In badly need of a reality check

amelie6

When will it ever really hit me?

I’m such a romantic, old fool.

No, not decisively romantic. Nor sentimental. Cynic-romantic. Arrogant and naive, idealistic and self-deprecating at the same time. Like constantly running a voice-over from a film noir inside my head. (Seriously, the commentary is switched on 24/7.)

I wonder on which level of development as a Type 5 INTP I currently find myself? I think and hope I’m (still) on an average level given my polar (or complementary, depending how you see it) cynic-romantic relationship with the world. No matter how pointless this perspective feels at times, with no definitive answers or meaning, it also sustains me, ironically and stubbornly infusing hope and pulls me back from the edge – or sometimes urging me to take the jump (in a positive sense).

Yet, I fear sliding down a slippery slope; of isolating/detaching myself further from the world if it continues to disappoint or I disappoint myself in aligning myself with it. Perhaps rooted in my feeling of having no purpose other than existing? However, more often, I find the fault lying within the world than in me. And I guess that is a rather ambivalent notion, since, on the one hand, it distinguishes me from those who – in desperation and despair of not conforming or finding meaning – end their own lives and, on the other hand, makes me somewhat deluded into being ‘blameless’ concerning what happens in my life. Both, in a sense, are true, I guess.

This leads way to why this back-and-forth, cynic-romantic pull also sustains my sense of being caught between a rock and a hard place as I’ve so often mentioned on this blog. It enables and feeds a passivity (or even a depression) to do nothing at all because there seems to be no real meaning in doing it anyway, in the end. That – combined with the knowledge that life is absurd and most things happen by luck, unluck and coincidence – takes most of the control out of one’s hands, rendering most actions and ways of life pathetic and deluded; as means to distract ourselves from this lack of control.

At least, that’s what I tell myself. And that may be a delusion in itself. Another deduction and excuse to do nothing about it. Another knowledge that does nothing to lessen my frustration, passivity and sense of pointlessness but instead drives me into circles.

I’ve got no narrative in my own life. Thus the lack of purpose. I can live in and make out everybody else’s narrative but not my own. And reality is there for me to make it in and to guide me, yet I feel like there’s a gulf between us. I’ve become too accustomed to live in a world outside reality and only exist in reality. As author Richard Wright once so aptly put it: “Whenever my environment had failed to support or nourish me, I had clutched at books…”

Is fear and knowledge holding me back? Probably. The cynic romantic in me pulls me back and forth from the edge of the gulf in an eternal loop. And I wonder when it will tell me to jump or let me – in order to take the chance and reach what should be more real. Because I fear what I will become in this otherwise eternal stasis.

*revised 30/1/17*

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How (self)perception can deceive you

“I am both worse and better than you thought”, Sylvia Plath once wrote.

If you ask me, this quote is completely ingenious.

It fits almost every situation in which you interact with another human being and worry about their perception of you and how it matches your own self-perception.

So often we put our hopes and expectations into our fellow man and so often we get disappointed. Yet, what did we truly expect? Here Plath’s quote applies perfectly. We are only human, after all, aren’t we? Human and complex. In this regard, I come to think of a generally used misquote of Plath but which in reality belongs to author Dean Walley: “Please don’t expect me to always be good and kind and loving. There are times when I will be cold and thoughtless and hard to understand”.

We can never really live up to or stay true to the expectations of others – that is, not everyone’s – despite how much we truly want to, deep down. In my experience, positive impressions jump or sneak up on you unconsciously. You might have known a certain person to be a certain, amazing way, but it was not something you ruminated upon everyday why or how or selfishly willed forth like you often do with expectations that you hope to project onto others. You just knew without consciously knowing. You follow?

Yet, you could argue the same concerning negative impressions, couldn’t you?

I still fear I’m a freak in the sense of unintentionally being a ‘bad’, irritating, egocentric person deep down, despite caring about the world and wanting very much to help the people in it in some way. Well, in my way and the best way I can.

