Talking on the phone is just… the worst

I think this on the Top 5 on every introvert’s list of Worst Things Ever.

I’m literally such an ass with the telephone. I hate it when it rings, almost no matter who calls, and I have to mentally prepare myself to pick it up or call other people. And, of course, I avoid it like the plague when it’s an unknown number.

Really, I need to size up the person on the other end. Even if it’s someone I know well. Like some robot I need visual and facial recognition to properly read and interact with another human being.

I think many elements of being face to face are taken for granted, but that’s also somewhat hypocritical to say because, generally, if anything, I prefer to write to and with people, and even writing has it limits (*sighs in admittance*). But so has telephonic communication. Even face to face isn’t perfect, but it sure gives a better picture of the person at the other end.

Let’s be honest, communication is and always will be a complex area. Most of all, it’s about context, perspective and interpretation. Some people are very good at masking their voices and feelings, others unintentionally give off the wrong impressions, while awkward pauses, misunderstandings and interruptions seem to be the most unavoidable and frequent occurrences during phone conversations (at least compared to any other form of interaction I’ve participated in or witnessed, or maybe it’s just me).

Personally, I just interact with more ease if I’m able to read the other person’s face, body language and eyes as well. It helps me to know if the person is being honest and sincere about what they are saying. Am I more comforted by the fact that the other person is also able to read my face, body and eyes? Good question. To be honest, it depends. Most of the time, I have no clue how the world around me see me, so to say I’m unsure how to answer this confidently would be an understatement.

Though I find that I can read people fairly well, I can also be quite naive at times; instinctively putting too much faith in the good of other people. Ironically (or maybe not?), I don’t trust the distorted mediation of the phone, and I feel like my bad sides are more pronounced because of this; that I sound so much more uncomfortable, wavering and even unintentionally curt if I can’t read the situation right.

All in all, I could just do with less awkward pauses and misunderstandings in my life, but I don’t think I’ll ever be able to live without the phone. Not completely. I just have to practise and get used to it, bit by bit.

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INTP Pet Peeve #1

People who don’t listen.

Especially during conversations. (I’d be a hypocrite if I demanded every student to stay alert during every class lecture, or that people like Trump are worth listening to in the long haul).

Sure, you’re allowed to disagree, zone out during small talk, be too tired, have a bad day or carry a variety of misgivings towards the person speaking to you.

But I cannot abide people who refuse to listen on a general basis. You don’t even have to agree with what is being said or even understand where the person is coming from.

Just… listen.

It doesn’t require that much effort.

And if you happen to be able to partake in or witness a conversation of opposite sides, where one side is decisively bigoted, intolerant or extremist, you should still make the effort to listen. At least, for as long as you are able to. It’s important to know where exactly the opposition stands, because it is all a part of a democracy with freedom of speech. Of course, intolerance should never be tolerated, but immediately shutting down and censoring the right to speak such opinions makes you no better than the bigoted party. And sometimes you’ll learn something new; about the complexity of any given subject, about yourself, the opposition or even your own community. And sometimes you won’t; you’ll simply be confirmed in your own opinion of the opposite side.

In any case, listening never did anyone any harm.

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‘Try hard, but not too hard. Be a good girl, why don’t you?’

This subject is not entirely INTP related, but more related to the history and education of my sex and current generational struggles which I felt like commenting on here:

In recent years, we have gained this expression in my country which roughly translates to ‘A+ grade girls’. It covers the tendency among my generation of particularly young female students who strive towards getting good grades (and a perfected image) all around, which has also fostered a series of performance anxiety, wavering self-esteem and other stress-related illnesses in large numbers across universities, high schools and now all the way down to elementary schools(!).

The expression has become symbolic of a serious symptom. In fact, it has gotten so bad that it has become a matter of somewhat national urgency.

Though, ambition in itself is not a problem and the fact that a large generation of women achieve a higher education in a variety of subjects than ever before and are able to make a name of themselves is positive, it is also historically new and revolutionary. For most of history, women were merely subjects of their fathers and husbands, duty-bound to obey and be ‘good, little daughters and housewives’. No rights, no vote, no voice, no (financial) independence, no educational prospects. Only very few could see themselves so lucky or privileged to get one or two of those things.

