The eyes that appear to be staring intently at nothing in particular, the quiet strength found in the bending but not breaking tremor of their voice, these are the marked traits of the Humpback Whale. From the outside, these reserved individuals might be hard to distinguish from their Panda siblings, but upon speaking with a Humpback Whale, especially on a topic that matters to them, you will find that the illusion quickly dissipates, and that timid, distant space cadet you initially thought was a dwarf star, has now exploded into a full on supernova.
The Old Soul
I need to have something besides a husband and children to devote myself to! I don’t want to have lived in vain like most people. I want to be useful or bring enjoyment to all people, even those I’ve never met.
– Anne Frank
It always seems like Humpback Whales know more than we do, and infinitely more than they let on. Perhaps it’s because they’re not tethered to society as so many of us are. Like their Baboon siblings, Whales prefer to work outside the social system, commonly as writers, poets, artists, independent business owners, etc. However, whereas the Baboon needs constant human interaction—some would say attention—to function, Whales are quite content to spend their time in deep introspection, with their books and insights to keep them company. It is this robust inner life that often gives the impression that a Humpback Whale, when interacting with the rest of society, is a philosopher amongst a confederacy of dunces. Their natural inclination to look past surface appearances and expectations, often leads them to being the first person to recognize a moral dilemma that is plaguing society. For the Humpback Whale, a corrupt status quo is something that needs to be purged, though not through revolution—as a Baboon might—but through self-reflection. In times of materialism, they preach emotional well-being. When school becomes merely a truck stop on the path to gainful employment, Humpback Whales encourage students to take the road less traveled.
As for me, I lost everything: my wife, my book, my job, everything that I thought was important. But I finally knew where I wanted to go.
– Grady Tripp (“Wonder Boys”)
The most disconnected of all the NFs, a Humpback Whale lives a fantasy-filled childhood that usually extends to their life as an adult. Though daydreaming is vital to their emotional health, the practical manifestation of imagining alligators dancing with hippos while on a conference call with the boss, or envisioning an escape to a life less than ordinary during a session of number crunching, never goes well. It is imperative that Humpback Whales find professions or hobbies that give them an opportunity to utilize their powerful imaginations. Otherwise, they might find themselves meandering aimlessly through life like an emotional vagabond, devoid of purpose. This might be inevitable, however, because despite their best efforts to ground themselves, there will always be a little chaos in the life of a Humpback Whale. With their eccentricity, spontaneity, and openness to new experiences, accidental adventures are bound to happen.
The degree of civilization in a society can be judged by entering its prisons.
– Fyodor Dostoyevsky
The easiest way to distinguish a Humpback Whale from other reserved NFs is their noticeable disregard for societal norms such as the education system, typical nuclear family values, and conventional standards of fashion and beauty. Most Humpback Whales also frown on “commercialized” entertainment, as they feel its only purpose is to prop up and justify the artificial values that they so despise. This puts them squarely at odds with society in general, and unlike Giant Pandas, Whales will not compromise their values to better integrate themselves within the social structure. This can force them into the outskirts of society, persecuted and alone. Or worse yet, the Humpback Whale will succumb to the social pressure and begin doubting their convictions, while simultaneously kicking themselves for not being authentic enough. For this reason, it is not uncommon for them to take part in hobbies that help them come to grips with their spiritual confusion, like yoga—though they wouldn’t be caught dead in Lululemon gear—or meditation; that these activities sometimes find their way into the mainstream says a lot about the Humpback Whale’s influence on culture. Communing with nature is another sanctuary for them. There is a definite naturalness in hiking through a dense forest of pines or relishing the way a cool stream of water feels on the feet, and nature, in all its unpretentiousness, seems to give the INFP not only a sense of peace, but something far better: a renewed confidence in their own authenticity.
I am not afraid; I was born to do this.
– Joan of Arc
The most intriguing fact about Humpback Whales is that they are the archetype for the mythological hero. From fictional stories to non-fictional accounts to fictional accounts of non-fictional stories, human history and pop culture are filled with soulful, self-sacrificing characters like King Arthur, Frodo Baggins, Harry Potter, Luke Skywalker, and Joan of Arc. INFPs might appear to be an odd choice for a hero. On average, they’re not physically imposing, nor are they quick on their feet—literally or figuratively. What they do have is a humble heart, an open mind, and a self-assuredness that whatever is happening to them is happening for a reason, and it is that faith that gives them the ability to see it through.