Either way, it doesn’t matter whether this kicks off or not; I’ll always be here, writing blog posts for you.

Thank you, in advance, if you do decide to become a patron. I hope you know that you are supporting someone who has been behind all the words on this blog all this time, and wants to become a writer someday, and is always diligently writing, whenever she isn’t daydreaming.

Many thanks.

A Boy Who Likes An INFP (Wish Fulfilment, Obviously)

Yellow flower

So, there’s this girl.

Before you get any ideas, I don’t like her, or anything like that. She isn’t particularly pretty, or clever, or witty, or anything, really. She’s just a little peculiar, odd, and in this world, it’s sometimes hard to find anyone really strange these days. She lives next door to me, and I see her often. Sometimes, I see her through her bedroom window—not that I’m trying to be a creep or anything, you know, sometimes I just happen to glance out my window, and see that hers is all lit-up, with the curtains parted, and I sometimes just catch a glimpse of her, sitting at her desk or walking around her room.

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What’s so strange about her? Well, get this: all the time, every single day, whenever I pass by her or see her leave the house, she carries this shoulder bag bulging with library books. I know they are library books because once I passed by her when she dropped the bag, its entire contents spilling out onto the pavement, and I saw they were all library books. And get this—they were all fiction books, ranging from children books to teen fiction, and she is practically an adult woman. An adult woman, reading fairytales! Reading little kiddy books, picture books. Who does that? I get the feeling she’s got her head stuck up in the clouds. And does she even have a job? With that misty look in her eyes all the time, it’s a wonder employees would consider hiring someone who is evidently so scatterbrained and immature.

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One other time, I caught her having a conversation with herself, or perhaps someone in her imagination, on her porchsteps. I think she was pretending she had a boyfriend, with the way she coyly smiled at some invisible man, and clasped her hands as if she were in love. It’s absolutely ridiculous, the way she—oh, just everything about her is laughable! Frankly, I do believe she might be a little mentally deranged, or at least quite the private actress. The more I spy on her, the more I feel as though I’ve stumbled across some rare, eccentric human specimen, someone untouched by the reality of the world. Someone who never grew up, when everyone else did.

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And, no offense, but I get the feeling that she’s really, really lonely. I’m good at picking up people’s weaknesses, if I do say so myself, and she seems like one of those lonely adults who never grow up, buried in books, cats and her own eccentricity. She’s literally a crazy cat woman in the making. Does she even have any friends? And what is with that look in her eyes all the time? That sad, lonely and lost look, that seems both faraway and intent at the same time, as if she lost something very dear to her long ago and has been searching for it ever since, her hope slowly ebbing away over the years. Oh, what am I saying; listen to me getting all poetic over some lonely young woman’s misery. But—it’s the way she looks at things sometimes that gets me. The clouds. Flowers. Out windows, at the stars at night. As if she is searching for a home, someplace safe to rest her soul, in whatever she looks at, and always finding herself disappointed.

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She looked at me the other day, while I was coming home from work. Right over the fence separating our residences, straight in my eyes. For some reason, it was a shock, staring straight into that soft, faraway gaze after seeing it directed other things for so long. She was picking flowers in her garden, had a whole bunch of dandelions in her left hand—a grown woman, picking flowers like a five-year old!—and the moment she saw me, she blinked, turned red, looked away, and a moment later, scurried back inside her house, the door squeaking shut behind her. She’s a strange one, I tell you. That night, her curtains were closed, but I could sense her behind the curtains, at her desk, reading her childish books or doing whatever she does, thinking her strange thoughts. Maybe thinking about me.

___

That’s it. I’m going to stop spying on her, because this is the last straw. Yesterday, sick from work, I spent the day reading some books I’d loved as a kid, Zac Power and Geronimo Stilton, and in the afternoon, when I was feeling a little better, I went out into the front garden and just sat in this sunshine, stroking my cat. I hadn’t done anything like that in years. Weird. I swear that weird girl who happens to be my neighbour is having some kind of slow, insidious effect on me. I certainly hope it isn’t permanent. An independent, grown man like me has no need for eccentric women like her in my life. Besides, I have a date with Natasha next week, and need to spend my time properly preparing for that, instead of sitting at my desk staring out my window at her bedroom window, wondering if those curtains will ever open again.

