Brilliant, but spectacularly ignorant about some things

Sherlock Holmes2

I think, by now, it’s fairly established that Sherlock Holmes is an INTP (possibly going INTJ, or being ‘a high-functioning sociopath’ as he puts it himself). An extreme, almost fantastical one at that.

Nonetheless, I see in Sherlock many subtle parallels to my own mind; its complex workings and all, and how I function and interact with the people and the world around me. It is a mirror in which I see an extreme, fantastical version of myself; everything I could be and every facet and flaw that come with the ever-so brilliant INTP mind. In celebrating and critiquing Sherlock, I, inevitably, celebrate and critique myself; all the while taking into account that he is fictional and a hyperbole of my personality. Luckily, the BBC has outdone themselves with their modern adaptation of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s iconic protagonist in the Sherlock-series and done nothing to shorten the highly entertaining ways to stretch and complicate the ways of how far an INTP would or could go.

One matter in particular struck me as a clear parallel to myself when I re-watched Sherlock the other day.

Remember the scene in episode 3, season 1, where Sherlock is peeved by Watson’s description of him; “how spectactularly ignorant he is about some things” despite his brilliance to “see through everything and everyone in seconds”, alluding to Sherlock’s ignorance about who is Prime Minister and whether the Earth goes round the sun? Sherlock says he does not find such “rubbish” important enough to remember or he has simply deleted it from his hard drive/brain to make room for more important and useful information, especially regarding his work.

It is, as always, an incredibly funny interaction to witness, because, once again, we are given a peak into one of the strengths but also greater weaknesses of the INTP mind.

I have the same ‘condition’, so to speak. I do know that the Earth goes round the sun though, but I’ve been put on the spot several times because of my ignorance about equally common knowledge; of unwritten codes and laws most people know about and take for granted. For example, I more or less suck at mental arithmetic and remembering proverbs or road names, despite having lived in the same two cities for most of my life, and in general, geography is a city in China for me (pun intended). Unless, of course, I have specific knowledge I can pin on a certain city etc., I do know. And I know one can teach oneself something close to a photographic memory that rivals that of Sherlock Holmes, mind palace and all, by practicing a memorizing technique where you pin knowledge to a system of something you already know.

I could do that – but I’m just too lazy.

However, it is relative what piece of information one deems common or universal knowledge, what one finds is ‘rubbish’ and what one finds important and useful. Sherlock, after all, knows particularities that could be viewed as ‘rubbish’ and what he otherwise would have deleted from his ‘hard drive’, were they not useful and beneficial for the given case he is investigating. For example, at one point, he is given a cigarette from his brother at a morgue and asks if there isn’t a law against smoking indoors. This rather common knowledge one would presume he would know about, had it been useful to a specific case (or the writers of the show). Anyhow, it isn’t in this one, so why should he know it? It’s very INTP. Something I would do myself.

It’s ‘funny’ how the INTP mind can come off as quasi-autistic at times.

E.g. this one time in high school, in a geography class (ah, the irony!), I was the only one who had figured out how to make a graph that showed two types of complex statistics on Excel so I had to scurry around between two different computer rooms to the entire class, my teacher included, to show them how to do it. Not that difficult to figure out, to be honest, if you only bothered to look what the programme offered, so I was a bit baffled when even the IT nerds of the class asked for help!

On the other hand, I only just recently discovered that Word actually has an automatic function for making a table of contents … *sighs* All the energy I could have saved all these years instead of doing it manually.

So. There you have it.

Like Sherlock, I’m ignorant about matters I deem trivial to remember, to focus or to dwell on, if I do not find them useful or if they do not add to the bigger picture. And I get perplexed and irritated if people keep focusing on them instead of getting to the point of the matter that is truly important. Even more so, if they do not see what is more important! (Or, say, what the INTP finds important).

This is why INTPs may come off as aloof and even unfeeling to certain sensibilities and other people’s feelings etc.. I do not see myself as ‘cold’ as Sherlock, but I reckon if I had his abnormal skills (including a photographic memory) and put them to use in solving cases in the complex magnitudes as him, I too would have to close myself off to certain aspects of human interaction to make room for sheer brain power and the intricacies evolving the case I was solving. And, to some extent, I do. Out of sheer, practical necessity. Not because I/he don’t care deep down – which Sherlock proves he does, again and again – but because he has this gift and must put it to good use, inevitably distracting him from other more ‘mundane’ parts of life. He isn’t a god, after all. If he was, he would be able to do both/all of it with equal attention. It doesn’t excuse his gruff treatment of those around him in the long haul; his and the INTP’s fault is to get off on being brilliant and solving (or obsessing about) paradoxes and the, impossible, but it is simply the reality of knowing and being close to an INTP – or, at least, an extreme version of the INTP.

