Two-faced, inside and out

Has one side of me stopped caring?

In some ways, I’ve become less sensitive to others’ opinions of me. I’ve stopped questioning the legitimacy of my feelings when around people.

After all, the always brassy, admirable Eleanor Roosevelt once said: “Do what you feel in your heart to be right, for you’ll be criticized anyway.”

Maybe it has something to do with my temper; it tends to overrun my super-ego telling me to be polite and understanding. But I also think I’m beginning to know what I feel when I feel it and that that must be true for me and the current situation I’m in. I won’t apologize for feeling what I feel – unless it is in a moment of stress, then I know I tend to say and do things in the heat of the moment that I don’t mean. I’m getting better at registering those moments and apologize for them (often beforehand in a half-joking, self-deprecating way).

Maybe it’s because I feel people aren’t very sensitive or hardly seem to care about my feelings. Yeah, I know, ‘me, me, me,’ again, but I’m merely trying to understand why or how I’ve become this person; paradoxically, feeling more whole as well as polarized within. I know I may not outwardly show or voice my feelings in situations as expected, but I know I show them in so many others – perhaps where other people don’t notice it. I know I’m good at playing it off like it’s nothing so I guess it’s mostly my own fault and that most people just shrug and think ‘Well, if she says she doesn’t feel so, maybe she doesn’t’. Few good friends and family members have, however, once or twice noticed and commented on it, but I still tend to keep my guards up and play it off even then and, of course, those otherwise caring people think I just want to be left alone when I, deep down, really don’t.

People just have to keep on digging if they want the truth – though I also squirm uncomfortable if so – or I just have to take my guards down a bit more often.

But I suck at talking about my emotions and what I feel about other people! It’s just this one thing I’m no good at! Can’t I have that at least? Like, it’s normal to have one major ‘flaw’ in your personality, right?

*sighs*

It’s hypocritical, I know; being so curious about other people yet hating being scrutinized myself. Still, a little scrutiny would help affirm that people actually care. I just have to learn and find a way to meet in the middle. If I want the small bouts of attention I want, I need to learn how to give it myself. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m as much of a scientist as a humanist in my curiousity, but I need to bring out more of the humanist and put away the scientist in this case. Something that doesn’t always come naturally first but something I have to learn and train myself in – probably for the rest of my life.

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I’m not a one-project girl.

I wish I was.

I just – I really can’t stay to one project for a longer period of time. It’s the eternal curse of the INTP. The only situation in life where we are utterly, devastatingly, chronically unfaithful.

Hence, my current procrastination regarding my thesis project. (Fingers crossed my thesis supervisor doesn’t happen to read blogs that happen to be written by their 20-something students. *scoffs* Yeah, right. Like one in a million, right? … Until it isn’t. Yikes. Um, is it in any way a bad omen that I’m currently and literally sitting with my hand down a cookie jar while writing this piece?).

It doesn’t matter how much we love the current project we are working on; we’ll still get distracted and fall in love with thousand other things in the meantime. We make excuses to postpone the project and have an incessant need to keep perfecting/revising it; something that can take a lifetime or 30 very intense minutes – until we exhaust ourselves to partly not give a damn anymore and partly be damn proud we actually did it.

… Or is it just me?

OK, so I could just stop procrastinating, couldn’t I? Nope. Believe me, I’ve tried. Apparently, it’s the way I roll and no matter how painfully I force my will to do otherwise, I soon flow right back into that way too laid-back stream of ‘it will be done when it will be done-aka-the very last minute’-rhythm. As I said: Very impractical to be me, an INTP (hey, that rhymed).

(PS. I cannot take credit for this amazingly accurate chart.)

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Friendships and (de)pending relations

No matter how independent we [INTPs] feel or claim to be, everyone needs some sort of belonging or kinship. But perhaps unlike other, more common types, we don’t need it to be as physical or nearby. I believe we can easily form strong, lasting bonds in a more abstract or metaphysical way because of the scope of and close alignment to our inner world and imagination. And if the other part feels likewise, we already have a strong, mutual sense and understanding of our friendship.

Does that make sense?

