Sometimes I look at myself from the outside

In spite of all my inward self-discovery lately, I fear at times that I appear more arrogant that I intend to be. (Not that I ever intended to appear arrogant in the first place).

But what is arrogance? Being confident? Sarcastic? Aloof? Cynic? Superior? Elitist? Oppinionated? Stubborn? Where do you draw the line based on an impression?

I recently (and reluctantly) watched a snippet of one of my dad’s recent home videos of the family and it shocked me to see that in the clip I appeared to put on airs in a rather dislikable manner. However, my own recollection of this episode was that I was disconcerted by my dad’s ‘invisible-yet-all-the-more-in-your-face’-filming of us and instantly put up a front of flippant, snide sarcasm to seem, well, cool, I guess. I think I do it a lot. And not just because I have this pet peeve when people don’t vocalize that they are about to photograph or film me. I use sarcasm/irony as a filter in various contexts; it’s like a second nature to me. A weapon. I do it to make sense of myself and the world – and to protect myself. I just never really realized how obvious it is. That, or I simply look and seem utterly and genuinely arrogant.

I’ve doubted whether I really am arrogant or not, based on this and other responses I’ve gotten throughout the years. But I know that deep down – despite of all the little superiority and diva complexes – I could never be truly arrogant to those I am around (well, as long as I like them, which is most of the time). I’m too self-deprecating or self-aware to be so. I am too curious, humble (although that statement always seems counterproductive) and naive about my fellow man, believing – perhaps too often – in the good in people before anything else. Not necessarily in the way they act towards me, but inherently. The problem is: I’m not arrogant, I’m distracted (or I seem ‘aloof’ as most people describe INTPs). Distracted by everything I know and am aware of – and everything I have yet to know and become of aware of – and I try to take all that into account. The poet William Cowper once said: “Knowledge is proud that he has learned so much; Wisdom is humble that he knows no more”. Ironically, you could say I’m distracted by my awareness and staying aware. So distracted that I appear uncaring or poker-faced or whatever – and thus arrogant. I don’t know if I truly have a pokerface. Naturally, I’ve not had a chance to observe myself from the outside – unless I watch a video of myself where I’m unaware that I’m being filmed (which are fewer than a few). When I know I’m being filmed the above-mentioned episode happens; I instantly put up a front – like a petulant, squirmy child.

I’ve doubted so much that I started using this possible arrogant appearance to explain why people stay away, don’t find me memorable and never become emotionally invested in me (I know, that isn’t a one-way street, but as an INTP I’m not always aware that I may not seem emotionally invested even if I am). Maybe in an overall view, this may be true, but I’ve also come to realize that those people perhaps just weren’t meant to be in your life or they were too ignorant and prejudiced to give it a chance or it was simply bad luck. How will you ever know, anyway? What is most important are those who care and show interest. I’m learning to be more expressive about such things myself, because even if I feel it I need to show it in order to receive something in return. It sounds silly, written like that, doesn’t it? But sometimes I need to write it down like a manual for dummies or notes to myself in order to get it into my head. I may know it already, yet too often I take it for granted. I’m awkward and stumbling along the way, but I try my best to get out my distracted head and show some personal investment in the immediate world around me, be a little less hypocritical and self-absorbed.

Something happened just this day that made me doubt again, fearing ‘the air of arrogance’ had returned. Little things; like people not getting why I had decided to drop a volunteer job I had had for over two years despite I smiled and explained why (even apologized), some of the new volunteers not looking me in the eyes (but apparently everybody else’s), etc.. Ugh, sorry for the petty venting. It’s not something I usually do, but it illustrates a pattern of almost similar occurences throughout my life and the simmering feeling of doubt I have that I may appear different on the outside to those around me than what I think. And not in a good way. Today, by chance, it led to one depressive thought after another and somehow I got ahead of myself and concluded that nobody really cared much for me or liked me. Silly me, getting all insecure and possibly drawing the wrong conclusions too fast. Because then I came home and realized people do care, people do remember me. An old friend I haven’t heard from in a long time called to say hi and my mom called because she has become all excited about a potential job offer for me after uni. I returned the gestures, listened and thanked them, respectively. I finally sent a much belated postcard to an elder in the family and wrote a message to another old friend I haven’t spoken to in a long time. I’m awful at keeping personal tabs and initiate immediate, emotional support to those around me – simply because I take the show of outward support for granted (though that doesn’t exclude the fact that I feel for them and am willing to lend them a friendly ear). Once again; it isn’t enough that I know that I care for people, I need to show it as well. And just because I feel I’m not particularly good at showing it in the expected ways, I should still just do it – even though it feels awkward and stilted and doesn’t come entirely natural to me. As I’ve said before, this is a battle with myself – a life-long project that I cannot give up.

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