I find his ‘controversial’ nature and the general reaction inside and outside the Sherlock-universe rather entertaining – from an insider perspective. I know what he’s doing because I do it myself. As mentioned before, INTPs are contradictory, puzzling creatures at best and despite our principielled logic and honest and blunt rhetoric, we’re also ‘deviants’ who have learned the necessary art of seemingly adapting ourselves to the outer world and blending in when necessary in order to learn. We’ve learned how to put on the Extrovert mask, so to speak. We are impersonal analysts to the core who have a personal interest in the world and use our skills to see through people’s general behavior and tendencies when wanting to understand, deduce and conclude where our own role in all this is going to be. It is a subtle and rather affronting, manipulative skill when you learn about it. Because, in truth, we are actually deceiving people – yet, it is not for any personal and evil, scheming purposes. Not per se. I’ll try to explain: First and foremost, it is our way to operate in a world that doesn’t necessarily fit us, yet not a world that we look down upon or do not genuinely want to understand in all its complexity (which I find INTJs are more inherently prone to. No offense).

So, even when Sherlock behaves oblivious and rude, we cannot know for sure how oblivious he actually is of his own behavior. I think, like me, he can be more self-aware than he shows and play on these ‘faults’; thus, at the same time, allowing himself to be genuinely indifferent to the things he finds trivial and dismiss the people who actually act stupidly, while also using this as a cover for not only getting the wanted reactions out of people (well, I never said INTPs didn’t harbor a secret Machiavellian superiority complex), but also get to observe something entirely different at stake. If you’ve noticed, he does this on several occasions, leaving many a perplexed faces behind. Of course, we all have our moments of unthinking stupidity, as does Sherlock, but personally, my mind has about hundreds of analyzing ‘voices’ speaking all at once; I can never NOT take myself and my own position into account as well. It may be stifled by the 99 other ‘voices’ from time to time; thus, the sudden shifts and turnabouts of character, before zooming back and meta-commenting on ourselves in-between. As a result, we cannot help being self-aware and self-ironic to a fault (or, at least, I am), so much that we sometimes have trouble knowing when we are and when not. It’s all mixed up in a very fragmented, complex system where everything runs simultaneously but not necessarily in a conventional structure. To explain plainly, it is not a systematic system in the same decided way as in the INJT mind (in my understanding). INTPs hardly know the system of our thinking beforehand, only that it is there and that somehow everything is connected in complex, changeable ways that we love to discover. We understand it as we go along. This is our modus operandi and I can certainly see why this is both intriguing, irritating, baffling and exhausting to those around us who do their best to try and follow our rapid, sporadic, abstract observations. You can never rightly know where you’ve got an INTP. Is she/he actually brilliantly stupid or stupidly brilliant? The borders between genius, idiot and madman are definitely blurred. And I think this is what makes Sherlock Holmes such a popular phenomenon, still. It is also the reason why I love reading people’s deductions of him because they are very telling of this particular aspect. Especially the INTPs’ own, various analyses. We can see things about him that only we would understand, but we are also our own blind spots. We’re so good at ‘deceiving’ everyone else that we can be ‘deceived’ by ourselves. And we know that. Thus, our own, distracted bouts of self-introspection and random meta-comments. We learn while we think and think while we learn.

Though I do agree that Sherlock may not be 100% INTP but verge on INTJ and ISTP characteristics as well in his various portrayals, I do not generally agree with the notion that Sherlock isn’t at all an INTP. I do not agree that INTPs aren’t observant but rather we observe everything at once and naturally cannot regard everything with the same amount of focus, leaving out matters others normally would deem important. We see the elephant in the room that most people don’t see, and we don’t see the elephant in the room that other people usually see. Sherlock has been given the fantastical, superhuman version of the INTP skill here: He is able to observe everything in one take, focus on the smallest of details with equally concentrated analysis and deduce the most outrageously specific information based on all these things that, in my mind, could also say a thousand other things. Oh well. It’s makes for great entertainment, doesn’t it?

Sherlock, the show, gives you an idea of what an INTP is like, flaws and all – added the title character’s own unique personality and some enhanced skills. He is as fictional as he is an idealized representation of a reality. And I think people should be as celebratory and critical of his brilliance as they should keep in mind that INTPs are not merely fantastical creatures from the world of fiction one can stretch as one like; here for entertainment and problem-solving of the strangest paradoxes, but real, autonomous human beings in whatever complex, less ‘visible’ and legendary forms they take in the real world.

In fear of sounding rather bigheaded now, I can’t help wondering if the inherently astute and impressive deductive skills and reasoning of INTPs make most people (naturally or unconsciously?) harbor a sort of inferiority-superiority complex towards us and want to point to and laugh at the INTPs’ obvious flaws regarding certain social contexts? Whether people keep clinging to our ‘anti-social freak’ nature (rather pathetically, since it’s already an established fact), yet wanting the cake and eating it too by being fascinated or entertained by our ‘brilliance’ at work…?