The fact, nowadays, that women now strain under the pressure of living up to all these new opportunities and expectations (given by themselves as well) and a perfected image, is, of course, a problem. A societal symptom which we all share a responsibility for. Let me be clear: It is not the women’s faults. The problem is much more complex and goes much deeper.

And that’s exactly it: The expression ‘A+ grade girls’ unfortunately embodies a sexist, derogatory prejudice as well. The way it is said and used, in a slightly blaming manner, tells of a historically old sexism that stills prevails in our society and which could also be roughly translated to: ‘Blame it on the girls.’

I sometimes sense a troubling lack of understanding among some men and even older generations of women in power who carelessly fling out this expression every now and then to underline whatever point they want to make.

Yes, statistically more women have entered and done better in the higher education system than men in recent decades, but simply because women experience historic progress in this particular field doesn’t automatically undermine the men. Is it really good, ol’ butt-hurt and fear of women out-performing men? Because something is off with the passive-aggressive way some seem to say ‘girls are winners, so now boys are losers’ and ‘fuck these girls and their outrageous ambitions! They should either stop whining or stop competing with each other and just give it a rest!’…

I get so angry and frustrated when I sense this is the problem! Especially because I, myself, is somewhat of a ‘A+ grade girl’ (along with my sister). Though, it has as much to do with my natural intelligence and being academically inclined as it has with my being a woman and a Millennial and feeling the obligatory pressure of performing well with all the opportunities given. Unconsciously or not. It is just the way it is for most of my generation, that much is clear now. And why shouldn’t I make use of my intelligence and opportunities? (I almost did the common mistake of my sex there: Unnecessarily apologizing beforehand for ‘tooting in my own horn’).

And so it’s even more frustrating when I’ve – to my surprise – witnessed my own father spew above-mentioned sentiments twice and refuse to listen to whatever I have to say because he has already set his mind to disagree with me. It’s all the more sad and hurtful that he seems to carry a hidden grudge against girls like myself and my sister; that we are clearly the problem, that we either try too hard or complain too much, and that we need to deal with it ourselves.

I may be colored by this, but, in the end, I think most will agree it is an utterly ignorant and unproductive way of explaining and dealing with a national, and possibly global, symptom: A whole generation of young people reporting sick with stress and battling low self-esteem and anxiety because all they want to do is to perform well and now have all the opportunities to do so that previous generations didn’t have! Not just girls, boys too, but because girls are of the majority of the higher education system thus their number simply are greater.

Of course, the tendency to want to perform well in all of life’s aspects may be sociologically and evolutionary gender-specific. Historically, women have been more exposed to changing circumstances, forced to be adaptive in order to survive and obliged to work twice as hard as men to get the same respect and recognition, juggle multiple roles as well as more restrictive, contradicting demands and expectations from society than men. More so than ever when we did make mistakes, became victims of circumstance and oppressors, and failed to live up to said (often inhuman and paradoxical) demands and expectations. It didn’t take much to step out of line. Which were most of the time. Well, we are humans and humans make mistakes. We lived in a noose that tightened every time we wriggled in the slightest, and our positions in society made us easy targets of all sorts of exploitation since we didn’t have the rights or the voices to fight back or demand justice. (I’m not even sure why I’m speaking in past tense; inequality and sexism are still alive and well).

And let me point out: Having gone through hardships is not a contest nor is this my attempt to exploit or wallow in the female suffering; I’m simply stating the female experience (not excluding racial and socio-economical aspects): We had to make do with what we had and could, which wasn’t much.

But the fact that more women today are dealing with these high ambitions – all these new opportunities included – doesn’t equate making women the enemies in all of this. (Apropos the noose analogy; it’s like some evil repetition of the Salem witch trials. Whatever we try, something can be faulted). Sure, we put a pressure on ourselves but, let me repeat, only because we want to do good. Make good use of our opportunities and prove ourselves – to ourselves and to others. And though ambition is far from everything in life (I’d be a hypocrite to say otherwise), understanding female history is crucial in order to understand the female perspective in this and why women may be more prone to strive for perfection and achievements in every aspect of life.

In fact, it should be seen as a demonstration of women’s extraordinary adaptability and multiple capabilities, especially when faced with adversity, as well as a recurring need to please – for better or for worse, but which shouldn’t be sneered at as it so often has been.

