When the tear ducts suddenly erupt

The stereotypical assumption of the INTP may be that of a person who would constantly say ‘Let’s try and be rational’ to any emotional reaction.

That is both true and false.

A response like that is, more or less, our inner, instinctive reaction; our heads trying to wrap itself around what’s happening and analyzing it to come up with a solution how to appropriately respond to something that is not our immediate field of expertise… since we don’t understand emotions that well. To speak plainly.

However, I, too, personally find it irritating when someone says ‘Let’s try and be rational’, because, unless it’s a situation of total panic, it can come across as arrogant – as if bypassing the legitimate emotions and subsequent thoughts of those around them, though that may not be intentional.

Just like shushing a crying person – no matter how benevolent intended or kindly done – is basically a slap in the face to the one crying, because crying is, in fact, a healthy, cathartic outlet for an abundance of emotion/pain.

It’s as if shushing is not letting the crying person feel – which the person obviously needs – and especially when the person is an adult I believe. Instead shushing centers around what the comforting person is feeling; often discomfort and awkwardness in properly responding to the crying person, and the action becomes almost two-fold; as if calming oneself down instead of the person crying.

Why not just say ‘Let it out. I am here for you’ instead?

Crying is still an unspoken taboo among adults, because we are taught and expected to have mastered such emotional outbursts and channel them appropriately, like talking, analyzing or rationalizing these feelings instead. And too often we just feel ashamed or uncomfortable dealing with them at all and stomp them deep within ourselves, in the end bottling them up into an entirely too unhealthy pattern of emotional management. Honestly, sometimes we should just be allowed to… feel. There’s a reason crying is the instinctual physical response to a difficult emotional situation, no matter your age. Frankly, I’m vary and concerned of adults who do not (or claim to never) cry. I’m not saying adults should allow themselves to openly wail in the middle of the streets or in any given situation. Just allow yourself to feel once in a while, not stomping it down with some rational excuse each time (just as much an advice to myself).

I guess, I also feel this on a personal level, the more I’ve learned about my INTP personality as well. Knowing how little we express emotions on a conventional level, though are not less emotional on the inside, I feel we are more than legitimized when we actually do express them. Especially when we feel the need to cry (because, be honest, we only ever cry rarely and alone, don’t we?). For once, don’t tell or expect us to rationalize or channel this expression in any other way. Don’t talk the feelings down, whatever they are. Just let us let it out and feel whatever we need to feel for a moment and be there for us. Am I right? Well, not just INTPs; everyone, really.

But, if you have some insight in INTPs’ track record in this matter, you know the INTP is particularly notorious regarding sudden outbursts of emotions at rare and odd times. We may need some friendly reassurance afterwards; sympathy instead of pity, and, perhaps, someone who isn’t afraid of sticking around (though I wouldn’t blame anyone from wanting to run away) and deal with such an emotional outburst from an (INTP) friend. Nobody wants someone who is just half-listening or pretending to care.

Not that I am any good at handling such things myself when others react this way (have I already mentioned that?), and I use way too many awkward platitudes or whatever I can come up with to make the person feel better without having any clue if it works. I’m no good with the physical stuff and I’m generally such a blatant INTP I avoid the act of comforting like the plague, even though I hate to see people in pain and want to do something to help. Never confuse an INTP’s awkward response to an emotional situation with a lack of emotion, sympathy or empathy. My heart goes out to people in pain; I simply cannot always express it or help in an appropriate way. In fact, sometimes I feel like I feel too much. That I cannot contain it nor express it.

So, I understand perfectly well the need to have a good cry and not be shushed.

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Loyal to a fault but no real faith

I may have belief in my convictions but not in myself. My insecurity won’t allow my faith in myself to establish. It wavers and it changes; from crumbling shyness to conceited stoicism.

It’s weird to have this constant spark of hope warring with a true lack of consistency in belief. Especially voicing that belief in myself. It’s not that I don’t know what I’m worth; I know that intrinsically; I always have, but somehow having to constantly prove, verbalize and even document it to others through outward display and activities remains an exhausting, demanding task. And it’s an internal ‘war’ that I don’t feel like complaining about because I know it’s both immature and futile. An inevitable human condition.