Not to say that ‘most people’ are stupid (like Sherlock probably would), but I’m simply trying to understand why it seems INTPs (including myself), in particular, get this two-faced treatment again and again; being treated as both a wallflower and a freak; a rare specimen in a zoo. Made for laughs when people get bored, put to use because of our deductive, efficient, unsentimental brains and then cast away again with no greater care … ‘because we are, after all – weird’ and ‘is better off left alone, aye?’. Why is that? Do other types get the same treatment, just in a different way?

I may be projecting now but I sometimes have my misgivings about how people separate or compare the INTP character Sherlock Holmes from the living, breathing and – in fairness – much more complex and less utopian INTPs of this world. I’m not saying that I have personally experienced people comparing me to Sherlock or expecting me to be like him, only that Sherlock has become soooo romantized and mythologized, flaws and all, that his legend is cemented through him being an icon, an idea, only fleshed out in two-dimensional medialities; on paper, on the screen, etc.. He will forever stay as such, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t complex. Not only was he well-written by ‘birth’, but he is also an INTP; he cannot not be complex (in my perhaps rather subjective opinion). Again, other MBTI types are thus not deemed as uncomplex, but INTPs are inherently puzzles from the somewhat contradictory composition and nature of their personality. And that is just it: INTPs in real-life are not well-written from birth like Sherlock. They are complex at being complex.

The last thing INTPs (well, any of us) need is becoming romanticized and mythologized; we are not passive subjects nor active objects of entertainment – created by an outside source or author – that people can project themselves or an idealized version of INTPs onto without any consequences. We are highly autonomous subjects and main-creators and -narrators of our own lives; not medialized and idealized but living and multidimensional. Not based on any pre-conceived or after-analyzed ideas of our personality, not even MBTI. It may be easy for me to say after I’ve discovered MBTI, but it wasn’t a matter of not having a personality before, I simply didn’t have any name for it. Especially not one born of consensus and shared by others. When I did, it all just clicked; like I somehow knew it already but it was hidden behind a veil.

“A rose by any other name would smell as sweet”, right?

Sure, Sherlock still gives a mysterious aura, but his personality must add up from the beginning in order to connect his ability to solving intricate crimes to that of his brilliance. If you think about it (the crime genre as well), he cannot be entirely complex at being complex. It must somehow all add up – even what is left as mysterious must be left so for a reason that is Sherlock, the icon. Watson must somehow stick around for a reason. Moriarty must somehow stay alive for a reason. Irene Adler must somehow remain ‘the mystery’ she is; the femme fatale, ‘the Other’ or rather Sherlock’s ‘Other’, etc.. It’s all very meta if you think about it. Or anti-meta and quite literal if you like.

Anyways, Doyle certainly created a masterpiece we’ll probably never be able to get tired of investigating and reliving. Perhaps because few other stories gives such vivid and intriguing inside to the mind and life of the INTP. Or rather what the INTP could be … perhaps only realized in a fictive world.

But INTPs in real-life are not so. (And I take the liberty to talk on behalf of all INTPs, if not all types, because I believe this to be true). Or, that is not our purpose. We are – us. Humans, not characters. How can I better describe it? We may show signs and patterns of behavior like Sherlock but what we do or say or feel, we do – not because it fits with a greater scheme or because others feel like it. We do it sometimes without any reason at all. We feel for ourselves as an action in itself; not just as a causal reaction from something that has been written down or expected or projected from someone else’s action or idea (if that makes any sense?). Just like any of you would probably say about yourselves – all other existential, religious, psychological theories aside. What you know in your core. All in all, couldn’t you say the same thing about all personality types, all humans? When we see a character with our personality, we see a mirror of ourselves, however perfect, idealized and flawed it may be, it is not us. It is still a mirror of us. Polished and flat, giving the illusion of flesh and bone and three-dimensionality. And it can never be us (unless the future comes up with a ‘solution’ to that). We are all our own, all inherently autonomous and think and feel for ourselves; everything that we have so far claimed separate us from the animals and the robots.

It should be a given, but I feel I need to stress this nonetheless.

I don’t know if INTPs are in more danger of being, to some extent, idealized and made into fantastical beings because we are so … puzzling. Rare and seemingly obscure. Especially in real-life. In Sherlock, one version of this rare, obscure specimen has been discovered and the puzzle at least gets to make some sense. It is dealt with beforehand – by someone else. I get that one would be prone, more or less unconsciously, to regard and read people from pre-conceived ideas and representations (I’m sure I’ve done so as well; it seems only human) and if our [INTPs’] ‘fate’ is to be represented – in whatever enhanced form – through Sherlock Holmes, it certainly isn’t the worst comparison. It’s nice to have an ally, after all; one you can always use as your trump card and with an iconic and literary resonance such as Sherlock Holmes’, it is a character whose legitimacy few dare to question.

But, all in all, the idealized glasses just don’t do much good when we [INTPs] try to make ourselves seem less puzzling and more accessible in order for people to get to know our true selves. Of course, on the other hand, it may help people to understand us better.

I hope for the latter.

I think I’ll end it on that note. I always tend to get a bit out of hand with these posts but I hope you’ll bear with me. As usual. Now, go watch some Sherlock 😉

*revised 26/8/17*

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Ah, the good ol’ days …

Am I the only one feeling a lack of nostalgia concerning one’s first school years?