Another incredible historic example of this characteristic of my sex is when WWII arrived and all the men went to war, how women went directly from the kitchens and nurseries to the factories and all the previously male-dominated jobs and did them just as well and efficiently. And then, when the men returned, the women were unfortunately obliged to go back to the kitchens and their previous positions as secretaries and assistents and the sexist treatment that came with them. Just like that. No sulking. No hitch in the sudden shift of skills. Like the men, they had to do what was needed to be done and what was expected of them, though there are always two sides of that coin.

I only wish the current general opinion of the so-called ‘A+ grade girls/generation’ could shift in favor of my generation’s standpoint and desperate cries for help (which is what I also see this symptom as). Because if it continues as it has been, I’m not sure where we’ll end up. The average marks for admission are getting so high at some universities, no one can or will be able to get in. What’s the point of education if it’s all just this ‘good-better-best!’-attitude everyone seems enslaved to..?

I wish all parts of society could see the shared connection and responsibility of this problem, stop pointlessly vilifying either sexes and make a change for the better in the entire mindset of not just the educational system but what values we install in the coming generations.

I’m that idealistic.

Rant over and out.

*revised 15/06/18*

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To live with an INTP brain – 2.0

My mind is always so… persistently active.

I’m not sure if it’s very INTP. Technically, every human brain is active 24/7, even during sleep.

But I find my jumble of thoughts to be ever prevalent. Inescapable. And I have a very ambivalent relationship with said brain. Most of what’s going on inside are analytical observations and deductions in bucket loads, constantly accumulating, expanding, reducing, growing into, feeding and eating each other; from every little object to larger-than-life schemes. Like a game of Pac-Man, only one hundred times more layers and levels. Most of these thoughts are highly curious, objective; almost scientific in their reasoning and even sentiment, while others are more ‘acceptably rational’, to put it in crude terms *coughs*.

I’m not sure if I’d have less to think about if then I’d be more in sync with my emotions, because a large amount of time is also spend to instinctively trying to understand, analyze and come to terms with my feelings.

Well, I’m not exactly the most obvious person to answer that on behalf of myself, am I now?

Taking a break from feeding the incessant need of knowledge that my brain demands is certainly healthy, yet easier said than done. Maybe I’m too weak to resist. Sounds absurd, but it’s like a strange addiction or hunger; a core curiosity, a life force within me that will not quell and which I honestly don’t want to quell. Still, taking breaks, going outside for a walk, taking in nature and simply enjoying it for a while, also brings me peace and quietude.

Otherwise, my mind never rests.

I spend most of my time gaining all sorts of knowledge, some rather random and useless. Still, this hunger within continues; telling me it’s important to gather as much knowledge and information as possible, no matter how random or presumably ‘time-wasting’. And, ironically, while I could (and should) spend my time gaining all sorts of random skills which could be useful for my CV or future jobs, I find them aimless and, oddly enough, useless and a waste of time, simply because I have no specific aim to begin with. Sure, I could gain all sorts of skills pointing in all directions just to cover myself in and look more conventionally attractive on the CV. But, honestly, I have no interest in doing so. I find having a litter of random knowledge to be more important and valuable (to me) than having a set of random skills.

Even though, I’d probably get an actual job if I had said skills…

*sighs*

I really fit the idea of the distracted professor better than I think.

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To live with an INTP brain

I’ve come to realize that my thoughts aren’t always the glorified guiding voice of my existence that I’ve perhaps convinced myself for a long time now. They, too, can be flawed, emotionally unstable and tainted with too many outer voices and all the interacting spheres of my super-ego, ego and id (excuse my Freudian influence), coming full circle.

And, yet, I have a hard time not listening to them when I’m alone. How can I not? They are my thoughts, after all.

When I’m with others, especially in a company that stimulates me, these thoughts are less dominant, often silenced. And if it is a company which listens without judgment and whom I trust, I can even let these thoughts out and get an outside response to them. Afterwards, even though I can feel I’ve behaved pathetically and opened up too much, I also recognize how much better I feel than when I’m alone and bottle them up.

