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HELP: Why can't I find happiness as an INTP? I feel like I'm doing everything I'm supposed to.

1253 Views 46 Replies 12 Participants Last post by  Necrofantasia
I'm a 21 year old college male in the U.S. who has been trying to do everything over the past four years to correct for my INTP shortcomings. I came into college highly introverted and socially inept and have been doing all the classic INTP self-help tips to be more social and driven. In many ways, I've embraced my ENTJ shadow, which seems to be a lot more valued in society.

I joined a fraternity to improve my social skills, learn social mannerisms (my parents never really bothered to teach me American manners), and make friends, whipped my body into amazing shape, improved my dress sense and taste, and having an amazing job lined up post-graduation. My motivation was not to social climb or improve my career prospects, but to find genuine happiness through meaningful connections to other people. However, despite having overcome the main INTP shortfalls (not leaving your room, avoiding human contact, being inconsistent, etc), I still can't find any lasting happiness. My parents were immigrants and they couldn't teach me anything about navigating American society, so I had to painfully learn it all on my own.

From the outside, I appear successful and on the right track, but I'm despairing at this point since despite doing everything I was told to do to correct my shortcomings, I'm still miserable. Not even volunteering for community projects nor my normal hobbies has made me happy. Most of my friendships feel fleeting and insubstantial, although I have a handful of close genuine friendships, and despite having hooked up in college, I can't find a girl to form a lasting relationship with. If I try to be genuine, my INTP traits (being curious about things they don't deem important, etc) turn them off, and if I try to act like a typical college dude, I can't keep the act up for long. I hate the advice "Just be yourself" so much because no one really wants you to be yourself as an INTP male it seems - guess that's just for ESTJ/ENTJ/ESTP males. It's not like I'm just chasing sorority girls either - I'm either too fratty for the nerdier girls or too nerdy for partier crowd.


I've been on this forum many times for advice on various issues I've mentioned here and I'm grateful for the responses, but I can't seem to be happy no matter how many band-aids I apply. My current social circle is a mix of my fraternity friends and my nerdier friends so I don't think changing my social circles will be fix everything. I'm in need of radical life advice because I can't do this for much longer. I can't wait to graduate and work at a job where my Ti-Ne is actually valued instead of dismissed. Any help is appreciated.
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I don’t have a lot of time and I may revisit this later but your post reads an awful lot like you’re compensating and/or covering up something about your true self and I just think it’s something to ponder.
You “only” need a few good friends, meaningful job and meaningful connection with partner to be happy. It’s very simple, and complicated.

Intp I know who managed to do this lives by the principle of orthogonality: everything is separated for him. Job is job, friends in separate circle, partner in 3rd circle (he met her in college, 10 years together so far). I don’t know if she is a meaningful connection but it works for them.

Ti-Ne for him wasn’t valued until middle 30s (in job). “Valued “ = recognition in others point of view. Maybe you can do it sooner, but I think it’s necessary that intps mature like this, because they start introverted, and later develop people management skills.

The only reason people value this = it is useful for them.

I think you should focus on doing things you like, that interest you, not paying much attention to what others think.

If you are 21, 4 years ago you were 17 - what shortcomings? You still need to create/build yourself, shortcomings are more like when you are 40 and still not happy with some aspects of your life.

I'm a 21 year old college male in the U.S. who has been trying to do everything over the past four years to correct for my INTP shortcomings. I came into college highly introverted and socially inept and have been doing all the classic INTP self-help tips to be more social and driven. In many ways, I've embraced my ENTJ shadow, which seems to be a lot more valued in society.

I joined a fraternity to improve my social skills, learn social mannerisms (my parents never really bothered to teach me American manners), and make friends, whipped my body into amazing shape, improved my dress sense and taste, and having an amazing job lined up post-graduation. My motivation was not to social climb or improve my career prospects, but to find genuine happiness through meaningful connections to other people. However, despite having overcome the main INTP shortfalls (not leaving your room, avoiding human contact, being inconsistent, etc), I still can't find any lasting happiness. My parents were immigrants and they couldn't teach me anything about navigating American society, so I had to painfully learn it all on my own.

