Leaving my safe, little, solitary lighthouse – 2.0

Scratch that. I want to get back to my little, solitary, safe lighthouse, don’t I?

Like a mouse to its hole.

Suddenly, that lighthouse is no longer just a metaphor. It has slowly taken hold of my mind, become ridiculously tangible and impractical (like so many of my dreams). I want it as my safehouse. My sanctuary. My temple. My physical mind palace. Everything that should constitute a home for one person. A single, isolated responsibility that one can leisurely tend to. Something reliable, familiar, steadfast. A lighthouse conveys that.

Too bad lighthouse keepers are pretty much extinct. Or, that is, the profession is.

So, what I want right now is unrealistic. In all seriousness, I cannot say to my job adviser nor my parents nor anyone listening when they ask what I want to be or do: “Hey, I would very much like to become a lighthouse keeper and write a book, or a hundred”.

How ironic. When you finally know what you want to be or do, it is near impossible and, at best, laughable.

Also, it’s almost too symbolic, isn’t it? The lighthouse, I mean.

I think that – more than companionship – I stubbornly want to prove to myself that I can live my life in solitude, alone.

Charlotte Brontë once said: “I care for myself. The more solitary, the more friendless, the more unsustained I am, the more I will respect myself”.

But I’m also afraid that the more reality presses on; the more the practicalities of life push their ways into my existence, the more I drift off into another mindset. Through the years I have not extracted my mind from the fancies and imagination from childhood. No, I’ve only sunk more deeper, situated myself more steadfastly in an ethereal, abstract world as the years went on. It’s a strange regression that feels beyond my control. Deeper and deeper I feel myself glide into an existence that, on the surface, functions and does everything by the book, every smile, every handshake, every bill paid, but, below, it lives in another dimension of this world or another. Of dreams and darkness and fiction and music. So much that I want to disappear into this world. (And that’s not a euphemism for wanting to off myself). I believe madness is something we call when such a mind becomes sick, infested. When it starts hurting you as well as others. That’s not where I am or hopefully ever will be. I’m simply a dreamer, an idealist, despite all my cynicism about reality. At best, I have a ambivalent relationship with life.

I only feel myself present, truly present in life, when spending time with people I like and love. People I feel comfortable with and not judged by. That’s hardly strange, but there are few of such people and they live their own lives, far apart from me. Alone I fear becoming older and like my parents or so many of my elders; distracted, defensive, closed-off, bitter and cantankerous. Minds and hearts infested. Sweetness diminished. Taking dislike with the world as they see it, but the mirror reflects …

Am I depressed or just feeling sorry for myself? Or is it the same? Two sides of the same coin?

*sighs*

I’m singing the same ol’ tune, aren’t I?

It seems I’ve come no closer to an answer since a month ago. Don’t mind me.

 

*revised 17/7/17*

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It’s no use going back to yesterday, because I was a different person then.

“I wonder if I’ve been changed in the night? Let me think: was I the same when I got up this morning? I almost think I can remember feeling a little different. But if I’m not the same, the next question is ‘Who in the world am I?’ Ah, that’s the great puzzle!”

— Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

I have come past yet another self-discovery, though the revelation itself is perhaps not so strange since it has hid in the subtext of many other discoveries I have come across on my path.

Like Alice… in Wonderland.

It hit me one evening when I asked myself – for the umpteenth time – why I seem to have no life. Really. And I realized it may be because I never had a life to begin with. It has not so much to do with self-pity as it is simply an objective observation:

I have always prided myself with having an independent and original mind (obvious throughout this blog, I think), but, in reality, my independence has lived off my dependence on others, and my original personality/mind has lived off all the influences around me. (Nothing new under the sun and rather cliché. And, after all, I can never be totally without some level of uniqueness. None of us can.)

But I believe I, so far, have lived a life of a sort of parasitical child – in badly need to grow up! A child who cannot, for the life of me, express emotions maturely – hardly even objectively (I cannot seem to overcome my literal tongue-tiedness)!

In part delusional innocence and part daily-reality-phobia, I’ve fed off the experiences, feelings and stories of others – whether those people have been real-life or fictional. Thus the constant and spineless immersion in fictional narratives and music – to substitute the numb emotions within – and warding off responsibilities in real-life (mostly those to myself).

*sighs* If I indeed suffer from some sort of Peter Pan-syndrome, I’d really like to have it diagnosed for being just that. Then I have a real excuse to shed my responsibilities and go find Neverland. (Hmm. Step up from Wonderland?)… Joke aside.

I am most likely just a maladaptive dreamer.

Have I ever felt empty and aimless when the pages run out or these ‘other people’ stop talking and showing me their lives and I can no longer immerse myself in their liveliness? Yes, perhaps I have. Perhaps I repress it by immersing myself further into something else, such as my imagination (Lewis Carroll wrote it: “Imagination is the only weapon in the war against reality”). Which again continues to supplant reality or what I cannot seem to have in my own daily reality. Something I am too cowardly to reach out and grasp fully myself.

Arrogantly, I have convinced myself that life is bigger than anything as ‘trivial’ as the daily, material matters of my own here and now. Bigger in a sense of metaphysics. I have a vast universe in my head that I need to discover and fill out with knowledge. Dealing with my own reality heads-on always seems so exhausting, transient and unreliable. I have no control there. I cannot predict the outcome in situations where my emotions feel most at stake but where they are often abandoned, even by myself, because I am no closer to understand them. So, of course, a subtle disappointment has run throughout every action, though I have not failed to see the benefit from most of them. Failures and flaws give life a color beyond compare, because they are what constitute you as a human; your unique you. I have learned from every action and that I have taken as a blessing, you could say.

But still the disappointment, the emptiness has rung hollow within; an undercurrent settling in my gut as I have become more and more aware of life; of all the things I have lived through compared to all the things I likely or may never will. The sense of excitement and curiosity of getting to know what lies ahead has slowly been quelled by every underlying disappointment connecting; a frightening numbness setting in. Tastes turned to ashes in my mouth.

And I immerse myself in all the constructed narratives and emotions to bar out, to hush the raging numbness, silence and solitude-turned-loneliness I live in and come home to every day.

Solitude. My once so trusted friend has been possessed by loneliness; become the Babadook of my mind; a ghost haunting for the purpose of terror rather than company. And I have been its very maker. It is the Frankenstein of my creation; a ‘safe’ theory of ‘companionship’ that my mind latched on to, settled for – anything compared to the real thing; of having no companionship at all. A theory that turned into a being of its own once the egg was hatched; a being that became a monstrosity because it was still unsatisfied with its existence and blamed me. Because life isn’t easy. It was never meant to be.

