Is company a distraction from loneliness?

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.

Haven’t I…?

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? …

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Lack of emotional guidance

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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How (self)perception can deceive you

“I am both worse and better than you thought”, Sylvia Plath once wrote.

If you ask me, this quote is completely ingenious.

It fits almost every situation in which you interact with another human being and worry about their perception of you and how it matches your own self-perception.

So often we put our hopes and expectations into our fellow man and so often we get disappointed. Yet, what did we truly expect? Here Plath’s quote applies perfectly. We are only human, after all, aren’t we? Human and complex. In this regard, I come to think of a generally used misquote of Plath but which in reality belongs to author Dean Walley: “Please don’t expect me to always be good and kind and loving. There are times when I will be cold and thoughtless and hard to understand”.

We can never really live up to or stay true to the expectations of others – that is, not everyone’s – despite how much we truly want to, deep down. In my experience, positive impressions jump or sneak up on you unconsciously. You might have known a certain person to be a certain, amazing way, but it was not something you ruminated upon everyday why or how or selfishly willed forth like you often do with expectations that you hope to project onto others. You just knew without consciously knowing. You follow?

Yet, you could argue the same concerning negative impressions, couldn’t you?

I still fear I’m a freak in the sense of unintentionally being a ‘bad’, irritating, egocentric person deep down, despite caring about the world and wanting very much to help the people in it in some way. Well, in my way and the best way I can.

Perhaps not decisively ‘bad’, but not decisively ‘good’ either. (Not that man has ever been just one thing). And that one of these ‘traits’ may stragetically, almost instinctively dominate the other whenever it feels necessary and justifiable to do so – for my own benefit – simply in order to get through and survive in this world.

I don’t know what I’ve become anymore.

But, the thing is, this fear may stem from a recurring insecurity. I’ve realized that my insecurities from my younger years are as prominent as ever. They’ve just grown and changed; their conditions shifted.

I may have distanced and isolated myself throughout my life, because I have – among other things – battled with this knowledge; this insecurity and the possibility that it might have some truth in it, but denied it or denied to do anything significant about it. And thus pushed away the responsibility of deciding upon it, stubbornly telling myself that I am also just me and that that cannot be changed. Not for anyone. Not the essence of me. So be it if people get aggravated by it.

However, the faux confidence only lasts for so long.

An event – a turning point, really – occured just this past summer where I was rendered shocked, hurt, confused and sad that I could ever make people feel immediate hatred, dislike or anger towards me. The fall-out was mainly caused by a mutual misunderstanding; of related tempers clashing in a moment of stress before apologizing and reconciling again. Still, it felt like it was subtly my fault more than anything. That I had ‘a problem’ that needed to be dealt with somehow; that I was being too critical, too snarky, too personal. Perhaps slightly unfair since it takes two to make a quarrel – but also partly true. I knew I was projecting, that I was being unfair as well and that it needed to stop. It’s never nice to come upon such realizations but I think they are somewhat healthy in order for you to grow.

In the end, the episode shocked me to my core and made me realize that I have somehow come to never expect that I can inspire any kind of passionate feelings – platonic or otherwise – in anyone. It’s sad that I feel this way, isn’t it? That I’ve come to view my own effect and impact on others – negative and positive – with so little regard. In so many instances I need to remind myself that I’m not invisible but actually can have an impact. Too often I just hide in the shadows or lay back, dismissing or taking it for granted. Especially that some people actually do care about me and thus can get hurt by what I do or don’t do. (Those out there with a greater emotional understanding and interpersonal guidance may be chuckling at me right now, but you must understand that this is a core feature in the INTP; this particular blind spot regarding emotions).

It may also be a causal/Pavlovian symptom – a misconstrued symptom – because I’ve taught myself not to care too much in order not to get hurt myself and in the end managed to include myself in that view: That if I do not care overtly about people but just what is required when it is required, then that goes for me as well: They do not care about me more than required and thus are not that affected by what I am or do or say.