From the outside, I appear successful and on the right track, but I'm despairing at this point since despite doing everything I was told to do to correct my shortcomings, I'm still miserable. Not even volunteering for community projects nor my normal hobbies has made me happy. Most of my friendships feel fleeting and insubstantial, although I have a handful of close genuine friendships, and despite having hooked up in college, I can't find a girl to form a lasting relationship with. If I try to be genuine, my INTP traits (being curious about things they don't deem important, etc) turn them off, and if I try to act like a typical college dude, I can't keep the act up for long. I hate the advice "Just be yourself" so much because no one really wants you to be yourself as an INTP male it seems - guess that's just for ESTJ/ENTJ/ESTP males. It's not like I'm just chasing sorority girls either - I'm either too fratty for the nerdier girls or too nerdy for partier crowd.


I've been on this forum many times for advice on various issues I've mentioned here and I'm grateful for the responses, but I can't seem to be happy no matter how many band-aids I apply. My current social circle is a mix of my fraternity friends and my nerdier friends so I don't think changing my social circles will be fix everything. I'm in need of radical life advice because I can't do this for much longer. I can't wait to graduate and work at a job where my Ti-Ne is actually valued instead of dismissed. Any help is appreciated.
"Just be yourself" so much because no one really wants you to be yourself as an INTP male it seems - guess that's just for ESTJ/ENTJ/ESTP males.
From my point of view this is not true. It is about being yourself (for everyone). This is the only way to build confidence in yourself. Set higher standards for people and expect that they grow personally and through the interaction with you. Pay attention to similar people, quiet or unrecognized, try to find something valuable in them others can’t see.
I mean I am covering up my original personality (INTP) and acting like a faux ENTJ (my shadow). The problem is that the ENTJ shadow is valued by society and my true INTP self is rejected. I don't have any skeletons in the closet if that's what you mean.
I don’t have a lot of time and I may revisit this later but your post reads an awful lot like you’re compensating and/or covering up something about your true self and I just think it’s something to ponder.
Happiness is overrated. It's the extreme end of an emotional spectrum and chasing it sets you up for wild pendulum swings to the other extreme. Familiar with Tao? Robin Williams?

Contentedness is underrated. Sounds like you're living a meaningful life. Have you bought into the societal happiness is pleasure thing? Sex, steak, and Six Flags? The ones who have sure seem happy, don't they? From time to time anyway.

Look on the bright side, you've been feeding your shadow...maybe you're unconciously happy.
Yeah I figured that Ti-Ne only is valued by people when producing innovation matters - luckily my job after college rewards original thinking very heavily.

By shortcomings when I was 17, I mean the classic INTP stuff - being indecisive, scared to talk to people, messy, not paying attention to other people's feelings, etc. I'm grateful that I've improved on that and have made some amazing friends (in different social circles). I view correcting my shortcomings as part of building myself as a person - I do have some fun hobbies as well that I occasionally indulge in.

I see your point about presenting my authentic self but it seems like whenever I do that, the vast majority of people are turned off - I don't want people believing I'm weird because that I asked a weird question about something obscure in a group conversation. As much as I want to embrace my nerdier side (I guess that's being my true self) and doing my nerdier hobbies with nerdier people, I can't help but feel they are a waste of time when I could be doing something more productive (doing readings on my industry, or developing my social skills by hanging out with more socially competent people).
You “only” need a few good friends, meaningful job and meaningful connection with partner to be happy. It’s very simple, and complicated.

Intp I know who managed to do this lives by the principle of orthogonality: everything is separated for him. Job is job, friends in separate circle, partner in 3rd circle (he met her in college, 10 years together so far). I don’t know if she is a meaningful connection but it works for them.