Maybe it is the strange, little but significant events that have occurred to me within the last couple of years (I may have mentioned some of them here and there, but I don’t imagine you’ll know what I’m talking about and I cannot go into them right now) and likely set off my depression. If indeed my depression has been lying in wait for this – or if it really is a depression and not just an odd restlessness or lazy down-spiraling of one defense mechanism succeeding another. And, as I said, burying myself in fiction and imaginative feelings helps me to deflect from my own lonely life as well as this perhaps/perhaps-not-depression. A sort of silly ‘coping escapism’ you are more likely to find in some (dark) children’s novel. And despite what I may have learned from these significant events, they have also left tiny, superficial scars in my heart; invisible to the naked eye; slowly accumulating over the years, forming a dark little cloud around it where the sun peeps in every now and then, desperate to emerge fully. I can empathize with others who go through something similar on a daily basis, yet I cannot begin to compare myself to what others feel on totally different levels and maybe I’m not supposed to. Maybe I’m allowed to have this, to feel this, accept it and then find a way out of the fog, somehow.

(Have I become my own therapist?)

All utter nonsense, perhaps. Or, perhaps not? How can anyone answer that but myself? And how can I when it feels like it takes several epiphanies, some life-changing experiences and a lifetime to answer that?

Again, I’m at a loss. At war in my mind. I seek immediate answers I can only gain through time. And time moves both slowly and unpredictably. And then it’s over before you know it.

And again, I haven’t dared to move and grab hold of some part of my reality and truly make it mine; claim it as mine. I have been too cowardly to do it. Perhaps because I feel, deep down, that there’s something too good about life that I do not deserve? I feel blessed and cursed at the same time, and I’m ashamed of feeling cursed; of appearing ungrateful of what I’ve been given; my inability to make better use of what I have and seize the day. I mostly just seize the day to write about life and consume others’ experiences of it, not experiencing it myself nearly as fully as I could. Imprisoned by myself or my inability to do something about it. Is that a life of a writer? I doubt it. And yet, many people imprisoned; physically, institutionally or mentally, have written all throughout history, have they not? Some of the greatest writer have been imprisoned in some way or another, perhaps not directly enabling their writing but channeling it.

Perhaps I can make do with what I have worked myself into?

My writing may be as delusional as it may be cathartic; a circle of self-serving excuses; where fear of pity and perfection mixes in a blend as sinister as the river Styx I have to pay Charon with everything precious I possess to cross.

I return time and time again to a crossroad and I wonder if there is a me in this world and another me in another world and I wonder how often they will coincide in this harsh, bright, beautiful existence I have been given. Or if one will truly emerge with the other and – in that case – which one? And I wonder how many feels the same?

I want to override the consistent self-pity and shame, knowing how silly and unproductive these feelings are, but first I must escape the gripping loneliness from within and around and it is not so easily overcome. My stubborn independence does not help. I still return to myself. I have scolded myself with every line possible and every tone of voice to see the effects, to self-motivate, and yet, it has not helped (unsurprisingly). I have written and drawn and opened up more to those around me, strangers even. Yet, I still come home to myself and myself alone; the loneliness waiting there.

How is something like that overcome? I cannot seem to allow myself to reach for twosomeness, perhaps because I am so conflicted by its very concept. Equally afraid and hopeful. My mind is always one step ahead; one foot in the positive scenario, another in the negative one. All I see is the 50/50 chances and I cannot predict my luck nor my misfortune. ‘That’s human’, ‘that’s life’; god don’t I know ‘it’s bloody life!’ and yet, it does nothing to answer what I am to do. To wait and let it run its course? Sure, I’ve done nothing else. But as Charlotte Brontë once stated: “The trouble is not that I am single and likely to stay single, but that I am lonely and likely to stay lonely.”

But what is life if not lonely and wild, fantastical and quiet?

Meanwhile, I’ll return to a segment of Carroll’s iconic story that speaks to something quintessential in me:

“She generally gave herself very good advice, (though she very seldom followed it), and sometimes she scolded herself so severely as to bring tears into her eyes; and once she remembered trying to box her own ears for having cheated herself in a game of croquet she was playing against herself, for this curious child was very fond of pretending to be two people. ‘But it’s no use now,’ thought poor Alice, ‘to pretend to be two people! Why, there’s hardly enough of me left to make one respectable person!'”

*revised 23/6/17*

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Never try to conform. Rebel. Be critical. Think. (With the help of some insightful people)

As eilamona on Tumblr pointed out – and on a personal note – INTPs should never try to fit in: “The world is built for extraverted judgers (and sensors also have an easier time since there are lots of them) – but it’s a huge mistake to try to fit in. All these years, we have developed our unique qualities as an INTP. It’s your choice whether to hide them like weaknesses, or play them up as strengths.”

If you force yourself into conformity the consequence will be as Virginia Woolf so accurately put it: “Once conform, once do what other people do because they do it, and a lethargy steals over all the finer nerves and faculties of the soul. She becomes all outer show and inward emptiness; dull, callous, and indifferent.” Or as Rita Mae Brown said: “I think the reward for conformity is that everyone likes you except yourself.”

Of course, one can simply ‘play into’ conformity but not fully ‘commit’ like author Richard Wright implies: “The thing to do was to act just like others acted, live like they lived, and while they were not looking, do what you wanted.” And, in the end: “I am inclined to satisfy the claims of my own ideals rather than the expectations of others.”

I’m trying to figure out what my life is to become. Not what everyone else expects it to be become or how it should unfold. Not what everyone else sees fitting: The most conventional and efficient way; what an industrious life should be.

No, I see life as so much more than ticked off boxes and filled in formulars proving you are a person. I believe life should be one’s own and that that should be enough. (Ack, my unfailing idealism!). Not so much for selfish reasons, but for the sake of life itself. Granted to you. Asking you to take care of it. Taking the path less traveled. Or, at least, walk the straight main road with everyone else – but a little more ahead or behind; setting the eyes on other parts than the never-ending horizon, letting the gaze wander, become distracted and see what the others do not see. Once in a while letting your legs walk the course of your curiosity. Dare to.

I do not want to keep on freeloading on the welfare system for my own selfish benefits, but I do not want to ‘sell myself’ to the outer world either. It’s almost an instinct to refuse to do so. An instinct not matured or outgrown with age, but consistent and childlike still.

Life is hardly this black-and-white and compromises are to be made, but my damned integrity balks and rears like a stubborn mule, like I’ll become tainted if I compromise it. Or maybe it is something else? Fear? Cowardice? All of them?

I wrote a poem about fluctuating between worlds, of lives half-lived, and it’s true. I need to get out of my comfort zone and the ‘security’ of fictive worlds and dreams. To face reality. At least, once in a while. To dare.

