Why are you so serious?

Many people ask INTJs this question out of the blue.

And many INTJs are taken aback because we were merely minding our business when a stranger infringed on our deep thoughts without provocation.

Deep thought requires intense concentration. And since we often focus on solving complex problems, we are the epitome of seriousness.

My Aunt Kathy once described me to someone as being “Intense.” Surprisingly, I never asked what she meant about the statement, but I believe I knew. I have an extreme personality. My world is black and white with slight shades of gray. Since I was a child, I never understood how some people took life so lightly.

As a Turbulent INTJ, I have always been described as nervous, tense, and uptight. Surprisingly, I found these adjectives flattering. Mainly when it came to opportunities. I took advantage of any viable opportunity that came my way. I never believed in the notion that if you pass up an opportunity, an additional one was on the way.

Who says?

What guarantees do you have?

Another cliché that I never embraced is, “If it’s meant for you, it won’t pass you by.”


How do you know?

And how do people come up with these false notions? Particularly when there isn’t anything particular in life. There is such a thing as “Once in a lifetime opportunity.”

I, for one, was not going to be a failure. If so, I would go down fighting hard.

Film director and actor Woody Allen is credited with saying that 90% of success is just showing up!

Although the quoted percentage keeps changing, the point is that nothing in life happens until you make it happen.

Yes, it would help if you took action.

And serious people know how life works and how things get done.

INTJs So Serious

Dr. Marty Nemko, in a Psychology Today article titled, “In Praise of Serious People,” said:

We like happy people. They boost our mood and don’t burden us with their issues. But serious people may be worth more of our time. Trustworthy, serious folks are unlikely to make us laugh but also are unlikely to be annoying like perky types can be. They’re more likely to talk about things more substantive than sports, pop culture, and their vacation.

Although Dr. Nemko gives credence to serious INTJs’ ability to get things done, he falls short in suggesting that serious people cannot be fun to be around.

In many instances, serious individuals maintain intellectual control while engaging in humor.

A friend once told me that even when I am joking, I never fully let myself go.

I call that being self-aware and image management.

But there is a more profound point here.

We know the difference between people who consistently operate at a superficial level versus those who exhibit deeper levels of thought.

It isn’t that those operating at a superficial level aren’t smart or thoughtful.

They merely are not hardwired to think at levels where new ideas lie.

It becomes even more frustrating when superficial thinkers attempt to go deeper to save face or prove to INTJs that they too have depth.

Additionally, INTJs may be paranoid about making incorrect decisions. They don’t necessarily doubt their critical thinking and problem-solving skills. They believe that choices shape the trajectory of one’s life even when merely advising others.

INTJs assume responsibility even when they aren’t obligated to do so.

Superficial thinkers do not carry this burden.

They don’t believe that one’s life is a culmination of choices. They think outside forces beyond their control are the final arbiter of outcomes.

Most of us are guilty of creating philosophies and personal constitutions that justify our existence. In this vein, INTJs and superficial thinkers are alike.

However, their motives are different.

INTJs follow concepts that give meaning to their existence.

Superficial thinkers create excuses to justify irresponsibility. It’s like going to Wal-Mart and being told by a salesperson when you ask for an item, “This isn’t my department.”

INTJs are performance-driven.

At an early age, many INTJs were underrated and counted out. Their hypersensitivity to these messages created a drive and motivation to prove the naysayers wrong.

Many INTJs act as if their lives are on a timer. And time has almost expired.

They want to see their ideas and insights come to life as they live.

Being honored posthumously is no substitute for real-life vindication.

INTJs are internally competitive in ways rarely discussed.

To the general population, they appear irrelevant and under the radar.

However, in many instances, INTJs are going home to their self-created laboratories to conduct “Genius work.”

The environment that they create becomes their sanctuary.

If you want it done right, give it to an INTJ.

Life is all fun and games until you need something done.

My brother Jacob is the consummate extrovert. People meet him once and ask me about him whenever they see me. He is funny, good-looking, and can tell stories that would put Mark Twain to shame. And he gets invited to a lot of social events. He is indeed a social butterfly. However, the people who ask him to these events don’t call him when they need a serious matter to address.

They call me.

At first, I was put off.

How dare they use me when it’s convenient for them but not when it’s fun?

In time, I would embrace the reality that serious people are revered in society. I don’t know many accountants, attorneys, and doctors who aren’t taken seriously. So, I proudly place myself within the pantheon of people who get things done. We are the cradle of civilization. Without us, life would be miserable for those that benefit from our seriousness.

The next time you are asked, “Why are you so serious?”

Don’t respond, but merely smile. And think to yourself, “Because the world couldn’t exist without me.”

If you want to be taken seriously, you have to act seriously.

—Barbara Stevenson


Nemko, M. (2014, May 14). In praise of serious people. Psychology Today. Retrieved from: https://bit.ly/3OQUBb3.

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