Ti-Ne for him wasn’t valued until middle 30s (in job). “Valued “ = recognition in others point of view. Maybe you can do it sooner, but I think it’s necessary that intps mature like this, because they start introverted, and later develop people management skills.

The only reason people value this = it is useful for them.

I think you should focus on doing things you like, that interest you, not paying much attention to what others think.

If you are 21, 4 years ago you were 17 - what shortcomings? You still need to create/build yourself, shortcomings are more like when you are 40 and still not happy with some aspects of your life.



From my point of view this is not true. It is about being yourself (for everyone). This is the only way to build confidence in yourself. Set higher standards for people and expect that they grow personally and through the interaction with you. Pay attention to similar people, quiet or unrecognized, try to find something valuable in them others can’t see.
The problem is I don't really know what being happy for more than an hour looks like. I had a shit childhood with hardcore ESTJ and ISTJ parents. I don't care about Se-thrills like sex or drugs anymore, I want happiness through understanding things and being appreciated by others. I can't find that however, even in college, which makes me believe that I will have a harder time finding that in the adult world. Most people in college only appreciate the ESTJ rich lacrosse bro type for who they are - maybe they're douchey because society never told them they had to change. No one appreciates me for who I really am deep inside, not even my parents really (I have to act like a completely different person around them for them to be happy with me).

The ENTJ shadow is a stress function, no? I definitely don't think I'm unconsciously happy.
Happiness is overrated. It's the extreme end of an emotional spectrum and chasing it sets you up for wild pendulum swings to the other extreme. Familiar with Tao? Robin Williams?

Contentedness is underrated. Sounds like you're living a meaningful life. Have you bought into the societal happiness is pleasure thing? Sex, steak, and Six Flags? The ones who have sure seem happy, don't they? From time to time anyway.

Look on the bright side, you've been feeding your shadow...maybe you're unconsciously happy.
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You won't ever grow or find happiness if you keep this inferiority complex. That's the first thing that you need to change.
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Is it safe to say you feel there's no place or need for someone like you? That would definitely make anyone unhappy. You don't belong unless you act like something you're not.

Unfortunately I have the same issue. The only thing that has worked for me is to simply accept this as a part of life that's outside of your control and can only be managed if anything. You did your best with the cards you got.
I'm a 21 year old college male in the U.S. who has been trying to do everything over the past four years to correct for my INTP shortcomings. I came into college highly introverted and socially inept and have been doing all the classic INTP self-help tips to be more social and driven. In many ways, I've embraced my ENTJ shadow, which seems to be a lot more valued in society.

I joined a fraternity to improve my social skills, learn social mannerisms (my parents never really bothered to teach me American manners), and make friends, whipped my body into amazing shape, improved my dress sense and taste, and having an amazing job lined up post-graduation. My motivation was not to social climb or improve my career prospects, but to find genuine happiness through meaningful connections to other people. However, despite having overcome the main INTP shortfalls (not leaving your room, avoiding human contact, being inconsistent, etc), I still can't find any lasting happiness. My parents were immigrants and they couldn't teach me anything about navigating American society, so I had to painfully learn it all on my own.

From the outside, I appear successful and on the right track, but I'm despairing at this point since despite doing everything I was told to do to correct my shortcomings, I'm still miserable. Not even volunteering for community projects nor my normal hobbies has made me happy. Most of my friendships feel fleeting and insubstantial, although I have a handful of close genuine friendships, and despite having hooked up in college, I can't find a girl to form a lasting relationship with. If I try to be genuine, my INTP traits (being curious about things they don't deem important, etc) turn them off, and if I try to act like a typical college dude, I can't keep the act up for long. I hate the advice "Just be yourself" so much because no one really wants you to be yourself as an INTP male it seems - guess that's just for ESTJ/ENTJ/ESTP males. It's not like I'm just chasing sorority girls either - I'm either too fratty for the nerdier girls or too nerdy for partier crowd.