And yet …

“A dream is not reality, but who’s to say which is which?”. Besides, “dreams are all I have ever truly owned”.

I ask myself what makes me most happy? Living in a world of dreams and imagination, of fiction and music, or living in the real world? I know the immediate answer as it is, but it is not a happy answer. I wish it was different. That life, for once, managed to let its claws sink into me and hold on. My own, humble attends to do so towards life have proven fruitless, pathetic.

I keep searching for my bravery – and hold onto it.

*revised 13/8/17*

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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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When nothing binds you …

So, that’s it. I’m offically a Master of Arts.

Huh. Sounds like a title you require in Dungeons & Dragons, doesn’t it?

How do I feel about it then? Five years of academic studies and now I’m done and ready for the labour market.

I feel ambivalent at best. It has all been so very long-drawn-out and anti-climatic. No official celebration given by the university of our institute before November. Until then I’ll probably just get a diploma in my mailbox.

I don’t even feel particularly relieved or exhilarated that it’s officially over.

And so:

“Do you know what you want to do now?”, my parents asked me.

“No. I do not know what I will do,” I sighed. I’ve waited so long for the lightning to hit, yet it never came, and now – when I need it more than ever – the sky is cloudless.

Except in my mind.

“Don’t worry,” they said, “you have the advantage of not being bound by anything or anyone, unlike many of your peers, think of that. No house, family or boyfriend. Nothing to hold you back. You are free to choose wherever you want to go, work or live, for how long and so on.”

“Yes, well …”

“Don’t worry, you’ll figure it out. It will be alright, you’ll see.”

I cannot seem to outwardly voice what’s nagging me – still – by this very common and normal response.

The thing is: Nothing has ever held me back. ‘No house, no family of my own, no boyfriend’. I can’t help repeating those particular words in my head and heart, though they are essentially besides the question of my current career musings.

Yet, hearing those words they somehow hurt the most. Because the hole that’s left inside of me is not one of self-actualization as much as it is of a loneliness that never had anyone but that self to lean on and – out of necessity – actualize.

True, I’m not bound by anything or anyone. But … How am I then to know if I ever will?

Is it simply the proof that you can only ever rely and lean on yourself and have to go through life more or less lonely? We are all lonely, right? Then why do I see happiness, goals and twosomeness – in some form or another – in so many of those around me; strangers as well as close ones?

Can I go on and live my life and wait for the things in life I seek the most but never seem to reach?

However, I have every opportunity now to reach those things, haven’t I? I just need to find out where to begin. After all, now I’m finally free to do whatever I want to.

But the possibilities are so endless that I cannot see the wood for the trees. I’ve tried to let it go, carpe diem, and let life take its course; help others and be their voice of support, only to sink into ennui and realize I am also responsible for the course of my own life to take off.

Aren’t I?

I know, in a sense, I’m utterly privileged and greedy –  a typical product of my generation I think – when I critique the very freedom I’ve sought after for so long and finally reached; reaching the end of the tunnel and realizing it has a different light than what I imagined. That freedom also holds you captured; holds you accountable for its very existence. I’m bound to its existence as it is bound to me for survival. I cannot go on living without making a living. Without essentially selling my skills, myself. Adulthood is brutal in such realizations. You begin to understand more closely the fate of the homeless; why some people just don’t manage to live up to all of it and hold it together. (Not that there’s a direct link; I’m just making abstract thought here).

The worst thing is, I can already see it painted out for me: Of me sitting as an old woman talking about all the smalltown jobs and failed careers I had in my late 20s and all through my 30s, but how I eventually found my true profession and settled down in my 40s, working for two more tranquil decades before retiring and enjoying my life as a senior citizen until I die. Perfectly normal and typical existence for most people, no matter how radical they thought or behaved in their youth, rebelling against conventionality and normalcy. I will probably laugh at the ‘silly’ insecurities of my youth; these very thoughts and confessions I write here.

And I feel positively torn about this image. ‘Cause when I ask myself if that’s what I want I’m not sure. On the one hand, a sound ‘NO!’, but on the other hand I can see no point in fighting it off if it will more or less happen anyway, some time or another.

Yet, making my life the adventure I want to experience frightens me, because I want to protect myself, hide away and live my life in peace as well. Never disturbing anyone but helping out if needed. So far I’ve lived just fine by having my adventures through imagination and fiction alone mostly. So why can it not just go on as it always had? Why do I still have this rebellious feeling that I’m not giving myself the chance of discovering the world and the people in it if I keep on going like this?

“Adventures do occur, but not punctually. Life never gives us what we want at the moment that we consider appropriate”, E. M. Forster described so accurately in A Passage to India.

So, this is freedom: Not knowing anything about the future.

But deep down I know something. Something pulls.

What if I – at the moment – just want my own little house by the sea, get a dog and write about everything I find important and true in this world?

Can I just do it?

I am beginning to miss the sea air more and more. Having grown up near the sea, the salt is in my blood, I realize. A house by the sea. My sanctuary. Yes. I feel myself being pulled towards certain aspects of life that I should not spend my time wanting and pondering upon right now.

Do I believe in destiny and fate and all that? I’m not sure. Some things just seem too coincidental, interconnected and lucky sometimes in my experience. But I also just think that some are born luckier than others, by chance, and yet that luck will always vary for each person throughout life.

I’m blessed with things and people in my life and no matter how much I dive into those things and for how long, I hold other things about my own life back or put them on pause. So much that – when I return – I realize that no matter how much I help other people or invest myself in other matters, my own worries will not be solved by themselves. Because they are still there. Still insignificant and small compared to so many fates in this world – and yet so significant and persistent that I fear a depression has clouded the sanctuary I called my loneliness; where I used to find inspiration and tranquility and now seem to have run exhausted. I’ve gotten stuck and yet, I am freer than ever. Why, I can hardly move outside the door of my otherwise so amazing and central apartment in an otherwise so amazing city where there’s everything the heart could desire! Why is that?

I think I need to find a new sanctuary. Something different than where I’m used to look or supposed to look. The routine and sameness have already become too much, despite I really have nothing to complain about. An inner voice screams that I want something that is entirely my own, something true and free of anything bureaucratic and capitalistic (*scoffs* yeah, like that is ever going to happen, especially now at a time where I have to put myself into more systems than ever). It screams of a self-reliant, hermit-like existence that seems ludicrous at best.

Not entirely impossible, however.