I, for one, am no good at keeping daily tabs on my friends or being called upon all the time for immediate confirmation/affection; I find it rather stifling, actually. Some of my best and oldest friends I’ve only seen or heard from every second or third year (or longer) and yet, we fall right back into our old habits and familiar ways when we finally do see each other. Like putting on a pair of old, well-used leather shoes. Though it works fine for me and does nothing to lessen my sense of the friendship, I know this is not the most ideal way of maintaining friendships, since it is not entirely fair for the other part(s) if they do need a more immediate kind of friendship and close support and I’m just too dense to pick up this vibe. I usually let people be because I have faith they’ll manage just fine by themselves (just like I do myself; very INTP) until they need a listening ear. I’ve felt somewhat guilty that I’m so bad at picking up the phone first; I just hope they know me well enough to understand this – and I am grateful when they do call after an extended bout of silence, because that means that they do understand (I hope) and still choose to come back. But it really doesn’t come as a surprise that I have very few close friends, despite easily getting along with most people I meet. The whole ‘friendships are like a garden’-analogy is not lost on me, but like so much else in life I get easily distracted and tend to forget the maintaining part for longer periods. It doesn’t come natural to me as something I should prioritize and I know it must sound so entirely strange in the ears of most people. It is something I need to practise to become better at. A life project.

Basically, I don’t do the whole dependency thing well. When I’m not needed any longer, I accept and retreat until next time; expecting little to nothing in return. I’m easy to take advantage of in that regard, I guess.

I’m not very dependent on my family, either. I haven’t met many people who feel the same way; most react with amazement when I tell them this which I guess is a normal reaction and it’s just me being weird. A good friend of mine is very dependent on her family; so much that it actually has me worrying because I keep thinking that one day her mother won’t be there for her to talk to and what will my friend do then? Sure, she has her brothers and friends but I know her bond with her mother is extremely close and unique (she can hardly make a decision when shopping without calling her mother) that I doubt she will seek to try to be without it while her mother is around. Thus making it all the more harder when she one day inevitably isn’t … Right?

Understandably, I’m not the most obvious person to be able to understand this. My relationship with my mother is cool – at best. Cool in the detached way, that is. She’s an INTJ so that makes a lot of sense. I certainly understand my mother much better after I’ve realized her type. Let’s just say, INTJs are not the most warm-hearted of people. Actually, I’m afraid they are right down there at the bottom when listed from the most to the least warm-hearted types. They are mothers in their very own way, I guess (I really have nothing else to compare to). Independence and logic are core values in both our types, so that is what I’ve cultivated most of all throughout my upbringing. There are various way to teach independence and I have no clue how I would come off as an INTP parent, but in my experience INTJs are not the kindest in that regard. Mind, this is also a very subjective deduction and doesn’t have to count for all INTJs (mothers). From what I have experienced, you do not get emotional support in the sympathetic way one expects mothers normally give but in the rational, ‘reality-is-harsh’ kind of way. Don’t expect verbal back-up. They expect you to handle it by yourself, no matter your age or situation. Note, INTJs are not the best at handling emotional conflict in the first place, so they rather just stay out of it or intercept every now and then with a cool, aloof rationalization which can cool things down (practically ice things over) but is rarely an appropriate solution in matters of legitimate, emotional turbulence and distress. I never received any from my mother – other than the brief pad or obligatory hug. They believe they know what people think or feel and if that doesn’t happen to be true (which it, naturally, rarely is) they scoff and rationalize that people should just pull themselves together. Despite their brilliance and great skills of deduction, they don’t have a great understanding of or sensitivity for other people’s feelings or ways of living, thus paradoxically being rather limited in their POV. They cannot not judge. It hasn’t always been easy growing up under my mother’s stern, judging gaze, since I was a somewhat sensitive kid and still am. I’ve always been apprehensive to show any kind of weakness because I know how much she hates it when people show or give into their weaknesses. On the other hand, I owe almost all of my critical thinking to my mother; she’s always been there to give an alternative (and ultra-rational) answer to everything I relayed which I could take into my consideration and ponder upon. It has helped develop my own rationale and be critical of hers as well. I’ve come to realize how her logic differs from mine; that though I tend to waver from all the possibilities and various, logical outcomes in my mind, I prefer that compared to her sometimes overly black-and-white thinking where nothing is really good enough and where she always find faults in whatever logic you seek to establish. It’s exhausting. But I guess she finds my ‘wavering’ exhausting too.

