INTP … Too blunt?

sherlock2

Someone made this very astute comment to an INTP-related post that made me realize that being ruled by a logic-driven honesty and bluntness – no matter how much I pride myself to champion the direct truth – also has its more fatal downsides. Especially when it comes to interacting with other people you care about and taking their feelings into account. My logic too often dominates and brusquely tells me that ‘they can take it’ while my own, more sensitive feelings peep up underneath and try and tell me that I shouldn’t be so harsh.

“Jumping in with a response that’s dismissive usually isn’t constructive. There’s sometimes a fine line between intellectual honesty and being hurtful. […] You’re not being intellectually dishonest if you keep quiet. If you have something actually useful to contribute, then by all means do so.

Some people think that you either have to be blunt or pretend. That’s not true. What you do have to do is ask yourself why you are going to say whatever it is you’re going to say. Are you being helpful, constructive, or just trying to show that you’re smarter?”*

Being too blunt. Oh boy, have I put my foot in my mouth many times. I sometimes suspect it has become a force of habit when I’m around certain people – people I pity, dislike or want to impress – or I have deluded myself into thinking bluntness substitutes confidence or a voice; being heard and having principles you can ‘yell’ out in order to seem better than others (i.e. a true SJW)? I don’t know. I certainly know I have spoken before I’ve really thought and that has been the worst times of being ‘too honest’ (if we regard it as a vice as much as a virtue). I’ve unintentionally hurt and angered people more than I intended. That is, childishly, I’ve only ever sought to be challenged and challenge others to get new perspectives on life. And being rude and loud-mouthed is certainly no mature way to do it.

I’ve yearned for intellectual stimulation all through my life and subconsciously demanded it almost everywhere I go, more or less, I think. I want to outwit and be outwitted, be challenged and banter knowledge. Not for the sake of snobbery, pretending, being or feeling better than others that are not like-minded, but simply because my mind naturally craves intellectual stimulation and has gotten way too little of it from most people. Not that one can expect everyone to be Einsteins, but too often they have only appeared as little, golden grains in the sand; too quickly flushed out with the tide.

So when I’ve met blatantly oblivious, rigid, slightly thick-headed people, I have either secretly laughed at and pitied them or instinctly reacted to that pity by ‘trying to outsmart them’ or ‘challenge’ them by saying something blunt and watch their reactions. Simply because I am so stupidly curious when it comes to how completely stupid other people sometimes can be. I somehow get it into my head that I can trigger forth their intellect and the logic of the whole argument or point that is being discussed – by saying what’s on my mind. Straight-forward. Just raw, pure logic. I want to prove something to the spectators, but also to myself; confirming my targets’ expected reaction I’ve imagined but also being curious about any unexpected ones that might occur and how I will respond if so, while I secretly ‘get off’ on displaying my ‘superior’ intellect. Huh. What a challenge.

Ugh. That’s the straight-forward, raw and ugly truth about this INTP for you right there. It’s pathetic. I am a little person in these instances.

It’s a tough, inner battle, I must admit. My INTP core instinctly cannot comprehend – eventhough I know otherwise – that there are other people who think so utter differently from me.

Well, curiosity killed the cat, some say and shrug, while others champion your intellect and state that ‘if other people can’t follow or understand you, they are not worth sticking around for’.

All such ‘advice’ are taken out of context and circumstantial, of course, but it doesn’t make it all less confusing regarding how to view the case in point: Am I on the wrong side of the track here? Am I being an utterly arrogant and thus dislikable person, really? Or are my overthinking and resurfacing insecurities getting the better of me?

I sense an uncomfortable answer in the tendency among the reactions I’ve gotten throughout my life, but I cannot see clearly through the fog. Sometimes I regret my words, sometimes I’m more insecure so I worry more about what effects my words have, but most of times I’m just … me.

It’s an instinct, a nature that I have learned – from the INTP personality – is nothing to be ashamed of. Sure, one may come off as somewhat brusque and insensitive in certain situations, but my instinctive answer to that is also that such a characteristic (and the INTP type) is rather uncommon and most people simply aren’t used to it. That shouldn’t provoke me to not be blunt, after all. Being blunt can be good. Too few dare to be blunt enough!

