Here’s a rough excerpt from one of the chapters in The INFP Book.
“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
For a dreamer, the real world can be a dull and unpleasant place compared to the beauty and visions found within our imagination. For myself, I dislike talking about the nitty-gritty details of daily life. Conversations about finance, chores, and even the news, can be irksome and tiring and are droning sounds to my psyche. Often times, I find myself escaping from such conversations and drifting into a different universe, contemplating and exploring the various thoughts and emotions that run through my stream of consciousness. While I’m in this dream world, everything seems much more ideal and pleasant. It’s also a place where I explore my core values and identity.
For INFPs, we have a direct relationship with our inner world: we explore our innermost passions and values (Fi), through our auxiliary function, extroverted intuition (Ne); our tertiary function, introverted sensing (Si), then archives this inner exploration in the form of memories and dreams. This enables us to have a vivid and detailed recollection of our imagination.
The problem for many INFPs is that our ideals about the world and imagination often conflict with the needs of reality. For other people, they see what we have as a distraction from what’s “important” in life. Unfortunately, many people often don’t understand that our detachment from reality stems from our desire to find inspiration and truth about ourselves and the world. There’s a stigma that’s attached to daydreaming: it makes us seem like unproductive and childlike individuals; when in truth, we are seeking meaning and depth.
As well, even I find that my own imaginations can get too carried away at times, where I struggle to find that right balance between my idealism and reality. There were so many things that I wanted to do: such as starting a philosophy school for children, becoming a lounge pianist at a 5-star hotel, and owning two dogs (at the time when I was young). I was restricted from achieving my many visions because I was inhibited by my reality. Not only did I have too many ideas, it was hard for me to actualize my dreams because I wasn’t always good at being practical.
So, every day it would seem like it’s me vs. the rest of the world. Me vs. reality. It’s an uphill battle to find that right balance between living my dreams and actually making things happen. Sometimes I even find myself surrendering to the demands of reality, settling for a job or a career path that holds little meaning to me, but seems to be the most practical option. And often times I find that I can only go so long slaving away doing something that I’m not passionate about before I run dry and find myself in a ditch. For this reason, it is important that I have that space, that breather where my creativity and imagination can run wild and be expressed freely in order to preserve my mental well-being. To this day, I am forever grateful to have my piano as an outlet and a place for me to express my innermost feelings and thoughts, at times when I feel like I’ve been suffocated by the rest of the world.
You might wonder, why do INFPs have such vivid imaginations? Is there a purpose behind all this? INFPs have an inner flame and a burning desire to reach our potential, to create an impression in this world. For many of us, we don’t only want this to happen in our dreams.
The reason why I devoted this entire section on INFP vs. reality because I’ve noticed a common struggle with INFPs when it comes to finding a way to converge our ideals with reality. Is it possible to find that right balance? Is it possible to be fulfilling while still being an idealist? Absolutely.
In the next few chapters, I’ll share my career journey, and how I found that place where my skills and interests align. But most importantly, I’ll share the lessons that I’ve learned and the thought processes that I’ve gone through to help get me to where I am today.