But such a self-made fate also foretells a future that is possibly even more lonely and alienated, if I’m not careful. Especially – and what I fear the most – from everyone I hold most dear. You cannot have it both ways and it’s selfish either way. However, right now, my current, existential confusion grasps at anything concrete and can only come up with this sufficient alternative at the moment, no matter how desolate it may be in the long run.

Funny how I am forced to think about my life when it’s all I ever do.

No, not true, I am forced to think about my life in reality. It’s something I’d rather postpone.

Oh well.

I think I need to stop bending to the idea of a conventional life when I am not a conventional person.

Meanwhile, I still hope for the stroke of lightning.

*revised 13/9/16*

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An interview with myself

Silly, isn’t it?

But since I have no illusions about ever becoming somebody famous and being interviewed by some hotshot-journalist, I figured I had to put up the dictaphone myself to get some bloody answers for once (however colored the questions and vague the answers may be in such a situation). In other words: To get to know where the hell I’m going with my life!?

This post is merely another trail on the road to self-discovery. As mentioned before, I’m in the forever consistent limbo at the moment, where I have absolutely no clue what my all too pressing future will bring.

So, let’s jump right into it:

“INTPs … What are we good for?”

“Why, ourselves! Everything!” any fellow INTP would surely sputter in protest to such an absurd question and that is my instinctive response too. Not very eloquently, but that is because I cannot readily answer this question with an eloquent and explanatory argument myself. I just know. We [INTPs] know all too well our inherent value, don’t we? I, for one, have never been in doubt of my value, yet, it is not a value that can be so easily voiced nor confirmed and measured. It is just there and always has been – because I exist.

… Then I face reality and all its practicalities.

Here, an answer like “We are good for ourselves. We have the confident potential to be good at everything (though we will only know when we are posed with the challenge)” is not a concrete one. The outside world cannot put much practical, prolific value into it. And I get that. From an entirely rational point of view, I get that.

“But it does little to the basic ‘problem’ that most INTPs feel misunderstood and displaced in this world. Am I right?”

I believe (though I may be projecting) we rarely outwardly express or address this problem, because we’ve learned to adapt to the outer world, to put on the extrovert mask of sociability, to shed our stubbornness, our independence, our ‘excentricity’, our honest and blunt intellect for a minute. We know how to work our ways through the world when needed by acting as ‘normal’ as possible and thus go about seemingly unnoticed and not let anything touch our inner self. We internalize our own problems and worries because we cannot possible see what other people can do for us regarding such ‘petty’ matters. Not because of people, but because we are too independent for that. Too ashamed when we cannot be entirely self-sufficient and work out a problem ourselves, though we simultaneously know that no man is an island, however much we desperately and stubbornly try to convince ourselves that it is possible, like a petulant child trying to outsmart ourselves and everyone else’s – in our mind – limited logic.

It is an endless circle that can never really be voiced nor dealt with alone, never really fruitful nor defeatist in itself. We’re caught in-between. It’s pitiful and we pity ourselves but we’re wise enough to never want or expect pity from the outside while we’re dealing with all this, internally, and putting on the various extrovert masks for various situations.

“Were we [INTPs] ever really meant for the concrete, practical world?”

The theoretical, the philosophical, the abstract, the analytical world, oh yes, but all the rest … I’m not so sure.

“I wonder … Are we here to be astute about some things that others do not immediately see, while leaving others to be astute about matters we do not immediately see, and thus there is balance in the world..?”

*sighs* I sometimes think I cannot see the wood for the trees. It may very well be a very INTP thing to think so; trying to give things a logical meaning or place them in some logical system, even if you can’t place such a meaning upon the MBTI types or put the world into a logical system of balance.

And it’s not such a bad thing, per se. It’s our force, you could say: Dominating the abstract world in a way only few can follow or comprehend. I’m proud to call myself an INTP, after all.

I just wish I was better suited for the real real world. It sometimes feels like I was born outside of reality. Not a total disconnection, but the significant disconnection to the things that are so immediate, life-affirming and fruitful to most people. I cannot explain what they are because I’m hardly aware of them myself and I fear they are too subjectively experienced anyway. It is not that I don’t place value in these things because I clearly see them when confronted with them through others, but I cannot pretend to get inner joy from the normality most people hail and strive towards. I get joy from the all but obscure normality in that sense. The small gestures; of impulse and kindness.

“Maybe because I crave them myself..?”

Oh, I can hardly distinguish between what is true and my projections of what I want to be true any longer and it frustrates me. (Sorry for the vagueness.)

“Have I no tangible dreams or wants or ideas about the future at all, then?”

I cannot help myself (aka my brain); I cannot see myself in so many of life’s parts and roles, and though I’ve more than accepted that’ll you have many roles in life and that you’ll never have to settle or stay put, it doesn’t really help my initial, instinctive feeling of always feeling out of place when it comes to putting my inner being into the hard, concrete matters of every-day life. Of never having been in an relationship or had an actual career- or job-based goal (though that doesn’t have to be true for all INTPs) which is all the world ever want to know or cares about, it seems.

I know what I want in life (have I spoken of this before?) – but that doesn’t have to have anything to do with job or people or money. And I think I more or less know what I want with my life, but I cannot seem to think myself past those entities; of one’s life more or less evolving around job, people and money. Making more jobs, more people and more money. What I want with my life has to do with something much more internal (as you would guess).

I have known people who believe in the word of God and people who believe in the word of money. People who passionately stick to one political ideology and people who are sports enthusiasts, letting it consume them. People who want kids and family and settle down in their mid-20s to repair old farms or built their own wooden house. People who have great ambitions to become the next Vivian Maier or the next chief curator of MoMA, moving to the most bohemian parts of New York and travel to only the biggest and best cities to get what they want.

I, myself, have no fixed point in my life besides my core; my inner self-assurance and self-value. I’m not a religious person, I’m not a nihilist nor a happy-go-lucky person. I do not believe in one political ideology and I do not have one particular passion or interest; I have many. I do not despise mediocrity or seek out-of-body thrills of life. I have no desire to have children or get married and make it an authentic life-project to build my own house in any near future. I have no clear ambitions to become the next great anything (though, if I ever got the opportunity I would not outrightly refuse such a position). I do not lack laughter in life (that’s for sure) nor the love of family. I am not dispassionate nor obedient. I’m a – sometimes passively, sometimes actively – curious, cynic-romantic observer of life at best. Always in-between. Always a paradox, to myself and others. And yet, despite my asocial nature (all extrovert masks put aside), I am easy to get along with (I believe) and I don’t recoil from intimate company as long as it is the right company and setting.

That said, I never felt I was better than everybody else, only that I felt different.

“So what is this? Ennui? Monachopsis? An existential crisis?”

Not unlikely. Yet, I can’t possibly be bored when I feel like I have hardly the (life)time to learn all the things I want to know, can I..?!

