And lately, for some inexplicable reason, I have been dwelling a great deal on children and marriage, neither of which, being still rather young, are in the offing yet for me. This however did not stop me from staying awake for far longer than I should have, musing and envisioning.
It’s a hefty issue, one which everyone seems divided upon, especially women. Some think that marriage is a sacred unit, an institution that will bring fulfilment and joy, rooted in both tradition and biology. Others are of the opinion that it is a waste of time, hinders careers, is a harbinger of stress and arguments – after all, didn’t you know that 50% of marriages end in divorce? Do you want to sacrifice free time and good sleep at the altar of matrimony? Not to mention that lovely figure?
Barring the fact that I care little if my figure is a bit bulgy about the edges, these are all valid concerns which I am sure every woman has weighed in their own minds. At first, being an INFP rather than, say, an analytical INTJ, it seemed like a no-brainer; after all, we’re known as the sweet little lovebirds of the MBTI world, and I, for one, can think of few things more satisfying than engaging a child in imaginative play (being pretty much a little kid on the inside myself) and teaching them about the world and the meaning of life. In fact, not to tout my own horn, but I think INFPs, gentle souls that we are, would make ideal parents.
Thus, marriage seems like the natural progression of such inclinations, doesn’t it? It provides stability, which our scatterbrained minds need plenty of. It provides romance, which we crave like air. It has the possibility to provide children, whom we adore. All in all, very good stuff. But what needs to also enter the equation are individual experiences, problems, hopes and desires, all things that cannot be entirely encapsulated by four letters.
When it comes down to it, even INFPs have to face some forms of reality; and sometimes, with our imaginations, it’s easier to conjure these realities. For one, I am well aware of the kind of commitment marriage entails, and cannot imagine anything more horrifying that being stuck with someone who I does not understand me and I care little for. Although I know it is unhealthy, I also run from conflict like it’s the plague – hardly a good trait to have in a situation where two people may come into conflict on a daily basis. The romantic ideal is a far cry from the daily reality of living with someone.
But these are only surface issues; deep down, like many people, I have problems with self-esteem, in that I cannot imagine why any sane person would want to spend the rest of their life with me. This is not only because I have Asperger’s (which does not mean I am “crazy” or anything) or suffer from social anxiety, or any other psychological problems, though they do contribute.
To be honest, and I’m not sure if this is because I am only young, I feel unattractive a good deal of the time. I am the girl who sits at the back of the bus or tries to hide her face behind a curtain of hair. Who hides in the library so she doesn’t have to talk to people, and then leaves when the library gets busy. Also, being extremely introverted and having few people in my life, if any, who appreciate my deeper thoughts and inner world, I wonder if there is anyone out there for someone who feels so strange and defective.
In the end, it comes down to fear.
I am afraid of not measuring up. I am afraid of being too inhibited to talk to the right person when I do meet him. I am afraid of giving others a chance. I am afraid of my own darkness: the stress that often turns into anger, my tendency to get mopey, to be pessimistic and disheartened. High sociability and an easygoing, optimistic attitude have been conditioned into us as desirable traits. Who on earth, I think to myself, would want to spend time with a severely anxious, occasionally depressive and eccentric young lady who loves books more than family, cats more than people?
Sure, there is someone out there for everyone. Perhaps for me it is a shy, young musician who is socially awkward enough not to find me an object of ridicule. Or maybe not, as though I’m sure he would be a very lovely young man, I continually find myself drawn towards more gregarious and grounded types, most of whom would want nothing to do with me. It is a confusing concoction of knowing who would be good for me, yet not being attracted to them.
Secretly I loathe the reality of anything – meaning, I’d rather sit here and contemplate the wonders of marriage without ever experiencing it. Because the truth is I know what it will be like: just like any other day, any other reality, another human being who orbits around the planet of Me, the two spheres sometimes touching, sometimes not. It’s one of the reasons I idealize people from afar and never approach them. I tell myself it’s because I’m scared of rejection, but that’s not wholly the truth; I’m also subconsciously resistant to shattering the illusion. Let them stay beautiful and perfect. Let it all stay beautiful and perfect in my mind.
Would I be unhappy if I spent the rest of my life “alone”? Not really – I’d have my art and books, my cats. But a partner is one of those things that’s just nice to have, someone to hug at the end of the day and face the world with anew the next morning. And, well, children are pretty adorable, and the thought of reading them bedtime stories – or even books I write! – makes me want to die of happiness.
So, I guess the answer to what I think of marriage, as with most areas of life, is: I don’t know. No-one does, really. We take it day by day, the bitter medicine of reality tempered by sweet doses of hope and love. Maybe I’m too psychologically impaired to leave the house and date! Maybe there is another quirky somebody out there perfect for me, and we’ll live in a library masquerading as a house with a squadron of kitties. Or maybe I will dream of the perfect love for the rest of my life until the day I die.
No matter what happens, I hope to be happy with who am, take pleasure in the small joys of life, and share with the world the art I create. Our lives are big, important businesses only to ourselves, and only we have the power to bring about our own happiness.