Seems I’ve gone out on one of my rational limps and got tangled up in the strings. And I’m not quite sure how to disentangle myself. Should I just begin to care more and to visibly, physically, verbally show it more – even when it feels fake to do so? Again, it’s not like I do not care at all, but I’ve already been hurt enough to find that gate hard to open even more. So – as pathetic, lazy, sobby and uneffective as it sounds – I hope and wait for someone – somehow – to come to know and care about me on a deeper level and thus pave the way for me in this regard. As if it will happen out of the blue..! *scoffs* But at least then I think the gate will be a little less heavy if I have two more hands to help me push it open. Only then I see more sunlight than only dim fog at the end of the tunnel. (A bit heavy with the symbolism here, I know). It comes to no surprise that I also categorize as an Enneagram Type 5.

As hinted to, I am still as confused as I was as a teen. It is just … slightly different now. I know my inherent value but am bound to take the outside world’s response to me into account in order to sum up who I am as a person.

Strangers or distant relatives have called me sweet and nice –  humble even – however, they rarely know me that well and probably perceive me as slightly reserved or shy. Some people have been in awe and called me very insightful by a mere, immediate thought I voiced, yet also smiled and likely wondered how arrogant and naive I can be as well. Teachers have hinted to both a talent and a waste of talent; for not taking more advantage of my ressources and showing my intelligence to the fullest. To open my mouth more while my parents, ironically, wanted me to shut it more. Closer friends or family seem more ambivalent and likely find me as irritating as I am insightful, as naive as I am arrogant, and probably too closed-off, too excentric and too humble at times. Perhaps because they know me, care about me or even love me? Especially since this ambivalence is mirrored in my own self-love and self-perception. In the end, it all constitutes what is complex about humans and being human, right?

As a person on Tumblr described it:  “I am a different person to different people. Annoying to one. Talented to another. Quiet to a few. Unknown to a lot. But who am I, to me?”*

Resonating Anne Frank: “Everyone thinks I’m showing off when I talk, ridiculous when I’m silent, insolent when I answer, cunning when I have a good idea, lazy when I’m tired, selfish when I eat one bite more than I should…”

Still, most of all, my own insecurity (aka my Fe) wants people to simply like me. Well, don’t most people feel like this? But I cannot just exist. It isn’t enough for me to just be. I need to give as well. I sometimes wish – or my insecurity wishes – I could be less me and thus less of a ‘nuisance’ to the people I know and adapt to their needs; be more of a help and comfort, despite not having the inclination to be more emotionally helpful and ‘touchy-feely’. My empathy inevitably mixes with my rationality, but I have so much to give of this particular ‘mix’. That is my kindness and though it isn’t very competent in giving the immediate, emotional and physical comfort, I think it can help in other ways. (I’ve found that I am a great pep talker. Huh.)

And yet, I also do not want to reduce myself, because merely showing an outer personality that constitutes of being kind and helpful is not really a personality but rather personality features, in my eyes. I’ve met pretty, kind girls my age who only ever acted kindly, never really giving away any faults or anger or deviations from the perceived norm. It equally frustrated and impressed me that they wouldn’t or couldn’t get riled-up but always gave a polite smile. Perhaps they simply were genuinely sweet people. Or they made a hell of an effort to acquire and keep up this diplomatic façade. I never saw any other side of them. Of course, if I had really gotten to know them, they’d perhaps shown more sides.

But, to quote Jane Austen in Persuasion: “She felt that she could so much more depend upon the sincerity of those who sometimes looked or said a careless or a hasty thing, than of those whose presence of mind never varied, whose tongue never slipped.”

And to me, you should be ‘allowed’ to have the space to display weird gestures and quirks in public. You should be allowed to show anger and eagerness and not be regarded as immature if you do (especially if it does not harm anyone), because you are so much more! Honest about who you are: Kind and considerate, but also distracted and selfish. Intelligent but also naive at times. I know, it may be a very INTP thing to think this way, and I (or perhaps the child in me) may be talking on behalf of myself now. Yet, people have to somehow take everything else that comes with these ‘kind’ features as well in order to have what constitutes me or you, no? And it would be utterly hypocritical to do otherwise, since all people have quirks or deviations or whatever. Some have just learned to curb or diminish them in some situations and express or channel them in others – which could be viewed as just as ‘abnormal’ from another point of view. We are all different, in that regard, but no less or more faulty than others.