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Natasha came round to my house after the date. We frolicked a bit on the sofa. Nothing serious—just a little flirtation, a little kissing. For some reason, I wasn’t that into it—and I became even less into it when I saw her through the window while I was entangled with Natasha, standing in her garden, staring straight at me. The look in her eyes—but why should I feel guilty? It isn’t as if she and I are in a relationship, or anything. She’s just my neighbour. This time, when our eyes met, she started as if I’d stuck her with a jolt of electricity, and  turned and walked away, this time without haste or hurry, with slow, measured, and, dare I say it, regal steps. Suddenly, I felt like being alone. Disgruntled, Natasha left, her hair and lipstick a little mussed, the smell of her perfume lingering all over my clothing.  Now I’m sitting at my desk, looking out the window. Her curtains are not closed this time, but she isn’t sitting at her desk, or walking around her room. She’s lying on her bed, her face turned away out of sight.

___

I mean, it’s not as if I’m interested in her or anything. But she certainly is an oddity, and I’ve always been a curious person. That’s why I’m going to introduce myself this afternoon. We are neighbours, after all, and it is about time. I want to ask her what she’s been reading, and what the name of her cat is. I wonder what her bedroom looks like, when you’re standing inside it. I wonder what she likes to drink—surely not coffee? No, coffee wouldn’t suit her. For all I know, she likes to drink from juice boxes with a straw and snack on lollies. Who’s her favourite singer? You know, just ordinary questions, for an ordinary girl.

I wonder what her imaginary boyfriend looks like.

A Dreamer Tries To Help: Q&A

Bottle 1

Since the birth of this blog two years ago, I have received quite a few messages, through comments and emails, from other lost, lonely and struggling souls – many of whom who identify with the Myer-Briggs Personality Type INFP, but also people who are simply sensitive, often introverted and feel as though they do not belong.

It has become very apparent to me that this world pushes some people to the fringes of society – and if we’re honest with ourselves, we’re happier living on the edges than amongst the throng.

We belong in the corners and the crevices, behind the secret doors and within the hidden alcoves.

However, despite liking being “different”, it does make surviving in society difficult. Sometimes very, very difficult. And there are a lot of us experiencing those difficulties. So I thought I would start a weekly Questions & Answers post, where I transpose a person’s message for help onto a blog post and try and answer it as best as I can.

That way, it will help the person who is asking (or sometimes wailing out into the ether in despair) and also anyone else who stumbles across my blog who might be struggling with similar issues.

In my head, I have sort of, well, “anointed” myself as a little, quiet supporter for misfits all around the world. A warrior, fighting for those who are too sensitive, too quiet, too strange, and who do not belong, kitted out in silvery armour etched with gamboling kittens and books, and my trusty sword named Edgar Allen Poe – please, do not laugh, he is a rather sensitive sword (which makes battles rather tiresome, mind you, as he never wants to hurt the enemy, which completely defeats the purpose of fighting in the first place, in my opinion) and you will most likely hurt his feelings and I shall have to deal with the mess. Do know how badly sword-tears rust metal?

Edgar, however, approves of subterfuge tactics, which do not actually involve shedding blood, like encouraging and helping other misfits with words so that we can rise up and silently take over the world. Or at least feel a little less sad, tired, and alone.

This whole thing, really, was mostly his idea, conjured up so he could wriggle out of fighting our enemies, like Mean Corporations Who Care About Money Instead Of People and other Selfish, Heartless Nincompoops. Fortunately, it was a good one.

