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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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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How insignificant such a little thing can seem and how significant it can be

I’m very fond and grateful for my close INFP friend whom I’ve previously mentioned, yet I cannot help feeling somewhat left out in some essential aspects, because I often find myself in the position of (once again) being the listener and the helper, rarely the other way around. She does ask how I’m doing from time to time but rarely probes any further, and I know I’m no good at talking about my feelings, opting for the dismissive, self-deprecating way of dealing with such matters – though, in truth, it covers a desperate cry for help or just a listening, committed ear. However, despite all our years of friendship where I’ve tried to listen, help and learn about her, she has not detected this essential aspect of me (just like my parents and family … ain’t life funny, huh?), much less detected a certain other significant happening in my life, despite it was around the beginning of our friendship where we practically lived together. But it’s not just her. Of course it’s not just her; really, I cannot blame her.

And it leaves me wondering if I’ll remain the puzzle INTPs are so famous of being, despite showing myself, listening and opening myself up; never doubting my own worth or originality? Or if I’m really just so uninteresting? Forever the wallflower? Or that I’m somehow too confusing? I feel like screaming like Jane Eyre. Do they all honestly know me so little? Do they think I’m confident enough to deal with things my own way, so they don’t have to care? Do they think that I’m am unemotional cardboard character who can deflect worries with a witty intellect and a smile, never getting truly struck or depressed by anything? That I don’t have real, profound, lasting feelings and worries of my own?!

My parents haven’t given my feelings much trust and credit through the years, that’s for sure. But the formers are hardly experts or idols to aspire to in that department either. Yet, it does something significant to one’s self-perspective. That’s maybe partly why I have tried to detach myself from my parents. I was never shown the overall sympathetic acknowledgement and respect for my feelings (basically because my parents never really understood feelings or how to handle them properly; they just pretended to and smiled awkwardly), thus, now, in my adulthood I have a hard time showing them the amount of acknowledgement and respect for their feelings that they probably expect or should be given. I just can’t. I see and know of their internal ‘suffering’, but after all these years of dealing only with their inner, self-involved, projected bitterness to each other and all and sundry I’m too exhausted, too selfish to help, empathize or worry on behalf of them anymore. On the other hand, being their child and loving them, I can never not worry about what their feelings do to them, exhausting me as well, but I honestly wonder whether they have ever cared or wondered about my feelings for more than a couple of minutes or hours. After all, do they even know me? I’m not sure. Then what can they worry about (besides the usual superficialities about my getting a job or a house or enough money etc.), making whatever it is they come up with about them and their own guilt? Jeez. Can you see why I cannot deal with them?

And all of this just hurts all the more, because I feel I invest myself the best I can in people, despite all my shortcomings in dealing with emotions and that I do it in, perhaps, rather unconventional ways. I guess I am a misunderstood creature, after all. But I refuse to be blinded by my own flaws and only wallow in self-absorbed pity parties. I want to understand what and why, thus this post. I know I could do more for the people around me – hell, you can always do more! – but at least I am not spiteful against the human race; I am open and constructive-critical at the same time, I do not seek to judge or dismiss the feelings of others before I’ve heard the reasons behind them and even then I will try to take them into account. I can see and I know people feel and suffer and worry, no matter what they say otherwise, and I acknowledge all this, worry about what it will do to them personally and interpersonally, always feeling on behalf of them and wanting to help. Yet, it never reflects on me more than couple of brief moments that I can count on one hand. I’m not greedy or ungrateful, I only ask for such simple, basic, human things that I’ve never received for myself, only given. Am I still making this about me? Probably, but all I want is to understand the two-way street of interaction and various relationships and why I always feel left out in some way.

I do not understand that no matter what I do I can never seem to reach the goal so many others have reached at some point in their lives; finding a sense of prolonged belonging and understanding with someone else beyond oneself, family and friends. Especially, since I do it my way and, lately, I’ve opened myself more up to those around me, gaining confidence (or just jaded nonchalance aka ‘so far nothing has happened, so why not just let it go?’), balancing my life between my antics and introversion and meeting the world the best I can, yet I seem to fall right back into the patterns of old. I’ve done everything one should or can in terms of one’s self-image; I am myself, staying true to myself and open to the world, no matter how depressed, cynic or romantic I become. I cannot help that I’m no good with interpersonal and social superficialities – which I try to accept and overcome in my own way – because I simply and silently care about them: The people themselves and their inner beings; what effects their thoughts, feelings and actions have on themselves and others. How to show them this without putting on a show of stilted theatrics or compromising my own integrity? I do my best to inquire and learn and listen in order to show my interest and care for them without going about it the usual way. Again; picking up the phone, remembering birthdays, gossipping, giving gifts, go clubbing and getting drunk, talking about boys and clothes, platitudes and trivial matters in order to show that I care and am a good friend is not really my thing. I am simply here. In the literal and non-literal sense, if you like; always here to lend an open, but critical ear, give thoughts about the world, advice and guide without necessarily leading or expecting anything in return. However, I do hope for the latter. Not credit or even gratitude, just a reflection of genuine care and interest beyond the bonds of blood or returned pleasanties. Someone to react on impulse. Again, I am human; a three-dimensional person with my own life, needs, thoughts and feelings. I demand only so little, yet oh so significant sentiments in return.

