An INFJ vs. the 21st Century: 4 Modern-Day Trends You Don’t Need to Subscribe To

Do you recognize these 21st-century cultural trends? The INFJ personalities of the world want to remind you that you don’t actually need to subscribe to any of them.
As an INFJ personality type, this resonates with me! It's okay if 21st-century trends rub you the wrong way--you can go against the flow! #INFJ

I used to wonder if I was born in the wrong century.

More than wonder, I wished I was born in another time!

I felt at home in 19th-century London drawing rooms with Dickensian personalities, in the Regency manor homes populated by Jane Austen’s heroines, and on the beautiful Prince Edward Island described by L.M. Montgomery.

While I still love immersing myself in other eras via story, maturity has taught me that God places us exactly where he wants us on Earth’s timeline; he makes no mistakes.

I was born in 1988, and I live in the 21st century.

But that doesn’t mean I have to agree with everything about my era. In fact, there’s a lot about the 21st century that just isn’t me…and might not be you, either.

As an INFJ personality type, I observe. I think it’s fascinating to watch cultural trends unfold. And while they’re interesting, a lot of them rub me the wrong way.

I do think part of my aversion to certain cultural trends is personality type. Maybe part of it is that I’m just contrary. It’s been that way in the past: I’m supposed to pick a minor in college? I’ll take the classes I choose and skip the minor. Strapless wedding dresses are the thing? I’ll have sleeves sewn on my dress, thankyouverymuch.

Regardless of my motivation for questioning norms, I think taking a step back from the mainstream noise is a healthy practice for any personality type. Doing so gives you clarity and a pulse check on why you do the things you do. It might remind you that you need a course correction.

Here are four 21st-century trends you might recognize, and a little reminder from INFJs like me that you don’t have to subscribe to any of them.


The 21st century values vulnerability and baring your soul. We’re encouraged to be “real,” raw, and transparent. Have you noticed that? In our culture the non-fiction bookshelves, blogs, and social media accounts are saturated with confessions, people offering up their deeply personal thoughts and stories for all to see and read.

These authors and speakers and ordinary folks are celebrated for being so “honest.” Raw emotion and painful personal details sell books and attract followers.

Conversely, we INFJs are generally more private people, and we resist the notion that authenticity must come at the cost of privacy. We only share our deepest secrets and dreams with a select few people, and even then we’ll often keep our innermost thoughts to ourselves.

I’m not saying that you shouldn’t be genuine in your interactions with people, but you’re not a shallow person if you choose not to bare the depths of your soul. Please remember that.

Finding, being, and doing the next big thing

Every decade and century probably pushes some form of achievement, but it seems like our era demands that everyone aspire to be a Steve Jobs. We can’t just do well in our vocation–we have to look around for the next up-and-coming niche to jump in to. We have to innovate, take exhilarating risks, and create like no one else. Big dreams are the currency of the day, and supposedly we’re copping out if we don’t shoot for the stars.

Sure, a lot of millennials push back against the pull to climb the career ladder. But what many of us can’t see yet is that we’re now pressured to build our own ladders–and then yes, then climb them, too!

INFJs never go with the flow! Here are the 21st century trends we tend to push back against.

INFJs are not ones to go with the flow, even when cultural trends masquerade as individuality. Our natural tendency to be suspicious puts us on the alert against following messages that don’t actually align with our core values. For myself, I’ve discovered the joy of choosing “less.

Personal happiness and fulfillment

According to the 21st century, it’s imperative that we find our bliss. Apparently, we’re spurning life and robbing ourselves if we don’t make the pursuit of happiness our #1 goal. This preaching to society–especially women–that we deserve a much greater happiness than we’re currently getting in actuality breeds resentment and a dissatisfaction with our everyday, here-and-now life.

Empathetic and compassionate, INFJs will tell you that there is deep fulfillment to be found in caring for the needs of others. We’re a feisty bunch under the surface, but we never see serving others as a weakness when we know it can be one of our greatest strengths.

You can find happiness in a great many places, some of them damaging, but joy always has deeper roots and will see you through darker–or simply more mundane–days.