And it’s not like I’m without tact. It just doesn’t always appear in conventional settings.

But I can still learn. I can always learn and always will. Learning by not abruptly cutting off parts of myself because they may seem too harsh to other folks at times, but by always expanding and developing myself into a more mature version of myself, for my own sake as much as those around me I care about. Sounds cheesy, but the above-mentioned comment really hit me, so there must be something in it. It has given me a lot of food for thought, that’s for sure.

I’m going to ask myself more often WHY I’m going to say whatever I’m going to say: Is it to be helpful, constructive, or just trying to show that I’m smarter?

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A future in writing? – 2.0

I want to write. I’ve realized this.

And yes, I write here, but it is a different kind of writing. It is a blog with a confessional, personal purpose; not purely, but mostly. A way of understanding myself and my own life, first and foremost. People make a living from these kind of things nowadays, I know, but I would be lucky if my blog ever reaches such a state. After all, it isn’t one of a kind on the World Wide Web.

When I think of writing in more traditional terms and what I’ve produced in this spectrum, however, I fall miserably short. Besides my academic work and the frivolous fan fiction writings I’ve dabbled with throughout the years, I have not really produced anything of substance. Especially of late.

Where has the passionate, industrious writer I used to be as a kid gone?

I used to write tons and tons of pages and stories, poems and essays! True, I rarely managed to finish any of them, but I had so many ideas and so much motivation to get started and frequently picked them up after school. It was my thing, my hobby for a great number of years. As the years went on, though, this tendency became less frequent. School work took over and exhausted any effort I had to produce new stuff in my sparetime. Of course, I aced all creative school work. It wasn’t that hard, really, and I got a pretty big ego from it. I practically thought myself a wonder kid in the art of writing – literally because there happened to be no other competition from my classmates and all teachers praised my stuff rather than really critique it.

In recent years, I completely abandoned the old stories and genres and started writing new stuff; I started running various blogs that were of a more observant, analytical nature and less of the fictive kind. I briefly joined a creative writing’s class where I was properly brought down from my high horse. It helped me realize that I was not as unique and talented as I had grown up to think. I suddenly had to work hard at producing something of value! *scoffs* How pathetic I suddenly saw myself as a kid. But I guess that’s just a part of growing up, learning and developing. Without such epiphanies I would probably still think I was God’s gift to mankind.

But I still envy the kid I was. When I had the passion, inspiration and motivation to just write – anything – all the time!

Now it partly feels like the air has gone out of the balloon in that department. I still dabble with an unfinished short story every now and then, and I write prose and poetry on my other blog, but they are not meant for publication or wider acknowledgement or anything like that. It is still too sensitive and personal to let my name become a part of it. I prefer to stay anonymous. Actually, even if I ever was as lucky as to get published and acknowledged for my work, I would still very much like to stay anonymous and out of the limelight. That’s not an easy feat once you’ve gone down the road of ‘fame’.

I’m reluctant to explain and analyze my work; why I write as I write. I just do. I use it to vent and understand. Maybe I’m reluctant to face my own work in the end (cf. the sensitivity of the matter) and get more harsh critique from professional critics. To have the value of it and what I feel to be true questioned and made an example out of. It’s a part of being a writer, I know; exposing oneself and have the courage to face opposition, but it’s not something I have the guts to lay my actual name to yet. I want my writings to be faceless exactly in order for everyone to put their own face on it, so to speak. To make the resonance ring more true.

Thus I’m reluctant to ever get published. I value my privacy too much, I guess. It’s cowardly and I have to face this particular cowardice if I plan to ever get anything out there, I know. But so far, I’m still ‘in developement’ in that department. Maybe nothing will come out in my lifetime (or ever), but I will not quit writing. And that must be the most important notion, after all.