I guess people would say I lack a sense of purpose in life, but it isn’t as depressive as that. Again, I never felt that I was here without a purpose, because existing and living in itself is a purpose, in my belief, but I’ve simply never measured it in jobs or money or hands-on skills or anything external like that.

My existential crisis has never been about being inherently confused, feeling utterly incompetent and undervalued (I’ve always held a staunch value of myself), dependent on the acknowledgement of other people or dependent on drugs or anything dramatic and unlucky like that. Of course I realize my luck in all this.

Nor have I ever been dissatisfied with life; disappointed yes, but that’s the way it is sometimes.

No, my existential crisis most likely occured when I realized that I’ve never struggled to reach the top of Maslow’s pyramid because I’ve never lacked self-actualization. I’ve struggled downwards towards the middle.

“Aww, poor you!”

Yeah *said in self-deprecation*. Yet, I’ve never aimed to complain about my life nor to seek pity – not in these posts nor ever. I have only ever sought to pose and understand the absurdities of life and the limbos I cannot seem to work myself out of. And which seem to have correlations with that of being an INTP (from what I’ve read so far). It’s is important for me to underline this. These are unfinished thoughts; I think while I write and I will continue to do so after this post is published (thus the occasional revisions). However much I’m sure there must be some truth in some of what I say, I’ll only ever pose thoughts in questions to continue to ponder upon or debate. This may very well be the essence of my being and is – from what I understand – the quintessential INTP.

I have no doubt however that pity is what I receive from most people, consciously or not. I think it is somehow quite instinctive to pity the INTP’s contradictory combination of brilliant potential and childlike laziness, but then again you could most likely argue something similar with every other type and their respective dualities. Albert Einstein, a famous INTP, once asked: “Why is it that nobody understands me, yet everybody likes me?”. It sums up pretty well how it is to be an INTP. You’re always almost there.

I think that if you do not understand someone yet you do not dislike them either, all you have left is pity. Is that a harsh way of thinking? When I say, time and time again, to friends and family and strangers that I rarely meet up with people or go to parties or social events (though that doesn’t mean I don’t), or half-jokingly, half-seriously allude to my displacement in society and that I wouldn’t mind simply living as a shepherd in the Scottish Highlands, do you not instinctively pity me in some way? My god, people just laugh at me and dismiss my words as silly at best!

No wonder, really, that introverted people who prefer to be alone rather than socialize get the worst of the brunt.

“What then? Do I just ‘wallow’ along and presume that life will hand over itself in all its changable, caleidoscopic colors?”

Well, no and yes. It’s just not that easy to answer. What I know of life so far is that it mostly consists of randomness; of coincidences or luck and unluck, and that there’s little one can do about such things, despite one’s freedom of choice. I’ve never blamed life for being anything else than what it is. I may have cursed it from time to time, in the heat of the moment, but in the end such moments have only reaffirmed how little one can control anything. I cannot complain about life not meeting my needs when life cannot be all that changed, not for one person, and what reality do I even presume should come of my wants in that case..? A Salvador Dalí painting most likely. *chuckles dryly* … Never mind.

It seems life in fiction has always had the narrative that real-life never had, at least, not before the finish line. A misfortune of sorts to steer away from, to get past or to overcome. Not always a passion or concrete goal to guide the characters, but nonetheless a concrete, planned-out narrative from the author’s side, however reversed or fragmented it may be. This is the only realm where one possesses an ounce of control of life’s fate, I guess. Maybe that’s why we create and seek to fiction when life does not turn out to be pliable.

“But we INTPs have been strangely absent from that narrative, haven’t we? We have the few, successful, real-life INTPs but not many – if any? – fictive INTP idols to relate and compare ourselves to or whose professions we can aspire to.”

Well, besides Sherlock Holmes maybe. But his profession was rather fantastical. Being a detective in real-life is not so. And, of course, there was Jane Austen, a female INTP, but she was ‘lucky’ and talented enough to live on her writings before she, unfortunately, died too young. Still, of all the types, INTPs are perhaps the least represented type portrayed – anywhere. Especially female INTPs. Even (female) INTJs get their sly villain character or super clever, obstinate science guy/gal every now and then. They may be clichés and superficially portrayed but at least they are portrayed. And I somehow think it’s easier to find female characters that fit the INFJ type, however rare the type is, than the INTP.

No INTP character/person is alike, of course, but most characters have just those certain characteristics that make them fall exactly outside of the INTP type. If you google MBTI charts for various franchises you’ll spot a character in the INTP spot and sometimes even a female, but, mind you, those charts are not always agreed upon. I certainly have my points of critique to some of the female characters placed there. But the overall lack of female INTPs on page or screen has definitely been dominating my entire life and the reason why I thought myself to be an anomaly and a freak for so long.

“Is it because we are overly complex to get right? Or because we seem to be everything and nothing specific at once? Or/and because we go unnoticed in the greater, visible scenery of life – in real-life as well?”

Yeah, we tend to hide, don’t we? Physically and socially. Hide inside in our homes or put on the social masks. We are not active out there, but in here *points to head*. Perhaps we have become so good at hiding and blending in even when we are outside that we have become close to transparent. Like ghosts. Hell, I’ve trouble enough getting automatic sliding doors to open for me or smart lighting registering that I’m in the room, no matter how big my arm gestures get..! Hmph, that pretty much says it all, doesn’t it?

Most of all, my instinct just tells me to run and hide and buy a cottage by the sea with wi-fi, a dog, tons of books and live there for the rest of my life, away from society and people who don’t understand. *sighs*

“So, again, without seeking to offend – though we will all instinctively bridle at such a myopic but all too common question – what are we, INTPs, good for in the concrete, real world?”

I’m not really sure what we are good for in the concrete, real, practical world. Everything and nothing. As I’ve mentioned before, if we could get a job à la Gandalf or Dumbledore, mysteriously walking around and guiding people, giving wise, slightly idealistic, random comments on the world around us, we probably would. But that’s wishful thinking.

“You make your own life, they say, but that’s only partly true, isn’t it?”

You’ll always have to adjust, I know that. I have known it all my life, because I have always adjusted. Despite all my ‘bigmouthing’ about ‘my damned stubborn independence’, I’ve been forced to adjust in small and large parts; sometimes subtly and unconsciously, sometimes dramatically aware. Adjusting to reality is not a problem when you’ve mastered the art of faking and pretending, while doing your thing on the sideline, in secret.

“But it is not ideal, is it? You wish to find your true profession, don’t you? Something that aligns with your inner core somehow, so that you feel you contribute to the world while being honest to it and yourself at the same time. No more pretending and doing your thing in secret only. Is it really so naive to believe in?”