Creating a tribe

The 21st century urges us to gather other people around ourselves. We’re told that if we want to make a difference in this life, we must have an audience. We must build a platform and stand on it. We must lead. And leadership isn’t just valued, a certain kind of leadership is valued. The kind with big or obvious personality. Maybe a little flashy, entertaining (or at least transparent), and always a little bit louder than all the other voices.

But INFJs know that there are different kinds of leadership, and the quiet people offstage can lead without ever seeming to. The 21st century needs this kind of leadership, too. The leaders who know when to follow, when to listen, observe, and speak up when the time is right.

And please know this, I have no intentions of “building a tribe” with Richly Rooted. While I recognize that some bloggers do an admirable job at this, it’s neither my gifting nor my intention. This isn’t a movement and I’m not your leader. But if we can enjoy thought-provoking, interesting community and conversation together? I’d like that very much.

[question]Every personality type brings valuable insights to the table, and I’d love to hear–what are yours? How do you challenge the times? Do you think you’d be more at home in another century?[/question]

Are you interested in learning more about personality types, or want to find out what yours is? Here’s a really quick test, here’s a more in-depth one, and here are some articles about the 16 types.


  1. Love this! And agree 250% ?. That platform bit. Yeah, I don’t desire it either. Hubby thrives on all of these. I hate em. ? I’m still learning how to be me, and truly be content in it. Even though his dreams involve building the ladder and climbing it too. Your words are a blessing ?

    1. Thank you, Rosetta. And you’re welcome(; Definitely for some people, all (or some) of things these truly are THEM…what makes them come alive and thrive.

  2. Thanks for sharing your thoughts! As a fellow INFJ also born in 1988 (and who used to live in the Birmingham area!), it seems we have a lot in common. 😉

  3. Yep!, that is me! I love being me. I add good things to the world. I also realize that many different types of people/personalities add beauty , variety, to this world.

  4. First please forgive any errors in grammar.
    As a 58 yr old INFJ male this was a wonderful read. Gives me hope.
    Many today see their value in terms of likes rather than who they truly are as an individual. The pressure to conform is huge. But emptiness is the prize when you turn off the computer and you know that no one knows you, and your so called friends are only as good as the compromises that you are willing to make.
    Being alienated from society at large is one thing, but from yourself it is another.
    In days past there was a certain pragmatism that walked with a dreamer or even an outcast. It was called being grounded. And this gave those who listed to dreamer hope as it could be attained and not dismissed as fantasy.
    In reality people today of all ages would rather fight for a cause then their own demons. But if we as a group across all genders, races, and views of any kind fought that fight the world would be what it was meant to be.

  5. I especially love this – I think taking a step back from the mainstream noise is a healthy practice for any personality type. Doing so gives you clarity and a pulse check on why you do the things you do. It might remind you that you need a course correction.

    Most definitely!

  6. My daughter has taken the personality tests and she is an INFJ and she says I seem to be also. I definitely relate to some of this article!! I am going to send it to my daughter also-I bet we will have some awesome conversations about it. 🙂

  7. I’m an INFJ too and completely agree with everything here. I always feel at odds with the times because I don’t want to broadcast my life!

    1. Glad I’m not the only one! I think self-sharing is such a given in our culture these days with social media and whatnot. But I think you can take part in social media (and blogging!) but still maintain your own intentional boundaries. Most people just don’t pause to lay those boundaries out for themselves, though.

  8. As an INFJ born in 1955, I have always felt incredibly out of step with my peers. All (or almost all) of my friends throughout my life have been many, many years older than I. I’ve always felt as though I was born 10 years too late. It’s been difficult to truly find my authentic self and maintain it in this crazy culture. Thank you for the encouraging words!

    1. You’re very welcome. Writing this blog (and connecting with like-minded readers) is one of the things that helps me stay grounded and true in this culture that doesn’t always fit me. Glad to have you stop by!

  9. Hi,
    Great article. Going through a bit of reflection during this time of a global pandemic. Learning the value of a slower, simpler life lived quietly in the presence of God.