20 years ago I started in elementary school and I graduated 10 years ago. That’s something to celebrate.

… Isn’t it?

Well, the very same class I started and graduated together with has decided to celebrate it in our hometown this summer. Some of them have tried persistently throughout the last couple of years to get hold of us all on Facebook for a get-together, but have failed to make anything happen so far.

True, my school years were not the worst of the worst, but I have no overly fond memories of them either. After all, I went to school for 10 years with the same group of kids and going to school was obligatory – what was one supposed to expect? I was a kid and was as easy to please/entertain as I was to get hurt. One could easily make friends by simply saying ‘wanna play?’ or enemies by disagreeing who should play with the prettiest Barbie doll. Rarely much thought came with one’s actions. As one grew older, toys and games became less prominent in the ways of interactng and were replaced by more complex ‘games’ of emotional and hormonal rollercoaster-rides, adopting the adults’ more hard-hitting humour (more awareness, yet no more thought behind) and partying and drinking. The stakes had changed. Everyone was trying to find their places in the world, hierarchy by hierarchy; starting, naturally, with one’s school class. Some kept throwing their weight about, physically and verbally, others experimented with how much power they could gain through various devious, manipulative methods, while a few sat by the ‘High Table’, holding court like kings or queens and whom everybody looked up to (eventhough they did nothing special to earn those titles). A couple stayed quiet because the turmoil stayed on the inside, and of course they often received the worst of the brunt. The latter (surprise; I was one of them) became the scapegoats and/or the wallflowers of the group. Of course, this only got worse the older we got. It didn’t matter that we had known each other for almost ten years at that point. The hormones (or something that’s beyond me) took charge!

Should I have known my mates would suddenly turn on me and those they for some pathetic reason deemed weaker? Should I have seen it coming? Could I excuse their behavior for merely being hormonally induced? Perhaps. But… It wasn’t like I wasn’t hormonal too, you know. I was no angel, but at least I didn’t frequently patronize or bully or mock my peers simply because I felt like it or because I had a bad day. I just kept to myself and did my homework. Which may have provoked something in those still-developing brains of theirs. Who knows? I also looked like a nerdy, lanky tomboy-reject from a 1970s’ school photography of the latest arcade game club; bowl haircut, glasses and all (let’s just say, I would fit perfectly into a Wes Anderson movie). I guess such a strange ‘non-girl’ was very confusing for everyone else trying so (too) hard to find their places in the heteronormative systems. So they had to say something, of course, though I never asked for their opinions. Well, kids are kids. Actions forgiven, but not forgotten. To this day I cannot help feeling a touch of old-time betrayal whenever I have bumped into any of them back home.

Still, I wasn’t the one who took the worst of the brunt (though some of it was pretty rough) from those so-called mates of mine. I am ashamed to say I witnessed some awful stuff that I was too stunned by and too much of a coward to interfere with. There was even this one time when I was the mocker, and I will never ever forget the face of the poor girl who happened to be at the receiving end and had done nothing to deserve my vile words. I simply wanted to show off in front of my other friend. I remember feeling so bad the moment the words left my mouth, seeing her face crumple in shock and hurt (and she did not have a very pleasant life at home, in the first place. Boy, did I feel double-bad!) while my friend giggled and we turned away and continued with our usual frivolity like nothing happened. But I felt so paralyzed within. Didn’t recognize myself. And I wondered how the others who did this on a daily/weekly/yearly basis felt? Did they really feel better from projecting that kind of stuff? Did they really tell themselves that this was the way to find a place and role in the world? To be grown-up and cool?! No, it was beyond me.

I couldn’t have been much more than 13 years old, and suddenly I had grown light years older in my awareness.

So this whole reunion-celebration-anniversary-whatever-invitation this summer is awkward to say least. They write in the invitation that – besides all the summer frivolities – we are going to ‘gossip all night long’. Really? What are we to gossip and bond over? ‘The good, old days when we were one, big, happy group of kids and our 10 years togetherness’? Yeah, right. In that case, they remember our school years very differently than I. What do they expect we have in common anymore? We’ve grown soooo much in those last ten years. Are we supposed to ‘share all the good memories’? Sure, there was a few, but those I remember most clearly were when we were playing ball and forgetting ourselves for a moment; with no hackling or power-play. Just kids getting excited about a stupid, but oh-so-essential, little ball in the school yard, getting sweaty and exercise all our frustrations out through the simplest of games – where the only danger of getting hurt was scraping one’s knees.

I know (via Facebook) most of them still live close to our hometown or even in the town (still – after all these years, geez) and that some of them have maintained some contact during the years, so I will be one of the few who have lived ‘far’ away from home and not been in close contact with any of the others. As far as I know, we’re also only few who have taken a college education. Not that it is time to get all snobbish, but I’m not sure whether any of the others will go all the way back home for this. At any case, I will be an outsider who shares no greater nostalgia for my past school years nor have a need to stay close at home or keep in contact with old school mates. But why pretend? The ‘school mates’ I connected with (and still stay in contact with) were first and foremost from my high school years.