The few paid and volunteer jobs I’ve had, I felt zombie-like in them. They only required my hands or my presence. I never connected with the job or the people. I toned everything about myself down to a straw man who rarely spoke, just forcibly smiled and nodded, while dreaming of a different life where I didn’t have to do what anyone else said or be where someone else wanted. I wondered if this was how ‘work’ and adulthood and doing everything right according to society would essentially become. After a good day’s work, my body was exhausted, but I felt my brain shrivelling up; unused, unchallenged. I felt a shadow of myself; someone else temporarily inhabiting my body, my voice; ‘selling myself’, because myself was not enough. That’s certainly something that you learn when you grow up. Sure, I may have learned about a practical side of life I wouldn’t have gained otherwise, met people I wouldn’t have met and got something to write on my CV, but did it do anything for me personally? No. No, not really. It just filled out a flat paper form. A facade of ‘doing’, less ‘being’ – or where ‘doing’ became ‘being’ somewhere along the way. Besides, no one was interested in what I was interested in and certainly not sought any deeper conversation. And I know; jobs in your youth are rarely supposed to be big, insightful epiphanies, they say (well, except if you do something ‘wild’ like travel the world and do volunteer job for refugees etc.), but are simply for the experience of earning your own money and the hard work. So you wait ’till you get older when you are hopefully able to make your own life and find the people who understand you. A wishful dream, perhaps, but for some reason I keep sticking to it.

I am half-discouraged, half-encouraged. It’s too easy to write this off as simply being romantic or cynic. I’ll keep wander this earth ’till I find what I’m looking for, knowing not what it looks like or what form it takes, just that something essential – deep down – is still missing. Until then I cannot form the words or describe this to anyone around me, hardly to myself, only that I know. I know. As Kafka said: “I cannot make you understand. I cannot make anyone understand what is happening inside me. I cannot even explain it to myself”.

It is a lonely quest, I’ve come to realize. And I would be utterly surprised if it doesn’t universally resonate with everyone else at some level, no matter how much they seem indifferent or uninterested in this notion; their tendencies to call it naive, silly, impractical, made-up, selfish, etc. etc.. I do not believe them when they dismiss it so readily. Thus, I believe my existential crisis is no more different than anybody else’s. It is just there. It is human. And you decide how to go from there. You wish to pretend and fake less than all the adults you have witnessed growing up did, but also being smarter than them and not become a shadow of ourselves like so many of them became. So you find idols among them whom you believe did it better than the rest.

And individualism has certainly taught you a thing; all romantic notions aside, at the end of the day, to not trust or depend on anyone else but yourself. You always zoom back to this core value you’ve been taught throughout your life, directly or indirectly. How are we supposed to truly interact if all we truly do is just co-existing with all our individual agendas and dreams secretly roaming our cores, while also secretly longing for connection but not knowing how to overcome our incessantly individualistic core? The knowledge I’ve gained besides my personal experience with my parents tells me having children doesn’t necessarily make you more connected with the world or the persons you put into it. Blood doesn’t equals any soulful, deeper attachment and understanding. Your personality and what you choose to share and be honest about does. But I digress.

So, no, I have no specific, accepted, real, job- or people-based dream. I have every certainty about what’s wrong with the world. Great. Not really productive or conversational or CV material. So I’ve tried to figure out where I can put myself in the system … put myself to use. (Mind, here I’m merely trying to establish what I can be, seen from the dominant, paradoxical traits of myself and what I reckon are, more or less, similar to other INTPs). Here’s what I’ve concluded so far, based on what I’ve thought could be possible careers for me:

We [INTPs] love to teach and give away our knowledge to others, to debate and see people’s intellect flourish along with our own … But we rarely make it work in practice, as it appears being an actual teacher in the real world demands ‘slightly’ more than just being knowledgable. The system, the bureaucracy, the schedules, the human skills, the constant judgment and weighing of others’ talents and intellect (however professional) to-and-fro, etc.. Ugh.

We can potentially be excellent at anything (seriously!) we put our minds to because we have so many ideas and great analytical skills that can be adaptive to almost any area in life … But because we see all the possibilities and possible outcomes beforehand and all at once, we get easily overwhelmed or disillusioned beforehand and end up doing nothing about it, after all. All that potential wasted in real-life.

By principle, we are excellent at giving advice on a variety of subjects because we – as mentioned – take all possibilities and outcomes into account and analyze them without judgment … But when it comes to emotional support – which usually is in need of most advice – we simply fall short. That’s a rather big incompetence for an advicer or counsellor. Even in the academic world people tend to get highly emotional about the smallest things, so that could prove to become highly awkward for all parts.

That’s that. So far. Slightly realistic, slightly pessimistic, slightly hopeful it will show itself or that I will stumble upon whatever I’m looking for … some time or another. This little, indulgent, incoherent self-interview gave me no new hopes, no solutions, no clearer answers. Somebody would likely say what I miss demands a ‘positive change of mind’ or something annoying like that. I do not doubt that there’s some truth in that but until then the pull of rural sheep herding is rather strong.

You see? I’m not blank about my future for no reason. (The reason mostly being the gulf between myself and the world).

So …

Where do you sign up to become ‘a Gandalf’, I wonder?

Standard

Brilliant, but spectacularly ignorant about some things

I think, by now, it’s fairly established that Sherlock Holmes is an INTP (possibly going INTJ, or being ‘a high-functioning sociopath’ as he puts it himself). An extreme, almost fantastical one at that.

Nonetheless, I see in Sherlock many subtle parallels to my own mind; its complex workings and all, and how I function and interact with the people and world around me. It is a mirror in which I see an extreme, fantastical version of myself; everything I could be and every facet and flaw that come with the ever-so brilliant INTP mind. In celebrating and critiquing Sherlock, I, inevitably, celebrate and critique myself; all the while taking into account that he is fictional and a hyperbole of my personality. Luckily, the BBC has outdone themselves with their modern adaptation of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s iconic protagonist in the “Sherlock” series and done nothing to shorten the highly entertaining ways to stretch and complicate the ways of how far an INTP would or could go.

One matter in particular struck me as a clear parallel to myself when I re-watched “Sherlock” the other day.

Remember the scene in episode 3, season 1, where Sherlock is peeved by Watson’s description of him; “how spectactularly ignorant he is about some things” despite his brilliance to “see through everything and everyone in seconds”, alluding to Sherlock’s ignorance about who is Prime Minister and whether the Earth goes round the sun? Sherlock says he does not find such “rubbish” important enough to remember or he has simply deleted it from his hard drive/brain to make room for more important and useful information, especially regarding his work.

