I’ve recently become interested in personality types and the Myers–Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). After taking several free online tests (16personalities.com has a good one), I’ve discovered I am an INFJ.
INFJ stands for Introversion, iNtuition, Feeling, and Judgement. As opposed to Extraversion, Sensing, Thinking, and Perception. People can be any combination of those eight dichotomies, hence the sixteen personality types.
Knowing your personality type doesn’t really do anything in itself. It can illuminate your strengths and weaknesses and give you some ideas for what careers you may be best suited for, but mainly, knowing your personality type simply gives a name to the behaviors and preferences you already have. It can help you realize, “Oh, that’s why I do this and prefer that.” Or it can guide you in what to avoid and what not to do.
For instance, INFJs tend to get super-focused on one thing, and too many stimuli can be overwhelming. I can relate to that completely, especially in terms of my fiction writing. Some successful writers give the advice to work on multiple projects at a time to prevent from being bored. But I’m the opposite. I need to focus completely on one project at a time. That doesn’t mean the advice was bad. It just means the advice was meant for people with a different personality type. An ESTP writer may need to have multiple projects going at the same time to function properly.
This applies to advice in all areas of life. Each of the sixteen personality types face a particular set of problems. Advice that helps an INFP may not help an INTJ. The most beneficial thing that can come from personality tests is being able to find other people who share your personality type and seek advice from them. It may be the closest thing to asking your older self for advice on what you should’ve done when you were younger (until time travel is invented).
This all isn’t to say you can’t get along with people who are different personality types. In fact, the old adage is often true: opposites attract. Extraverts complement introverts, sensors complement the intuitive, thinkers complement feelers, and the perceptive complement the judgers. All types are needed. And no type is better or worse than another. Each is valuable in its own way.
All my life, I felt so different from other people, like no one truly understood me. The MBTI explains in part why that may be the case. INFJ is the least common of the sixteen personality types, comprising just 1-3% of the population. Whereas in the past, I wished I was more like everyone else, now I take pride in being different. But at the same time, I can search online and find thousands of other INFJs just like me and take comfort in realizing I’m not alone in my differentness.