Hi there, I'm an INFP who recently graduated in June this year, and I have been battling anxiety regarding choosing a career since high school probably. In my junior year of college, I honestly knew I was going to have this unsettled feeling post grad. I love art, photography, music, traveling, reading, and writing. I've pretty much only had jobs working with children and older people in care settings (home, preschool, etc.). I've found that I enjoyed being a caregiver because I get to develop a close bond with a family or older person, and that I am not supervised or have someone on my back 24/7. Applying to jobs and interviewing is tough for me as it's hard to talk about my qualities and put my best self forward. 

With regard to what I want out of life, I wanted to someday get married to my boyfriend, be able to start a family, travel, and have a career that I love. But I always seem to feel like this is too much to ask for? I am in the process of getting ready to apply for Master's OT programs, but I'm struggling to be confident in this decision. I love to help others and think I would like being in a non-medical profession, while still having patients. No matter who I talk to, how many youtube videos I watch, how much I research I do, and how many grad school info sessions I go to, my heart is just not totally sold. Thinking outside reality, I'd love to be able to travel and take photographs, or come up with an amazing, successful business idea, but those things are out of reach.

After looking through many posts from other INFP's, it seems like we struggle with the ability to choose a job and stick to it, make decisions in general, and struggle with how we evaluate ourselves and others evaluate us in our occupations. I struggle with criticism, even though I may really want to improve. Sometimes my shyness and anxiety just really get in the way. If anyone could offer any advice about working through these emotions, I'd so appreciate it!


Shawna Huntley (not verified) says...

  • Dear June graduate, congratulations on your graduation!  You have much to be excited about and to look forward to!  And yet you feel anxiety and uncertainty about what lies ahead for you.  Anxiety is what we feel when we out of alignment with who we truly are.  Inside all of us is a deep knowing of who we are and what we most desire - it's born within us.  When we get caught up in listening to the world around us and we tune the inner knowing out, we begin walking a path that doesn't honor who we are.  We're busy trying to please others.  So naturally, we feel out of sync with who we are.  We find outselves doing things and interacting with people that we don't often relate to.  All the while, we know deep within our being that we're in the wrong place.  You stated above that you love to travel and take photographs.  You also stated that to do that would be thinking outside reality.  I respectfully disagree dear friend.  You've come to believe it's outside reality because this is what our world often tells us.  We're supposed to put aside our dreams and get a job that will pay the bills.  But the truth is, we weren't born to pay the bills.  We were born to step into the newness of life and explore all that we most desire.  We were born to also follow our heart and not just our head.  We were born to live our own life, not the life others say we should.  So let go of that notion that to travel and take beautiful photographs is outside of reality.  For you, it would be pure joy.  And when a human being feels joy, there is no room for anxiety.  So follow your joy and follow your heart.  They know the way.  Put the Master's OT on hold until you're feeling certain about it - until you're feeling joyful about it.  And one last comment, you are enough.  Never again concern yourself with this fear of measuring up to the worlds standards of what is success.  Success is unique to each of us.  If you follow your inner compass, you'll always find success.  You'll feel excited about your life!  Find a way dear friend.  You can do it.  You've already accomplished so much.  You can definitely do it!  I believe in you.  


Heather L (not verified) says...

Ahhh, the struggles of INFPs to find satisfaction in career & daily work choice- you're not alone!  Sounds like you're on the right track in your journey though, asking good questions and evaluating your motivations.  I think you'll find many valuable resources are available to help guide you in these decisions, such as sites such as Truity as well as friends and family and other sources.

As to your question regarding "is this too much to ask for?"  Nope, I don't think it's unrealistic at all, but also bear in mind that career paths can be varied from one person to the next...so anytime you're feeling stuck, take some time to evaluate why you're feeling like that.  There are short term goals, mid term goals, and long term goals, and all of these add up to a picture of your dreams for your life.  Dare to dream big!

There are not any easy answers, but keep searching, because one day the light bulb will click and you'll feel like you're headed in the right direction with your choices.  As an INFP myself, I've shared your college and post degree experience of questioning what to do for the 'next job.'  It's not uncommon to dislike applying to jobs and interviewing, and definitely easy to be hard on oneself, but each job you land will give you something else you can take away from it and somethings you can learn from. 