It is, as always, an incredibly funny interaction to witness, because, once again, we are given a peak into one of the strengths but also greater weaknesses of the INTP mind.

I have the same ‘condition’, so to speak. I do know that the Earth goes round the sun though, but I’ve been put on the spot several times because of my ignorance about equally common knowledge; of unwritten codes and laws most people know about and take for granted. For example, I more or less suck at mental arithmetic and remembering proverbs or road names, despite having lived in the same two cities for most of my life, and in general, geography is a city in China for me (pun intended). Unless, of course, I have specific knowledge I can pin on a certain city etc., I do know. And I know one can teach oneself something close to a photographic memory that rivals that of Sherlock Holmes, mind palace and all, by practicing a memorizing technique where you pin knowledge to a system of something you already know.

I could do that – but I’m just too lazy.

However, it is relative what information one deems common or universal knowledge, what one finds is ‘rubbish’ and what one finds important and useful. Sherlock, after all, knows particularities that could be viewed as ‘rubbish’ and what he otherwise would have deleted from his ‘hard drive’, were they not useful and benefitial for the given case he is investigating. For example, at one point, he is given a cigarette from his brother at a morgue and asks if there isn’t a law against smoking indoors. This rather common knowledge one would presume he would know about, had it been useful to a specific case (or the writers of the show). Anyhow, it isn’t in this one, so why should he know it? It’s very INTP. Something I would do myself.

It’s ‘funny’ how the INTP mind can come off as quasi-autistic at times.

E.g. this one time in high school, in a geography class (ah, the irony!), I was the only one who had figured out how to make a graph that showed two types of complex statistics on Excel so I had to scurry around between two different computer rooms to the entire class, my teacher included, to show them how to do it. Not that difficult to figure out, to be honest, if you only bothered to look what the programme offered, so I was a bit baffled when even the IT nerds of the class asked for help!

On the other hand, I only just recently discovered that Word actually has an automatic function for making a table of contents … *sighs* All the energy I could have saved all these years instead of doing it manually.

So. There you have it.

Like Sherlock, I’m ignorant about matters I deem trivial to remember, focus or dwell on, if I do not find them useful or if they do not add to the bigger picture. And I get perplexed and irritated if people keep focusing on them instead of getting to the point of the matter that is truly important. Even more so, if they do not see what is more important! (Or, say, what the INTP finds important).

This is why INTPs may come off as aloof and even unfeeling to certain sensibilities and other people’s feelings etc.. I do not see myself as ‘cold’ as Sherlock, but I reckon if I had his abnormal skills (including a photographic memory) and put them to use in solving cases in the complex magnitudes as him, I too would have to close myself off to certain aspects of human interaction to make room for sheer brain power and the intricacies evolving the case I was solving. And, to some extent, I do. Out of sheer, practical necessity. Not because I/he don’t care deep down – which Sherlock proves he does, again and again – but because he has this gift and must put it to good use, inevitably distracting him from other more ‘mundane’ parts of life. He isn’t a god, after all. If he was, he would be able to do both/all of it with equal attention. It doesn’t excuse his gruff treatment of those around him in the long haul; his and the INTP’s fault is to get off on being brilliant and solving (or obsessing about) paradoxes and the impossible, but it is simply the reality of knowing and being close to an INTP – or, at least, an extreme version of the INTP.

I find his ‘controversial’ nature and the general reaction inside and outside the Sherlock-universe rather entertaining – from an insider perspective. I know what he’s doing because I do it myself. As mentioned before, INTPs are contradictory, puzzling creatures at best and despite our principielled logic and honest and blunt rhetoric, we’re also ‘deviants’ who have learned the necessary art of seemingly adapting ourselves to the outer world and blending in when necessary in order to learn. We’ve learned how to put on the Extrovert mask, so to speak. We are impersonal analysts to the core who have a personal interest in the world and use our skills to see through people’s general behavior and tendencies when wanting to understand, deduce and conclude where our own role in all this is going to be. It is a subtle and rather affronting, manipulative skill when you learn about it. Because, in truth, we are actually deceiving people – yet, it is not for any personal and evil, scheming purposes. Not per se. I’ll try to explain: First and foremost, it is our way to operate in a world that doesn’t necessarily fit us, yet not a world that we look down upon or do not genuinely want to understand in all its complexity (which I find INTJs are more inherently prone to).

So, even when Sherlock behaves oblivous and rude, we cannot know for sure how oblivious he actually is of his own behavior. I think, like me, he can be more self-aware than he shows and play on these ‘faults’; thus, at the same time, allowing himself to be genuinely indifferent to the things he finds trivial and dismiss the people who actually act stupidly, while also using this as a cover for not only getting the wanted reactions out of people (well, I never said INTPs didn’t harbour a secret, Machiavellian superiority complex), but also get to observe something entirely different at stake. If you’ve noticed, he does this on several occasions, leaving many a perplexed faces behind. Of course, we all have our moments of unthinking stupidity, as does Sherlock, but personally, my mind has about hundreds of analyzing ‘voices’ speaking all at once; I can never NOT take myself and my own position into account as well. It may be stifled by the 99 other ‘voices’ from time to time; thus, the sudden shifts and turnabouts of character, before zooming back and meta-commenting on ourselves in-between. As a result, we cannot help being self-aware and self-ironic to a fault (or, at least, I am), so much that we sometimes have trouble knowing when we are and when not. It’s all mixed up in a very fragmented, complex system where everything runs simultaneously but not necessarily in a conventional structure. To explain plainly, it is not a systematic system in the same, decided way as in the INJT mind (in my understanding). INTPs hardly know the system of our thinking beforehand, only that it is there and that somehow everything is connected in complex, changeable ways that we love to discover. We understand it as we go along. This is our modus operandi and I can certainly see why this is both intriguing, irritating, baffling and exhausting to those around us who do their best to try and follow our rapid, sporadic, abstract observations. You can never rightly know where you’ve got an INTP. Is she/he actually brilliantly stupid or stupidly brilliant? The borders between genius, idiot and madman are definitely blurred. And I think this is what makes Sherlock Holmes such a popular phenomenon, still. It is also the reason why I love reading people’s deductions of him because they are very telling of this particular aspect. Especially the INTPs’ own, various analyses. We can see things about him that only we would understand, but we are also our own blindspots. We’re so good at ‘deceiving’ everyone else that we can be ‘deceived’ by ourselves. And we know that. Thus, our own, distracted bouts of self-introspection and random meta-comments. We learn while we think and think while we learn.