To jump to another (but not entirely dissimilar) subject:

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, dealing with my own day-to-day existence is easier said than done. Not so much in keeping things clean and neat (which most often comes up when talking INTP stereotypes. Oddly enough, I’m rather tidy for an INTP when I want to be. So many things go on in my head, I get somewhat distracted/OCD-like when there’s a clutter around me). It’s more in regards of having and keeping life goals that roughly conform to the expectations of society; of gaining skills and achievements whether personal or professional. Of having a, more or less, decided life plan, I guess.

This expectation was handed to me and my generation from a rather early age and we’ve ‘suffered’ under it ever since. Nobody should be forced to know their professional life goals at the age of 13-14 years old, after all. It’s perfectly medieval, if you ask me! But, as we came to learn, it was a part of a streamlined package deal; of knowing every step of our future education in order to choose right, especially the final, ‘pivotal’ education choice we wanted and thus the job that demanded such an education.

I mean, perspective is good, but honestly, there was no space for mistakes in this expectant, normative ‘road’ painted before us. No space for detours, despite the signposting of all the various careers, all the way to the horizon. An overwhelming sight indeed.

Or, at least, we all felt afraid of making mistakes and even when we inevitably did, we ended up feeling ashamed about it. Mistakes have become this deviant thing in our heads that we all try and avoid, instead of just accepting that making mistakes is a part of life and that making a mistake doesn’t mean you’ll never get back on the ‘road’ or reach your goal.

But I digress.

I’m not sure other INTPs feel this way, but I have a hard time not constantly shifting the issue of my own problems to the greater picture (case in point). I cannot let go of my knowledge of the world around me in order to focus on building my own world. I’d much rather go with the flow. Edging along the ‘main road’; once in while taking detours while keeping an eye on my changing surroundings. Back and forth, in and out among the many ‘trees’ and ‘signs’. Stay curious about life. The one thing I’ve always been.

It sounds lazy, and perhaps I am too much of freeloader if you look at it that way, but, actually, I couldn’t be more invested in what problems the world is facing. Any conversation I have I will segue into the latter at some point or another. It can be both exhausting and fascinating to be on the receiving end and keep up with this head spin, I know. I even manage to exhaust myself from talking too intensely, too passionately about the complex wonders, injustices and discrepancies of the world, while referencing the past, the present and the future in-between. That is, if I’m not turning the conversation into a deeply reflective, introspective talk about the inner human experience and existence…

Yeah, ‘small talk’ isn’t really in my vocabulary.

People think I argue just to argue or because I have to be right, but arguing is just a part of my quest to learn. Ideally, making all parties learn. Not changed, just aware, at least. Aware of all the ins and outs of the ‘road’. Of life. Becoming wiser myself. Even better; to further other people’s own critical awareness. That is perhaps my ultimate goal in life. The ultimate INTP goal…?

Still, it’s somewhat ironic that my awareness of the world surpasses my awareness of my own, practical life, but that’s how it is, I guess. To extent the metaphor: I’m not so interested in what my own ‘road’ looks like as long as I can keep an eye on my varying surroundings.

Despite regarding myself as an observant creature, sometimes I’m so painfully unaware of what’s happening in my immediate surroundings, particularly on a smaller scale. I have trouble even giving examples of this because I’m mostly made aware of these things through others. When this happens and I comment on them, most often I come across as arrogant to those who do not understand how the INTP brain works. Hell, even I find it irritating at times. And I feel ashamed for not paying attention to these details afterwards. Because it’s not like I don’t care. Ideally, I want to pay attention to everything that is important, especially the details of what’s happening in my friends’ lives. I want so badly to remember every little thing they mentioned happened the last time we talked! On the other hand, I cannot possibly bother about people fussing over, in my mind, petty things and practicalities simply for the sake of fussing.

Again, ironically, I feel my own little decisions in my own little life are somewhat petty compared to what the world is dealing with. I mean, they come secondly, for sure. Again, that’s just how my INTP brain works. Of course, I may be influenced by my current situation when I’m saying this; trying to excuse myself from my life, because I find it sort of stagnant and pathetic at the moment. But that doesn’t make the former any less true. In many ways, I think I’ve always felt that there were things more interesting than what goes on in my own life.

And yet, this blog sort of counterpoints this statement, doesn’t it? But as I’ve demonstrated to a painstaking point through this very blog, I’m introspective and reflective to a fault and thus I cannot help reflecting and commenting on my own reflections and comments on the world and my surroundings, thus inevitably bringing my own standpoint into view. It’s a navel-gazing quest, indeed. Or it ends in some big, dramatic, half-cynic, philosophical platitudes about life in general.