Songbird asks:

“I am an INFP female, 55 years old, but, in all honesty, not only do I not ACT my age, I certainly don’t FEEL my age, and I don’t look my age, either. I feel very much like I did when I was about 9 years old. I can remember my feelings of “not fitting in”, and how in the world to try to “look and act the part” so vividly; it’s because I feel those same feelings, now.

I crave time alone. I got exhausted on phone calls. I love to talk when the conversation is interesting, but I am so passionate and have such a hard time trying to explain myself and I feel so misunderstood that my talking is perceived as “excessive”. Although, I talk no more and quite often less than friends when we are talking together.

It’s just that THEY talk about the things that they all understand and want to talk about–things that I don’t really care about, understand, movies that I haven’t seen and don’t want to see, tv shows that I have never watched and have no interest in watching, etc. I want to discuss an amazing book I’ve read and how that book actually spoke to me, stuff like that. Sometimes I feel like I am being looked at like I have lobsters crawling out of my ears.

It is VERY, VERY hard being an INFP. When I get “labeled” a “talker” or “eccentric” or whatever, I feel that I have been somewhat permanently, dismissed.

I am also a musician, which just seems to compound the problem. I am extremely artistic and creative. I have taken on the “this is who I am, and if you don’t like it, too bad” attitude, and it works for me for a while, but deep down, in my heart of hearts, I just feel misunderstood. I am becoming worn out with dealing with people. It is getting to be just too much trouble to try to deal with. I would like to go back to teaching music in my private studio and not have to put up with he politics of dealing with a public school setting or all of the women that are found in same.

I have had my feelings hurt countless times, and I have forgiven, but I am at the point now that I am ready to not only forgive, but to just move on.

I am just too tired to continue to try to put forth the effort to fit my “square and eccentric self” into this round hole of “normal existence in day to day life”.

I love VERY deeply. I care very, very deeply. I do NOT give up on my passions and I am a champion for the children that I teach. They need me very desperately, a many of them have no one else. The problem is, I have poured out so much that I am beginning to feel that I need to be re-filled. If I were to try to explain ANY of this to anyone else, they would actually believe that I had lost my mind.

So, I just don’t even try. I just continue to suffer in silence. I have always, and still do, LOVE small spaces and to be closed in, by myself in the dark with only soft light, where no one really knows where I am, and I can read my book, by myself. I can have my dog with me and just sit back and read.

All of these things would literally make others want to look for the closest mental hospital to check me in to.

I am just so tired. Does anyone else feel this way? If so, and I’m sure that you do, how do you cope? What do you do when you get so hurt and laughed at about “talking too much” when you suddenly believe that you might have picked up on something in a conversation that you can relate to and explain yourself?

What do you do when you are so deeply hurt in your workplace and so close to retirement that you just can’t really leave? I am at a complete loss and I am actually thinking that I would much prefer to stand behind a bar in a restaurant and serve mugs of beer to people that I don’t have to get so “close to”, I can “chat” a bit if I have the energy, or not, and then, at the proper time, I can leave with my purse.

Any suggestions from anyone???”

Dear Songbird,

I feel your pain.

When I say “I feel your pain”, I don’t mean it lightly, the way some people do when they say it which often makes you annoyed at their insincerity: I honestly feel your pain, because I have gone through the same kind of pain.

Though I am a little younger than you are, I have been told that I am wise beyond my years – of course, you may disagree – and hopefully I can give you some suggestions to ease your suffering.

First of all, there is nothing wrong you with you. You just have a heart, one a little more powerful than most, and a personality which does not mesh well with the rest of society. There is nothing wrong or strange about wanting to sit in a dimly lit room with your dog, where it is quiet and safe, and read, preferably for the rest of your life. There is nothing wrong or strange about caring very deeply, or feeling too much.

Your problem is that you are burnt-out from prolonged, unfulfilling interactions with society. No-one understands you, and when you reveal your true self, even just a brief glimpse of it, you are subtly rejected, which, being sensitive, stabs you to the core. You yearn to speak on subjects that matter to you – the books you read, the world of the imagination, philosophy – but no-one else seems the least bit interested, and you are left alone and baffled, unable to form a connection with anybody.