After I left home, she calls me every now and then to get an update (a bit too often in my opinion because nothing exciting really happens in my life that often), but she could hardly be called a helicopter parent. I don’t know if she could be called a tiger mother, either. I feel she wants me to return the gesture (again, I’m no good at picking up the phone first) and be a bit more interested in her life now that I’ve gotten older, but that’s the one, essential thing that her teaching lacked: Genuine sympathy and warmth. I got the ultra-introvert-logical love package. The back-up I didn’t receive taught me many things but back-fired in a way that I simply cannot give that much in return than what I received.

I feel a profound need to become independent from my parents, to get away, to not return. I love my parents, but I’m afraid I just don’t like them and I sometimes suspect the feeling is mutual. Nothing is really wrong with that – despite how awful it must sound but hear me out – because it isn’t like we cannot function together; we still meet up at holidays, family gatherings and vacations, but there’s just something that hinders a closer relationship than the bond we share by blood (we will always stand by the latter). It’s like my relationship with my parents is as loving as it is, well, professional and detached. Not the most ideal relationship, but I’ve heard of worse family relations and I think you have, too.

I know, I haven’t mentioned my father much, but that’s perhaps because my relationship with him is close to non-existent, despite most of my clashes have been with him (but that’s also because my mum staunchly stays out of conflicts). We never really talk, though his interest in film and music has influenced me the most (again because my mother’s interest in those things is rather limited). He’s very sensitive and defensive and not the best conversationalist since he takes things too personally too easily, is a bad listener and not good at picking up irony, as well as having lived a rather spoilt, isolated life, so he keeps referring to the same experiences and builds most of his deductions on those. Not very progressive, but as a Feeler he has every now and then surprised me with a natural eye for details neither me or my mum notice. Yet, despite his sensitivity and fondness of monologues he’s rather tactiturn and never asks how I’m doing or anything like that (so I tend to respond with the same treatment, but I guess that works fine for both of us..?). Again, I do not think he genuinely likes me. It is as if he sometimes detaches himself completely from the immediate world, so much that you have to shout and repeat things to him in order to get him to listen and even then he seems distracted. He’s prone to show his fatherly concerns and love through giving materialistic things and if one shows reluctance to accept them he gets easily offended. The few instances I’ve been alone with him, without the presence of my mum, have been very awkward because we most likely both realized how little we’ve really talked or even been more than civil to each other and that we literally have nothing to talk about. He seemed either rather sweet in a cowed, childlike way without the obvious, grating dominance of my mother’s presence, or rather destitute and closed-off and, unfortunately, rather fond of finding his solutions at the bottom of the wine bottle without being a raging alcoholic (yet close enough to become slightly unpleasant and volatile; a significant reason for me to dislike alcohol). We tend to – both intentionally and unintentionally – give each other some harsh word and tones (often we’re just projecting, because I do not genuinely dislike him) and neither of us are good at apologizing, so it can get pretty hurtful at times.

So you see? It could be much worse, I know, yet, I’m not overly excited to go home for the holidays.

Still, despite their blind spots, both my parents are interested in politics, food, culture and travelling, given both me and my sister lots of experience and material to cultivate our own interests in life. I’ll be eternal grateful for that. Also, the older I’ve become the more I’ve realized how hard it must be as a parent to be less and less needed. They’ve taught me everything they could and now I’m so fully developed in my own mindset and opinions that I’m critical of theirs in a different way than when I was a hormonal teen. I often clash with them because of that and we are all still learning to accept that we differ on subjects that weren’t relevant before when I was a kid. That I have a right to refuse their offers of support when I feel I can do things myself, though that it is never a refusal of them as my parents, and that I, in return, should be more compliant to commit to various family responsibilities out of common courtesy and tradition.

Actually, the closest bond and sense of unspoken kinship and understanding I feel with another person is with my sister. I feel there’s something about (blood-related) sisterhood that cannot be explained or said in words. It is just there. And deeper felt than with one’s parents. At least in my case. Of course, even sisters can fall out with each other, even beyond repair (has happened on both sides of my family, ironically) which is one of the saddest things that can happen in life, in my opinion.

“Never let that become us,” we say to each other again and again, and I hope it never will.

