INTP Pet Peeve #1

People who don’t listen.

Especially during conversations. (I’d be a hypocrite if I demanded every student to stay alert during every class lecture, or that people like Trump are worth listening to in the long haul).

Sure, you’re allowed to disagree, zone out during small talk, be too tired, have a bad day or carry a variety of misgivings towards the person speaking to you.

But I cannot abide people who refuse to listen on a general basis. You don’t even have to agree with what is being said or even understand where the person is coming from.

Just… listen.

It doesn’t require that much effort.

And if you happen to be able to partake in or witness a conversation of opposite sides, where one side is decisively bigoted, intolerant or extremist, you should still make the effort to listen. At least, for as long as you are able to. It’s important to know where exactly the opposition stands, because it is all a part of a democracy with freedom of speech. Of course, intolerance should never be tolerated, but immediately shutting down and censoring the right to speak such opinions makes you no better than the bigoted party. And sometimes you’ll learn something new; about the complexity of any given subject, about yourself, the opposition or even your own community. And sometimes you won’t; you’ll simply be confirmed in your own opinion of the opposite side.

In any case, listening never did anyone any harm.

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‘Try hard, but not too hard. Be a good girl, why don’t you?’

This subject is not entirely INTP related, but more related to the history and education of my sex and current generational struggles which I felt like commenting on here:

In recent years, we have gained this expression in my country which roughly translates to ‘A+ grade girls’. It covers the tendency among my generation of particularly young female students who strive towards getting good grades (and a perfected image) all around, which has also fostered a series of performance anxiety, wavering self-esteem and other stress-related illnesses in large numbers across universities, high schools and now all the way down to elementary schools(!).

The expression has become symbolic of a serious symptom. In fact, it has gotten so bad that it has become a matter of somewhat national urgency.

Though, ambition in itself is not a problem and the fact that a large generation of women achieve a higher education in a variety of subjects than ever before and are able to make a name of themselves is positive, it is also historically new and revolutionary. For most of history, women were merely subjects of their fathers and husbands, duty-bound to obey and be ‘good, little daughters and housewives’. No rights, no vote, no voice, no (financial) independence, no educational prospects. Only very few could see themselves so lucky or privileged to get one or two of those things.

The fact, nowadays, that women now strain under the pressure of living up to all these new opportunities and expectations (given by themselves as well) and a perfected image, is, of course, a problem. A societal symptom which we all share a responsibility for. Let me be clear: It is not the women’s faults. The problem is much more complex and goes much deeper.

And that’s exactly it: The expression ‘A+ grade girls’ unfortunately embodies a sexist, derogatory prejudice as well. The way it is said and used, in a slightly blaming manner, tells of a historically old sexism that stills prevails in our society and which could also be roughly translated to: ‘Blame it on the girls.’

I sometimes sense a troubling lack of understanding among some men and even older generations of women in power who carelessly fling out this expression every now and then to underline whatever point they want to make.

Yes, statistically more women have entered and done better in the higher education system than men in recent decades, but simply because women experience historic progress in this particular field doesn’t automatically undermine the men. Is it really good, ol’ butt-hurt and fear of women out-performing men? Because something is off with the passive-aggressive way some seem to say ‘girls are winners, so now boys are losers’ and ‘fuck these girls and their outrageous ambitions! They should either stop whining or stop competing with each other and just give it a rest!’…

I get so angry and frustrated when I sense this is the problem! Especially because I, myself, is somewhat of a ‘A+ grade girl’ (along with my sister). Though, it has as much to do with my natural intelligence and being academically inclined as it has with my being a woman and a Millennial and feeling the obligatory pressure of performing well with all the opportunities given. Unconsciously or not. It is just the way it is for most of my generation, that much is clear now. And why shouldn’t I make use of my intelligence and opportunities? (I almost did the common mistake of my sex there: Unnecessarily apologizing beforehand for ‘tooting in my own horn’).

And so it’s even more frustrating when I’ve – to my surprise – witnessed my own father spew above-mentioned sentiments twice and refuse to listen to whatever I have to say because he has already set his mind to disagree with me. It’s all the more sad and hurtful that he seems to carry a hidden grudge against girls like myself and my sister; that we are clearly the problem, that we either try too hard or complain too much, and that we need to deal with it ourselves.

I may be colored by this, but, in the end, I think most will agree it is an utterly ignorant and unproductive way of explaining and dealing with a national, and possibly global, symptom: A whole generation of young people reporting sick with stress and battling low self-esteem and anxiety because all they want to do is to perform well and now have all the opportunities to do so that previous generations didn’t have! Not just girls, boys too, but because girls are of the majority of the higher education system thus their number simply are greater.

Of course, the tendency to want to perform well in all of life’s aspects may be sociologically and evolutionary gender-specific. Historically, women have been more exposed to changing circumstances, forced to be adaptive in order to survive and obliged to work twice as hard as men to get the same respect and recognition, juggle multiple roles as well as more restrictive, contradicting demands and expectations from society than men. More so than ever when we did make mistakes, became victims of circumstance and oppressors, and failed to live up to said (often inhuman and paradoxical) demands and expectations. It didn’t take much to step out of line. Which were most of the time. Well, we are humans and humans make mistakes. We lived in a noose that tightened every time we wriggled in the slightest, and our positions in society made us easy targets of all sorts of exploitation since we didn’t have the rights or the voices to fight back or demand justice. (I’m not even sure why I’m speaking in past tense; inequality and sexism are still alive and well).