Shouldn’t I give them a shot, you may ask? Am I not a little harsh and unfair? If I expect we have all more or less grown so much since we last saw each other, don’t I expect them to be different than what I remember them to be? To have become nice and behaved grown-ups?

Honestly, I’ve spent most of my life since our graduation to move on and separate myself from that time. To free myself and become myself, since I felt stuck in the role I ended up having in that class. I do not hate that time; I accept what it was and that we were all just kids growing up and trying out the world (though, I never counted on that it was to be tried out on each other as well), but I honestly cannot evoke or fake any lingering nostalgia about that era of my life. Most times that I’ve happened to bump into one of the people from school in our hometown, I’ve more or less avoided them (yeah, really mature, I know), but I hate putting up a front of fake politeness, so most of our chance-meetings became nothing more than a awkward, crooked half-smile or brief, stilted greeting. A rare time or two some of them started a conversation like nothing has happened, but all I kept thinking was: ‘Don’t you remember what you said and did back then – at all?!’.

I have no real desire to get to know any of them. I have moved on. It may sound harsh and unfeeling, but I cannot help feeling that that chapter of my life is over and I have no nostalgia left to even find an anniversary celebratory and cozy. Not in my case. If the others feel it, let them! I honestly think they remember those school years differently than I do. Or they have managed to become nostalgic about us being kids … or something.

Sure, this coming reunion (which I don’t know if I’ll participate in) could prove to be all fun and interesting, such as hearing what the others are up to – instead of always hearing it through our parents (or maybe it’s just me). But again, I’m not that interested beyond that nor renewing any friendships (which were barely there in the first place). Sorry. And not to be a full-fledged pessimist, but I can almost see the strained, put-on front we’ll all have adopted beforehand when we meet each other – and I’m not entirely sure it’ll just melt away if we give it some time and a couple of drinks and that we’ll ‘fall right back into the good, old patterns’. I’m not so sure how ‘good’ those old patterns ever were … But then again, they may see something I don’t.

However, some say nostalgia is denial – denial of a painful past.

I have a wicked wish of wanting to ask them if they indeed remember any of the less ‘good, old’ episodes in our school days together. Now, there’s something I’m interested to know about – all polite masks aside! To really see how they react and if they indeed have changed! I certainly have my suspicions about one or two of them, but I’m not sure if they will come to this event. Hell, I’m not even sure I’ll come – and what does that say about me? That I’m a cold-hearted bitch who feels too high-and-mighty to join the rest of them? Perhaps. I have persistently stayed away from the sporadic, back-and-forth conversations on Facebook regarding this renunion – which I honestly hoped there would come nothing of since it has failed to do so the last couple of years. Now I would look even more an ass if I don’t show up when they’ve finally pieced something together, right? Especially since I know I’ll be back in my hometown this summer – and given it’s a very small town, it would be a miracle if I don’t bump into any of them and then I’ll have to come up with some sad excuse for not joining the party … Ugh. Maybe I’ll just have to grin and bear it. Smile like nothing happened.

… Really?

I wish I felt nostalgic about my earliest school years. I really do. But I don’t and I’m not going to as long as I remember what also happened beyond all the supposedly good stuff and the fact that we were just kids etc. etc. (though, people were equally if not more bad in their teens). Funny how you can still be hung up about the past yet not be nostalgic. Some – or most – would probably say: “Ah, would you relax! Forget about all that stuff for a minute and have some fun, will you?”. Hm, yeah, well, if only it was that easy. Again, I’ve forgiven but not forgotten, and I cannot face the past and be asked to forget it at the same time. It does not compute in my brain and if that is very INTP or very me, then that’s that. I cannot change it. I’ve been in such situations before and tried to do so, but I never quite succeed. I will rarely make greater fuss about it during the event itself; schooling my attitude to that of fake politeness and overall friendliness, but that doesn’t mean it sits well with me or that I don’t go home with a bitter aftertaste in my mouth. Whether it was the wine or something else. And I hate that; knowing fully there’s little one can do about it; it’s just life, and I sense this will be more or less the situation after the reunion – if I attend it. I’m not sure I want to have it confirmed. And yes, I could go to have it unconfirmed – and if it was anybody else I would. I just don’t feel it’s worth it with these guys. What do I have to renew or give a second chance, when there hardly was a first chance?

