The INFP type is said to "lead with authenticity", and while that might be good for personal relationships, it doesn't always translate to the business world. Individual self-expression is in fact a business risk; you might love your Hey Arnold tattoo, but showing it to potential clients up front can risk alienating those who do not like or have never seen Hey Arnold. Therefore, people, in order to get along in a job where they have to interact with and sell crap to a huge number of people, tend to repress their creative self-expressive impulses, which doesn't sit well with the INFP, who wants to be true to her heart. So how do we as INFPs strike a balance between wanting to work, wanting to make good and meaningful contributions to society, and not wanting to pretend to be someone we're not, or to become some boring, interchangeable suit?
1. Creative Writing
It's not surprising that many great writers, including J.R.R. Tolkien and J.K. Rowling, are INFP. INFPs tend to, even at an early age, escape to fantasy. They like exploring concepts for alternative worlds where the impossible is not only possible, but a concrete part of reality. Their stories are compelling for this reason; they tend to imagine worlds and situations that, while being impossible, seem real while we're immersed in them, like the way dreams work. It's hard to turn a passion for writing, especially the speculative fiction INFPs like, into commercial success, but this is part luck and part never giving up on it. Just keep writing and keep trying and maybe you'll hit the stardom other INFP authors have enjoyed. It wouldn't hurt to do a bit of research into the process of self-publishing, for that, I recommend a book called APE.
2. Music and Art
I put these together because, while the tools for expression is different, they are driven by similar feelings. Many great musicians and artists were or are INFPs. INFPs tend to be highly creative, but also conflicted between their desire to get their message out to many people and their various social inhibitions. If they're very introverted, art or music or whatever they have a natural inclination to do becomes an indirect method of communication for their innermost thoughts and feelings. Adopting a "stage persona" as a musician would not necessarily feel inauthentic or fake to them, the persona would be a reflection of their deep, true self (which is why Marilyn Manson is speculated, but not confirmed, to be INFP or INFJ). However, other musicians believed to be INFP, like John Lennon and Kurt Cobain, did not create stage personas, not wanting to hide themselves beneath any sort of mask. If the mask is their creation, part of their self expression, and therefore more authentic, they wear it, if not, they do not. In music, creative writing, and art alike, INFPs seem to have a lot of gift for vision and fantasy. They don't just write catchy pop tunes, they make concept albums. They don't just create a nice-looking corporate logo, they create a painting that captures some important aspect of human existence, or reflects a philosophical concept. That is why, if creativity and artistic merit can be measured objectively at all, INFPs are usually likely to come out on top. Like with writing, the problems are associated with making money; a dream, a vision, is a financial risk. Anything truly creative is always going to be seen as a financial risk because it's not following the tried-and-true methods of making money, it's not following the beaten path. We need things like that in society that shake up the status quo, but it's difficult to get financial backing for things that want to do that. With music and art, all you can really do is work your ass off at your "hobby", and get a day job you can pay the bills with until you get a break and your talent becomes more recognized. Some people never do become famous, but I would advise focusing on improving your work and staying true to your vision.
3. Psychology and Counseling
While Carl Gustav Jung is only believed to be INFP, Isabelle Meyers, pioneer psychologist behind the MBTI test itself, actually tested as an INFP. For INFPs the field of psychology is appealing. It draws the hidden, spiritual, and creative aspects of ourselves toward a sense of purpose, that connects us with others in a real way. Probably drawn more to counseling than research, the INFP is not as interested in the cold logic of experiments as they are in helping people better their lives. If interested in research, it's only because the INFP is only on a personal quest to better their understanding of humanity. They're likely to break with tradition and question what their mentors or books or psychological institutions teach them, creating their own novel, maverick approaches to understanding and helping people with psychological problems.
4. Philosophy and the Humanities
While these kinds of careers are limited to museums, academia, and other educational institutions, the pursuit of knowledge in philosophy and the humanities is an important part of every INFP's intellectual life. For example, possible INFP Jung was influenced by mythology, world religions, and art. He strove to find that which was universal to the human experience, reflecting of a deeper shared inner world we all have as humans, which he called the collective unconscious. Many INFPs are sort of "Renaissance Man" types, who like to study a variety of academic disciplines with the intention of discovering a higher truth permeating all of them. This desire to form "big picture" ideas makes them drawn to, and good at, philosophy, history, archaeology, anthropology, and sociology.
5. Religious Leadership
Although organized religion is not very appealing to the INFP sense of independence and individuality, ministry is a career often chosen by them. An INFP is often interested in theological philosophy, meaning they'll enjoy their time in seminary discussing God, heaven, angels, miracles, and religious tradition. But they also want to help people and are known to be good listeners, making them not only good as religious leaders, but also as pastoral counselors or spiritual advisers. The INFP religious leader is more like the remote guru than fire-and-brimstone preacher, but the passion for their cause is the same. For some people, monastic life would be hell, but for some INFPs a cloistered calling is their idea of paradise. For one, every INFP wants to live a life that is authentically in accordance with their values, and not corrupted by capitalistic demands. Even secular INFPs are likely to try to live like religious hermits if they can, or to live very simply and purely, devoted to their passions and beliefs. They don't hunger for material possessions or strive to increase productivity, instead, their definition of success tends to be in line with religious beliefs about success, that it's about helping make the world a better place.
So, like I said in my earlier hub about INFPs and success, we tend to have an uneasy relationship with the commercial world as spiritual, independent, creative people. But that doesn't mean we're worthless or that there are not careers for us. In fact, I would argue that there are professions that are very necessary to humanity that we are needed for. Vision and creativity always have their place in society, even if they are hard sometimes to get financial backing for. Never give up on whatever it is you feel compelled to do. Namaste.
email@example.com from upstate, NY on April 19, 2017:
As an INFP myself, it may be a good idea to try my hand at creative writing. So far I've only written on political and religious subjects.