What you have to realise is that you will never receive the validation and understanding that you crave from most of the people you meet. It simply isn’t possible; it’s like trying to describe what a jungle is, exactly, to a fish. So my advice is – and this is based on experience – don’t even try.

I, myself, have launched into effusive bursts of talk, only to be looked at strangely, my skin burning with shame and rejection. To protect yourself, then, stop letting glimpses of your true self seep out, because people who reject your true self don’t deserve to see it. If you must interact with people who do not understand and never will an atom of your being, then act. Play pretend. Make it fun, which will make it less tiring; see it as game, a secret show you are putting on that only you know about.

And then exit from the interaction, as quickly and politely as possible. Any friends who don’t understand you and just drain your energy – cut them from your life. For once, be a little selfish, and take care of yourself, and spend your time doing things you like to do, rather than talking about things you have no interest in.

But what if, as in the case of work, the unfulfilling and prolonged interactions are constant, and exhausting?

There are a few solutions to this.

One, is to start carving out as much alone time as possible at work, by eating lunch in your own office or classroom rather than with everyone else, or even escaping into the toilet cubicles with a book.

It’s best, I’ve found, to establish a shy and retiring persona in the eyes of others, as that way there is less expectation that you will be talkative and chatty, and you will be less exhausted.

You can also make excuses to avoid interactions with people (there is no shame in this as it allows you to preserve your own energy), either by professing you are unwell and are therefore not in the mood for talking (say it as politely as possible, not bluntly) or that you are very busy, and “exceedingly sorry that you do not have the time to chat.”

In addition, you can try and spend more time with your students, who are, because they tap into your empathy, perhaps a little less draining to interact with than the women at your workplace. To stop letting phone-calls deplete your energy, you can try (though sometimes you simply must answer some calls, as per the requirements of your job) to use Text Messages and emails more often.

However, in the end, these are merely attempts to put Humpty Dumpty back together using plastic tape. It doesn’t solve the problem, which is that you are a retiring and extremely introverted person forced into an environment that requires you to be extroverted on a daily basis. It’s like forcing a man who can only walk two miles a day due to lung problems to run a lap of his entire town in under five hours. It’s agony, like you are screaming inside every minute of the day and will do so until you retire – trust me, I know.

Thus, if you follow these tips, you are still going to be tired – just less so. You might even become more stressed and tired because people might start thinking you are aloof or snobbish, or asking where you start disappearing to all the time, and why, exactly, you aren’t eating lunch with them anymore or answering their phone-calls. If you think you can tolerate work by inserting these little “breathers” into your day, then everything’s good, and you will be able to wake up in the morning without feeling miserable.

However, chances are, if you are anything like me, the only true solution to your problems is to find another job, where there is less pressure or need to interact and put on an act.

As musician, this might mean, as you said yourself, opening a studio and teaching students one-by-one or in small groups privately, which eliminates co-workers and where the only interaction you have to withstand is with your students and their parents.

You could also try seeking a job with a different organisation, perhaps a smaller one, with less people and less pressure to talk, where you just teach, finish the lessons, and then go home. At the time, you should try and sock away more money into your retirement fund so you could perhaps retire earlier, and sink into the solitude you crave, and try live on less, so you can, for example, work only part-time and still survive.

I would not look longingly towards retirement as the gateway to peace and serenity. I don’t know where you live, but here in Australia, both women and men retire at 65, so it’ll probably be a good decade or so before you can leave the workforce. You need to find peace and serenity now. Finding a job more suited to your social needs, saving away more chunks of money so you can perhaps retire earlier – or have more freedom to hop from one job to another in order to find the right fit – and perhaps working part-time is the best way to do this.

As for not being able to find anyone to relate to, you could start a blog to pour out your feelings and experiences, as I did, or join a forum where you can meet other INFPs (like Personality Cafe), in order to fulfill your need for meaningful interaction without the downside of having your energy drained.