We were just a random bunch of kids, compulsory put together in the same class in 1996. Who said we were to become life-long friends and always have something in common other than we happened to start in school together? When so much happens those years growing up and that it seems only natural one has little in common with the kid one once was? I have no overt desire to revisit who I once was. I have no need to reminisce of the closed-off child I was at school; for so long boxed in between all the others who elbowed their way to the front in various ways. Not because I am bitter about that era of my life or hate that version of myself. I simply accept it as a chapter of my life that I have written and have no desire to revise because then I wouldn’t be where I am now. I want to be the person I needed as a child: Someone to speak up and stand up in the face of injustice. I cannot be silent and smile one more time – just to keep the waters calm. What is past is past, but I will not pretend it was never there either. The truth of the past. And that may be to put way too much into an innocent, little reunion, but I’m only trying to explain the lack of – anything really – I feel towards my former school time and ‘mates’. I might not give it a chance but again, why should I when there was hardly one to begin with?

And maybe that’s just me – being weird. But I cannot change how I feel and what I cannot forget.

*revised 15/1/17*

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How insignificant such a little thing can seem and how significant it can be

I’m very fond and grateful for my close INFP friend whom I’ve previously mentioned, yet I cannot help feeling somewhat left out in some essential aspects, because I often find myself in the position of (once again) being the listener and the helper, rarely the other way around. She does ask how I’m doing from time to time but rarely probes any further, and I know I’m no good at talking about my feelings, opting for the dismissive, self-deprecating way of dealing with such matters – though, in truth, it covers a desperate cry for help or just a listening, committed ear. However, despite all our years of friendship where I’ve tried to listen, help and learn about her, she has not detected this essential aspect of me (just like my parents and family … ain’t life funny, huh?), much less detected a certain other significant happening in my life, despite it was around the beginning of our friendship where we practically lived together. But it’s not just her. Of course it’s not just her; really, I cannot blame her.

And it leaves me wondering if I’ll remain the puzzle INTPs are so famous of being, despite showing myself, listening and opening myself up; never doubting my own worth or originality? Or if I’m really just so uninteresting? Forever the wallflower? Or that I’m somehow too confusing? I feel like screaming like Jane Eyre. Do they all honestly know me so little? Do they think I’m confident enough to deal with things my own way, so they don’t have to care? Do they think that I’m am unemotional cardboard character who can deflect worries with a witty intellect and a smile, never getting truly struck or depressed by anything? That I don’t have real, profound, lasting feelings and worries of my own?!

My parents haven’t given my feelings much trust and credit through the years, that’s for sure. But the formers are hardly experts or idols to inspire to in that department either. Yet, it does something significant to one’s self-perspective. That’s maybe partly why I have tried to detach myself from my parents. I was never shown the overall sympathetic acknowledgement and respect for my feelings (basically because my parents never really understood feelings or how to handle them properly; they just pretended to and smiled awkwardly), thus, now, in my adulthood I have a hard time showing them the amount of acknowledgement and respect for their feelings that they probably expect or should be given. I just can’t. I see and know of their internal ‘suffering’, but after all these years of dealing only with their inner, self-involved, projected bitterness to each other and all and sundry I’m too exhausted, too selfish to help, empathize or worry on behalf of them anymore. On the other hand, being their child and loving them, I can never not worry about what their feelings do to them, exhausting me as well, but I honestly wonder whether they have ever cared or wondered about my feelings for more than a couple of minutes or hours. After all, do they even know me? I’m not sure. Then what can they worry about (besides the usual superficialities about my getting a job or a house or enough money etc.), making whatever it is they come up with about them and their own guilt? Jeez. Can you see why I cannot deal with them?

And all of this just hurts all the more, because I feel I invest myself the best I can in people, despite all my shortcomings in dealing with emotions and that I do it in, perhaps, rather unconventional ways. I guess I am a misunderstood creature, after all. But I refuse to be blinded by my own flaws and only wallow in self-absorbed pity parties. I want to understand what and why, thus this post. I know I could do more for the people around me – hell, you can always do more! – but at least I am not spiteful against the human race; I am open and constructive-critical at the same time, I do not seek to judge or dismiss the feelings of others before I’ve heard the reasons behind them and even then I will try to take them into account. I can see and I know people feel and suffer and worry, no matter what they say otherwise, and I acknowledge all this, worry about what it will do to them personally and interpersonally, always feeling on behalf of them and wanting to help. Yet, it never reflects on me more than couple of brief moments that I can count on one hand. I’m not greedy or ungrateful, I only ask for such simple, basic, human things that I’ve never received for myself, only given. Am I still making this about me? Probably, but all I want is to understand the two-way street of interaction and various relationships and why I always feel left out in some way.