*sighs*

The INTP brain sure is one hell of a companion to live with.

*revised 17/5/18*

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Fitting in vs. being boxed in vs. wanting to be free

How does ‘follow your dreams’ and ‘find a job’ fit into all of this?

I ask myself that often.

Tomorrow I’m meeting up with two job consultants for an obligatory meeting relating to my period of unemployment and subsequent benefit.

And, yeah, in my country I can get financial benefit from the government for being unemployed. How very ‘depressing’, indeed. But you must understand the terms of condition that come with this ‘benefit’. It is very demanding and limited concerning whatever freedom and ideas you might have job-wise. The government doesn’t spend money on people unconditionally, after all. By principle, it’s only fair, but you need to follow strict guidelines and can’t do any volunteering unless it’s humanitarian. Even the possibilities of working freelance and part-time have been tightened. It puts you in a very limited space of finding a paid, full-time job that isn’t just cleaning or working behind a counter in a cafe or supermarket.

And yet, I can’t complain when I’m still getting paid by the welfare system, can I? No. But am I any happier after almost two years of unemployment, trying my best to find my way through the system? No.

Digressing, this meeting tomorrow has ‘forced’ me out of my usual, melancholic bubble of denying my own reality and what I should probably do about it. *scoffs* Yeah, I live a hard, utterly spoiled life.

I’m not sure whether to confess my battle with my insecurities and depression to the job consultants in order to explain my inability to find a job. Should I tell them my struggle with finding a goal in life and wanting to be happy while also desperately wanting to please those around me, fit in [the system] and not be a disappointment?

It would be my most honest reply to any question they might pose and probably help them give me some honest advice in return (hopefully).

*sighs*

But, aside from this, I also have to acknowledge to myself that it is my life, my only life, and that I should be allowed to be happy – since I actually know what would make me happy – however silly and unambitious they may sound – and that I have the means and the privileges to make at least some of it happen. In truth, I don’t believe I’m that hard to please regarding how I live; that I could live much simpler than I do now (not that I live in a mansion or anything now) and that I don’t need much in life other than my few creature comforts. I keep returning to this idea of my own little cottage and a dog. Would be nice.

So, I started pondering if my underlying need to please my surroundings (and thus the system; fitting in and all that) and my fear of disappointing and not have high enough ambitions in a world of privileges has caught me in this system and my system of thinking (huh, how meta) – together with my depression as well. And that all these elements hold me down from enjoying an alternative freedom that might make me happier.

Somewhere in that question, I sense that I’ve found my answer.

What would happen if I thought entirely alternatively? If I reinvented my life? (To use a total platitude). If I gave up what I have now, my apartment and unemployment benefit, and invested in what I want (cue such sentimental wishes as the cottage and the dog), damn the conventional consequences! Made my own terms, my own money, however small. I’m not big on finance and I may be way too naive to think this can go around, but, after all, I don’t need much.

Other people have done it before me.

Part of that dream/happiness also include a social aspect as I’ve talked about before; of finding true company in life; romantic partners, friends, colleagues, etc.. I’ve lately come to realize that I need this kind of social interaction; more consistently, more intimately, so to speak. But that part must come when it comes. I can’t exactly force it, after all. The other parts are more easily attainable.

Just having this dream, this alternative gives me a inner sense of peace and comfort that I haven’t found anywhere else yet, though I have no practical experience in how to go about it and make it happen. Still, it’s not impossible, I believe.

This thought of an alternative lifestyle takes me back to my innermost questions; my own, singled-out voice asking: ‘What do you want to do?’ which in turn always returns to my consistent desire to write. It is the one thing I’ve always enjoyed, though I’ve always thought it a futile thing to voice or wish for because it seems so general and something anyone could do; voice an opinion. ‘Not something anyone would or should get paid for,’ says the pessimistic voice in my head. A voice I too often listen to and fall victim for, because I don’t have the courage or the will to fight it.

But then I tried to ignore the voice (for once) and stayed with the thought of writing. Of actually trying to make a living out of it.