*revised 18/7/16*

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A quarter of a life

I’ve just realized that I’ve lived a quarter of my life (if we are to estimate a general lifespan of almost 100 years for my generation and if we do not manage to ruin Mother Earth first, of course).

Funny how 2015, my 25th year on this planet, seemed the spring of my creative writing.

Words just poured out from almost January 1. Not just creatively, but academically, I practically excelled! Truly, I surprised myself! (Now the megalomaniac and the self-deprecator within me are having a major argument, of course). But I did do good and for once, I actually felt rather satisfied and proud of my work. And regarding the creative writing in my sparetime; I wrote better than I ever had before. At the end of the year, I even managed to begin a fanfic story, just for kicks, but it quickly developed and expanded and I’m still hovering around it, trying to unravel the possible outcomes of the story’s progression. I doubt I’ll finish it anytime soon (I am an INTP, after all), but it is rather nostalgic to write just for fun again.

And then I started this blog in the new year, because, once again, I couldn’t keep my mouth or mind shut. I had to get it out, to write!

“If I do not write to empty my mind, I go mad”, Lord Byron once said. And I could not put it simpler than good, old Georgie boy!

It also came in the wake of my newfound realization about dealing with life; with a more raw honesty, so to speak – or simply realizing that I’ve more or less always dealt with life this way and now I’m choosing to embrace it, since I’ve got nothing else to lose. I guess I’m finally embracing and accepting myself as the adult I’ve turned out to be or I’ve turned into somewhat of a cynic … but that may also be a part of myself. The lines are blurry, indeed.

With this realization came all the thoughts that I’ve collected inside my head during this quarter of a life pouring out as well. I’ve kept a sort of secret journal for a long time for this purpose, but it was more like one, long, unedited paragraph of automatic writing where I went to vent. It was entirely raw, personal and emotional – much of it written in the heat of the moment while other parts contained observations I’ve long been pondering about. It was as childish as it was insightful.

Given my late discovery of MBTI I’ve been able to go back and re-read some of these rants with much more clarity; sharing light on so many INTP-related experiences happening throughout my life. It has given me a new perspective that, for the first time, is both recognized and legitimized within the field of psychology and more importantly: My place in the world. That I am a part of the puzzle as well, no matter how weird-looking I appear. Something I actually never thought possible.

And so, this year, in the wake of my newfound honesty, I decided to let go of my fears of confessing these thoughts by sharing some of them with you and the World Wide Web, knowing other (female) INTPs are out there, perhaps feeling as alone and freakish as I once did, not knowing their personality or that it is shared by others and entirely legitimate and ‘non-freakish’. I hope you find this and that some of it resonate with your inner beings; that you’ll find some sort of peace and sense of belonging. As long as there is breath in my body I’ll keep writing, so I’ll be here for you.

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Pretense, truths and desperation

I’m pinballing. Boy, am I pinballing! Yeah, that’s what I’ll call it. My thesis supervisor just told me I am free to invent my own concepts, so that’s what I’m doing. Inventing a concept for my soddin’ life.

I dart around the map of society and within myself. Rapidly and in slow motion, with baited breath and raising heart. Basing my life on luck, unluck, chances and coincidences.

Truth is, for all my contradictory behavior – the ‘fake’ modesty, unhealthy, indecisive fluctation between self-pity and world sympathy, fishing for compliments (really, not really) and not being good at taking them, being blunt and egging people on for comebacks – it all comes down to wanting a challenge. An almost desperate need for someone to contest and defy me, challenge my opinions and pretense, see through my bullshit. In a constructive way, of course. But oh, don’t we all? It’s terribly cliché (maybe even romantic in some twisted way?), but that doesn’t make it any less true, after all. ‘Then stop the pretense’, you might say. Well, I do. Or rather, I mix it up with raw honesty inbetween. Hiding less of myself. Calling out my own bullshit since no one else does, though it may look like self-pity more than self-honesty. I see and even call out others’ bullshit. Teasingly with a hint of goodwill. After all, I want people to find insight through their own doings and flaws (with a bit of help). God, that sounds awfully self-righteous and like I have some sort of god complex, doesn’t it? Am I too Gandalf/Dumbledore, right now? Perhaps. But then again, someone has to play them when it’s role-playing season, right? Not that I actually play them or participate in the whole live action role-playing thing with foam swords and fake elf ears or – oh, sod it, just take the analogy or leave it, will ya!