Anywho. I think the above-mentioned event changed me, somehow. Made me more aware of myself and others; gut-punchingly aware. At least, I hope so. I tell myself so. And I know such events cannot be entirely prevented in one’s life or in the future – they are there to make you grow, after all – but hopefully, now that I’m more aware, they will rarely occur.

*revised 5/6/17*

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When analytical observation is your default mode …

Do you also let any possible situation in your life play out in your head; regarding as many variables as possible, inserting various dialogues and people in and out of your life?

I certainly do. I always have. It’s a trait I’ve chosen to call my infamous ‘chessplayer brain’ from time to time. And which has caused me as much exhilaration as head- and heart-ache, I must admit, though it has nothing to do with other people as such.

No, I’m in love with the possibilities of life. Not in achieving as much as imagining them. The sheer fact that they are there. Though I may not or never experience even a third of them first-hand, the mere thought of all the wondrous crevices and elements in life enthralls and possesses me to no end. My brain naturally and constantly absorbs all that it possibly can and simulates all the possible narratives and feelings not yet discovered.

I am an INTP to the core. This abstract universe of pure thinking and imagination that I can practically get off on is at the very essence of my being.

In real life, on the other hand, it dawned on me that no matter the situations – big or small – I am thrown or throw myself into in this life, I always return to a state of analysis and observation. It’s my default mode. The center of the court I return to when having caught the ball and bounced it back over the net; once in a while missing it, but always returning to the center.

For a long time, I couldn’t quite fathom why my life has been relatively quiet; why I had so little happen to me and so little to tell.

It makes sense now. I violently facepalm myself because of my own blindness, for not having realized this sooner. Because, of course, my life has mirrored my introspective nature. Whatever little or bustling event that has happened to me has seemed paradoxical and mystifying at best – in keeping with the very fascinations I have with life, roaming my head; its paradoxes, strange occurences, big and small mysteries, etc.. The entire, complex, abstract, real and absurd, but utterly fascinating connection I wouldn’t want to miss or be without. That, naturally, goes hand in hand with my existence as well. Whatever significant effect the events had on me, an implosion rather than an explosion occured.

It’s a strange explanation for a strange phenomenon that is life (for an INTP) but I cannot put it in better words at the moment.

And so, I wonder if I’ll ever partake in much in life if this – this harmonizing stasis of analytical observation – will forever be my default mode. Not that it is so bad, it’s just … illuminating. Strange. There’s the word again.

My role in life has and maybe always will be shaped by this notion. I don’t mind it so much. After all, it suits me for a reason. But, for that reason, a distance of some kind is already cemented, because being of an observant and analytical nature I have to step back; to distance myself in order to gain clarity and objectivity. No matter my involvement in a matter, I can never give everything of myself. In fact, I cannot allow it. I have to keep something at bay; something to pull me back and let me breath. But more than it’s something that ‘I am letting’, it seems instinctive. Necessary. A core part of me.

And for that part there are situations I do not dare to even try, because when your brain is programmed to take in and study every possibility in life, it, inevitably, also take in every risk. And those risks hault the extent of my bravery.

“Do it or don’t do it — you will regret both,” Søren Kierkegaard so wisely said.

Thus, I fear parts of what’s essential in life will never reach me. Not truly. I do mind that, I guess, since I fear the potential loss of what others seem to find so easily or fight to reach, but, in the end, always will taste. Because even if I find it or choose to fight for it, I will inevitably and out of necessity see myself drift back to my status quo. Draw back to my analytical self.

However, I will always fear losing something, won’t I? Won’t we all, as Kierkegaard said? It’s part of life, after all. I just wish I felt less pity for myself about it. But I can’t help it.

And that may be my role in life, my toil, my destiny, my yoke, my burden, etc.; selfish or unselfish: To stay the always observing, distanced analyst while others tend to other parts of life. (That said, I’m a logician; my brain needs to, first and foremost, divide and dissect things in order to analyze and understand them and how they go together – with each other as well as with their surroundings. So, naturally, that former sentence seems a bit silly and black-and-white. But I need to think like this in order to dig out the complexities and my points).