Though I do agree that Sherlock may not be 100% INTP but verge on INTJ and ISTP characteristics as well in his various portrayals, I do not generally agree with the notion that Sherlock isn’t at all an INTP. I do not agree that INTPs aren’t observant but rather we observe everything at once and naturally cannot regard everything with the same amount of focus, leaving out matters others normally would deem important. We see the elephant in the room that most people don’t see, and we don’t see the elephant in the room that other people usually see. Sherlock has been given the fantastical, superhuman version of the INTP skill here: He is able to observe everything in one take, focus on the smallest of details with equally concentrated analysis and deduce the most outrageously specific information based on all these things that, in my mind, could also say a thousand other things. Oh well. It’s makes for great entertainment, doesn’t it?

“Sherlock” gives you an idea of what an INTP is like, flaws and all – added Sherlock’s own, unique personality and some enhanced skills. He is as fictional as he is an idealized representation of a reality. And I think people should be as celebratory and critical of his brilliance as they should keep in mind that INTPs are not merely fantastical creatures from the world of fiction one can stretch as one like; here for entertainment and problem-solving of the strangest paradoxes, but real, autonomous human beings in whatever complex, less ‘visible’ and legendary forms they take in the real world.

In fear of sounding rather bigheaded now, I can’t help wondering if the inherently astute and impressive deductive skills and reasoning of INTPs make most people (naturally or unconsciously?) harbour a sort of inferiority-superiority complex towards us and want to point to and laugh at the INTPs’ obvious flaws regarding certain social contexts? Whether people keep clinging to our ‘anti-social freak’ nature (rather pathetically, since it’s already an established fact), yet wanting the cake and eating it too by being fascinated or entertained by our ‘brilliance’ at work…?

Not to say that ‘most people’ are stupid (like Sherlock probably would), but I’m simply trying to understand why it seems INTPs (including myself), in particular, get this two-faced treatment again and again; being treated as both a wallflower and a freak; a rare specimen in a zoo. Made for laughs when people get bored, put to use because of our deductive, efficient brains and then cast away again with no greater care … ‘because we are, after all – weird’ and ‘is better off left alone, aye?’. Why is that? Do other types get the same treatment, just in a different way?

I may be projecting now, but I sometimes have my misgivings about how people separate or compare the INTP character Sherlock Holmes from the living, breathing and – in fairness – much more complex and less utopian INTPs of this world. I’m not saying that I have personally experienced people comparing me to Sherlock or expecting me to be like him, only that Sherlock has become soooo romantized and mythologized, flaws and all, that his legend is cemented through him being an icon, an idea, only fleshed out in two-dimensional medialities; on paper, on the screen, etc.. He will forever stay as such, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t complex. Not only was he well-written by ‘birth’, but he is also an INTP; he cannot not be complex (in my perhaps rather subjective opinion). Again, other MBTI types are thus not deemed as uncomplex, but INTPs are inherently puzzles from the somewhat contradictory composition and nature of their personality. And that is just it: INTPs in real-life are not well-written from birth like Sherlock. They are complex at being complex.

The last thing INTPs (well, any of us) need is becoming romantized and mythologized; we are not passive subjects nor active objects of entertainment – created by an outside source or author – that people can project themselves or an idealized version of INTPs onto without any consequences. We are highly autonomous subjects and main-creators and -narrators of our own lives; not medialized and idealized but living and multidimensional. Not based on any pre-conceived or after-analyzed ideas of our personality, not even MBTI. It may be easy for me to say after I’ve discovered MBTI, but it wasn’t a matter of not having a personality before, I simply didn’t have any name for it. Especially not one born of consensus and shared by others. When I did, it all just clicked; like I somehow knew it already but it was hidden behind a veil.

“A rose by any other name would smell as sweet”, right?

Sure, Sherlock still gives a mysterious aura, but his personality must add up from the beginning in order to connect his ability to solving intricate crimes to that of his brilliance. If you think about it (the crime genre as well), he cannot be entirely complex at being complex. It must somehow all add up – even what is left as mysterious must be left so for a reason that is Sherlock, the icon. Watson must somehow stick around for a reason. Moriarty must somehow stay alive for a reason. It’s all very meta if you think about it. Or anti-meta if you like.

Anyways, Doyle certainly created a masterpiece we’ll probably never be able to get tired of investigating and reliving. Perhaps because few other stories gives such vivid and intriguing inside to the mind and life of the INTP. Or rather what the INTP could be … perhaps only realized in a fictive world.

But INTPs in real-life are not so. (And I take the liberty to talk on behalf of all INTPs, if not all types, because I believe this to be true). Or, that is not our purpose. We are – us. Humans, not characters. How can I better describe it? We may show signs and patterns of behavior like Sherlock but what we do or say or feel, we do – not because it fits with a greater scheme or because others feel like it. We do it sometimes without any reason at all. We feel for ourselves as an action in itself; not just as a causal reaction from something that has been written down or expected or projected from someone else’s action or idea (if that makes any sense?). Just like any of you would probably say about yourselves – all other existential, religious, psychological theories aside. What you know in your core. All in all, couldn’t you say the same thing about all personality types, all humans? When we see a character with our personality, we see a mirror of ourselves, however perfect, idealized and flawed it may be, it is not us. It is still a mirror of us. Polished and flat, giving the illusion of flesh and bone and three-dimensionality. And it can never be us (unless the future comes up with a ‘solution’ to that). We are all our own, all inherently autonomous and think and feel for ourselves; everything that we have so far claimed separate us from the animals and the robots.

It should be a given, but I feel I need to stress this nonetheless.

I don’t know if INTPs are in more danger of being, to some extent, idealized and made into fantastical beings because we are so … puzzling. Rare and seemingly obscure. Especially in real-life. In Sherlock, one version of this rare, obscure specimen has been discovered and the puzzle at least gets to make some sense. It is dealt with beforehand – by someone else. I get that one would be prone, more or less unconsciously, to regard and read people from pre-conceived ideas and representations (I’m sure I’ve done so as well; it seems only human) and if our [INTPs’] ‘fate’ is to be represented – in whatever enhanced form – through Sherlock Holmes, it certainly isn’t the worst comparison. It’s nice to have an ally, after all; one you can always use as your trump card and with an iconic and literary resonance such as Sherlock Holmes’, it is a character whose legitimacy few dare to question.

But, all in all, the idealized glasses just don’t do much good when we [INTPs] try to make ourselves seem less puzzling and more accessible in order for people to get to know our true selves. Of course, on the other hand, it may help people to understand us better.

I hope for the latter.

I think I’ll end it on that note. I always tend to get a bit out of hand with these posts but I hope you’ll bear with me. As usual. Now, go watch some “Sherlock” 😉

*revised 27/6/16*

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