A favorite author of mine, the always so astute George Orwell, once wrote on the act of writing:

“[…] I do not think one can assess a writer’s motives without knowing something of his early development. His subject matter will be determined by the age he lives in — at least this is true in tumultuous, revolutionary ages like our own — but before he ever begins to write he will have acquired an emotional attitude from which he will never completely escape. It is his job, no doubt, to discipline his temperament and avoid getting stuck at some immature stage, in some perverse mood; but if he escapes from his early influences altogether, he will have killed his impulse to write. Putting aside the need to earn a living, I think there are four great motives for writing, at any rate for writing prose. They exist in different degrees in every writer, and in any one writer the proportions will vary from time to time, according to the atmosphere in which he is living. They are:

(i) Sheer egoism. Desire to seem clever, to be talked about, to be remembered after death, to get your own back on the grown-ups who snubbed you in childhood, etc., etc. It is humbug to pretend this is not a motive, and a strong one. Writers share this characteristic with scientists, artists, politicians, lawyers, soldiers, successful businessmen — in short, with the whole top crust of humanity. The great mass of human beings are not acutely selfish. After the age of about thirty they almost abandon the sense of being individuals at all — and live chiefly for others, or are simply smothered under drudgery. But there is also the minority of gifted, willful people who are determined to live their own lives to the end, and writers belong in this class. Serious writers, I should say, are on the whole more vain and self-centered than journalists, though less interested in money.

(ii) Aesthetic enthusiasm. Perception of beauty in the external world, or, on the other hand, in words and their right arrangement. Pleasure in the impact of one sound on another, in the firmness of good prose or the rhythm of a good story. Desire to share an experience which one feels is valuable and ought not to be missed. The aesthetic motive is very feeble in a lot of writers, but even a pamphleteer or writer of textbooks will have pet words and phrases which appeal to him for non-utilitarian reasons; or he may feel strongly about typography, width of margins, etc. Above the level of a railway guide, no book is quite free from aesthetic considerations.

(iii) Historical impulse. Desire to see things as they are, to find out true facts and store them up for the use of posterity.

(iv) Political purpose. — Using the word ‘political’ in the widest possible sense. Desire to push the world in a certain direction, to alter other peoples’ idea of the kind of society that they should strive after. Once again, no book is genuinely free from political bias. The opinion that art should have nothing to do with politics is itself a political attitude.

It can be seen how these various impulses must war against one another, and how they must fluctuate from person to person and from time to time.

[…] When I sit down to write a book, I do not say to myself, ‘I am going to produce a work of art’. I write it because there is some lie that I want to expose, some fact to which I want to draw attention, and my initial concern is to get a hearing. But I could not do the work of writing a book, or even a long magazine article, if it were not also an aesthetic experience. Anyone who cares to examine my work will see that even when it is downright propaganda it contains much that a full-time politician would consider irrelevant. I am not able, and do not want, completely to abandon the world view that I acquired in childhood. So long as I remain alive and well I shall continue to feel strongly about prose style, to love the surface of the earth, and to take a pleasure in solid objects and scraps of useless information. It is no use trying to suppress that side of myself. The job is to reconcile my ingrained likes and dislikes with the essentially public, non-individual activities that this age forces on all of us.

It is not easy. It raises problems of construction and of language, and it raises in a new way the problem of truthfulness.

[…] All writers are vain, selfish, and lazy, and at the very bottom of their motives there lies a mystery. Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand. For all one knows that demon is simply the same instinct that makes a baby squall for attention. And yet it is also true that one can write nothing readable unless one constantly struggles to efface one’s own personality. Good prose is like a windowpane. I cannot say with certainty which of my motives are the strongest, but I know which of them deserve to be followed. And looking back through my work, I see that it is invariably where I lacked a political purpose that I wrote lifeless books and was betrayed into purple passages, sentences without meaning, decorative adjectives and humbug generally.”

George Orwell, Why I Write, 1946

 

I think I will take George’s observations to heart and use them as a guideline in future comings. Whatever they may be.

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A future in writing?

“I should write a book about all this, shouldn’t I?”, I suddenly stop up and think to myself one day. “Write about myself – or a fictive version of myself – and catalyze all these thoughts I have into something literary! Maybe that’s what I’m meant to do?”

Is this the stroke of lightning I’ve been waiting for? So soon?

The excitement of the prospect manages to reach a good 10 before it comes crashing down to a 1.

“What a pathetic thought,” I sigh. “A whole book about a naive girl’s reflections on life and her own boring, half-lived one? Come on!”