It’s also Okay to be a loner. Offline, I do not have a single friend who truly understands me, and, partly due to other issues unrelated to being an INFP, spend much of my time alone, or simply with my siblings who, having grown up with me, are well-acquainted with my eccentricities and do not reject me for having them (even though they don’t understand me).

If you don’t have any siblings or family members where you can be yourself, that’s fine, too. What I have realised, finally, after many years of pain and loneliness, is that you don’t need other people to understand you or validate you. In fact, if you’re very honest with yourself, you don’t even truly need to talk philosophy or books with other humans; just enjoying the books or thinking about life is often rewarding enough.

As long as you are spending your time in activities that bring joy to you, like reading, and understand and validate yourself, that is enough. The world has over seven billion people in it. It’s impossible for everyone to have someone understand them, and the truth is, no-one really understands or truly validates anyone; we’re all trapped inside our own universes, filtering the world through our own minds; we’re all extraordinarily unique, and some part of us will always be a secret to other people.

Even the people who you see fitting in, laughing cheerfully and happily, have moments when they are alone and they feel as if no-one in the whole world truly understands everything that goes on inside their heads. As INFPs, we are just aware of this alienation a little more keenly than other people, and because often we are markedly different from the majority, the loneliness and lack of validation is compounded. And besides, sometimes, we don’t even understand ourselves! Being human is funny like that. It’s all a grand mystery, and we’re stuck right in the middle of it.

I truly hope this helps you in some way, even if only a little, and I would love to hear how you are as time goes on. Take care. You are not alone in your suffering.

Love,

Dreamerrambling

If you have a question yourself – or perhaps a lament – you can write a comment, or send a message to my email, dreamerrambling@hotmail.com.

I can’t promise that it will get answered (sometimes questions overlap; sensitive and shy people tend to struggle with similar problems) on this blog, but I always make a point to try and reply a private message to every email I receive.

Perhaps I could make this Q&A a weekly sort of thing – it feels so grown-up and professional! – what do you think?

I do love helping people with their problems; it makes me feel like I am doing my part to ease suffering in the world even though I don’t have wherewithal to tackle big issues like starvation yet. There is so much suffering in the world, and if I dwell too long on that fact, I can’t function, so I try my best to focus on what I can do. Tears don’t help anyone; action does.

If it weren’t for my anxiety, I think I would have loved to be a counselor, though perhaps the sort of counselor who heals people through words or talks over the phone rather than in person. I’m better at solving other people’s problems rather than my own, which is both funny and sad, like so many things in life. Well, it’s always a possibility, even if it seems an impossibility at the moment — obstacles are also funny like that.

I love all of you. I love humanity, and I love people (at least from afar; I like watching people a thousand times more than I like talking to them) – it’s just there’s a lot of good mixed in with the bad, and the negative is often harder to ignore than the positive. Just yesterday there was an article in the news about a teenager inculcated with terrorist ideologies who shot a civilian near police headquarters in Sydney, and the dark cloud of that event still has not left me. It’s frightening, on a personal level, and it’s saddening. I will never understand why people hurt, kill, torture, exploit. Never.

PS:

Edgar would like to communicate to everyone the following message:

“Words are stronger than swords.”

It’s true, in a sense, I guess. Words can change minds, which changes lives, which then changes the world. But I do think some people in the world respond better to a knife at their throat than an appeal from thousands of suffering people – don’t you?

INFPs And Earning A Living

money

Sometimes, I feel as though asking a monkey to build a Ferris Wheel using only banana peels would have a higher success rate than finding an occupation INFPs feel comfortable in – apart from, of course, the quintessential “I want to be a writer” spiel that sends parents all over the world into heart attacks at the kitchen table. Our personality perfectly predisposes us to the task – imaginative, creative, with a natural love for words, for thinking and pondering and spending great periods of time alone – and it’s been a firm belief of mine for a while that a great deal of the books in the world were written by INFPs.

