I will never grow up.
I think I’ll always be a kid. Deep down, I am still trapped between the pages of the fantasy books I read as a child, crystallised in time. No matter if I end up having a family, getting a job and shouldering grown-up responsibilities, one of the fundamental reasons I feel so different from people is because I will never grow up.
Rather like Peter Pan, only without a Neverland to return to. Is that how it is, with most INFPs? Or perhaps it is just me. Look: I only have interest in delight and magic and wonder and fantasy. That is all I care for. The world, with its problems, its racist and prejudiced people, politics, stocks, shares, laws and legislation – all of that, though important, is a tremendous bore. I react to all of it as would a six or seven-year-old child. In other words, all that feels like a big, stately study-room in the house that awes and intimidates me, with its smell of leather and sophistication, but which I have no interest in occupying, not with the nursery a few paces down the corridor.
This inherent childishness is the source of my idealism. Through my childish lenses, the problems of the world seem silly. Why can’t people just have fun with each other? Why must we hoard all of our toys? Sharing makes the game more fun! Oh, look, that creature is hurting. Poor thing, let’s go see if we can comfort it and make it smile so it can get up and play once more. Are you sad? Here, I’ll give you a cookie and let you play with my teddy bear. I’ll even make it talk for you.
Sure, I know that ‘that’s not how the world works’ and ‘life is hard’ and ‘bad people succeed’ and all that ‘realistic’ stuff. Children can be aware of that, too. But they know it distantly. They do not make it the core of their thoughts. All that negativity, that harsh reality, takes a backseat to fun and games and magic and play.
No wonder so many of us INFPs might be at odds with the world around us. We truly are children masquerading as adults, playing dress-up, giggling behind our masks at everyone else’s serious faces. I play. When I’m alone, I’m ridiculously childish. I can’t stand formality, or prissy people. I can’t stand authority. I’m just kid. I want other people to be happy, I want to care for animals, I want to read and imagine.
Growing-up is overrated. Inappropriate thought it might be, I laugh at the stresses people place on themselves over random pieces of paper and numbers in a bank account. It seems all wrong, to stray so far from what the core of life is. Trafficking humans, hiding from the police, killing others, smuggling goods – all that feels wrong, like children who are hurting because they’ve been pushed into the adult world, of indiscipline gone out of control. Some adults need a good time-out session, and I only wish there was some universal parent to enact some order. Teach them to do good things, right things.
Nothing gives me more joy than contemplating being by myself in an enormous library with high ceilings and wooden walls and shelves upon shelves of books. I will sit in the corner, on a pile of cushions, and devour one book after the other. That is childhood, for me. That is happiness. To be away, far away, to fly to other lands and worlds, because they still seem more real and true than the one that exists outside my front door.
Peter Pan may never come knocking on my window, but I can create my own Neverland, here in the real world, whether through reading or imagining or writing or watching movies. Any living that I do outside of these things is a sham. It is a wrongness. It is not life.
And so I dream.