A paradox of definitions

Despite proudly asserting myself as an INTP, all through my life I have had qualms about asserting myself as… something or someone. I wanted to just be, not be someone, because I already was someone since life came and found me. Does that make sense?

I have struggled with definitions of my persona; of informal or formal titles, roles, nicknames and categories given or gained by the norms of society and, thus, inadvertently, by myself and others: Child, girl, tomboy, woman, nerd, loner, weirdo, snob, know-it-all, etc.. Of not being enough. Of being too much. It’s something we all go through one way or another.

Because life, in all its realness, must have some sort of definition. It’s what the struggle of identity is all about.

Still, I have persisted to give definitive answers to questions like “what do you like?”, “who do you like?” and “what do you want with your life?” simply because I had no definitive answers. I waited around for years for some definitive answers to form in my head that I could use as a response, but they never came. And in the end, the answers would never be good enough for the questions posed. Another struggle came about with that realization, because even though I told myself that as long as the answers were good enough for me then that was good enough it itself.

But I have been pampered in and with life, I realize now. My struggles have only ever been limited to the above and I am so lucky, in that regard, and so wildly ignorant. Because, in the end, my honest response to those questions corresponds with my naive definition of life – or rather my life – and that is to just live it; no ambitions, no assumptions, no expectations. And such a notion is… unrealistic. Spoiled. Infantile. I always wanted to avoid said questions like a child would, because those questions dipped into what the adult world looks like: of taking responsibility of one’s life, of having drives and ambitions and where interpersonal relations would become complex and forever confusing. I couldn’t just be; I needed to be someone. Such a steep turn from childhood, and I recoiled from such a turn. Instinctively, I wanted to remain in the ‘adult-and-question-free’ zone of childhood. At most, I wanted to ease myself as slowly as possible into adulthood. And, in many ways, I have, because I am, in many ways, spoiled and lucky in life. I came to realize so many things belatedly and I’ve yet to experience many things that belong to adult life. I’ve been both reluctant, inept and – in this instance – unlucky in seeking them out and I can’t seem to rid myself of this slow-working ‘handicap’.

This poses somewhat of a problem since my Enneagram type (5w4) has an instinctual social variant and thus I have also come to realize and accept how much I long for the right people and company in my life. Because of and in spite of my loneliness. (Note: my type result may very well be colored by said loneliness, but in a way my loneliness has always been there). Not to misunderstand this instinctual variant as a need for a ton of friends and acknowledgement. Nor is it cry for romance and affection. Simply of more intimate company and shared understanding. Something beyond the mere physical… Someone who sticks around, preferably for good, without expectations or presumptions or labels, and thus not necessarily as a wedded life partner or soulmate, sharing house and kids and all that… How can I explain it? Again, words escape me when I try to define what or who exactly I’m looking for or where I see myself. The need itself still eludes me because emotions elude me, yet I cannot escape the need nor the emotions.

I have long thought myself as a type 5w6; that I needed and strove towards my own company and that that was enough. But it wasn’t enough. It isn’t enough, and it’s hard for me to admit that. Company – the right company – gives me more than it drains me. I’ve been stubborn about realizing otherwise for a very long time. This sort of denial or blind spot was my safeguard against the world, against myself, so to speak. It was my insecurity manifesting itself; all my doubts about my own worth and appeal, my quality as a human being, my fear of simply remaining the wallflower I am. All the while, my introspection only grew and inflicted a paranoid notion that it had turned into something grotesque… and perhaps that’s where I’ve ended…

However, my life is far from over and all through life we struggle with identity and definitions. Perhaps we’ll never fall completely into place for any longer periods. Perhaps we will. The uncertainty of life will never go away and I guess that is a part of our fear of it, as well as our fascination with it. And it’s one of the reasons why I, for one, keep on living; continue to just be.

Sometimes I am weighed down by life, so heavily it feels like I’m going to be crushed by it; at other times I feel so unbearably light that I fear I’ll flow away and never return. And I realize that that is living and I feel both blessed and cursed, alive and dead. It’s everything and there’s still so much to it that I might never live or understand, it overwhelms me.

All the while I struggle with my own place in life; of finding and settling into all the definitions it requires, when all I want to do is just to live in it – since life came and found me.

*revised 08/03/18*

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3 thoughts on “A paradox of definitions

  1. Well written and well expressed, INTP.

    On a side note, do you have ideas/suggestions on how I could go about explaining to others (mainly P’s) who think that the MBTI and the Enneagram are just putting them in a box?

    Like

    • Thank you. I’m glad you found it insightful (and not too rambling and incoherent, I hope).
      Interesting question. First of all, I must stress I am no expert in either the Enneagram, MBTI nor how other P’s in general would relate to similar struggles regarding personal labels and definitions. Though, I guess, some people are more comfortable with labels than others, I think we can all somehow relate to the struggle of fitting in vs. being boxed in vs. wanting to be free. As I’ve come to realize myself, it’s an inescapable aspect of being human. And with it comes a tiring feeling of ambivalence; of both denial and acceptance of the conditions of life, in some shape or another. It sounds more somber than it has to be. We can only choose for ourselves how we go about it.
      In conclusion, I’m afraid there’s no easy answer to your question, other than trying to establish some common ground for a conversation such as this, as I’ve tried to.
      Best regards from this INTP.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: Fitting in vs. being boxed in vs. wanting to be free | Confessions of a female INTP

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