I do not understand that no matter what I do I can never seem to reach the goal so many others have reached at some point in their lives; finding a sense of prolonged belonging and understanding with someone else beyond oneself, family and friends. Especially, since I do it my way and, lately, I’ve opened myself more up to those around me, gaining confidence (or just jaded nonchalance aka ‘so far nothing has happened, so why not just let it go?’), balancing my life between my antics and introversion and meeting the world the best I can, yet I seem to fall right back into the patterns of old. I’ve done everything one should or can in terms of one’s self-image; I am myself, staying true to myself and open to the world, no matter how depressed, cynic or romantic I become. I cannot help that I’m no good with interpersonal and social superficialities – which I try to accept and overcome in my own way – because I simply and silently care about them: The people themselves and their inner beings; what effects their thoughts, feelings and actions have on themselves and others. How to show them this without putting on a show of stilted theatrics or compromising my own integrity? I do my best to inquire and learn and listen in order to show my interest and care for them without going about it the usual way. Again; picking up the phone, remembering birthdays, gossipping, giving gifts, go clubbing and getting drunk, talking about boys and clothes, platitudes and trivial matters in order to show that I care and am a good friend is not really my thing. I am simply here. In the literal and non-literal sense, if you like; always here to lend an open, but critical ear, give thoughts about the world, advice and guide without necessarily leading or expecting anything in return. However, I do hope for the latter. Not credit or even gratitude, just a reflection of genuine care and interest beyond the bonds of blood or returned pleasanties. Someone to react on impulse. Again, I am human; a three-dimensional person with my own life, needs, thoughts and feelings. I demand only so little, yet oh so significant sentiments in return.

Still, I’m left bereft. So strange never to have been touched just for me, held my hand – anything. How significant such a little thing can be. I sometimes fear nothing and no one (perhaps beyond myself and my sister) grounds me to this world and I will one day lift from the ground and fly upwards, vanishing into the thin air, leaving no significant trace behind. Not forgotten, but never that memorable either. Never to have played a vital role in anybody’s life. Never made an emotional impact beyond having been a friend, daughter, sister and niece. Not that those aren’t important or worth living for, but I cannot help myself thinking there must be more to life, especially since my sense of belonging is so limited in those above roles, in the first place. I have heard people with depression and suicidal thoughts mirror this sentiment, and though I may have a tendency to depression and self-pity, I could never off myself since I only have myself. I’m simply baffled by life – no more than any of you – but cannot help stating the facts and feeling left perplexed by them. In my logical INTP mind they do not make sense, but my mind also persists in rationalizing the world and making it into a chess game where everything must be balanced through causality. Yet, reality is rarely so. I cannot expect to receive or meet interest and understanding on the same level as I feel like giving.

I give in the amounts I am able and hope to one day receive in kind, and I imagine the rest. Yes, adventure and great love would be grand, but honestly, (and yeah, it may sound weird) because of my vivid imagination and the world of fiction, I have no greater need to explore the world (more than I already have) like so many of my peers who have interrailed and trekked foreign countries on their own in order to find themselves. I don’t necessarily believe one can find what one seeks by going out and about. One could easily find what one seeks by seeing what’s right in front of one’s nose. Besides, one does not necessarily have to find oneself outside oneself; you have to bring it as well, I believe. Or maybe you already have it, you just don’t know? The argument is at least 50/50. Some gain and develop by outwardly exploring the world, others don’t. The former may find grand adventure and meet many people, but at some point they’ll have to return home (unless they don’t return and likely are running away from something), often to discover their problems remain the same and within. Others seek inwards first of all, and say all you like about that, but seeking outwards isn’t per definition a better solution. Just like being social and partying doesn’t necessarily mean you are or feel less alone. I believe parties are often loneliness (if not happiness) exploded; an entropy of loneliness in the most basic, human form.

However, I also know I cannot get to know people if I do not meet them. My loneliness cannot surprise me that much, after all, but to rectify it I must do so in my own tempo, step by step; take what comes (and never settle). It just never seems to be my day. I wonder if it’s something intrinsic – rather than mere lazy cowardice – within the INTP (or maybe it’s just me) to not actively seek out human affection but to stay and wait for it to come to me? Maybe because we/I feel – or I rationalize it into the notion – that I don’t have the right to force my selfish need upon others? Also, given the fact that none so far has responded when I have opened up and been myself, my rationalizing has taken a step further and concluded that ‘why should anyone respond any differently in the future?’. Yes, I’ve grown partly cynic, but on the other hand, I can never quench my incessantly, persisting, sappy hope of a potential soulmate(s) out there. My self-pity takes root in this as well as my carelessness. There’s never just one side. It’s always two-faced. I have accepted that this inner battle is a significant part of adulthood.

Perhaps it’s my darn ‘chessplayer brain’ again; with lightning speed, it has taken almost every situation in life into account beforehand, inserting me in every possibility and mercilessly ruled me out of those in which I logically would not happen to come across or fit. Thus, unconsciously, I’ve already reconciled myself with the possibility that there are aspects of life that I’ll likely never have or experience (just like I know which ones I can achieve on my own), but then I ask myself if I have even tried to prove my brain wrong? Yes, somewhat, I’ve just not been very lucky in achieving evidence to the contrary. Once again: Brain, 1-0. Yes, I know, it’s sounds pretty daft to be in contest with your own brain/rationale, right? Maybe only you INTPs out there will understand this. If not, then I’m certified bat-shit crazy. But you see, very little has happened in my life and with a analyzing, rationalizing brain like mine – and I believe, that of an INTP – you remember every little, seemingly insignificant incident in your life that was less than favourable and/or confusing. It’s unavoidable not to take them into account to try and analyze past deeds and interactions in order to conclude something of your life and coming future. Whatever I fancy myself to imagine, my harsh inner realist tells me it’s still only imagination and not real.