Where I was going with this again?

Oh, right. I was pinballing.

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To do, or not to do, that is the question.

Oh yes, I’ve been complimented on what I do, but all I ever really want is to be complimented for my mind, my wit and intellect. What I do is less significant, in my mind. It sounds conceited and it probably is, but I think it’s just a fact that ‘Doers’ easier get compliments than ‘Thinkers’. Not that ‘Thinkers’ can’t be ‘Doers’ or vice versa – we all have a bit of both, of course – but the two sides don’t necessarily interact with each other in the harmonious, synergetic way one like to believe. Well, that much is obvious. Nothing is ever black-and-white. And by ‘Doers’ – in its ignorant, prejudiced sense – I mean people who are more hands-on, more practical, who put their ideas into practice. But then I ask: Why must someone visibly put something into practice in order to be a ‘Doer’? Isn’t thinking ‘doing’ as well?

Sure, I procrastinate and I’m idle when not ‘dutiful’. But what is idleness anyway? Not actively achieving something? Just because you can’t see me doing anything, doesn’t mean I’m totally passive on the inside as well. Good heavens, I’m thinking! And it’s still something you do, you just don’t necessarily run around doing it. My brain is doing the marathon here. I’m using my mind, not my body, and yes, while these two can cooperate on the same time, they don’t need to. My mum has this miscontrued conception of sitting in front of the computer, roaming the Internet, equals idleness and, of course, it is a bit extreme that I spend most of my time in front of it, but honestly, she never asks what it is I’m doing, she just presumes it’s something worthless and unproductive. I sometimes wonder if she even knows what the Internet is, what possibilities it holds and just how much there is to discover. I could be doing anything from writing, reading, learning – which is exactly what I do. Sure, I could be gaming all the time or be on Twitter or Facebook, gossiping mindlessly about boys and material things, but reality couldn’t be farther from it. I don’t even have a Twitter or an Instagram profile, and I only post something on Facebook every fifth year or so. Truly. Despite being practically married to the Internet, I spend most of my time on Tumblr, Wikipedia, writing on my blog(s), reading tons of interesting articles or fanfiction (my guilty pleasure), watching satire shows and otherwise roaming the intricate, endless corners of the wonderland called the World Wide Web, soaking in as much knowledge as I can. I might have tried explaining my mum this at some point (though, it should be rather obvious with all the random facts I spew out all the time) but no matter; she’d still dismiss it, I bet. However, I have yet to present my argument that if I didn’t have a computer and/or the Internet, I would have a book. Hundreds and thousands of books! I wouldn’t go out and socialize and exercise and whatever anymore than I do now. I would lock myself inside my own, homemade library and bury my nose, head and mind in the wonderful world of literature! Oh, well, again; I know she wouldn’t understand either way. Actually, I bet she would outright refuse to understand. Besides, her whole argument and rather strained relationship to the world of electronic screens stems from some place else and is rather hypocritical since she has more than embraced the wonders of smartphone gaming apps. I don’t know whether it’s genuine or demonstrative because I know where I have inherited some of my stubborn and demonstrative/passive-aggressive streak from. But that’s a whole other story for another time. Let’s just say I have a complex relationship with both of my parents (don’t we all?). And hereby endeth the rant.

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Critique and self-insight

I once got an E at university. My first and, so far, only E.

I know, ‘poor me’, right? No, this isn’t a pity story, it’s a story of (personal) insight.