It’s something I feel only I can deal with, on my own, since it’s all within.

But, as previous posts have revealed, I also know I cannot go through life never asking for help or support in this particular area.

I don’t want this warring insecurity to turn bitter and (self-)destructive; influencing or even hampering all other (future/possible) aspects of my life.

I don’t want to become like my introvert parents but in so many ways, I’m already becoming them. I know; now it sounds like I’m projecting but I know my parents rather well, having, after all, been their closest observant for more than 20 years. Sometimes, I think I know the patterns in their behavior and interaction better than themselves from my outside perspective.

But I hate it. I hate it because I never wanted this and because I know that I can still change my life and prevent it but don’t seem to make an effort to really change it. And on some deep level, I think I might even silently blame and resent them for it, even though I am more than aware that I am responsible for my own life. Simultaneously, I stubbornly persist it must be my own battle, almost clinging to it, perversely so. Because… what else have I got?

Can you decide on becoming confident or is it pretense if so; merely masking how insecure you are within? Or aren’t confidence and insecurity two sides of the same coin, depending in what context and how you show it?

Forgive my rambling.

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INTP Pet Peeve #2

People who, by principle, exclude or refuse to include certain possibilities in an argument, even the possibility of reconsidering their argumentation.

What I’m really talking about here is a rigidity of mind. A certain stubbornness or arrogance in some people’s logic which bugs the hell out of me!

I’m sorry but the INTP in me just shines through here, and I know some people (sometimes) can’t help thinking like this.

Hell, even I have to eliminate certain possibilities in a logical analysis or deduction in order to narrow it down, but not before considering as many alternative possibilities as possible first. And by narrowing down doesn’t exclude the ‘discarded’ possibilities for good. By principle, “what I know for sure is that I know nothing”. Or, rather, what I know is one side of a matter and I am aware there might be other sides to it. That doesn’t necessarily make my conclusion any less true, just one argument or logical conclusion of a matter. By principle, I am open to discuss my argument and ready to listen to other perspectives.

However, when people are not aware of this or even ready to discuss their point of views to some extent – that’s where I balk!

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Talking on the phone is just… the worst

I think this on the Top 5 on every introvert’s list of Worst Things Ever.

I’m literally such an ass with the telephone. I hate it when it rings, almost no matter who calls, and I have to mentally prepare myself to pick it up or call other people. And, of course, I avoid it like the plague when it’s an unknown number.

Really, I need to size up the person on the other end. Even if it’s someone I know well. Like some robot I need visual and facial recognition to properly read and interact with another human being.

I think many elements of being face to face are taken for granted, but that’s also somewhat hypocritical to say because, generally, if anything, I prefer to write to and with people, and even writing has it limits (*sighs in admittance*). But so has telephonic communication. Even face to face isn’t perfect, but it sure gives a better picture of the person at the other end.

Let’s be honest, communication is and always will be a complex area. Most of all, it’s about context, perspective and interpretation. Some people are very good at masking their voices and feelings, others unintentionally give off the wrong impressions, while awkward pauses, misunderstandings and interruptions seem to be the most unavoidable and frequent occurrences during phone conversations (at least compared to any other form of interaction I’ve participated in or witnessed, or maybe it’s just me).

Personally, I just interact with more ease if I’m able to read the other person’s face, body language and eyes as well. It helps me to know if the person is being honest and sincere about what they are saying. Am I more comforted by the fact that the other person is also able to read my face, body and eyes? Good question. To be honest, it depends. Most of the time, I have no clue how the world around me see me, so to say I’m unsure how to answer this confidently would be an understatement.

Though I find that I can read people fairly well, I can also be quite naive at times; instinctively putting too much faith in the good of other people. Ironically (or maybe not?), I don’t trust the distorted mediation of the phone, and I feel like my bad sides are more pronounced because of this; that I sound so much more uncomfortable, wavering and even unintentionally curt if I can’t read the situation right.

All in all, I could just do with less awkward pauses and misunderstandings in my life, but I don’t think I’ll ever be able to live without the phone. Not completely. I just have to practise and get used to it, bit by bit.

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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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