A paradox of definitions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*revised 08/03/18*


To trust and put yourself into the hands of others

I’ve realized that opening up about your troubles and worries to another person is also putting your trust in your fellow man. It is frightening as well – the most frightening of all perhaps – to put so much trust into another being; keeping many – including myself – from ever actually doing it. We guard ourselves – or parts of our inner selves. Even from those we love – sometimes because we think we protect them in some way or another by doing so.

As an example, I’ve long wondered why I’ve never really known my parents or why they could suddenly react with so utter distrust or secrecy towards me or my sister in the smallest of matters. Now I see that they guard themselves; have probably done so all their lives – and now grown so inveterate in doing so that they’ve stopped hoping or believing in ever trusting another being with their innermost worries, vulnerabilities and flaws.

I guess we are all looking for a savior; in ourselves, in someone else, in something beyond us. When we’ve forgotten how to believe in ourselves, we hope for a way to believe in ourselves again. Perhaps to let someone in who can show us how. Perhaps by loving us.

We all just want to be happy in the end, don’t we?

Maybe we never really give up hope, so even when those we thought we loved and trusted disappoint us, we push them away and stubbornly try and look elsewhere. Naturally but often wrongly so, because maybe we did not give those we pushed away a second chance.

It all sounds very sappy and perhaps I’m just feeling a little emotional right now. But I can’t help thinking there’s some truth in it somewhere. If not in anyone else’s case, then in my own.


Lack of emotional guidance

“I don’t want to be at the mercy of my emotions. I want to use them, to enjoy them, and to dominate them.” — Oscar Wilde

Maybe my reason for not wanting to have children is because I already have a small 6-year-old running around inside my heart, playing my emotional keeper. It’s quite enough. *scoffs dryly* No, seriously. It’s literally like an annoying, selfish, hedonistic, stubborn little kid who runs amok, high on sugar and excitement over utterly geeky nonsense, or slumps together in a corner out of exhaustion or demonstratively trying to get its will.

Yep. That’s the core feature of my emotional response.

And like any weary parent my rationality tries to rein it in and put some guidelines up in order to get somewhere constructive. Not that I constantly fail in this fairly common endeavour, but my ’emotional keeper’ is also just a child; a person with its own personality and individual growth. I cannot keep on controlling it, yet as a ‘parent’, my rationality has a constant responsibility towards it. They cannot easily be separated and it has consequences if so.

It demands constant work to deal with emotions. At least for me – as an INTP. I can’t really speak on behalf of other types. I want and value my emotions but I have no natural emotional guidance and use my rationality, my intellect and wit to handle and deflect it when I think my emotional response gets out of hand. Though, I’ll never understand them. Sure, I can analyze and recognize patterns that led to the response, but I’ll never truly be on wavelength with my emotions. They are just … there. Doing something. And sometimes they are not. Don’t ask me why.

Now; sucking at your own emotional guidance, guiding others in the same department is, well, not excellent. I have had all these thoughts and feelings of wanting to help, but no idea how to reach out without seeming pathetic, contrived and awkward in my approach and sympathy that I do not always feel myself and hate to put on. I’m not even sure when I truly sympathize or empathize with somebody. I have no natural inclination towards interpersonal guidance besides the logical one. And I have absolute zero training from the home front. Other than generally knowing what not to do. Yet, knowing isn’t the same as showing and when it comes to showing I feel I have severely lacked the supportive action.

Maybe I haven’t. Maybe this worried post is all for naught, but that simply illustrates how little I get my own, personal emotional rollercoaster in my inner backyard.

I have long denied – and partly continue to do so – that I need emotional guidance, both from myself and from others. I’ve considered it a pathetic, selfish and needy request to want. Which may or may not have something to do with my upbringing … But by denying and dismissing it, I have actually placed myself in a more selfish position. Did I have the ability to let myself be guided by and through my emotions in a symbiotic fashion and help others to do the same, I would certainly be a less selfish person for it, I believe! Instead of barracading myself from the fear of stepping out awkwardly or in order not to hurt and get hurt, unintentionally.

I recognize now that I need to learn emotional guidance and give it to myself and others and that wanting it in return is not so big an ask. It would certainly be beneficial to all parties.

But where to start? By stop denying it to myself? By reaching out or by being reached? Maybe I’m not desperate enough? Maybe it isn’t shown enough through my awkward actions and words alone since it is something most people, presumably, take for granted, don’t recognize or misinterpret?

One must be careful not to be consumed by an evil spiral of guilt anyhow: To think about wanting to reach out and then cop out, feeling too awkward about it and then feeling guilty about not doing it, wondering why you’re so bad at it and then rationalizing it with ‘there’s nothing you could do to help anyway’ or ‘you’ll just muck it up’. When you keep on thinking about doing and thinking about not doing and never really lift your head to look up and into the eyes of the person in need; to truly listen and help and be there, without being distracted by your own guilt and inabilities.

I think that has been part of the problem with my parents when I feel I haven’t really received emotional guidance from them or that they haven’t given it to themselves. And I think I am afraid of this most of all, because I know I do it myself and I’m not sure how to get out. I continue to feel insufficient in this department and awkward when I do do something and still not sure if I do anything right. I have gotten positive response for my rational, logical guidance – even in somewhat emotional situations – but what if that isn’t enough? I really have no clue whether people around me need more emotional support from me or when or how…!? Do they simply think I’m not able to handle it and instead seek out other people? I partly fear and hope so. Because then they understand how difficult it is for me to give helpful, emotional support, but it also means this two-way, tender subject is never really broached and I begin to fear they think me unfeeling and carefree, with no worries of my own in possible need of guidance..?

And I end right by the conclusion that, all in all, I am pathetic for thinking all this … *sighs* Yeah, you see? Really helpful, emotional guidance here.