“This is Sophia. I want you to be nice to her.” And with that, the teacher walked off, leaving me sitting awkwardly with a group of girls who already knew my name and didn’t need to be told. After a moment of unsettling silence, the girls went back to their discussion about some computer game, and I, against my teacher’s orders, slyly opened my book beneath the cafeteria table and dived back into the story.
I’d always struggled to engage with other girls my age, instead preferring the company of my books and my own thoughts. This is a common experience for many young introverts. As a female INTJ, though, experiences like this one sent an all-too-clear message to my young mind: I wasn’t being a girl in the “right” way.
My teachers treated my desire to be alone as a problem to be solved, but it wasn’t just that I wanted to be alone. It was forming friendships with the other girls that was the problem. When I had to socialize, it was almost exclusively boys I chose to spend time with, a common decision for many INTJ girls. This solution, it seems, didn’t satisfy my teachers, who went out of their way to encourage me to spend more time with girls, a strategy which succeeded only in exacerbating my discomfort.
Mystery Solved: My INTJ Personality
For as long as I can remember, I’ve exhibited, shall we say, “masculine” qualities. The way I speak is direct and to the point. I deal better with cold, hard facts and information than with “touchy-feely” talk or emotions. I tend to be far more interested in abstract ideas than people. In school, I excelled at math and physics, but struggled with even simple artistic assignments.
From a young age, it was made clear to me that this was not typical for girls: I was supposed to enjoy playing dress-up, making arts and crafts, and be naturally sensitive to others. I was failing to deliver, to say the least.
Why did I feel so different from the other girls? What was it about me that never seemed to click into place with them?
Turns out, it was my INTJ personality. I first discovered my Myers-Briggs personality type as a teenager, and I was so thrilled that I read and reread the type’s description for days, amazed that someone had managed to dissect the inner workings of my brain that even I couldn’t put into words. I was relieved (and honestly, a little proud) to finally understand why I never quite fit in.
The INTJ personality type is rare, making up only 2-4 percent of the population. But the INTJ female is thought to be even rarer, comprising only 0.5 to 1 percent of the population. With INFJmales estimated to also be around 0.5 to 1 percent (depending on the source), INTJ females are either one of the rarest or possibly even the rarest gender/type combination.
As a result, INTJ females tend to be different from other women. We can come across as intimidating, mysterious, and strange (even to fellow INTJs). We don’t fit the standards of stereotypical femininity, and we hate being pigeonholed.
(What’s your personality type? Take a free personality assessment.)
Admittedly, though, we can be confusing. Here are five confessions of this female INTJ.
Confessions of a Female INTJ
1. I do have feminine qualities. They just aren’t obvious.
With our combination of dark humor, straightforward communication, and paucity of emotional expression, female INTJs can sometimes come across as so un-feminine that it seems we have no feminine qualities at all. But I do have a feminine side: I love kids and my favorite job has been as a part-time nanny. When the mood strikes me, I’ll even wear makeup.
Additionally, INTJs as a whole (both male and female) have a surprisingly sensitive emotional core, and sometimes we experience embarrassing emotional outbursts that we’d rather not talk about. I might come off as a little “masculine” at times, but I have plenty of feminine qualities, too. You just might not see them until you get to know me.
2. I really appreciate sensitive men.
As a woman who hates being boxed in by stereotypical gender roles, I have a deep appreciation for men who break out of their own roles. Men who are sensitive or “Feeling” personality types (like the INFJ) are my comrades in the same struggle. I have respect for those men who are able to embrace themselves, regardless of what others might think is acceptable for their gender. Plus, my more sensitive guy friends balance out my personality well.
3. Sometimes the ways I show affection don’t seem affectionate.
It’s often not in words or hugs that I express my affection for people. When my friends come to me with an emotional problem (and don’t want to hear a solution), I usually don’t know what to do. Instead, my instinct is to show affection through information. By sharing something that I think they might find helpful or interesting, I’m trying to show that I care. Unfortunately, this may come off as cold or unfeeling, when that’s the opposite of what I intended.
4. I’d rather you compliment my ideas than my clothes.
Being an INTJ can be lonely. Being such a rare type means we don’t often find like-minded people. In any relationship, one of the things INTJs crave the most is an “intellectual soulmate,” someone who appreciates and understands how we think. In other words, we want mutual intellectual respect. The INTJ’s desire for intellectual companionship isn’t understood well by many other types, but it seems especially difficult for female INTJs to find, due to the assumptions many make about women in general.
5. I’m trying to be direct, not rude.
Another struggle common to INTJs is the miscommunication that occurs when someone takes our straightforward way of speaking as cold, insensitive, or even aggressive. We sometimes have to go out of our way to ensure that we don’t come off this way, but, again, this hurdle can be all the more trying for women. The assumption that a woman should come off as sensitive and nurturing makes an INTJ female’s bluntness all the more troubling to people who may quickly judge her as being rude.
If there’s one thing I wish I’d been told as a young INTJ girl, it’s this: It’s okay to be a different kind of woman. There’s nothing wrong with you. I often wish that the adults around me had spent a little more time teaching me to leverage my strengths and a lot less time trying to force me to fit in with other girls. There’s a lot we INTJ women have to offer the world — whether at work or at home — and I think it’s about time that we were allowed to offer it.