So, that lead me to the hypothetical idea of becoming a professional blogger. An idea I’ve previously had in the back of my mind and brushed aside time and time again. An idea which comes with many ambivalent feelings and thoughts, all the different voices returning, telling me different things. On the one side, it’s a most natural and comforting idea, because I’ve blogged – on an amateur level – for years now. On the other side, I guess I still feel the idea is somewhat tabooed, not a real-real job, despite the job landscape has changed drastically in the last two decades. Blogging has become a legitimate job where people can make tons of money, sometimes by simply yelling in a computer game or reviewing the newest mascara on the market.

However, I don’t want to make your usual glossy, Instagram-worthy blog of cute cupcakes and the latest fashion trends. Not that there’s anything wrong with those. But I want to make something that’s my own. Something real, critical, humorous and frank. I want to analyse and discuss art, politics, people, culture, media, TV, etc.. I want to create constructive discussions and, hopefully, change attitudes. Even my own. I don’t want to be afraid to voice an opinion in a public forum as myself. (After all, it’s different with blogs like these, where I can stay fairly anonymous).

Am I wrong to put so many ideals into a project like this?

I admit, being a teacher would sound like the most ideal, concrete job for me in this regard, and it’s not something I haven’t thought of, but I’m still struggling in my (INTP) insecurity regarding the responsibility of teaching. I’m not entirely comfortable with the authority of lecturing and ‘placing my wisdom upon others’. I may be overthinking this way too much, but I just don’t think I’m there yet. I’m still a child of learning and of the world. I’m not sure I could be confident enough to be a convincing teacher yet, if you catch my drift.

Anyways.

I’m still not sure how much of this will be mentioned at the meeting tomorrow. Sometimes such frank thoughts and feelings just come out by themselves because I don’t have the strength to fight them (sensing a theme here?). At other times, I am too embarrassed to ‘fess up and show my insecurity and I just clam up and remain curt in my responses, pretending everything is fine. The former is probably more productive but I can’t help cringing every time it happens because I literally just blurt out things with a helpless, resigned attitude, unable to stop myself.

How very INTP.

I may return with an update tomorrow.

***09/04/18 UPDATE***

Ah, folks, here comes the update you never asked for: The meeting went as expected. Nothing new to report. No grand confession on my part. It was all very calm, business-like. I got a few extra tips regarding my CV and an underlying message of ‘it’s about time to get your shit together’. (No surprise). I get it. I really need to decide on something.

And, in a way, through this reflective post, I have. However slow the realization may have arrived.

I don’t know if it has something to do with this day and age, my generation, or if it’s just me, but I feel my problem of ‘being stuck’ all goes deeper; that it’s something very personal I’m struggling with regarding finding a goal, a job, a career. I’m so painfully introspective and, as I said, I’m rather slow to figure out my life and what I want with it – at a fairly late age, maybe – and belatedly acknowledged that I do not have these big concrete ambitions or visions … Although, you could argue that those ideas I mentioned above are somewhat concrete. After all, I’m far from indifferent or despondent; I would like to contribute and do something good for society, but I think it should be on my own terms and at my own pace. I have probably been a bit caught up in this mindset of trying to find a goal that could also meet the expectations around me and maybe even feeling a little trapped in the unemployment benefit system and not daring to think or throw myself into something alternative. I think I must stop trying to fit in (how often haven’t I told myself so?). It has only seemed like an obstacle so far. I just think I have to think in brand new lanes and instead ask myself what will make me happy, first and foremost, rather than trying make others happy about my decisions in life, simultaneously.

At least, for now.

Over and out.

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Shadow sides

We have all got them. The dark, hidden spots within ourselves that rear up their ugly heads every now and then; at the best of times, at the worst of times. They are what makes you doubt and despise yourself, makes you shameful, even bitter and depressive, and do and say things you are not proud of. Momentarily or for longer periods. They are, I guess, a part of life.

However, sometimes, they are so prominent, so poignant, so persistent that you start wondering if your eyes ever twinkle with joy or delight whenever you do laugh. It is strange to never see yourself this intimately. You may know the feeling of joy and recognize it in others, but to see it in yourself from an outside point of view…? Perhaps only those who have been captured in the moment by an artist or a photographer have. But even then: Is what they see who they feel? How they truly feel?