Still, I’m left bereft. So strange never to have been touched just for me, held my hand – anything. How significant such a little thing can be. I sometimes fear nothing and no one (perhaps beyond myself and my sister) grounds me to this world and I will one day lift from the ground and fly upwards, vanishing into the thin air, leaving no significant trace behind. Not forgotten, but never that memorable either. Never to have played a vital role in anybody’s life. Never made an emotional impact beyond having been a friend, daughter, sister and niece. Not that those aren’t important or worth living for, but I cannot help myself thinking there must be more to life, especially since my sense of belonging is so limited in those above roles, in the first place. I have heard people with depression and suicidal thoughts mirror this sentiment, and though I may have a tendency to depression and self-pity, I could never off myself since I only have myself. I’m simply baffled by life – no more than any of you – but cannot help stating the facts and feeling left perplexed by them. In my logical INTP mind they do not make sense, but my mind also persists in rationalizing the world and making it into a chess game where everything must be balanced through causality. Yet, reality is rarely so. I cannot expect to receive or meet interest and understanding on the same level as I feel like giving.

I give in the amounts I am able and hope to one day receive in kind, and I imagine the rest. Yes, adventure and great love would be grand, but honestly, (and yeah, it may sound weird) because of my vivid imagination and the world of fiction, I have no greater need to explore the world (more than I already have) like so many of my peers who have interrailed and trekked foreign countries on their own in order to find themselves. I don’t necessarily believe one can find what one seeks by going out and about. One could easily find what one seeks by seeing what’s right in front of one’s nose. Besides, one does not necessarily have to find oneself outside oneself; you have to bring it as well, I believe. Or maybe you already have it, you just don’t know? The argument is at least 50/50. Some gain and develop by outwardly exploring the world, others don’t. The former may find grand adventure and meet many people, but at some point they’ll have to return home (unless they don’t return and likely are running away from something), often to discover their problems remain the same and within. Others seek inwards first of all, and say all you like about that, but seeking outwards isn’t per definition a better solution. Just like being social and partying doesn’t necessarily mean you are or feel less alone. I believe parties are often loneliness (if not happiness) exploded; an entropy of loneliness in the most basic, human form.

However, I also know I cannot get to know people if I do not meet them. My loneliness cannot surprise me that much, after all, but to rectify it I must do so in my own tempo, step by step; take what comes (and never settle). It just never seems to be my day. I wonder if it’s something intrinsic – rather than mere lazy cowardice – within the INTP (or maybe it’s just me) to not actively seek out human affection but to stay and wait for it to come to me? Maybe because we/I feel – or I rationalize it into the notion – that I don’t have the right to force my selfish need upon others? Also, given the fact that none so far has responded when I have opened up and been myself, my rationalizing has taken a step further and concluded that ‘why should anyone respond any differently in the future?’. Yes, I’ve grown partly cynic, but on the other hand, I can never quench my incessantly, persisting, sappy hope of a potential soulmate(s) out there. My self-pity takes root in this as well as my carelessness. There’s never just one side. It’s always two-faced. I have accepted that this inner battle is a significant part of adulthood.

Perhaps it’s my darn ‘chessplayer brain’ again; with lightning speed, it has taken almost every situation in life into account beforehand, inserting me in every possibility and mercilessly ruled me out of those in which I logically would not happen to come across or fit. Thus, unconsciously, I’ve already reconciled myself with the possibility that there are aspects of life that I’ll likely never have or experience (just like I know which ones I can achieve on my own), but then I ask myself if I have even tried to prove my brain wrong? Yes, somewhat, I’ve just not been very lucky in achieving evidence to the contrary. Once again: Brain, 1-0. Yes, I know, it’s sounds pretty daft to be in contest with your own brain/rationale, right? Maybe only you INTPs out there will understand this. If not, then I’m certified bat-shit crazy. But you see, very little has happened in my life and with a analyzing, rationalizing brain like mine – and I believe, that of an INTP – you remember every little, seemingly insignificant incident in your life that was less than favourable and/or confusing. It’s unavoidable not to take them into account to try and analyze past deeds and interactions in order to conclude something of your life and coming future. Whatever I fancy myself to imagine, my harsh inner realist tells me it’s still only imagination and not real.

