Where do I see myself in the future?
Everywhere and nowhere.
It’s a stupid question to ask an INTP, really. By principle, you cannot possibly predict the future (sci-fi’s not included) and though you may have a will of steel to steer towards one goal or one place in life, the very thought of doing so makes me gag because I’m thinking of all the possibilities you’ll miss or be blinded to along the way if you do so. INTPs like to keep every option and possibility open so the notion of setting down on one, singular path in life is just outrageous. At least, it is to me. Oh, I know where I have no intention of ending up and though I’m not without a path I still keep an open mind towards the future. Thus, evidently, I am making certain predictions about where I may end up in the future. The title merely aims to advice people to be less single-minded and more open-minded about the end goal and the road to it. In reality, most people rarely end up where they thought they would, anyway.
So, where do I see myself in the not so far away future?
When people ask, the question is always, first and foremost, seen from a ‘practical’ standpoint of career-making and economics; where I see myself working and making money to earn a living. I’ve always been perplexed by this standpoint of interest.
What if I, first and foremost, simply want to live a nice place – a cottage by the sea, perhaps, with a cute dog as company?
‘Yes, all that is very well, but where do you intend to get the money for such a cottage?’, you may ask.
I’m not a child. I know I have to work in order to live and to take the rough with the smooth. But that doesn’t mean I have to like it (hell, none of us do in the end). Money is a necessary evil to live in this world. And, after all, I am fond of my creature comforts and without them I would probably not sound so careless about money as I do. I know I’m a terrible hypocrite and practically human trash for living off other’s earnings (we get paid to study in my country) and not participating and contributing to the economic growth of my country by having a job. But I simply cannot do it for the money or for the sake of having money. There must be more to life! If I had been born into other circumstances where beggars can’t be choosers, then, of course, I would simply have to change my tune and do what was necessary to even live a basic life. I’m bloody fortunate and grateful that I haven’t been, so if my being ‘a slacker’ – in the sense of not spending most of my sparetime behind the counter of the local supermarket – is what I am, then I must accept that. I have a luxury problem, after all. Don’t mistake my tone for passive-aggressive. I’ve long since come to terms with these facts. Protesting against the value we place on money, wanting something else before wanting money, is unusual at best. It may be romantic, naive notions about living, really living in the harsh day of light, but I cannot force myself willingly into the hungry, cooperative money-making machine of society. Of only achieving success. Every instinct, principle and voice within me bridle and dig their heels in by the sheer notion; wanting to be free of that churning, merciless system that I deep down know I cannot be free of.
David Orr puts it so well:
“The planet does not need more ‘successful’ people. But it does desperately need more peacemakers, healers, restorers, storytellers, and lovers of every shape and form. It needs people who live well in their places. It needs people of moral courage willing to join the fight to make the world habitable and humane. And these needs have little to do with success as our culture has defined it.”*
Of course, working isn’t all about money and success. It can be good, fulfilling and delightful. That’s not my problem (how could it be?). Maybe it’s my highly independent individualist within my INTP personality that wants to be free of any constrictions that go along with having a job. Childish, I know, but it’s just so basic an instinct within me; personal freedom and space to do my own thing, so to speak. Maybe I should become self-employed, but then again I wouldn’t have the self-discipline or the management skills to drive a business. I wouldn’t even know what business I would want to have in the first place. However, I have considered becoming a professional blogger, since this would give me an opportunity to write my own stuff, I can decide for myself what and when I want to write or publish anything, I can give advice to people and help out this way while getting paid (though I’m still a bit confused how the latter part works). Or maybe a freelance journalist? It could be fun to work for some feminist (online) magazines/blogs such as The Mary Sue, Bitch Flicks, The Toast, Ms. Magazine, Bitch Media, etc., all the while keeping my own independence and self-critical stance.
I’ve also thought about embracing the archetypical INTP profession of the ‘absent-minded professor’. University seems partly ideal for my kind of mind, despite not being absent of a fair deal of bureaucracy. I’m seriously considering applying for a PhD scholarship at my university this spring, hoping to get in by this fall, though the chances of getting through seem considerably slim. I wouldn’t mind teaching that much, either. What I’m not so hooked about is that you have to have a satisfactory, diverse CV already before you apply – proving you have a great deal of experience with the ‘outside’ world. Bleah! I honestly wonder how some of my lecturers and professors managed that since some of them easily categorize as the ‘more than absent-minded professors’. Boy, some of them are awkward and eccentric (more so than me!) but they are also inspiring in their enthusiasm about their own fields of research, clearly disappearing into their own heads just like me, and if they could come this far within the system – with all their eccentricities – then why couldn’t I?
See, when I say I aspire to stay at university and possibly work there, I don’t get a lot of understanding. People are in awe of course, but that is perhaps because not that many work at university or they do not know any who does. So they seem interested but blank. Not much to go on, conversation-wise. If I had said teacher in an elementary school or high school, people would probably have more to go on. If I said I wanted to be a curator in a museum, people would be able to ask all kinds of practical questions. Maybe university lecturer sounds awfully dull. All they do is talk and talk and make curriculums and review essays and talk some more, right? It sounds elitist too. But that’s just snobbish. I partly want to prove them wrong but partly I don’t give a shit. I know who appreciate university lecturers and that is university students. If I can give them something worth thinking about, then I’ve done my job. If I manage to give other people something to think about too, then I’ve done my job extra well, I guess. That’s all I really want: Getting people to think, open their minds; be curious and question everything within and around them.
Another option for a less bureaucratic position would be as a teacher at a folk high school (a common, widespread phenomenon in my country). The six months I spent as a ‘student’ at a folk high school were the most insightful and inspiring times of my life and being employed in a place like this seems like so much fun. As a teacher I would be free to create my own classes and curriculums, free of exams and requirements of the same kind as in the normal school systems. I would also have to be more social, given the responsibility an employed at a folk high school have besides teaching, but I don’t think I would mind that much. I may not be the most authoritative person but I like helping and advicing people and I think teaching in such a relaxed atmosphere would be great.
My mother once suggested becoming a reviewer of art, literature or film etc., and even though the thought has crossed my mind before, I almost instantly realized that I couldn’t possibly wield judgement on other’s works of art of the simple reason that such kind of ‘traditional authority’ – of deciding what is good and bad – would be ill-fitting for me, since I find all opinions noteworthy and would much rather discuss the respective work of art from different points of view. (Sounds very INTP, doesn’t it?). In this instance, going to and fro through traditional media and even in writing would become an awfully slow and drawn-out form of discussion, making room for many unnecessary misunderstandings that I think could be prevented face-to-face. Maybe I’m still too immersed with the culture of the university where I’m among equal-minded souls (NB: not meant as a devaluation of anyone outside uni) and such discussions flow easily in class and are a natural extension of being a student.
Maybe being a teacher at uni is what will be my most fitting end goal, after all?
Well, we’ll just have to wait and see, won’t we? In the meantime, I do not fear the road to it so much.