And let me point out: Having gone through hardships is not a contest nor is this my attempt to exploit or wallow in the female suffering; I’m simply stating the female experience (not excluding racial and socio-economical aspects): We had to make do with what we had and could, which wasn’t much.

But the fact that more women today are dealing with these high ambitions – all these new opportunities included – doesn’t equate making women the enemies in all of this. (Apropos the noose analogy; it’s like some evil repetition of the Salem witch trials. Whatever we try, something can be faulted). Sure, we put a pressure on ourselves but, let me repeat, only because we want to do good. Make good use of our opportunities and prove ourselves – to ourselves and to others. And though ambition is far from everything in life (I’d be a hypocrite to say otherwise), understanding female history is crucial in order to understand the female perspective in this and why women may be more prone to strive for perfection and achievements in every aspect of life.

In fact, it should be seen as a demonstration of women’s extraordinary adaptability and multiple capabilities, especially when faced with adversity, as well as a recurring need to please – for better or for worse, but which shouldn’t be sneered at as it so often has been.

Another incredible historic example of this characteristic of my sex is when WWII arrived and all the men went to war, how women went directly from the kitchens and nurseries to the factories and all the previously male-dominated jobs and did them just as well and efficiently. And then, when the men returned, the women were unfortunately obliged to go back to the kitchens and their previous positions as secretaries and assistents and the sexist treatment that came with them. Just like that. No sulking. No hitch in the sudden shift of skills. Like the men, they had to do what was needed to be done and what was expected of them, though there are always two sides of that coin.

I only wish the current general opinion of the so-called ‘A+ grade girls/generation’ could shift in favor of my generation’s standpoint and desperate cries for help (which is what I also see this symptom as). Because if it continues as it has been, I’m not sure where we’ll end up. The average marks for admission are getting so high at some universities, no one can or will be able to get in. What’s the point of education if it’s all just this ‘good-better-best!’-attitude everyone seems enslaved to..?

I wish all parts of society could see the shared connection and responsibility of this problem, stop pointlessly vilifying either sexes and make a change for the better in the entire mindset of not just the educational system but what values we install in the coming generations.

I’m that idealistic.

Rant over and out.

*revised 15/06/18*

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To live with an INTP brain – 2.0

My mind is always so… persistently active.

I’m not sure if it’s very INTP. Technically, every human brain is active 24/7, even during sleep.

But I find my jumble of thoughts to be ever prevalent. Inescapable. And I have a very ambivalent relationship with said brain. Most of what’s going on inside are analytical observations and deductions in bucket loads, constantly accumulating, expanding, reducing, growing into, feeding and eating each other; from every little object to larger-than-life schemes. Like a game of Pac-Man, only one hundred times more layers and levels. Most of these thoughts are highly curious, objective; almost scientific in their reasoning and even sentiment, while others are more ‘acceptably rational’, to put it in crude terms *coughs*.

I’m not sure if I’d have less to think about if then I’d be more in sync with my emotions, because a large amount of time is also spend to instinctively trying to understand, analyze and come to terms with my feelings.

Well, I’m not exactly the most obvious person to answer that on behalf of myself, am I now?

Taking a break from feeding the incessant need of knowledge that my brain demands is certainly healthy, yet easier said than done. Maybe I’m too weak to resist. Sounds absurd, but it’s like a strange addiction or hunger; a core curiosity, a life force within me that will not quell and which I honestly don’t want to quell. Still, taking breaks, going outside for a walk, taking in nature and simply enjoying it for a while, also brings me peace and quietude.

Otherwise, my mind never rests.

I spend most of my time gaining all sorts of knowledge, some rather random and useless. Still, this hunger within continues; telling me it’s important to gather as much knowledge and information as possible, no matter how random or presumably ‘time-wasting’. And, ironically, while I could (and should) spend my time gaining all sorts of random skills which could be useful for my CV or future jobs, I find them aimless and, oddly enough, useless and a waste of time, simply because I have no specific aim to begin with. Sure, I could gain all sorts of skills pointing in all directions just to cover myself in and look more conventionally attractive on the CV. But, honestly, I have no interest in doing so. I find having a litter of random knowledge to be more important and valuable (to me) than having a set of random skills.

Even though, I’d probably get an actual job if I had said skills…

*sighs*

I really fit the idea of the distracted professor better than I think.

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To live with an INTP brain

I’ve come to realize that my thoughts aren’t always the glorified guiding voice of my existence that I’ve perhaps convinced myself for a long time now. They, too, can be flawed, emotionally unstable and tainted with too many outer voices and all the interacting spheres of my super-ego, ego and id (excuse my Freudian influence), coming full circle.

And, yet, I have a hard time not listening to them when I’m alone. How can I not? They are my thoughts, after all.