Thus, my conclusions come to an ambivalent end. I’ve have nothing to truly complain about that I cannot do something about myself and yet, I still feel something is missing. Something essential that I see others have or have experienced at some point. I try to tell myself that I have something they don’t and maybe I do, but will it ever compensate for what life’s really about? Perhaps not. And (self)pity will do me no good, I know. It’s one of the least attractive traits you can have, so I try and banish it with self-deprecation, knowing full well that it only screams louder of my inner conflict and everyone or no one might hear it. And it doesn’t exactly help that my brain keeps telling me that I’m far from the only one who longs for this, that I cannot even allow myself to complain about this, that I’m so damn lucky, spoilt and privileged compared to those in greater misfortune than I. And I know this, but I have no alternative to cling to once this obvious fact has been stated.

*sighs heavily*

It seems I always end up right back where I started.

Maybe I haven’t tried enough? Taken enough chances? But I honestly don’t know what else I can do, when all I have ever done is being myself!? I do not believe I haven’t lived or tried or taken chances, though I know I could probably have taken more (but then again, you can always take more). I will not budge from staying true to myself – and though no one said you should, so far it hasn’t really proven masterfully rewarding. My stubborn independence will perhaps always be my vice, rendering me unlucky in certain aspects of life that others stumble more ‘easily’ upon. I sometimes wish for a fruitful collision of sorts, but real-life is not like a movie script and you mostly need luck and coincidence for such happenings which you cannot exactly buy at the supermarket. So what does my rationale conclude? That if I cannot ever control what happens in life, all I can do is just be, exist and wait for it to show itself in its usual, random ways. Not much to build ambitions and expectations around, you see? So, ironically, in spite of these lengthy, self-involved posts I write here, I mostly shrug and say ‘I don’t know’ or ‘I can’t say’ whenever someone ask me what I think my future will bring, what I want to be, where and with whom I see myself in 5 or 10 years, etc. etc.. Yes, the smalltalk quickly runs short on the subject of me and the awkward silence endures.

In continuation with my previous posts about realizing that I probably never had or ever will find understanding and true belonging within the family (besides my sister, of course) and friends of the family, this has already been emphasized about three times since last summer. I’ve parcipated in at least two large family and friends gatherings where I knew most of the people attending and I don’t think I’ve ever felt more alone and alienated in my life. If my sister hadn’t been there as well, I think I would have gone mad! Some instances have been better than others and I’m fortunately armoured with a robust patience, but it really wears thin when it’s confirmed again and again just how little in common I have with so many people that is of my blood and relation. Well, nobody said blood instantly equals a deeper sense of belonging and mutual understanding (rather than pity), but this is close to ridiculous, because I’ve rarely felt so estranged than from my own family! I’ve received more genuine interest from friends of family members than the members themselves! Well, one side of the family, in particular. I’ve tried to be patient and listen, even be so daring to voice my opinion and try to discuss things with them but been quietly rebuffed each time, like I was invisible (story of my life). I seriously consider ranting about one particular incident with this side of the family that left me so utterly miffed and indignant, but partly thanks to my stupid naivety I still keep telling myself that this was just a one-time thing, despite having been proved otherwise multiple times. And an emotional rant about a personal incident would be no good. I have too many feelings about this particular episode, I’m not sure it would be a good idea to even begin a summary.

Anyways …

So what do I want? Someone to wallow in my depressive self-pity with? No, I just want a companion. To be seen. Really seen. And understood, not pitied. It’s such a pathetic, slushy request – perhaps even mundane in all its universality – but the one thing I ache for in life more than anything else, I think. I try to think of instances, often fleeting moments, where I believe I’ve been seen (or seen someone else), but I come up short. If so, they were gone too quickly, never to be realized. So you see, I roam this earth alone; my attachment to it seems ethereal. And yet, it doesn’t make me anymore special than any of you or other lonely souls out there. It’s a human condition, I believe.