But then again, aren’t all books more or less about the reflections on life and of life – no matter what stage or level of experience they’re at?

Is my own version then so far off?

However, I trip over my own tongue. Being an INTP, communicating precisely what you think and mean – turning the uncut diamond into a brilliant jewel to hang around your neck; alchemizing, in reverse, all this precious gold into useful rock so that you can build a house from it – is tricky at best. When spoken or written, the jumble of thoughts usually remains a jumble of words to everyone else – and sometimes even to the INTP.

Despite having stated in previous posts and to myself and to everybody else that I have no clue what I want to do, I’ve realized that I do want to write. I’ve always wanted to write. It’s what I do here and write about here; what I’ve always done, more or less. And it takes some swallowing to realize that the very thing I love the most is also something I trip over.

You may have tripped over it as well, trying to decipher some of my posts here? It wouldn’t surprise me.

I’m trying to make sense of all of it myself. It may strike a core with you but you cannot explain it, can you? It’s just one of those times where words aren’t enough to explain what resonates with your own jumble of thoughts and feelings inside. And then again, they just did, didn’t they?

Writing is possibly the least predictable, sustainable occupation in the world. You can use a lifetime to become someone or stay that someone and end up hating that bureaucracy and money still talk. Realizing the hateful but necessary duality of the truth: That no arts are ever truly free of capitalism and that you cannot survive a lifetime without money. That you cannot produce art and give your work freely away and live on nothing, no matter how ideally free and appealing that may sound. My inner realist and common sense won’t allow it.

Anyways, there’ll always be things you will not like and obstacles to cross. And surely, my inner idealist will not allow the thought that the arts themselves will not manage to prevail.

Still: To be free to do what you love. Isn’t that what we all want in the end?

I will try. I will try, I tell myself.

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When nothing binds you …

So, that’s it. I’m offically a Master of Arts.

Huh. Sounds like a title you require in Dungeons & Dragons, doesn’t it?

How do I feel about it then? Five years of academic studies and now I’m done and ready for the labour market.

I feel ambivalent at best. It has all been so very long-drawn-out and anti-climatic. No official celebration given by the university of our institute before November. Until then I’ll probably just get a diploma in my mailbox.

I don’t even feel particularly relieved or exhilarated that it’s officially over.

And so:

“Do you know what you want to do now?”, my parents asked me.

“No. I do not know what I will do,” I sighed. I’ve waited so long for the lightning to hit, yet it never came, and now – when I need it more than ever – the sky is cloudless.

Except in my mind.

“Don’t worry,” they said, “you have the advantage of not being bound by anything or anyone, unlike many of your peers, think of that. No house, family or boyfriend. Nothing to hold you back. You are free to choose wherever you want to go, work or live, for how long and so on.”

“Yes, well …”

“Don’t worry, you’ll figure it out. It will be alright, you’ll see.”

I cannot seem to outwardly voice what’s nagging me – still – by this very common and normal response.

The thing is: Nothing has ever held me back. ‘No house, no family of my own, no boyfriend’. I can’t help repeating those particular words in my head and heart, though they are essentially besides the question of my current career musings.

Yet, hearing those words they somehow hurt the most. Because the hole that’s left inside of me is not one of self-actualization as much as it is of a loneliness that never had anyone but that self to lean on and – out of necessity – actualize.

True, I’m not bound by anything or anyone. But … How am I then to know if I ever will?

Is it simply the proof that you can only ever rely and lean on yourself and have to go through life more or less lonely? We are all lonely, right? Then why do I see happiness, goals and twosomeness – in some form or another – in so many of those around me; strangers as well as close ones?

Can I go on and live my life and wait for the things in life I seek the most but never seem to reach?

However, I have every opportunity now to reach those things, haven’t I? I just need to find out where to begin. After all, now I’m finally free to do whatever I want to.

But the possibilities are so endless that I cannot see the wood for the trees. I’ve tried to let it go, carpe diem, and let life take its course; help others and be their voice of support, only to sink into ennui and realize I am also responsible for the course of my own life to take off.

Aren’t I?