Thus, my conclusions come to an ambivalent end. I’ve have nothing to truly complain about that I cannot do something about myself and yet, I still feel something is missing. Something essential that I see others have or have experienced at some point. I try to tell myself that I have something they don’t and maybe I do, but will it ever compensate for what life’s really about? Perhaps not. And (self)pity will do me no good, I know. It’s one of the least attractive traits you can have, so I try and banish it with self-deprecation, knowing full well that it only screams louder of my inner conflict and everyone or no one might hear it. And it doesn’t exactly help that my brain keeps telling me that I’m far from the only one who longs for this, that I cannot even allow myself to complain about this, that I’m so damn lucky, spoilt and privileged compared to those in greater misfortune than I. And I know this, but I have no alternative to cling to once this obvious fact has been stated.

*sighs heavily*

It seems I always end up right back where I started.

Maybe I haven’t tried enough? Taken enough chances? But I honestly don’t know what else I can do, when all I have ever done is being myself!? I do not believe I haven’t lived or tried or taken chances, though I know I could probably have taken more (but then again, you can always take more). I will not budge from staying true to myself – and though no one said you should, so far it hasn’t really proven masterfully rewarding. My stubborn independence will perhaps always be my vice, rendering me unlucky in certain aspects of life that others stumble more ‘easily’ upon. I sometimes wish for a fruitful collision of sorts, but real-life is not like a movie script and you mostly need luck and coincidence for such happenings which you cannot exactly buy at the supermarket. So what does my rationale conclude? That if I cannot ever control what happens in life, all I can do is just be, exist and wait for it to show itself in its usual, random ways. Not much to build ambitions and expectations around, you see? So, ironically, in spite of these lengthy, self-involved posts I write here, I mostly shrug and say ‘I don’t know’ or ‘I can’t say’ whenever someone ask me what I think my future will bring, what I want to be, where and with whom I see myself in 5 or 10 years, etc. etc.. Yes, the smalltalk quickly runs short on the subject of me and the awkward silence endures.

In continuation with my previous posts about realizing that I probably never had or ever will find understanding and true belonging within the family (besides my sister, of course) and friends of the family, this has already been emphasized about three times since last summer. I’ve parcipated in at least two large family and friends gatherings where I knew most of the people attending and I don’t think I’ve ever felt more alone and alienated in my life. If my sister hadn’t been there as well, I think I would have gone mad! Some instances have been better than others and I’m fortunately armoured with a robust patience, but it really wears thin when it’s confirmed again and again just how little in common I have with so many people that is of my blood and relation. Well, nobody said blood instantly equals a deeper sense of belonging and mutual understanding (rather than pity), but this is close to ridiculous, because I’ve rarely felt so estranged than from my own family! I’ve received more genuine interest from friends of family members than the members themselves! Well, one side of the family, in particular. I’ve tried to be patient and listen, even be so daring to voice my opinion and try to discuss things with them but been quietly rebuffed each time, like I was invisible (story of my life). I seriously consider ranting about one particular incident with this side of the family that left me so utterly miffed and indignant, but partly thanks to my stupid naivety I still keep telling myself that this was just a one-time thing, despite having been proved otherwise multiple times. And an emotional rant about a personal incident would be no good. I have too many feelings about this particular episode, I’m not sure it would be a good idea to even begin a summary.

Anyways …

So what do I want? Someone to wallow in my depressive self-pity with? No, I just want a companion. To be seen. Really seen. And understood, not pitied. It’s such a pathetic, slushy request – perhaps even mundane in all its universality – but the one thing I ache for in life more than anything else, I think. I try to think of instances, often fleeting moments, where I believe I’ve been seen (or seen someone else), but I come up short. If so, they were gone too quickly, never to be realized. So you see, I roam this earth alone; my attachment to it seems ethereal. And yet, it doesn’t make me anymore special than any of you or other lonely souls out there. It’s a human condition, I believe.

Only … those who have found a companion, have they/you not cut an edge off that encompassing loneliness, because it is now shared by two? Have you not been grounded to the world through understanding, touch and even love from another human being by your side? Even if it did or will not last, at least you were so lucky to have experienced it. I envy that. So far my life has persistently diverted from such happenings to the point where I begin to wonder whether it will ever truly happen or if it’s all only in fiction. So, (until then, if ever), I dive into fiction to get my fix. Sad but true. (Please tell me I’m not the only one). It may all just be a phase until ‘real-life’ hits me after this summer where I’m finished at uni and need to get a job and a life. I cannot honestly say what is going to happen or what I can or will do to make whatever it is happen – other than what one would normally and sensibly do. You follow? Hm, not sure I do either.

So that’s that.

PS. If you got absolutely nothing out of this post, it’s fine. I’m not sure I did either, apart from getting to vent a bit. Hope the next one will have a slightly more sunny prospect.

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