But there are times, in social situations and gatherings, where I – unconciously or not – assume different roles according to what I analyze and see the need for – in order to maintain harmony, I guess. When someone is panicking or unravelling I become calm and collected, but if I see others staying cool and on top of things, I allow myself to unwind and not worry if I panic, because I know someone else will provide reassurance if needed. When travelling and no one is taking the lead or can figure out where to go, I usually come forth to suggest various approaches and often become ‘the one with the map’. If someone becomes wary or sceptical of a situation, I become confident and positive, and, at times, vice versa. When there’s a quiet or awkward tension at a party I become the jokester to defuse it, but when I see someone else being the jokester, I pull back and stay much more quiet. At times, when I feel utterly ignored or feel that the people around me are being totally ignorant, petty or unjust, I become moody and sullen and I justify my right to be so because of people’s sheer stupidity. Other times, I become slightly self-righteous and a warrior for justice and reason; I want to challenge and fight and change people’s perspectives for the better.

Maybe I don’t know people well enough or have been around that many to know if this is fairly common; to assume different roles in social situations in order to keep a balance of sorts. And, after all, we all have various identities that come together to the person we are, according to what situation we are in; at home, at school, at work, with family, with friends, etc., don’t we?

I think I’ll leave my reflections on the matter here, for now, as any true, analytical observant would do. A bit of food for thought is always healthy, after all.

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INTP … Too blunt?

sherlock2

Someone made this very astute comment to an INTP-related post that made me realize that being ruled by a logic-driven honesty and bluntness – no matter how much I pride myself to champion the direct truth – also has its more fatal downsides. Especially when it comes to interacting with other people you care about and taking their feelings into account. My logic too often dominates and brusquely tells me that ‘they can take it’ while my own, more sensitive feelings peep up underneath and try and tell me that I shouldn’t be so harsh.

“Jumping in with a response that’s dismissive usually isn’t constructive. There’s sometimes a fine line between intellectual honesty and being hurtful. […] You’re not being intellectually dishonest if you keep quiet. If you have something actually useful to contribute, then by all means do so.

Some people think that you either have to be blunt or pretend. That’s not true. What you do have to do is ask yourself why you are going to say whatever it is you’re going to say. Are you being helpful, constructive, or just trying to show that you’re smarter?”*

Being too blunt. Oh boy, have I put my foot in my mouth many times. I sometimes suspect it has become a force of habit when I’m around certain people – people I pity, dislike or want to impress – or I have deluded myself into thinking bluntness substitutes confidence or a voice; being heard and having principles you can ‘yell’ out in order to seem better than others (i.e. a true SJW)? I don’t know. I certainly know I have spoken before I’ve really thought and that has been the worst times of being ‘too honest’ (if we regard it as a vice as much as a virtue). I’ve unintentionally hurt and angered people more than I intended. That is, childishly, I’ve only ever sought to be challenged and challenge others to get new perspectives on life. And being rude and loud-mouthed is certainly no mature way to do it.

I’ve yearned for intellectual stimulation all through my life and subconsciously demanded it almost everywhere I go, more or less, I think. I want to outwit and be outwitted, be challenged and banter knowledge. Not for the sake of snobbery, pretending, being or feeling better than others that are not like-minded, but simply because my mind naturally craves intellectual stimulation and has gotten way too little of it from most people. Not that one can expect everyone to be Einsteins, but too often they have only appeared as little, golden grains in the sand; too quickly flushed out with the tide.

So when I’ve met blatantly oblivious, rigid, slightly thick-headed people, I have either secretly laughed at and pitied them or instinctly reacted to that pity by ‘trying to outsmart them’ or ‘challenge’ them by saying something blunt and watch their reactions. Simply because I am so stupidly curious when it comes to how completely stupid other people sometimes can be. I somehow get it into my head that I can trigger forth their intellect and the logic of the whole argument or point that is being discussed – by saying what’s on my mind. Straight-forward. Just raw, pure logic. I want to prove something to the spectators, but also to myself; confirming my targets’ expected reaction I’ve imagined but also being curious about any unexpected ones that might occur and how I will respond if so, while I secretly ‘get off’ on displaying my ‘superior’ intellect. Huh. What a challenge.