While an E isn’t a failing grade in my country, it is one step from it. When I saw it I bawled. I was shocked because I’d thought it a good essay when I had handed in, not my best but it was okay. I’d thought I was really onto something. But then, having wiped my tears, I re-read it and I saw just how many blatant mistakes I had (unconsciously) made, such as using a secondary source as my primary, giving a way too insufficient analysis of an entire film as case study, basing way too many facts on news articles and, all in all, trying to save the world. All in the amount of 20 pages or so. Never a good idea. None of it. I don’t know what I had been thinking, really. It was so obvious, yet, for once, I had been blinded by my idealism. However, the writing process had been different. In my class we had been teamed up in these sort of sparring groups who wrote within the same theme or problem. My group was a wonderful bunch of girls and we often met up at one of girls’ apartment downtown, drinking tea, eating great food and discussing the problems of the world. It was such a great experience compared to my usual hermit-like tendencies whenever I write (not that I hate those; it is my choice, after all) that I realized the paper or the grade itself didn’t matter as much as I had appreciated the unique experience of working together with those brilliant, quirky, equal-minded girls. When I was able to reach my supervisor a couple of weeks later after having gotten my grade, I was entirely serene about it. She was rather apologetic and sympathetic as if expecting I would break down crying at any minute, but I kept reassuring her in a surprisingly cool and collected way that I had realized my failings with the paper and accepted them.

When I think back, I learned so much from that entire ordeal, especially about myself. It sounds weird – a true luxury problem – but it was almost good to have been thrown down from the pedestal for once. To face your faults. Again, getting good grades isn’t that hard if you have figured out the system and a way to make it easier for yourself. But I also happen to like what I’m studying. I’m fairly good at it. Which both eases my interest and puts a bit more pressure on my own performance. Nice and contradictory as always. I would probably not have looked as positively at that E if I hadn’t been in that swell group dynamic. They certainly compensated for the grade! And I learned how to appreciate that random group work can have great dynamics after having become rather cynical about them during my earlier school years.

To back up a little, I’ve become more and more resilient (or rather demonstrative?) to outer critique like that, because the critique itself – good or bad – is within me; it is already there, so to speak. My ‘chessplayer’ logic won’t allow it otherwise; all possible outcomes have already been regarded (or deducted swiftly in the moment it happens), unconciously or not, thus I’m not all that surprised when it is confirmed from the outside world. Sounds exhausting, right? *shrugs* Well, I can’t help it. As I said: my brain has a life of its own. But as I’ve mentioned before, certain critique hits deeper because it digs at some of my insecurities or weaknesses which I may have been aware of and even regarded but pushed away in some sort of twisted self-denial. Often the critique couldn’t be more cliché and yet, somehow, all the more hurtful because of it. And when the outer world randomly and verbally ‘confirms’ it, I surprise myself by breaking down momentarily, shocked at my own violent shock, hurt and anger by something so utterly petty. I get back up on the horse, of course, but hurtful things are always hard to forget.

I questioned whether I’m just plain demonstrative in this show of ‘resilience’, which I did because as a child I was ‘diva-demonstrative’ incarnated. Whenever I drew something, dressed up or anything like that and presented my work for my parents, no matter what they said – but mostly when they praised it effusively – I would backlash; tear up the drawing, tear in my clothes, hide from the camera, huff and puff and even scold my parents for their reactions. I think I partly behaved like that because I was aware of the ‘soft soap speech’ that adults tended to put on and which I frankly hated and didn’t understand. I think I deep down wanted immediate, honest responses, not platitudes, already back then. But mostly, I was just an obstinate kid in a power struggle. Never felt entirely comfortable with authorities or anyone trying to tell me what to do. Not just my parents, but my little sister and even some of my friends in school got a taste of my temper – not always, but whenever I felt truly headstrong, wronged or self-righteous. Once thumbed a girl in the stomach because she said something I didn’t like at my seventh year birthday(!). Whenever I tell this to people today their eyes bulge with surprise and disbelief. Of course, kids are kids and thank God for that. I’ve not lost my bad temper but it hardly shows its ugly face in the same ways as it once did. Not all INTPs are like this; my temper had a lot to say and one’s personality is hardly developed at this stage. And I was told I was more compliant and mature than other kids. This was, of course, when I was outside of the home; for some reason, I knew I couldn’t behave quite like that in the public’s sphere. (Well, besides that little ‘diva-boxer’ episode.. *clears throat*).

What did I want to say with this?

Ah, right: the matters of my particular demonstrative streak. Well, some of it lingers from childhood and though the dramatics of the backlash has changed, I fear it’s still a somewhat childish behavior or instinct that in itself hasn’t matured, no matter what I choose to call it otherwise. That – when I stand up to something – it cannot be called brave or anything like that, because, in reality, it’s just my inner, petulant child speaking its mind.

And like I feel around all children, I’m ambivalent at best.

*revised 13/12/16*

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