I know, in a sense, I’m utterly privileged and greedy –  a typical product of my generation I think – when I critique the very freedom I’ve sought after for so long and finally reached; reaching the end of the tunnel and realizing it has a different light than what I imagined. That freedom also holds you captured; holds you accountable for its very existence. I’m bound to its existence as it is bound to me for survival. I cannot go on living without making a living. Without essentially selling my skills, myself. Adulthood is brutal in such realizations. You begin to understand more closely the fate of the homeless; why some people just don’t manage to live up to all of it and hold it together. (Not that there’s a direct link; I’m just making abstract thought here).

The worst thing is, I can already see it painted out for me: Of me sitting as an old woman talking about all the smalltown jobs and failed careers I had in my late 20s and all through my 30s, but how I eventually found my true profession and settled down in my 40s, working for two more tranquil decades before retiring and enjoying my life as a senior citizen until I die. Perfectly normal and typical existence for most people, no matter how radical they thought or behaved in their youth, rebelling against conventionality and normalcy. I will probably laugh at the ‘silly’ insecurities of my youth; these very thoughts and confessions I write here.

And I feel positively torn about this image. ‘Cause when I ask myself if that’s what I want I’m not sure. On the one hand, a sound ‘NO!’, but on the other hand I can see no point in fighting it off if it will more or less happen anyway, some time or another.

Yet, making my life the adventure I want to experience frightens me, because I want to protect myself, hide away and live my life in peace as well. Never disturbing anyone but helping out if needed. So far I’ve lived just fine by having my adventures through imagination and fiction alone mostly. So why can it not just go on as it always had? Why do I still have this rebellious feeling that I’m not giving myself the chance of discovering the world and the people in it if I keep on going like this?

“Adventures do occur, but not punctually. Life never gives us what we want at the moment that we consider appropriate”, E. M. Forster described so accurately in A Passage to India.

So, this is freedom: Not knowing anything about the future.

But deep down I know something. Something pulls.

What if I – at the moment – just want my own little house by the sea, get a dog and write about everything I find important and true in this world?

Can I just do it?

I am beginning to miss the sea air more and more. Having grown up near the sea, the salt is in my blood, I realize. A house by the sea. My sanctuary. Yes. I feel myself being pulled towards certain aspects of life that I should not spend my time wanting and pondering upon right now.

Do I believe in destiny and fate and all that? I’m not sure. Some things just seem too coincidental, interconnected and lucky sometimes in my experience. But I also just think that some are born luckier than others, by chance, and yet that luck will always vary for each person throughout life.

I’m blessed with things and people in my life and no matter how much I dive into those things and for how long, I hold other things about my own life back or put them on pause. So much that – when I return – I realize that no matter how much I help other people or invest myself in other matters, my own worries will not be solved by themselves. Because they are still there. Still insignificant and small compared to so many fates in this world – and yet so significant and persistent that I fear a depression has clouded the sanctuary I called my loneliness; where I used to find inspiration and tranquility and now seem to have run exhausted. I’ve gotten stuck and yet, I am freer than ever. Why, I can hardly move outside the door of my otherwise so amazing and central apartment in an otherwise so amazing city where there’s everything the heart could desire! Why is that?

I think I need to find a new sanctuary. Something different than where I’m used to look or supposed to look. The routine and sameness have already become too much, despite I really have nothing to complain about. An inner voice screams that I want something that is entirely my own, something true and free of anything bureaucratic and capitalistic (*scoffs* yeah, like that is ever going to happen, especially now at a time where I have to put myself into more systems than ever). It screams of a self-reliant, hermit-like existence that seems ludicrous at best.

Not entirely impossible, however.

But such a self-made fate also foretells a future that is possibly even more lonely and alienated, if I’m not careful. Especially – and what I fear the most – from everyone I hold most dear. You cannot have it both ways and it’s selfish either way. However, right now, my current, existential confusion grasps at anything concrete and can only come up with this sufficient alternative at the moment, no matter how desolate it may be in the long run.

Funny how I am forced to think about my life when it’s all I ever do.

No, not true, I am forced to think about my life in reality. It’s something I’d rather postpone.

Oh well.

I think I need to stop bending to the idea of a conventional life when I am not a conventional person.

Meanwhile, I still hope for the stroke of lightning.

*revised 13/9/16*

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