Ugh. That’s the straight-forward, raw and ugly truth about this INTP for you right there. It’s pathetic. I am a little person in these instances.

It’s a tough, inner battle, I must admit. My INTP core instinctly cannot comprehend – eventhough I know otherwise – that there are other people who think so utter differently from me.

Well, curiosity killed the cat, some say and shrug, while others champion your intellect and state that ‘if other people can’t follow or understand you, they are not worth sticking around for’.

All such ‘advice’ are taken out of context and circumstantial, of course, but it doesn’t make it all less confusing regarding how to view the case in point: Am I on the wrong side of the track here? Am I being an utterly arrogant and thus dislikable person, really? Or are my overthinking and resurfacing insecurities getting the better of me?

I sense an uncomfortable answer in the tendency among the reactions I’ve gotten throughout my life, but I cannot see clearly through the fog. Sometimes I regret my words, sometimes I’m more insecure so I worry more about what effects my words have, but most of times I’m just … me.

It’s an instinct, a nature that I have learned – from the INTP personality – is nothing to be ashamed of. Sure, one may come off as somewhat brusque and insensitive in certain situations, but my instinctive answer to that is also that such a characteristic (and the INTP type) is rather uncommon and most people simply aren’t used to it. That shouldn’t provoke me to not be blunt, after all. Being blunt can be good. Too few dare to be blunt enough!

And it’s not like I’m without tact. It just doesn’t always appear in conventional settings.

But I can still learn. I can always learn and always will. Learning by not abruptly cutting off parts of myself because they may seem too harsh to other folks at times, but by always expanding and developing myself into a more mature version of myself, for my own sake as much as those around me I care about. Sounds cheesy, but the above-mentioned comment really hit me, so there must be something in it. It has given me a lot of food for thought, that’s for sure.

I’m going to ask myself more often WHY I’m going to say whatever I’m going to say: Is it to be helpful, constructive, or just trying to show that I’m smarter?

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Sometimes I look at myself from the outside

In spite of all my inward self-discovery lately, I fear at times that I appear more arrogant that I intend to be. (Not that I ever intended to appear arrogant in the first place).

But what is arrogance? Being confident? Sarcastic? Aloof? Cynic? Superior? Elitist? Oppinionated? Stubborn? Where do you draw the line based on an impression?

I recently (and reluctantly) watched a snippet of one of my dad’s recent home videos of the family and it shocked me to see that in the clip I appeared to put on airs in a rather dislikable manner. However, my own recollection of this episode was that I was disconcerted by my dad’s ‘invisible-yet-all-the-more-in-your-face’-filming of us and instantly put up a front of flippant, snide sarcasm to seem, well, cool, I guess. I think I do it a lot. And not just because I have this pet peeve when people don’t vocalize that they are about to photograph or film me. I use sarcasm/irony as a filter in various contexts; it’s like a second nature to me. A weapon. I do it to make sense of myself and the world – and to protect myself. I just never really realized how obvious it is. That, or I simply look and seem utterly and genuinely arrogant.

I’ve doubted whether I really am arrogant or not, based on this and other responses I’ve gotten throughout the years. But I know that deep down – despite of all the little superiority and diva complexes – I could never be truly arrogant to those I am around (well, as long as I like them, which is most of the time). I’m too self-deprecating or self-aware to be so. I am too curious, humble (although that statement always seems counterproductive) and naive about my fellow man, believing – perhaps too often – in the good in people before anything else. Not necessarily in the way they act towards me, but inherently. The problem is: I’m not arrogant, I’m distracted (or I seem ‘aloof’ as most people describe INTPs). Distracted by everything I know and am aware of – and everything I have yet to know and become of aware of – and I try to take all that into account. The poet William Cowper once said: “Knowledge is proud that he has learned so much; Wisdom is humble that he knows no more”. Ironically, you could say I’m distracted by my awareness and staying aware. So distracted that I appear uncaring or poker-faced or whatever – and thus arrogant. I don’t know if I truly have a pokerface. Naturally, I’ve not had a chance to observe myself from the outside – unless I watch a video of myself where I’m unaware that I’m being filmed (which are fewer than a few). When I know I’m being filmed the above-mentioned episode happens; I instantly put up a front – like a petulant, squirmy child.