I've been on this forum many times for advice on various issues I've mentioned here and I'm grateful for the responses, but I can't seem to be happy no matter how many band-aids I apply. My current social circle is a mix of my fraternity friends and my nerdier friends so I don't think changing my social circles will be fix everything. I'm in need of radical life advice because I can't do this for much longer. I can't wait to graduate and work at a job where my Ti-Ne is actually valued instead of dismissed. Any help is appreciated.
I don't think I have an inferiority complex. I don't see myself as less than other people for being an INTP, I just want to correct my shortcomings.
You won't ever grow or find happiness if you keep this inferiority complex. That's the first thing that you need to change.
Yup that's how I feel! Unfortunately I'm at the end of my rope in terms of how long I can accept this.
Is it safe to say you feel there's no place or need for someone like you? That would definitely make anyone unhappy. You don't belong unless you act like something you're not.

Unfortunately I have the same issue. The only thing that has worked for me is to simply accept this as a part of life that's outside of your control and can only be managed if anything. You did your best with the cards you got.
@seant1090

I was being tongue in cheek with "unconciously happy"...you wouldn't be concious of it which makes the whole exercise pointless. Others have said it: As an INTP your most fundamental value is Truth...fake it till you make it wont get you there because you'll be constantly bumping up against this core value. But again, I think happiness is overrated...giddy doesn't suit me.

Here's a thing: You refer to your hobby friends as "nerdy" and the lacrosse bros as "douchey". Happiness and vanity are incompatible. It's true, I learned this from Dangerous Liaisons. This includes intellectual vanity. Perhaps humility will get you there. Consensus isn't fact, don't let others define you.
You're 21. It seems like a crisis but it's not.
Eventually you'll have to decide if breadcrumbs of approval from others are really worth your bending over backwards like this but in the meantime just focus on financial independence and the rest will follow.
Yup that's how I feel! Unfortunately I'm at the end of my rope in terms of how long I can accept this.
INTPs can’t lead/manage/act with people in the same way as ENTJs, so no point in doing this. If you are a thinker, it means you lead people through your personal expertise, or you are just a bad copy of ENTJ.

From what I learned INTPs are long-term people who benefit from having few close connections, people who believe in them and support their interests. These people are important in every day life, general statements about what society values are just empty statements.
I mean I am covering up my original personality (INTP) and acting like a faux ENTJ (my shadow). The problem is that the ENTJ shadow is valued by society and my true INTP self is rejected. I don't have any skeletons in the closet if that's what you mean.
Many think happiness is less correlated with intelligence.

Not a graph that will make you happy 😂

Rectangle Slope Line Font Parallel
Maybe I wasn't clear but I am nerdy at heart and mentioned that I enjoyed and valued my nerdy friends, I wasn't being vain lol. Lax bros are a term specifically used to describe a douchy set of guys (not even all lacrosse players!) so I don't see me calling them that as vain. Doesn't mean I will treat them with disrespect or rudeness. End of the day, I recognize my pitfalls as well as those of the people around me - like an INTP, I treat facts at face value.
@seant1090

I was being tongue in cheek with "unconciously happy"...you wouldn't be concious of it which makes the whole exercise pointless. Others have said it: As an INTP your most fundamental value is Truth...fake it till you make it wont get you there because you'll be constantly bumping up against this core value. But again, I think happiness is overrated...giddy doesn't suit me.

Here's a thing: You refer to your hobby friends as "nerdy" and the lacrosse bros as "douchey". Happiness and vanity are incompatible. It's true, I learned this from Dangerous Liaisons. This includes intellectual vanity. Perhaps humility will get you there. Consensus isn't fact, don't let others define you.
Will the rest follow though? I learned that if I'm not proactive with anything I won't get the results that come with it. I spent my whole life already focused on achieving financial independence - got into a great school and landed a job with an amazing salary, I don't spend very much either - and I had to work my butt off to make friends and learn social skills.