When I’m with others, especially in a company that stimulates me, these thoughts are less dominant, often silenced. And if it is a company which listens without judgment and whom I trust, I can even let these thoughts out and get an outside response to them. Afterwards, even though I can feel I’ve behaved pathetically and opened up too much, I also recognize how much better I feel than when I’m alone and bottle them up.

To jump to another (but not entirely dissimilar) subject:

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, dealing with my own day-to-day existence is easier said than done. Not so much in keeping things clean and neat (which most often comes up when talking INTP stereotypes. Oddly enough, I’m rather tidy for an INTP when I want to be. So many things go on in my head, I get somewhat distracted/OCD-like when there’s a clutter around me). It’s more in regards of having and keeping life goals that roughly conform to the expectations of society; of gaining skills and achievements whether personal or professional. Of having a, more or less, decided life plan, I guess.

This expectation was handed to me and my generation from a rather early age and we’ve ‘suffered’ under it ever since. Nobody should be forced to know their professional life goals at the age of 13-14 years old, after all. It’s perfectly medieval, if you ask me! But, as we came to learn, it was a part of a streamlined package deal; of knowing every step of our future education in order to choose right, especially the final, ‘pivotal’ education choice we wanted and thus the job that demanded such an education.

I mean, perspective is good, but honestly, there was no space for mistakes in this expectant, normative ‘road’ painted before us. No space for detours, despite the signposting of all the various careers, all the way to the horizon. An overwhelming sight indeed.

Or, at least, we all felt afraid of making mistakes and even when we inevitably did, we ended up feeling ashamed about it. Mistakes have become this deviant thing in our heads that we all try and avoid, instead of just accepting that making mistakes is a part of life and that making a mistake doesn’t mean you’ll never get back on the ‘road’ or reach your goal.

But I digress.

I’m not sure other INTPs feel this way, but I have a hard time not constantly shifting the issue of my own problems to the greater picture (case in point). I cannot let go of my knowledge of the world around me in order to focus on building my own world. I’d much rather go with the flow. Edging along the ‘main road’; once in while taking detours while keeping an eye on my changing surroundings. Back and forth, in and out among the many ‘trees’ and ‘signs’. Stay curious about life. The one thing I’ve always been.

It sounds lazy, and perhaps I am too much of freeloader if you look at it that way, but, actually, I couldn’t be more invested in what problems the world is facing. Any conversation I have I will segue into the latter at some point or another. It can be both exhausting and fascinating to be on the receiving end and keep up with this head spin, I know. I even manage to exhaust myself from talking too intensely, too passionately about the complex wonders, injustices and discrepancies of the world, while referencing the past, the present and the future in-between. That is, if I’m not turning the conversation into a deeply reflective, introspective talk about the inner human experience and existence…

Yeah, ‘small talk’ isn’t really in my vocabulary.

People think I argue just to argue or because I have to be right, but arguing is just a part of my quest to learn. Ideally, making all parties learn. Not changed, just aware, at least. Aware of all the ins and outs of the ‘road’. Of life. Becoming wiser myself. Even better; to further other people’s own critical awareness. That is perhaps my ultimate goal in life. The ultimate INTP goal…?

Still, it’s somewhat ironic that my awareness of the world surpasses my awareness of my own, practical life, but that’s how it is, I guess. To extent the metaphor: I’m not so interested in what my own ‘road’ looks like as long as I can keep an eye on my varying surroundings.

Despite regarding myself as an observant creature, sometimes I’m so painfully unaware of what’s happening in my immediate surroundings, particularly on a smaller scale. I have trouble even giving examples of this because I’m mostly made aware of these things through others. When this happens and I comment on them, most often I come across as arrogant to those who do not understand how the INTP brain works. Hell, even I find it irritating at times. And I feel ashamed for not paying attention to these details afterwards. Because it’s not like I don’t care. Ideally, I want to pay attention to everything that is important, especially the details of what’s happening in my friends’ lives. I want so badly to remember every little thing they mentioned happened the last time we talked! On the other hand, I cannot possibly bother about people fussing over, in my mind, petty things and practicalities simply for the sake of fussing.

Again, ironically, I feel my own little decisions in my own little life are somewhat petty compared to what the world is dealing with. I mean, they come secondly, for sure. Again, that’s just how my INTP brain works. Of course, I may be influenced by my current situation when I’m saying this; trying to excuse myself from my life, because I find it sort of stagnant and pathetic at the moment. But that doesn’t make the former any less true. In many ways, I think I’ve always felt that there were things more interesting than what goes on in my own life.

And yet, this blog sort of counterpoints this statement, doesn’t it? But as I’ve demonstrated to a painstaking point through this very blog, I’m introspective and reflective to a fault and thus I cannot help reflecting and commenting on my own reflections and comments on the world and my surroundings, thus inevitably bringing my own standpoint into view. It’s a navel-gazing quest, indeed. Or it ends in some big, dramatic, half-cynic, philosophical platitudes about life in general.

*sighs*

The INTP brain sure is one hell of a companion to live with.

*revised 17/5/18*

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