I’ve doubted so much that I started using this possible arrogant appearance to explain why people stay away, don’t find me memorable and never become emotionally invested in me (I know, that isn’t a one-way street, but as an INTP I’m not always aware that I may not seem emotionally invested even if I am). Maybe in an overall view, this may be true, but I’ve also come to realize that those people perhaps just weren’t meant to be in your life or they were too ignorant and prejudiced to give it a chance or it was simply bad luck. How will you ever know, anyway? What is most important are those who care and show interest. I’m learning to be more expressive about such things myself, because even if I feel it I need to show it in order to receive something in return. It sounds silly, written like that, doesn’t it? But sometimes I need to write it down like a manual for dummies or notes to myself in order to get it into my head. I may know it already, yet too often I take it for granted. I’m awkward and stumbling along the way, but I try my best to get out my distracted head and show some personal investment in the immediate world around me, be a little less hypocritical and self-absorbed.

Something happened just this day that made me doubt again, fearing ‘the air of arrogance’ had returned. Little things; like people not getting why I had decided to drop a volunteer job I had had for over two years despite I smiled and explained why (even apologized), some of the new volunteers not looking me in the eyes (but apparently everybody else’s), etc.. Ugh, sorry for the petty venting. It’s not something I usually do, but it illustrates a pattern of almost similar occurences throughout my life and the simmering feeling of doubt I have that I may appear different on the outside to those around me than what I think. And not in a good way. Today, by chance, it led to one depressive thought after another and somehow I got ahead of myself and concluded that nobody really cared much for me or liked me. Silly me, getting all insecure and possibly drawing the wrong conclusions too fast. Because then I came home and realized people do care, people do remember me. An old friend I haven’t heard from in a long time called to say hi and my mom called because she has become all excited about a potential job offer for me after uni. I returned the gestures, listened and thanked them, respectively. I finally sent a much belated postcard to an elder in the family and wrote a message to another old friend I haven’t spoken to in a long time. I’m awful at keeping personal tabs and initiate immediate, emotional support to those around me – simply because I take the show of outward support for granted (though that doesn’t exclude the fact that I feel for them and am willing to lend them a friendly ear). Once again; it isn’t enough that I know that I care for people, I need to show it as well. And just because I feel I’m not particularly good at showing it in the expected ways, I should still just do it – even though it feels awkward and stilted and doesn’t come entirely natural to me. As I’ve said before, this is a battle with myself – a life-long project that I cannot give up.

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Independent to a fault

I have discovered this for myself – and I may have said this before, but I say it again: I cannot live anybody else’s life but my own. If your life is not your own then what’s the point of living it? Of course, freedom is relative (we’re all part of a system, one way or the other) and not everyone can be as lucky as I am or other more privileged.

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It makes no sense of comparing yourself or your life too much to anyone else. It is something I’ve learnt for myself as I’ve gotten older but still have to realize from time to time: That I don’t want to be like everybody else! It’s weird and quite terrible really to have to keep reminding oneself of this. Like some unknown voice from above and beyond keeps booming or whispering that I should be more like everybody else. I think it’s a common flip side (or naturality) of society that we all, more or less, unconsciously or not, try to satisfy: Conformity. The norm. And in a modern society that (for a couple of decades now) salutes indvidualism and ‘uniqueness’ where everyone now has become ‘individual’ and ‘unique’, it isn’t always easy, ironically, to stand out from all the ‘uniqueness’. I don’t know exactly where I stand myself, only that I too fight the same fight on a daily and existential basis. I mostly just want to ‘conform’ so that I can be left alone to be myself. It may be the coward’s way out, but honestly, it is the only solution I can see for myself … for now.