Only … those who have found a companion, have they/you not cut an edge off that encompassing loneliness, because it is now shared by two? Have you not been grounded to the world through understanding, touch and even love from another human being by your side? Even if it did or will not last, at least you were so lucky to have experienced it. I envy that. So far my life has persistently diverted from such happenings to the point where I begin to wonder whether it will ever truly happen or if it’s all only in fiction. So, (until then, if ever), I dive into fiction to get my fix. Sad but true. (Please tell me I’m not the only one). It may all just be a phase until ‘real-life’ hits me after this summer where I’m finished at uni and need to get a job and a life. I cannot honestly say what is going to happen or what I can or will do to make whatever it is happen – other than what one would normally and sensibly do. You follow? Hm, not sure I do either.

So that’s that.

PS. If you got absolutely nothing out of this post, it’s fine. I’m not sure I did either, apart from getting to vent a bit. Hope the next one will have a slightly more sunny prospect.

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Critique and self-insight

I once got an E at university. My first and, so far, only E.

I know, ‘poor me’, right? No, this isn’t a pity story, it’s a story of (personal) insight.

While an E isn’t a failing grade in my country, it is one step from it. When I saw it I bawled. I was shocked because I’d thought it a good essay when I had handed in, not my best but it was okay. I’d thought I was really onto something. But then, having wiped my tears, I re-read it and I saw just how many blatant mistakes I had (unconsciously) made, such as using a secondary source as my primary, giving a way too insufficient analysis of an entire film as case study, basing way too many facts on news articles and, all in all, trying to save the world. All in the amount of 20 pages or so. Never a good idea. None of it. I don’t know what I had been thinking, really. It was so obvious, yet, for once, I had been blinded by my idealism. However, the writing process had been different. In my class we had been teamed up in these sort of sparring groups who wrote within the same theme or problem. My group was a wonderful bunch of girls and we often met up at one of girls’ apartment downtown, drinking tea, eating great food and discussing the problems of the world. It was such a great experience compared to my usual hermit-like tendencies whenever I write (not that I hate those; it is my choice, after all) that I realized the paper or the grade itself didn’t matter as much as I had appreciated the unique experience of working together with those brilliant, quirky, equal-minded girls. When I was able to reach my supervisor a couple of weeks later after having gotten my grade, I was entirely serene about it. She was rather apologetic and sympathetic as if expecting I would break down crying at any minute, but I kept reassuring her in a surprisingly cool and collected way that I had realized my failings with the paper and accepted them.

When I think back, I learned so much from that entire ordeal, especially about myself. It sounds weird – a true luxury problem – but it was almost good to have been thrown down from the pedestal for once. To face your faults. Again, getting good grades isn’t that hard if you have figured out the system and a way to make it easier for yourself. But I also happen to like what I’m studying. I’m fairly good at it. Which both eases my interest and puts a bit more pressure on my own performance. Nice and contradictory as always. I would probably not have looked as positively at that E if I hadn’t been in that swell group dynamic. They certainly compensated for the grade! And I learned how to appreciate that random group work can have great dynamics after having become rather cynical about them during my earlier school years.

To back up a little, I’ve become more and more resilient (or rather demonstrative?) to outer critique like that, because the critique itself – good or bad – is within me; it is already there, so to speak. My ‘chessplayer’ logic won’t allow it otherwise; all possible outcomes have already been regarded (or deducted swiftly in the moment it happens), unconciously or not, thus I’m not all that surprised when it is confirmed from the outside world. Sounds exhausting, right? *shrugs* Well, I can’t help it. As I said: my brain has a life of its own. But as I’ve mentioned before, certain critique hits deeper because it digs at some of my insecurities or weaknesses which I may have been aware of and even regarded but pushed away in some sort of twisted self-denial. Often the critique couldn’t be more cliché and yet, somehow, all the more hurtful because of it. And when the outer world randomly and verbally ‘confirms’ it, I surprise myself by breaking down momentarily, shocked at my own violent shock, hurt and anger by something so utterly petty. I get back up on the horse, of course, but hurtful things are always hard to forget.

I questioned whether I’m just plain demonstrative in this show of ‘resilience’, which I did because as a child I was ‘diva-demonstrative’ incarnated. Whenever I drew something, dressed up or anything like that and presented my work for my parents, no matter what they said – but mostly when they praised it effusively – I would backlash; tear up the drawing, tear in my clothes, hide from the camera, huff and puff and even scold my parents for their reactions. I think I partly behaved like that because I was aware of the ‘soft soap speech’ that adults tended to put on and which I frankly hated and didn’t understand. I think I deep down wanted immediate, honest responses, not platitudes, already back then. But mostly, I was just an obstinate kid in a power struggle. Never felt entirely comfortable with authorities or anyone trying to tell me what to do. Not just my parents, but my little sister and even some of my friends in school got a taste of my temper – not always, but whenever I felt truly headstrong, wronged or self-righteous. Once thumbed a girl in the stomach because she said something I didn’t like at my seventh year birthday(!). Whenever I tell this to people today their eyes bulge with surprise and disbelief. Of course, kids are kids and thank God for that. I’ve not lost my bad temper but it hardly shows its ugly face in the same ways as it once did. Not all INTPs are like this; my temper had a lot to say and one’s personality is hardly developed at this stage. And I was told I was more compliant and mature than other kids. This was, of course, when I was outside of the home; for some reason, I knew I couldn’t behave quite like that in the public’s sphere. (Well, besides that little ‘diva-boxer’ episode.. *clears throat*).