When it comes to making money, however, we seem to hit a wall, against which most of us will beat our fists at for a great deal of our adulthood. I, myself, even if I did not have the anxiety and sensory issues preventing me from pursuing a traditional pathway for the time being, find it terribly difficult to slot myself into the machine. I think there a few reasons for this. One is that we are free-spirited creatures – occasionally a little too free-spirited. This not only spurs us to rebel against authority and tradition, it has other darker sides: procrastination, never committing to anything, flitting through life thinking we are free when in truth we are only sabotaging ourselves by not following a schedule and working steadily month after month in order to become an expert in whatever field we have chosen. But most of all, this means that the thought of someone – be it the government, or a teacher, or boss – monopolizing our time, forcing us to spend our days as they see fit in order to earn “money” we see all too clearly as being a sham, just paper collectively agreed to possess value, doesn’t sit right with us. In fact, it sits so very poorly that sometimes the necessity of earning a living in this world feels like a noose around our neck, tightening by the day.

Though some among us do end up making a living as writers, most of us do not have that privilege, at least not yet, and must “clock in the hours”. Thus, we end up in three possible situations. One is where we work at a tedious and usually stressful job that takes a toll on our hearts and our mind while pursuing our interests, like writing, or philosophizing, in our spare time. Another is that we end up dependent on others to keep a roof over our heads and food in our stomachs, as is the case with my life right now, living with my mother despite having reached adulthood this year and struggling with some psychological and sensory issues. The final situation is a compromise: we find something in our daily jobs to love, such as the connection or bonds formed with customers, and thus find ourselves able to bear it even if the other tasks involved in the job make us want to tear our eyes out. There is, in fact, a fourth scenario, which is that we end up homeless, extravagant little hippies living out of the back of caravans or in cars, and on the dole (if we’re lucky), despite the deep well of kindness in our hearts and our high intelligence.

However, none of these situations – and I am sure I don’t have to point out that the last is particularly unpleasant – are ideal, and sometimes not even tolerable. First, working at a job that wears away at your soul is going to have consequences, ranging from chronic fatigue syndrome, depression and panic attacks. Make no mistake: you are going to be miserable, and most likely bored out of your mind. Look, we’re quiet creatures who are energized by solitude and quiet contemplation – and most jobs either require extensive contact with people or are stressful, filled with phone calls and paperwork. Depending on someone for your livelihood can be just as miserable, and I speak this from experience. For one, you be plagued by skin-peeling guilt almost every second of the day for not financially contributing to the household and gradually see yourself as a useless, lazy excuse of a human being, even if you suffer from mental issues or have been unable to find or hold down a job due to your natural introversion or inability to tolerate workplaces. Our independence is also important to us, and it is impossible to feel independent if someone else is paying the bills for you – or, in my case, buying the groceries and even helping me borrow my library books. What’s more, INFPs need to be occupied in personally fulfilling work at all times, regardless of whether it brings in an income or not, which is why, although I do not have a job, I am taking free online courses and pretending writing is a full-time job (your imagination can do wonders for fixing your procrastination issues! A favourite of mine is to pretend I am in jail, and all I have is a laptop without internet, or a pencil and paper, in order to get myself writing). As for holding a job we acclimatise ourselves to, teasing out the good parts while tolerating the bad, well, once again, eventually, it takes a toll. Homelessness is the worst option of the lot, though living in a caravan or a car, if you do not struggle with any mental issues, can be, depending on your personal tastes, a viable method of existence.

Compounding this problem is the fact that our natural skills and abilities are not prized by the modern workforce, and are sometimes even liabilities rather than assets. We are highly empathetic, highly independent, highly scatter-brained, highly idealistic, highly imaginative, highly melancholy and highly introverted – almost the exact antithesis of the kind of person society values: extroverted, charismatic, charming, bold, a go-getter, cheerful, good social skills. All we have really going for us is our creativity and writing skills – hence why so many of us gravitate towards writing as a possible career path – but, as we all know, getting good at writing takes time, and you often need to support yourself in other ways as you build up your skills. So basically, what you have is a group of people who are creative, philosophical, sensitive and kind who find themselves without a place to call home in the world.