That also comes down to the fact that I don’t like to answer to anyone but myself. That doesn’t mean I don’t take responsibility for my actions or is an anarchist or anything like that. It doesn’t have to be understood in an extreme sense. In a spoilt sense, perhaps, since I’ve been so privileged of never having to compromise myself as such. That day may eventually arrive, but even when or if it happens I don’t think compromise will come naturally to me and that I may fail at it on a larger scale. There are many types of compromise, of course, and you cannot avoid it; I’ve just never had to compromise myself on any significant, personal level (yet). That may make me naive and far from an adult, but I’m also still young and trying to find myself so I don’t expect to have lived life by the age of 25. I may be stubborn and childish still, in this aspect, but I just don’t like explaining my life to anyone – or, to put in another way: it isn’t anybody’s business how I live my life. I’m a hypocrite by this fact, since I’m not without meddling tendencies myself, especially when I’m around my influential mother (the judge of my life) or my sweet, younger sister, though I try to curb my tongue, knowing it’s my mother’s voice speaking most of the time.

That leads me to another matter. Little, white lies may sneak their way into my daily life when I don’t have the energy to answer to anyone which includes being social and outgoing (most often). It’s easier to keep one’s cards close to one’s chest if you only know few people in your life that you have to ‘manage’. Right. I come off as an manipulative bastard, don’t I? It’s not my intention. Once again, I guess making excuses for interacting in the outer world is a common theme for introverts, though there are various ways of doing so, just as there are various ways of living your life as an introvert. I have a feeling INTPs can, essentially, be very hypocritical (and once again, paradoxical). Though we value honesty and mutual respect more than anything, we’re also masters at seeing through systems as well as weaving our way through them the easiest way possible. And the easy way isn’t always the right way. So, we may not come out on the other side entirely clean, but that doesn’t mean we’re intentionally mean either (could have rhymed better but I let that one slide). It’s just an unfortunate added ‘bonus’. As long as our ‘ways’ of dealing with life don’t hurt anybody else and don’t go directly against any of our principles, we’ll gladly continue to do it. After all, we’re talking the ‘little, harmless’ things in life – at least, in the INTP’s eyes. Others might not appreciate it very much. On the other hand, we like dealing with matters that others sometimes prefer to ‘manage’ their way out of the easiest way possible. But this is no ‘who’s-better-than-who’-contest. We all have our weak spots. I still throw out the little white lies. But only because I can. The minute I cannot make excuses or disappear unnoticed I have to grin and bear it. And of course, I do; I’ve practised this ‘necessary evil’ all my life on the sideline and I don’t always despise social interactions. Sometimes they just drain me – beforehand. I think this is quite natural for the introvert.

Am I ashamed of being rather evasive and pathetic when I make my little white lie of having a prior engagement (though I don’t have one) to excuse myself from another for the umpteenth time? Yeah, and sometimes I even regret it, but the introverted nature inside me overrides the shame. I need to have this choice in my life: To be able to withdraw when I feel like it. Since I balance it with actually being social and engaging in the outer world from time to time, I don’t see how it could harm anyone that I don’t always participate – whether or not it is more frequently than others. I don’t really care. Of course, that is also a matter of context and the certain responsibility I’m talking about. If ‘the thing’ I’m supposed to appear to demands more responsibility – if people are dependent on me or expect a certain task of me – then, of course, I will appear!

But I still value and guard my fierce independence the most and thus may come off as egocentric. Even arrogant. And maybe I am. But if that is the price for simply listening to myself – my instinct and my nature, so to speak – then I have to pay it. I’m prepared to take my failings to heart and learn when my independent nature meets resistance, and, to some extent, I’m willing to compromise given the situation, but I doubt I will ever releash it. I may not even be as independent as I so proudly claim to be – I may be utterly pathetic – but that may only be so to some people. To others, I may be able to inspire something in their hearts – I might even be an example of going against even the smallest of streams – but that is, of course, just an ideal dream. In the end, your own view of yourself comes first, and if I find strength and value in my independence, no matter its (objective) degree or range, then I will hold on and be willing to let go, momentarily, whenever I choose to. After all, you can never tell people how they should live their lives, you can only live your own as you choose. It may sound all grand and guru-like, but think about it on a very basic, daily basis; in the way you, unconsciously or not, ‘harmonize’ you inner life and outer life with the view of yourself. It may sound vague, but it helps me and, if you get where I’m going, it could hopefully bring some clarity to your own lives. Even if you disagree 😉

Over and out.

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