What did I want to say with this?

Ah, right: the matters of my particular demonstrative streak. Well, some of it lingers from childhood and though the dramatics of the backlash has changed, I fear it’s still a somewhat childish behavior or instinct that in itself hasn’t matured, no matter what I choose to call it otherwise. That – when I stand up to something – it cannot be called brave or anything like that, because, in reality, it’s just my inner, petulant child speaking its mind.

And like I feel around all children, I’m ambivalent at best.

*revised 13/12/16*

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One step ahead, two steps behind

I find myself thinking like a chessplayer (despite not having the patience for chess); always thinking one – or a million – possible steps ahead, my mind churning and churning ’till I exhaust myself. Such a line of thinking has consequences for every decision I make or am about to make – any decision in the future, too. It’s halting and infuriating, to say the least.

I saw this documentary about Bobby Fischer (much debated whether he was an INTP or INTJ) which really freaked me out, because I realized the balance between (mad) genius and self-destruction is so damn fine. I can’t begin to compare myself to Fischer (also given his, in the end, severe mental instabilities), but it gave food for thought to see such a talented man’s quick down spiral.

I know the feeling of being utterly consumed by one’s thoughts and ideas – finding oneself utterly brilliant and everything impossibly interesting – and not letting anyone else influence you. ‘So many things to inspect, so little time and so many weird looks from people!’ As if the brain itself is resisting outer forces as well as being at war with itself. And it’s out of your control. A dangerous cocktail indeed. However irritating and grating it feels to be disturbed in these mad, ingenius thought processes, it is in this critical time you need something or someone to get you down to earth again. In a calmly, respectful and understanding manner, of course. And that rarely happens, unfortunately.

I’ve tried it once or twice; coming dangerously close to a sort of madcap state of being which was both entirely exhilariting and entirely frightening. It may sound like I was on drugs but I have no need for drugs. I have my mind. And I can merely starve my body from its daily sustenances and cycles, then I’ll get delirious. I bet everyone has tried it, intentionally or not. Sleep-deprivation is the best stimulant, actually. Combined with a lack of food and drink, everything becomes hazy and clear at the same time. (Of course, mix in caffeine and I’m off!) The pulse throbbing and blood pumping almost unnaturally in a confused, exhilarated cry – both in jubilee and for help. Like the body’s natural way of drugging itself. And my mind – dear lord, my mind..! It was like a steaming freight train off the rails! The thoughts multiplying and accumulating faster than the fake horcruxes in Bellatrix Lestrange’s Gringotts vault! It was madcap awe-inspiring and scaring! You have no idea the amount of stuff I got done during it! Sounds crazy, right? Though, I would contest that it doesn’t sound nearly as crazy as drugging your body with those truly psychotic, foreign chemicals you normally call ‘drugs’. That’s just barmy! Not that I didn’t get a rush from this and could easily become addicted in some sorts by doing this routine. I definitely have to keep my mind and instinct in a leash.

Unfortunately, when this was happening, I was merely laughed at for being silly by my family (a common occurence) because they think of me more as ‘the nutty professor’ and rarely take me seriously. And I guess that’s healthy enough considering my ego. To be taken down a notch, become less self-important (but then again, at that moment, I feel everything is goddamn important!). Yet, sometimes they lack tact and in this instance it felt highly hurtful and degrading to be teased and ignored. Of course, that curbed my delirious enthusiasm and replaced it with hurt and anger. I went to my room like another sullen child and cursed them all to hell, but eventually I cooled down. I got numb. And so very, very tired. I truly felt the ‘low’ of my ‘high’; the mental hangover sweeping across my entire being, rending me silent inside and out. A strange experience, all in all, indeed. I’ve never done it to such an extreme before and I doubt it will be the last time, but I will have to take care not to be too careless about this use of method. Again: Ingeniusly efficient but not conventionally practical.

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