In my case, or in a general one as well, these shadow sides, as I like to call them, hide an underlying insecurity of appearing pathetic, desperate, selfish, arrogant, conceited, etc.; essentially, of not being liked. And yet, people’s thoughts of you are rarely as bad as those you have of yourself.

For one, I live with a crippling feeling of loneliness and the shame following it; when my logic brain interrupts by saying it’s pathetic since I’m so privileged and that others suffer more. It only feeds and amplifies my shame. On the other hand, we are all lonely, my logic brain counteracts (oh so annoyingly); what I feel is nothing special compared to the greater whole. ‘Thus why not just get over it and move on?’

I’ve realized what is understood of the phrase ‘idle hands are the devil’s workshop’. Not from a religious point of view, but now that I’m without a job again I feel the lack of occupation in its most literal sense even more. Depression sneaks its ugly head into my rear-view mirror again. Every hint of motivation is lost just as quickly as it appears. Interests turn to obsessions which expand to the point of unhealthy before they deflate like the air from a balloon and replaced by new ones. In order to fill the void with… something, because I’m somehow unable or too much of a coward to fill it with the right ‘things’. I violently yearn for these ‘things’; events and people to install themselves in my life and vice versa. So much it hurts, and at the same time I am disgusted with this urge and I rebel against it and tell myself I am not needed, because I don’t know how else to handle it. I’m too pathetic, too inept to do anything about it. And I begin to question if I ever really worked for the good things that have occurred in my life or if I’m just lucky or too spoilt, too presumptuous to think that if I’ll only wait, good things will come – without making the true and honest effort to make them happen or head towards them.

The worst – or, at least, my worst – shadow side may just be self-pity. It encompasses all the other shadow sides, everything I’ve said so far, in a grey mass that feels inescapable. It will always be within me, somewhere. Its parasitic existence will always cast a shadow across every thought or action some time or another. I guess it’s closely related to my self-deprecation (which again stems from a lack of self-worth or belief in oneself), but it also entails a sense of resignation, of cowardice; of lacking the courage or motivation to do anything real about it.

And thus the self-pity feeds itself in an endless circle. It inhibits me from the most selfless actions because I find myself unworthy of other people’s good graces and then I berate my own selfishness; for thinking that ‘even the smallest action won’t bring any good so it’s not worth doing’, and, at the same time, I pity myself for thinking so little of myself. And I feel ashamed once again.

I feel alone again. Only I can do something about it. It’s such a lonely feeling to sit with, in every sense. Despite knowing that I’m not alone in feeling it; that many do so, I believe it can only be dealt with on your own. Then again, it’s the only way I have known.

I’m not sure I’m searching for confirmation and recognition of doing selfless acts, of being a good person; I mostly think my loneliness and insecurity further a sense of helplessness, of not being able to attract or keep people close beyond a superficial or impersonal level, anyway.

‘So, what’s the use of recognition?’ I think to myself.

Furthermore, I think this exact sentiment is what disables me from finding ambition in life; a job goal or a career. If I dismiss any future recognition beforehand, because I don’t believe in my own worth of getting it on the levels I need anyhow; if I can’t hold faith in the first-mentioned kind of recognition, how can I hold faith in a job-related kind?

And thus, I’m stuck. And I’m pitiful and selfish (or that’s what I tell myself). Because it’s not like I’ve been without any kind of recognition in my life. Far from it! But as I said, there’s a selfish need within of needing something less fleeting, less impersonal. Something deeper, steadier. And the fact that I feel so bad at giving it back (my track record tells me so, but I may be wrong), only feeds my shame of wanting it returned myself.

The other question is: From whom? There are few people in my life, and those few I am in contact with have their own lives to deal with. I don’t feel like clinging, without sense or purpose, to anyone. I never want to be a burden. And then I balk at the way I always end up making it about myself when I know I could be so much more for other people; that I can give and help instead of just making it about my own introvert needs. Somewhere, a voice says to me that I am better than this; that I can be better than this. But where do I find the courage, the motivation to do it on my own?

I end up back where I started: My own insecurity and inability in reaching out. Instead I hide away, hide inside myself. I… give up, in some way. (Too quickly, I feel, despite having spent most of my 20s like this, trying to make sense of things). Because none of these features could possibly make me anymore ‘attractive’ than I already am, I mockingly say to myself.

*sighs*

Sorry to be such a downer. I guess I’m a bit blue today.

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