Perhaps not decisively ‘bad’, but not decisively ‘good’ either. (Not that man has ever been just one thing). And that one of these ‘traits’ may stragetically, almost instinctively dominate the other whenever it feels necessary and justifiable to do so – for my own benefit – simply in order to get through and survive in this world.

I don’t know what I’ve become anymore.

But, the thing is, this fear may stem from a recurring insecurity. I’ve realized that my insecurities from my younger years are as prominent as ever. They’ve just grown and changed; their conditions shifted.

I may have distanced and isolated myself throughout my life, because I have – among other things – battled with this knowledge; this insecurity and the possibility that it might have some truth in it, but denied it or denied to do anything significant about it. And thus pushed away the responsibility of deciding upon it, stubbornly telling myself that I am also just me and that that cannot be changed. Not for anyone. Not the essence of me. So be it if people get aggravated by it.

However, the faux confidence only lasts for so long.

An event – a turning point, really – occured just this past summer where I was rendered shocked, hurt, confused and sad that I could ever make people feel immediate hatred, dislike or anger towards me. The fall-out was mainly caused by a mutual misunderstanding; of related tempers clashing in a moment of stress before apologizing and reconciling again. Still, it felt like it was subtly my fault more than anything. That I had ‘a problem’ that needed to be dealt with somehow; that I was being too critical, too snarky, too personal. Perhaps slightly unfair since it takes two to make a quarrel – but also partly true. I knew I was projecting, that I was being unfair as well and that it needed to stop. It’s never nice to come upon such realizations but I think they are somewhat healthy in order for you to grow.

In the end, the episode shocked me to my core and made me realize that I have somehow come to never expect that I can inspire any kind of passionate feelings – platonic or otherwise – in anyone. It’s sad that I feel this way, isn’t it? That I’ve come to view my own effect and impact on others – negative and positive – with so little regard. In so many instances I need to remind myself that I’m not invisible but actually can have an impact. Too often I just hide in the shadows or lay back, dismissing or taking it for granted. Especially that some people actually do care about me and thus can get hurt by what I do or don’t do. (Those out there with a greater emotional understanding and interpersonal guidance may be chuckling at me right now, but you must understand that this is a core feature in the INTP; this particular blind spot regarding emotions).

It may also be a causal/Pavlovian symptom – a misconstrued symptom – because I’ve taught myself not to care too much in order not to get hurt myself and in the end managed to include myself in that view: That if I do not care overtly about people but just what is required when it is required, then that goes for me as well: They do not care about me more than required and thus are not that affected by what I am or do or say.

Seems I’ve gone out on one of my rational limps and got tangled up in the strings. And I’m not quite sure how to disentangle myself. Should I just begin to care more and to visibly, physically, verbally show it more – even when it feels fake to do so? Again, it’s not like I do not care at all, but I’ve already been hurt enough to find that gate hard to open even more. So – as pathetic, lazy, sobby and uneffective as it sounds – I hope and wait for someone – somehow – to come to know and care about me on a deeper level and thus pave the way for me in this regard. As if it will happen out of the blue..! *scoffs* But at least then I think the gate will be a little less heavy if I have two more hands to help me push it open. Only then I see more sunlight than only dim fog at the end of the tunnel. (A bit heavy with the symbolism here, I know). It comes to no surprise that I also categorize as an Enneagram Type 5.

As hinted to, I am still as confused as I was as a teen. It is just … slightly different now. I know my inherent value but am bound to take the outside world’s response to me into account in order to sum up who I am as a person.

Strangers or distant relatives have called me sweet and nice –  humble even – however, they rarely know me that well and probably perceive me as slightly reserved or shy. Some people have been in awe and called me very insightful by a mere, immediate thought I voiced, yet also smiled and likely wondered how arrogant and naive I can be as well. Teachers have hinted to both a talent and a waste of talent; for not taking more advantage of my ressources and showing my intelligence to the fullest. To open my mouth more while my parents, ironically, wanted me to shut it more. Closer friends or family seem more ambivalent and likely find me as irritating as I am insightful, as naive as I am arrogant, and probably too closed-off, too excentric and too humble at times. Perhaps because they know me, care about me or even love me? Especially since this ambivalence is mirrored in my own self-love and self-perception. In the end, it all constitutes what is complex about humans and being human, right?