Granted, some INFPs do end up landing in jobs which are the right fit for them, such as roles in non-profit organisations perhaps involving writing, or as a freelance writers – but they’re rare, and those INFPs who are successful today in a field they enjoy often went through similar struggles due to their personality type before they hit their sweet spots. So what do we do? Where is this elusive home that everyone else seems to find and for which we seem to be forever seeking?

It’s different for every INFP, but I believe that our only true homes are our own minds and imaginations, the one place in the entire universe where we can be entirely free – yet another reason why writing is so natural an activity for us. What this means, however, is that anything which exists beyond the boundaries of your mind – basically, the rest of the world – will never live up to your expectations, and never satisfy you (this is true for everybody, on some level).

Thus, the only solution to living the life we want (once again, not applicable to all INFPs) is to find a way to live inside our minds as much as possible, where we are the happiest and often find the greatest fulfillment. Now, there are probably people out there who will disagree with this conclusion, because it seems to suggest that INFPs should, instead of going out there and truly “living”, retreat into their imaginations and escape reality. But they do not understand that it is only in the realms of our mind do we feel truly free and happy, nor the joy wandering through the labyrinth of our own thoughts brings us. The true reason why we find it so hard to find a place in this world is because we are internal rather than external creatures; we are organisms of the mind and the heart, rather than the body. Therefore, as dreamers, centering ourselves more in the mind and the heart, where we naturally feel the most comfortable, is the truest path to happiness.

I don’t know exactly what you would find most fulfilling – it doesn’t have to be writing, not all INFPs are natural-born writers or love writing, we’re all different – but chances are, it’s connected to the heart or the mind in some way, in that it is something that engages your creativity, imagination, and natural empathy for other living creatures. As long as you make sure whatever you are doing comes from either of those two spiritual organs, you’re on the right path.

The good thing is that your mind and your heart can be engaged no matter what task you are doing or where you are in life. If you are working at a job you dislike that burns your soul a little more with each day that passes, then use your imagination to free yourself. Escape during meetings, while waiting in line for the photocopier; it will be enjoyable, and make the time fly by much faster whilst also exercising your creativity. This will be easier if your job does not involve much higher-order thinking. Pretend you are a djinn, forced to do tasks for your unbending master, trapped by shackles made of crisp dollar notes. You can also use work time, as surreptitiously as possible, to write, or engage in whatever task that fulfill you. For example, write on used office sheets, or finish the work you do very quickly and write during the rest of the time while pretending to be doing company work. Be creative: write in office diaries, on Post-It Notes. It’s not unscrupulous – much of the workforce is set up to waste your time on meaningless, dull tasks just to spool some extra numbers into your bank account and keep you occupied, and if it’s possible for you to find a loophole, a rambling little path away from the highway, then, by all means, take it. No matter what your situation is, use your creativity to try and make life fulfilling for you, while still allowing you to keep a roof over your head.

For those of you who are unemployed and on the dole, living in caravans or cars, or dependent on another for food and shelter, the same principle applies. Just because you don’t have a proper “job” doesn’t mean you can’t keep yourself busy. It’s easy for INFPs to fall into procrastination and laziness, as we’re easily distracted by anything that flies by our way, and, with the Internet, the air is now filled with swarms of interesting flying things. Reading books is much easier than writing them; thinking about philosophy much easier than putting philosophical concepts into practice; imagining a flourishing garden easier than getting your hands dirty and planting one. Often for us, like most people, the more time we have, the more we squander it. So don’t. If you’re not in traditional employment, make sure you are still constantly engaged in productive and meaningful tasks, whether that is writing, or reading up books on Psychology, building your own freelance writing business, planting some spring onions in pots along the grimy windowsill of your caravan – anything other than being idle and wasting your time. Doing so will also help beat back the guilt that will swamp you for not working and contributing to society, because technically you are working, working very hard indeed, only you are not being paid for it yet.

