I'll chime in a bit here as I may be one of the older INFP members...at least of the ones who have replied.
The OP is correct. I spent a good 20+ years being so far ahead of everyone that I took it for granted that it would always be like that. In my early-mid twenties, life came in for the smackdown and I struggled to get myself back into some sort of state where my confidence wasn't being shattered left and right and started actually learning things...rather than just intuitively understanding them.
It's hard to go back and have to re-learn things you have known all your life in a way that actually allows you to go beyond what you knew before. A good example for me is skiing. I was up on the slopes the first day I was on skis and I got pretty good without any training. After a couple of years I got to the point where I couldn't seem to get any better and it got frustrating, so I pretty much quit skiing. I know now that if I went back and got some real training and learned the skill from the ground up, I could surpass my old skill level easily, but I haven't done that yet. I have done this with other skills like typing, etc.
Now that I'm in my 40's (If I shave and cut my hair I look 10 years younger) I have gotten to a place where learning new skills is as easy as it was just to DO things when I was younger. Makes for some interesting skill collection
I also noticed that up through my early 20's most all of my friends were 10+ years older than I was, as was my first couple of relationships. Now, I find that most of my friends tend to be 10+ years younger than I am, as well as my relationships.
I chalk it up to my endless idealism and insatiable curiosity. I'm finding that as most of the people around me get older, they stop being curious, or their life issues start making them 'old'. A lot of times I still feel 19 in my head, and I wake up each morning looking forward to what the day has to bring.
Isn't this a sign of wisdom to realise that life is meant to be a fun ride rather than serious like hell, yet that is the defensive outisde layer of what I show people. The serious minded mature person who tends to find things in common with older people more often yet the demeanor is a child like curiosity that is unending and waiting to surface, far too often I stay in the serious mode as a defensive reaction to family life.
People always comment that I am wise beyond my years, but I feel "stunted" in a lot fo areas. In romantic situation I feel I behave like a child, giggling and blushing. I had bad experiences with intimacy so I haven't really blossomed. Also now I have trouble interacting socially. I used to do it with ease but now...meh. I act like a little kid who needs protecting. I also have the curiosity of a child. I have to force myself to stop asking questions and such. I also find silly and immature things hilarious. I mean, Salad Fingers is my hero.
I need to grow up ;P
Well, I have felt being in a strong combination of mature & immature since the age of 12, and it haven't stopped. They are mostly in the same areas, although matured by now, of course.
Age of 12:
-I Played with legos & played some childish games for like 4 years past the usual age
-Sense of social stuff was 2 years behind
-had low ability in regulation of feelings
-less understanding of the environment & the social structures immediately affecting me, than with the people usually
-emotional naivety as compared to people of my age
-big part of my friends were people 2 to 4 years younger than me
-math, vocabulary, logic was advanced with about 2 years compared to the norm
-a tentative understanding of the society and the economy, better than people of my age
-I had decent sense of sexual stuff, no idiocy like with the boys of that age usually
-liked the company of adults for conversations, which were good, and I was attracted to knowledge
-was granted much more freedom than the other kids, and I used it quite responsibly
-technical ability was beyond what most people have in their lives, and that of a usual 16-18 year old hobbyist
Sounds like me, . I`m usually the one my friends like to confide in and seek out advice. I like the trust they show me, but I find it funny that it`s on issues I have no personal experience in. Relationship-wise I`m very much a late bloomer (just turned 20 and had no relationship I`d consider serious) and still it`s the most wanted advice-zone. I asked a friend once about it, why she seeks out my advice when she`s clearly got more experience. And she said it doesn`t matter, because either I totally hit the mark with what I tell her,or I totally miss it, there`s no in between. She can tell when I`m taking it the wrong way, but she likes the insight when I look at the situation from a different angle than she considered.
I always felt more mature than most of my peers, but at the same time people in HS often told me how childish I was. Maybe it`s because I get in touch with other peoples emotions that I can imagine how something feels like, but the fact that I didn`t really experience these emotions in person makes me childlike. It`s like looking into the water from above. I can clearly see that it`s deep, but I don`t know exactly how deep it is until I jump in.
I don`t really understand what the term "growing up" is supposed to be about. I think personal growth and learning are continuous projects, not something like a switch. Or maybe certain life experience make such an impact on you that you make a bigger leap into maturity and make it seem like a sudden change. But it`s not like you can force these experiences.
I guess I have to take the initiative more and sample my own experience while trying to keep the Peter Pan part of me intact. If any of you have any idea how to do that I`m open for suggestions
word of the day is clearly experience
.:"Claude os, aperi oculos.":.
"You can't give up hope just because it's hopeless, you have to hope even harder and cover your ears and go 'lalalalalalala'"- Fry (Futurama)
Maturity is knowing when its okay to cut up and act like a kid and when its time to buckle down and get serious.
Catch me in serious times and I'm 70.
Catch me in fun times and I'm 7.
Catch me when I'm sleeping and I'm 27.
"People in glass houses shouldn't use Windex when living near bird sanctuaries."- myself
"We are never alone my friend. We are constantly in the company of victories, losses, strengths and weaknesses. Make no mistake, life is war...and war is hell. Those who fight the hardest will suffer the most...but that's what you have to do: Fight. As long as you're feeling pain, then there's hope...because only the dead do not suffer." -RD Metcalf
I often have a hard time imagining INFJs as children precisely because they project a less whimsical and playful attitude. They seem to be pure "old souls".
An ESFP I know once told me: "You've always been old. You were a kid and you were old already."
When I was three, a family friend came to visit. I was sitting alone with him in the kitchen, and this guy was a new convert (to Christianity). He was very zealous in his brand new faith. God was showing him a bunch of stuff, and he started sharing with me how he had understood that God loved the sinner, it was sin he didn't like. And so on, and I have a very clear memory of this.
Who in his right mind would sit cool with a three-year-old and start talking theology?