As a person on Tumblr described it:  “I am a different person to different people. Annoying to one. Talented to another. Quiet to a few. Unknown to a lot. But who am I, to me?”*

Resonating Anne Frank: “Everyone thinks I’m showing off when I talk, ridiculous when I’m silent, insolent when I answer, cunning when I have a good idea, lazy when I’m tired, selfish when I eat one bite more than I should…”

Still, most of all, my own insecurity (aka my Fe) wants people to simply like me. Well, don’t most people feel like this? But I cannot just exist. It isn’t enough for me to just be. I need to give as well. I sometimes wish – or my insecurity wishes – I could be less me and thus less of a ‘nuisance’ to the people I know and adapt to their needs; be more of a help and comfort, despite not having the inclination to be more emotionally helpful and ‘touchy-feely’. My empathy inevitably mixes with my rationality, but I have so much to give of this particular ‘mix’. That is my kindness and though it isn’t very competent in giving the immediate, emotional and physical comfort, I think it can help in other ways. (I’ve found that I am a great pep talker. Huh.)

And yet, I also do not want to reduce myself, because merely showing an outer personality that constitutes of being kind and helpful is not really a personality but rather personality features, in my eyes. I’ve met pretty, kind girls my age who only ever acted kindly, never really giving away any faults or anger or deviations from the perceived norm. It equally frustrated and impressed me that they wouldn’t or couldn’t get riled-up but always gave a polite smile. Perhaps they simply were genuinely sweet people. Or they made a hell of an effort to acquire and keep up this diplomatic façade. I never saw any other side of them. Of course, if I had really gotten to know them, they’d perhaps shown more sides.

But, to quote Jane Austen in Persuasion: “She felt that she could so much more depend upon the sincerity of those who sometimes looked or said a careless or a hasty thing, than of those whose presence of mind never varied, whose tongue never slipped.”

And to me, you should be ‘allowed’ to have the space to display weird gestures and quirks in public. You should be allowed to show anger and eagerness and not be regarded as immature if you do (especially if it does not harm anyone), because you are so much more! Honest about who you are: Kind and considerate, but also distracted and selfish. Intelligent but also naive at times. I know, it may be a very INTP thing to think this way, and I (or perhaps the child in me) may be talking on behalf of myself now. Yet, people have to somehow take everything else that comes with these ‘kind’ features as well in order to have what constitutes me or you, no? And it would be utterly hypocritical to do otherwise, since all people have quirks or deviations or whatever. Some have just learned to curb or diminish them in some situations and express or channel them in others – which could be viewed as just as ‘abnormal’ from another point of view. We are all different, in that regard, but no less or more faulty than others.

Anywho. I think the above-mentioned event changed me, somehow. Made me more aware of myself and others; gut-punchingly aware. At least, I hope so. I tell myself so. And I know such events cannot be entirely prevented in one’s life or in the future – they are there to make you grow, after all – but hopefully, now that I’m more aware, they will rarely occur.

*revised 5/6/17*

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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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Being at the mercy of others and wanting to free myself

When I got my degree, I said to myself (and I bet I’m not the only one who has done so): “Why, now I’ll never have to do any more exams! Nice!”

Ah, the bittersweet irony of freedom returns!

How naive I can be. If the educational system taught me anything it is that life is an educational system in itself; with a string of ‘exams’ you have to get through in order to achieve what you want. In the more romantic sense, life is an education but the harsh reality of modern life is not without its systems. It cannot be without its systems, its hierarchy and bureaucracy.

It’s pathetic, really, to suddenly realize that you’ll probably spend your whole life being valued and validated in some form or another. Like it’s so much of a surprise. Being at the mercy of others’ judgement and scale. It’s cynic too, but hey, I’m an INTP. I can’t help it. I cannot not include such thinking.

I instinctively resist and rebel against the notion of forever being weighed and judged. I know, I know: Most people would tell me that I’ve got hold of the wrong end of the stick here; that I sound totally distrusting of my fellow man. And maybe it’s true. Because maybe it isn’t so much about being at the mercy of other people, but more about people just wanting to help, using their skills and experience to help and guide you. Just like I want to do so myself.

