When analytical observation is your default mode …

Do you also let any possible situation in your life play out in your head; regarding as many variables as possible, inserting various dialogues and people in and out of your life?

I certainly do. I always have. It’s a trait I’ve chosen to call my infamous ‘chessplayer brain’ from time to time. And which has caused me as much exhilaration as head- and heart-ache, I must admit, though it has nothing to do with other people as such.

No, I’m in love with the possibilities of life. Not in achieving as much as imagining them. The sheer fact that they are there. Though I may not or never experience even a third of them first-hand, the mere thought of all the wondrous crevices and elements in life enthralls and possesses me to no end. My brain naturally and constantly absorbs all that it possibly can and simulates all the possible narratives and feelings not yet discovered.

I am an INTP to the core. This abstract universe of pure thinking and imagination that I can practically get off on is at the very essence of my being.

In real life, on the other hand, it dawned on me that no matter the situations – big or small – I am thrown or throw myself into in this life, I always return to a state of analysis and observation. It’s my default mode. The center of the court I return to when having caught the ball and bounced it back over the net; once in a while missing it, but always returning to the center.

For a long time, I couldn’t quite fathom why my life has been relatively quiet; why I had so little happen to me and so little to tell.

It makes sense now. I violently facepalm myself because of my own blindness, for not having realized this sooner. Because, of course, my life has mirrored my introspective nature. Whatever little or bustling event that has happened to me has seemed paradoxical and mystifying at best – in keeping with the very fascinations I have with life, roaming my head; its paradoxes, strange occurences, big and small mysteries, etc.. The entire, complex, abstract, real and absurd, but utterly fascinating connection I wouldn’t want to miss or be without. That, naturally, goes hand in hand with my existence as well. Whatever significant effect the events had on me, an implosion rather than an explosion occured.

It’s a strange explanation for a strange phenomenon that is life (for an INTP) but I cannot put it in better words at the moment.

And so, I wonder if I’ll ever partake in much in life if this – this harmonizing stasis of analytical observation – will forever be my default mode. Not that it is so bad, it’s just … illuminating. Strange. There’s the word again.

My role in life has and maybe always will be shaped by this notion. I don’t mind it so much. After all, it suits me for a reason. But, for that reason, a distance of some kind is already cemented, because being of an observant and analytical nature I have to step back; to distance myself in order to gain clarity and objectivity. No matter my involvement in a matter, I can never give everything of myself. In fact, I cannot allow it. I have to keep something at bay; something to pull me back and let me breath. But more than it’s something that ‘I am letting’, it seems instinctive. Necessary. A core part of me.

And for that part there are situations I do not dare to even try, because when your brain is programmed to take in and study every possibility in life, it, inevitably, also take in every risk. And those risks hault the extent of my bravery.

“Do it or don’t do it — you will regret both,” Søren Kierkegaard so wisely said.

Thus, I fear parts of what’s essential in life will never reach me. Not truly. I do mind that, I guess, since I fear the potential loss of what others seem to find so easily or fight to reach, but, in the end, always will taste. Because even if I find it or choose to fight for it, I will inevitably and out of necessity see myself drift back to my status quo. Draw back to my analytical self.

However, I will always fear losing something, won’t I? Won’t we all, as Kierkegaard said? It’s part of life, after all. I just wish I felt less pity for myself about it. But I can’t help it.

And that may be my role in life, my toil, my destiny, my yoke, my burden, etc.; selfish or unselfish: To stay the always observing, distanced analyst while others tend to other parts of life. (That said, I’m a logician; my brain needs to, first and foremost, divide and dissect things in order to analyze and understand them and how they go together – with each other as well as with their surroundings. So, naturally, that former sentence seems a bit silly and black-and-white. But I need to think like this in order to dig out the complexities and my points).

But there are times, in social situations and gatherings, where I – unconciously or not – assume different roles according to what I analyze and see the need for – in order to maintain harmony, I guess. When someone is panicking or unravelling I become calm and collected, but if I see others staying cool and on top of things, I allow myself to unwind and not worry if I panic, because I know someone else will provide reassurance if needed. When travelling and no one is taking the lead or can figure out where to go, I usually come forth to suggest various approaches and often become ‘the one with the map’. If someone becomes wary or sceptical of a situation, I become confident and positive, and, at times, vice versa. When there’s a quiet or awkward tension at a party I become the jokester to defuse it, but when I see someone else being the jokester, I pull back and stay much more quiet. At times, when I feel utterly ignored or feel that the people around me are being totally ignorant, petty or unjust, I become moody and sullen and I justify my right to be so because of people’s sheer stupidity. Other times, I become slightly self-righteous and a warrior for justice and reason; I want to challenge and fight and change people’s perspectives for the better.

Maybe I don’t know people well enough or have been around that many to know if this is fairly common; to assume different roles in social situations in order to keep a balance of sorts. And, after all, we all have various identities that come together to the person we are, according to what situation we are in; at home, at school, at work, with family, with friends, etc., don’t we?

I think I’ll leave my reflections on the matter here, for now, as any true, analytical observant would do. A bit of food for thought is always healthy, after all.

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2 thoughts on “When analytical observation is your default mode …

  1. Adapting to various social situations by assuming different roles and donning different masks is very common. It is especially common amongst Fe types and P types, I find. If you haven’t already come across this, you may find it interesting to read up on ‘self-monitoring’.

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  2. That’s interesting. I haven’t come across self-monitering before, so thanks for the input. I think I, first and foremost, thought of Giddens and Gergen’s ideas of multiple identities, but it’s really interesting to take this aspect into consideration as well. I took a test and I was placed in the middle of being a high or a low self-moniter – which makes sense in retrospect.

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