I don't care about breadcrumbs of approval from strangers either, only making genuine connections. The problem is that the ones I made are with people who are also introverted intuitives like myself and don't really have any much of social battery, so I don't see them that much.


You're 21. It seems like a crisis but it's not.
Eventually you'll have to decide if breadcrumbs of approval from others are really worth your bending over backwards like this but in the meantime just focus on financial independence and the rest will follow.
INTPs can’t lead/manage/act with people in the same way as ENTJs, so no point in doing this. If you are a thinker, it means you lead people through your personal expertise, or you are just a bad copy of ENTJ.

From what I learned INTPs are long-term people who benefit from having few close connections, people who believe in them and support their interests. These people are important in every day life, general statements about what society values are just empty statements.
Yeah I do realize the shortfalls of acting like an ENTJ clone - it's just that it's so hard finding meaningful connections with people in college (and the real world too). Most sensors don't understand me or even care to (while I try my best to get along with them), and the rare introverted intuitive is either in his/her room or part of a niche hobby club. Also, professionally in my industry, ENTJ (or ExTJ traits in general) are valued, and INTP traits are only valued when you built a name for yourself as an expert. I wish I would be reincarnated as an ENTJ or ESTJ in my next life.
What is your field/industry? What’s wrong with first building a name for yourself, then leading people after this (as an expert)?
Will the rest follow though? I learned that if I'm not proactive with anything I won't get the results that come with it. I spent my whole life already focused on achieving financial independence - got into a great school and landed a job with an amazing salary, I don't spend very much either - and I had to work my butt off to make friends and learn social skills.

I don't care about breadcrumbs of approval from strangers either, only making genuine connections. The problem is that the ones I made are with people who are also introverted intuitives like myself and don't really have any much of social battery, so I don't see them that much.




Yeah I do realize the shortfalls of acting like an ENTJ clone - it's just that it's so hard finding meaningful connections with people in college (and the real world too). Most sensors don't understand me or even care to (while I try my best to get along with them), and the rare introverted intuitive is either in his/her room or part of a niche hobby club. Also, professionally in my industry, ENTJ (or ExTJ traits in general) are valued, and INTP traits are only valued when you built a name for yourself as an expert. I wish I would be reincarnated as an ENTJ or ESTJ in my next life.
I'll be working at a hedge fund - finance is famously sharp elbowed and I hate the finance bro culture but I feel like it's one of the few places where differentiated thinking is valued. I also am fascinated by the financial markets.

As to your second question, I'm not saying I don't agree with the process of building reputation, I'm just pointing out that as an INTP I have to adopt ENTJ-like traits at times to break into the industry (I have no connections) and to move up the ranks first.
What is your field/industry? What’s wrong with first building a name for yourself, then leading people after this (as an expert)?
Oh shit you went into business too lmao. Sorry to hear XD.
Let me put it this way, if you're independent you have the means to explore as much of the world as possible and are statistically bound to find like minded people that way.

Just not at work or work related shit since that's where you're likely getting the most pressure to be a knock off ENTJ since that's all they care about.

I found my friends while pursuing my own interests and never connected with a single classmate. Forget about work or school taking care of that for you since you're in the land of square pegs looking for round pegs like yourself.

Also don't waste any more energy trying to connect to people than they're willing to give you. It comes off as desperate and folks will humour you only as long as you play to their ego narratives. You're more likely to waste time on duds and miss out on compatible people if you don't draw the line somewhere.
Will the rest follow though? I learned that if I'm not proactive with anything I won't get the results that come with it. I spent my whole life already focused on achieving financial independence - got into a great school and landed a job with an amazing salary, I don't spend very much either - and I had to work my butt off to make friends and learn social skills.

I don't care about breadcrumbs of approval from strangers either, only making genuine connections. The problem is that the ones I made are with people who are also introverted intuitives like myself and don't really have any much of social battery, so I don't see them that much.
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