I’ve talked about an inner struggle before and part of it also consists of wanting to free myself from being at the mercy of others and then again, accept that I might never be free. I suspect it is an universal, existential struggle when it comes to grasping freedom, independence and the concept of it.

The thing is: I don’t want to prove myself to anyone! I don’t want to ask for help! I know my worth. I don’t want to spell it out or document it, have several others’ approval for my worth just so others can truly believe it. I’m stubborn and utterly childish that way; I’ve never learned to put it aside – or deliberately chosen not to do so – but staunchly held on to this characteristic and used it as an excuse or deluded myself into thinking it gave me spine.

Or maybe it’s simply the force of nature of being an INTP? We are the stubborn few?

I’m not sure what to do with this stubborn independence. Has it become my excuse to not deal with certain elements of adult life? Or is it something in my nature that I cannot curb but must learn to accept and wait for those around me to accept as well?

Regarding the matter of judgement, being at the mercy of others’ and one’s own judgement and disregarding any current overthinking, I have examined myself (surprise!) and asked why I can still be surprised, even shaken to my core, when other people remember things I’ve said or done; something characteristic about me that caught their attention or struck a thought in them.

Is it because I have so low expectations of myself or how others see me – and tend to tell myself that I expect nothing from nobody else – that I expect no one will remember anything about me? (Which is hypocritical and self-contradictory, really). Or am I surprised because I realize that people have actually come to know me, that I – unconsciously – ‘let’ them close; and that frightens me as well as excites me?

And then it occured to me that I react differently when it comes to personal matters. I can easily delve into non-personal matters; talk big about big, abstract concepts and philosophize the hell out of life and the world. But when the question comes to myself, I react very contradictory: As I mentioned in my previous post, I like to distract from my daily doings and current, practical situation in life. It may sound strange, but it is simply not something that I prefer to talk about nor does it interests me that much. On the other hand, I highly value my own position and existence in the world, and I hate to have my inherent value immediately and consistently judged, questioned, patronized, misunderstood or ridiculed. (Well, who doesn’t?). I balk against such treatment. That said, I am always open-minded to having my ideas constructively questioned and broaden my mind, mainly because I constantly question and expand my views myself.

However, I sometimes react so differently to comments about something I’ve created compared to comments on my character. I have always wondered why I rarely feel anything of significance when people praise or criticize something of my creation. Yet, when people remember the smallest little thing or gesture about me, I am shaken to my core.

And it’s strange because my explanation for the former would be because I know my own inherent value and that of my creations and thus no level of critique will ever really get to me. I am that confident, maybe arrogantly so. Yet, when it comes to the latter – the comments about my character – this notion should apply as well, shouldn’t it? But if my expectations truly are that low that I get so surprised when I get positive comments my way – then I don’t really hold my character of that high value, do I? Or it may just be that those comments don’t happen that often, so I’ve taught myself not to expect them (even though I secretly hope for them)?

I’ve realized that what I may lack and have always lacked in my life is more of the latter. That is, positive comments about my character alone. It’s a selfish, attention-seeking need, indeed. And it so happens that my idiotic brain chooses to remember all the bad, hurtful comments about my character – even if there were good ones in-between. I can practically count them on one hand. (… I can’t believe I hold account of them! Damn my Fe! It’s like having a watchdog in the basement of my brain that also happens to be my brain’s nit-picking accountant. Ugh! And when it all gets too much, I just want to yell at people to throw the dog a goddamn bone so it’ll shut up!).

From that, my impossibly logical brain must conclude that, in my case or in any case, one is judged on different levels – by others and oneself – and that one judges oneself through others. That is: what I am, what I do and what I create. Though they seem like the same thing and do correlate, I’ll argue that one can differentiate between what makes a person – a person. The notion of ‘what I do’ is sort of split between ‘what I am’ and ‘what I create’. So you see why I (and perhaps others as well) feel so split when the question falls on ‘what I do’?