Also, I would recommend you try and save your money and not purchase unnecessary items – not only will it help the environment, but the less money you spend, the more money you save, and the more money you save, the more freedom you will have. Don’t eat out, buy second-items and less-processed foods, save up for items that truly contribute to your well-being like books. This shouldn’t be particularly difficult, as most of us are quite content with very little, and have little desire for extravagances or luxuries. Pinching pennies doesn’t make you a cheapskate – it makes you smart, and environmentally aware. Consumption in the world is at an all-time high, flushing the environment with our toxins and wastes, and the consumerism model of a constant cycle of using and discarding just isn’t sustainable in the long-term. Besides, the best things in life, like friendship, literature and the imagination, are free, anyway.

What’s more, the more money people like us have, the better of a world it will be, because, being kind folks, we’re more likely than any other group of people to donate to charities and help people if we have the resources to. If more of the world’s wealth and power was concentrated in the hands of INFPs (unfortunately most of us only seem to make our fortunes through artistic fields, like writing and film-making, notorious for their low entry-rates), there would be less suffering on Earth. Take J.K Rowling, for instance, a famous INFP – she is no longer a billionaire because she gave away so much of her money. In that sense, we almost have an obligation to try and accumulate as much wealth as possible (out of all MBTI types, we tend to earn the least due to our natural skill sets – bankers earn more than psychologists – so it’s a tough call), to the best of our abilites, in order to help the people who need help, rather than let wealth pile up in the bank accounts of the greedy, selfish and less philanthropic, where it sits there, an untapped resource, doing nothing and helping no-one.

There are no easy answers, but armed with our hearts and our minds, our imagination, creativity and kindness, we can fight back, and carve out lives true to ourselves and make the world a better place in the process. We are often intelligent and discerning, able to see easily into the workings of society, the shams of the modern-day world (the crowning jewel of which is the economic system), yet powerless to change the terrible things we see, and often the most oppressed group of people by the system itself. You are not alone, however; a small percentage though we may make of the world population, we do actually number in the millions if you take the total world population into account. So, in reality, there are millions of good people, idealists and dreamers, INFPs, out there, who all feel alone, and like they are the only pure and good souls in the world, the last moral bastions of society, when it’s just that we’re a little spread-out – and it is this dispersal that reduces our power.

With the Internet, however, that no longer has to be the case. It’s cliché, I know, but it’s true: alone, we are weak; together we are strong, stronger than our wildest dreams. Can you imagine what it would be like if we formed a global network of INFPs through the internet, leveraging our combined strength to help each other and do good in the world? INFPs are, in essence, an untapped resource of kindness in humanity, and have been up, until now, being soft, shy, retiring, unseen, brushed under the carpet, our voices drowned out by louder ones. You must stay strong – for yourself, for other INFPs, and for the world (and really, when I say “INFPs”, I am in actuality referring to anyone who is extraordinarily kind and idealistic; the MBTI just allows us to find like-minded people more easily). Take heed my advice on making money so you will be able to survive in society whilst maintaining your sanity. I will do my part, continually honing my writing skills so that one day, when I am a published and established writer, I will be able to leverage my economic and social power to help you, to help any suffering people in the world, and to help and bring joy to as many human beings as I can over the course of my life. That is what making money means for INFPs: to allow us to survive so we can seek personal fulfillment and improve the world.

If you need any help or support in life, no matter what the issue is, please feel free to contact me at dreamerrambling@hotmail.com. In the past, I’ve not been the best at replying to emails on time, but these days I am making a conscious effort to check it more often, and to try and reply to every message that I receive, especially from INFPs who are struggling. Please, however, do not be disheartened if it takes a few days. You are NEVER alone; every single INFP existing in the world today, including myself, suffers along with you, and understands you. Let us support each other, and, in doing so, support the world.