    Grateful for your point (in summary), not to let yourself get caught up in someone else’s agenda.

    I took the rest you have linked. Turns out, I’m also INFJ
    Thanks again.

    1. Oh, it’s good to meet another INFJ! This pandemic has been giving me lots of impetus for reflection, too. I think we should absolutely use this time for re-calibrating our priorities.

  10. You know elsie, I was very happy to read this article of yours. I too sometimes feel like I am born in the wrong age. I just cant adjust to the current notions of “modernity and progress”. The length of clothes that one puts on is equated to progressive and modern mindset . people who love simplicity and originality are thought of as either primitive or regressive or old fashioned. Loyalty, commitment and simplicity have become extraordinarily rare. You have nicely pointed out that god puts us exactly in the right age. The reason could be that nature wants a few people to just stop, reflect and offer a new direction to this busy and trendy world. I dont know if you have faced this problem but many a times I find it extremely difficult to explain my position and my understanding to others. May be because people have got so accustomed to following trends that they feel that those who dont do it are not advanced or progressive. I long for a meaningful and deep conversation but I hardly get anyone to do so with. Shallow thinking gives people greater joy , I guess . Because reality is too hard to digest and only thinkers believe in seeing the things as they are and not in make over or ostentatious presentations.
    Even while finding a girl for myself I am facing great issues. Any girl I talk to exhibits such shallowness that I feel like giving up this idea of finding a girl. Its so difficult to find a girl who would think in the manner you do. May be a little reserved, reflective, observant and thinker girls have become extremely rare. I am not sure but I observe this. I actually wanted to find reason for it and this is how I ran into your article. Happy to read it.
    I measure modernity in terms of profoundness a man has acquired in his thinking, his ability to appreciate the beauty of nature and the depth in his understanding …Do you perceive modernity in same manner?

    1. Hitesh, you wrote this awhile ago so I’m not sure you will see my reply, but it was such a thoughtful comment that I wanted to thank you and respond! I love what you said about the world needing a few people who can “stop, reflect and offer a new direction to this busy and trendy world.” Absolutely. I love being one of those people…and I love when other people are that TO me, because I can get swept up in those currents of trends, too! I also need those “old-fashioned” voices in my life, and that’s one of the reasons I love reading old books. Getting in the mind and setting of people decades and centuries ago offers me more perspective on our own modern times.

      I also empathize with your longing for good, deep conversations. I especially felt the lack of those when I was in junior high and high school. Most of the people my age could only talk about celebrities or how “dumb” their teachers were. I hated all the shallowness but like you said, it was as if people didn’t even know *how* to talk any differently, because they were so used to those ruts. Thankfully, things got much better in college. I went to a Christian liberal arts school known for quality academics, and suddenly there were so many thoughtful people to talk to that we talked…for hours at a time! Since college, the deepest conversations come through relationships I’ve built with people in my church, as well as with my husband, parents, and siblings. And since I’ve seen over and over that these rich conversations (outside my family) are coming primarily through my church, it’s made me realize that maybe there’s a prerequisite to being able to have these deep friendships, and that is a deeply-held, shared belief. In my situation, it’s our shared belief in what we think is the most important thing in the universe: God. Of course, there are plenty of shallow people (or seemingly shallow people) in churches, but I guess we’ve lucked out there(: We’ve always gravitated towards smaller churches that aren’t flashy, but where people are willing to spend quality time together, not just attend church events to be entertained!

      Anyway, I’m probably rambling a bit, but my point is–go to places where people will share those deeply-rooted things in common with you, and that’s where the conversations are more probable to happen. If nature is one of the most important things to you, seek out hiking groups or conservationist volunteering, for instance. Keep looking til you find your people, because they ARE out there, including a soulmate who relishes thinking, talking, and living deeply! Be patient, and don’t settle. You will find her!

  11. Elsie, this post jumped out at me today and has me wondering how I missed it 7 years ago (I was much more regular in my visits back then!). Wonderful post. We INFJs aren’t attracted to all the shiny things and don’t need all the bells and whistles or to be in the limelight.

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