But I digress. Back to beginning of this post:

Maybe because I was on my path of learning when I was a student, I didn’t need to worry about any other path. I more or less just had to sit back and learn about the world, knowing my next step would be another level of the same form of learning. I wish I still was on that particularly path. But I need to grow up and accept that the path of learning doesn’t end when your school days are over. It just changes. I instinctively fear this path because it is much more non-linear and unpredictable. More pro-active than passive. Frankly, it is not a fact that surprises me; I mentally prepared myself for this. Just the feeling of it does. The feeling of truly standing on this precipice. It should be the exciting thing about life, but it is so in a frightening way, first and foremost.

Maybe that’s what I’m trying to overcome at the moment? The immediate fear. Maybe it has something to do with my being an INTP and needing more time to deal with my feelings and understand them in order to get anything productive done?

I’ll probably first have an answer in a retrospective light.

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Leaving my safe, little, solitary lighthouse

I guess it’s only natural when you’re in a ford of your life: People ask you ‘what now?’ and you cannot answer. Not even in the slightest. I have no hobbies besides writing stuff here and there and when people say ‘then get a hobby or join a creative writing course or yoga or something!’, basically saying ‘get out and do something substantial with your life and meet people!’, then I rebel against the notion.

I try and explain that I want to write; something, anything!, most of all: write for myself, but it isn’t always easy to explain nor to comprehend. People in my immediate surroundings mostly want to hear something concrete, something they can relate to. Of my doing something. Writing, simply writing – unless published – is not immediately grasped as doing something. Not really.

And I know it. Don’t I know it.

It’s the only thing I do. I write and think. As much as it pains me, I think I need to leave my safe, little, solitary lighthouse overlooking the world, and join people on the mainland. Metaphorically speaking.

My life is in a ford, a sort of standstill. I cannot entertain people with my life, because nothing concrete happens in it or will in probably a good amount of time. Until then, I can always talk about all the strange concepts and big ideas and paradoxes of the world, but I cannot give any exciting news about my life. And it’s the awkward silence that now follows – when I cannot distract from my own insignificant life no more – which I do not know how to save. I have nothing immediate to refer to. I try and it merely becomes small talk; a masquerade I put on that makes me cringe and I ask myself why I just don’t do something about it then?

I don’t know. I speculate I might have a mild depression rather than merely feeling ennui. Or it might just be ennui and all I need is a well-placed kick in the butt??

*sighs*

But it’s not like I’m letting things slide or have lost interest in the world and begun to hate people and turned bitter! On the contrary!

I rack my brain (and the Internet) 24/7 for inspiration to get a job or a new hobby or something concrete to express how much I care and want to help, but time and time again I end up here, by the ‘paper’ or one of my blogs, to express and demonstrate my frustrations instead. Or finding others who share them. It’s not very productive, even though I get to vent, because I still end up right where I started.

I don’t know how to express this interest in the world – other than through writing. More than meeting new people (even more people I need to distract from my non-eventful life? No thanks!) I need to have something else settled in my life. Within myself. Whatever it is. And yes, I could do so through signing up for some random course and meeting new people, but this, this thing inside me, feels somehow more important. Or, at least, something my gut tells me I need to prioritize, no matter what it is or how long it takes.

Ugh. I want to yell at my gut for being so darn obstinate and inconvenient! But I reckon I am somewhat of a slave to it in the end. I rarely can’t follow it. Especially when it concerns my own path I set. Even if I end up on the street, desperate and with no money. Hmph. No worst case scenario yet, my dear fellow.

But all this, as I said about my need to write, is not easily explained nor understood. I can say that I listen to my gut and that my gut tells me to wait and think, not… jump and jive. It doesn’t sound effective, eventful, smart, lucrative nor concrete in any way. Most of all, I just want people to let me be – or not ask me about my life no matter how much it shows that they care – until I have figured it out and had time to do so. And I suspect that’s all people really want for me, more or less. It’s probably just me, getting anxious and blowing things out of proportion in my head (as usual).

Now I have vented. Now, I guess, I must … do something.

*revised 7/1/2017*

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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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