Don't put too much emphasis on criticism- it's often hard to take because we can have such a tendency to be hard on ourselves, and take criticism to heart.  Learning strategies to cope with criticism is helpful, even sometimes asking someone for constructive criticism if you preface it by asking them to be GENTLE when they deliver it.

I think most of all, don't think you need to figure it all out at the beginning- you can take baby steps towards where you want to be, learn many helpful things along the way, have AWESOME hobbies on the side, and eventually find your niche in the world in something that you like doing.  Best wishes for your journey!

Genavelle (not verified) says...

Hi, sorry I'm a little late here!

I went to Community College straight after high school, because I had absolutely no idea what to do with my life. In my honors program there, we all took a personality test and thoroughly learned about each personality type. I remember reading that the INFP type (which I am as well) struggles with career decisions, and that it is important for INFPs to remember that basically your career choice doesn't have to be permanent. I think this especially struck home with me, because my mom had one career her entire life...But that advice has really helped me to remember that there are always possibilities out there. My job right now is not my long-term goal, and it's good to know that I CAN switch to something else. Is switching an entire career easy? No, but the point is that it's not impossible. Don't feel like you have to make a decision right now and be stuck with it forever- you can always try something new.

INFPs also really value their values...So I think it's important to think about your own personal values when deciding on a career. 

From your post, I'd say you should probably stick with your plan of continuing school, and wherever that's taking you. You can always travel and do photography as hobbies, and you've got your whole life ahead of you to come up with that awesome business idea. Just because you keep on the school path doesn't mean these other doors close; they're still open for you to explore. And I'd encourage you to keep exploring them. Since INFPs seem to have trouble picking and sticking to a career, I think it's extra important for us to have good hobbies. Hobbies are a way for you to do more in life than just your job...And maybe in the future, you can turn a hobby into a new career.


louise_lu (not verified) says...

Hi there my dear, well done for everything you have done so far!

I was a design post-graduate 20 years ago and after that my world fell apart as I struggled SO hard to keep my career in my chosen subject alive. It collapsed, even though I was successful and was travelling all over the world becuse I felt too confined by my job. I dropped out and became a homeschooling mum instead, which allowed me to continue to nurture my passion for learning whilst caring for my children. I really understand how you feel and you are lucky that you are paying attention to your 'unsettled feelings' now when you are still young and the world is your oyster. It seems to me that you are feeling unsure of the fact that you have to choose a career path when you seem to want to stay flexible and free and have opportunities to travel, find out about the world, take photos, write about what you experience and eventually settle down to have a family. I know how hard it is to stay true to these feelings when it seems so much easier just to find a career, get a job and stick with it. But for INFPs that can be a fate worse than death (so to speak) !

I found the book 'Refuse to Choose' by Barbra Sher MOST useful, she has labelled people like us 'Scanners' - people who love to dip in and out of many, many interesting and novel things in life and have a hard time settling down to do just one thing. It may be a case that you never have a lightbulb moment and you never find the 'right' career path because so many things interest you; INFPs deal in the currency of new ideas and possibilities all the time, so it is in our nature to move quickly from one thing to the next, making it extremely hard to settle into making a decision about taking any one definitive path. You can use this to your advantage though, by staying 'unconventional'. There are many, many companies out there who need skills like this, so why would it not be possible to go off for a year and travel with your boyfriend and soak up all that life has to offer? If you find a cause that you are passionate about on your travels you could report on it in a blog or write/photograph for magazines, even newspapers or other online sites, who knows where that may lead - onto other more exicting projects perhaps? There are thousands of people who have turned their unique and unconventional lifstyles into offbeat and successful careers and stayed flexible throughout it all (and raised families).

I would say (from experience) that the key with INFPs is to stay somewhat 'in the dark' about what they are going to 'do' in life and let events unfold organically and easily without much of a long term plan. Feel your way and trust in the process and you will find that amazing things will happen to you.

I'm certain of it ;-)

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