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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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*

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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 daydreamer.

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 fully grasp 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 most often abandoned, even by myself, because I am no closer to understanding 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. What I have learned and whether I have grown from these discoveries are a another matter entirely.

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 in the wake of my growing loneliness.

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 11/02/18*

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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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