Am I more happy in the company of other people – that is, friends and family – than I am alone?
Yes and no.
My teen self would have been more favorable to a ‘no’.
But – since having moved from home – ironically (or self-evidently), I’ve shed some of my arrogance and come to acknowledge the importance of those who know you and regard you as friend or family – and that self-isolation will do you no good.
Living by yourself provides you with the taste of adult loneliness that you took for granted as young.
In the company of others (though, always depending on what kind of company since I am an introvert at my core) I’m more cheery, more sassy-mouthed, likely presenting a version of myself that few see and all my parents ever see. I don’t think my parents know my quiet, melancholy self that well because I mostly keep up a cheery facade in front of them; to even out the bitter atmosphere they mostly inhabit. To make them forget their antipathy towards each other and make them smile for a while. So very childish. So very human. And yet, I know; I know my whole existence is based on keeping something in place. Something that was probably never there in the first place. Maybe I’m too superstitious. Too dramatic. Too conceited. To think I can be tainted by that. That I came to this world on a wrong premise; something tainted in my core. That I wasn’t meant for this world, but life came and found me. And thus I can never rid myself of that little black spot. It will sneak its way through my armor. Manifesting itself in the little things, against my will. An ugliness that’s part of me. Keeping everyone at a small distance, unwittingly or not, no matter how close I otherwise get to someone. And yet, there’s nothing unique, nothing special about that. And I don’t want it to be. It’s just…there. I realize that now. I don’t have to say it out loud.
The question is: Do I like myself when I’m with other people?
Not an easy question to answer.
I think, at times, I forget myself when I’m with others. A good thing, perhaps. Healthy even. But it’s also two-faced.
I distract myself from my own faults; covering them with arrogance; that others should be more agreeable towards my countenance, my ideas and points of views. But likability is not a self-given, no matter how ‘entertaining’ a characteristic of your personality you present. In the case of the relationship with my parents, there are other matters that come between us (as I’ve relayed one time too many times, I think *sighs*), but I have this irrational fear that no matter how close I become to anyone that they will have this ambivalent opinion of me; of being both witty and entertaining, but also attention-seeking, a little too eager to comment, a little know-it-all, a little childish and irritating all in all. I’m not saying that a person can and should only be one thing, but I’m always caught in this awful paradox of wanting to be myself in every shape and form and never wanting to make those closest to me, my dearest ones, slowly grow more and more tired of me and, eventually, needing to get away from me.
Remember the thing about INTPs just wanting, deep down, to be liked? Well, all humans do, I guess, and the fear of being abandoned is even more universal. But having this ingrown and, frankly, silly and stubborn need to stay independent and ‘unblemished’, if you like, by attachments (that I sense is particularly essential to every INTP) clashes with the core need of being liked. By being liked, you have to step out of that stubborn, prideful and fearful shell of being alone in everything. ‘No man is an island’. It is true. Not in the sense that we aren’t all islands in some sense; we are born alone and die alone, but that island doesn’t have to stay forever secluded simply because loneliness is a fact in life.
As lonely as I am – as we all are – I am also the creator of my own loneliness.
Even loneliness can be a distraction from loneliness itself. By isolating myself from myself, so to speak. In that sense, company is a distraction from loneliness. Not entirely, but it quells the loneliness for a bit. Either that or I distract myself by escaping into books, music, etc…. well, you’ve heard it all before. Because in the loneliness also exists a crumpling self-pity and thus a self-hatred. It’s the only thing I hate myself for: the self-pity. And I pity myself for hating and pitying myself. As I’ve said before; it’s a vicious cycle one cannot easily break away from. I stop pitying myself by distracting myself. By diving into someone else’s mind and emotions, into fiction and music. It’s only when I am alone with my own thoughts that it all returns.
And in return I feel guilty that I cannot find a way to distract myself less selfishly. Less demonstratively isolated, in body or in mind. Or both. Though my need to give is great, I have no idea how to go about it because I’m entirely awkward when it comes to such interpersonal actions, to give emotional and physical comfort on wholly practical and emotional matters, and because I’m afraid and it’s easier to hide away than to reach out a hand and risk hurting or getting hurt. I try where I can, but most of the time I do hide away. And so I’m in a weird conundrum, battling an inner battle where I feel self-pity and then scold myself for it, because there are people who have it worse, much worse, and I have literally all the privileges. All the luck.
I get so angry with myself, the world, the human existence sometimes: Why isn’t it enough? Why do I have certain needs for human interaction when I would rather be free of these needs? They shouldn’t matter that much. They shouldn’t be able to crumble my innermost self at times; everything I’ve tried so hard to build up over the years. The self-security. And yet…
Yet, I hate that I have to numb myself, numb my feelings in order to keep this desolation at bay. To become unfeeling. To be this hard on myself.
It shouldn’t be like this. It shouldn’t be the only option. I don’t want to not to feel. But I don’t know how to feel any longer.
To only have a rational grip on these matters. It isn’t enough. Why isn’t it enough? …