The Shadows

Shadows

Just like physical objects, everything in life, even the good things, are tainted by Shadows.

These Shadows cannot be eliminated – at least not without extinguishing the Light also.

They are created, the way physical shadows are created by dimension, by the fact everything is impermanent, intangible. It is not an easy fact to come to terms with. Whether it is because we are deluded by the illusion of “I”, or find ourselves yearning for more than we can ever have, the changing season of life for creatures who are aware of it, and would like to hold on to a vibrant leaf or two before it withers, is a large Shadow, and will always be, dragging behind us in our everyday lives like a heavy cape through mud.

And just like physical shadows, these Shadows have a habit of creeping out, on thin, dark legs, when the days are cloudy, the nights dark and long. What some people have trouble grasping is that these Shadows cannot be banished through any physical means, be it love or food or sex or escapism, for they live within us, and dribble from our eyes and mouths and between our legs the moment the physical satiation ends.

We are all drowning in our own Shadows, you and I, gasping and thrashing, unseen and silent. They are the reason we get lonely, depressed, sad, for they are dissatisfaction incarnate, wriggling like tadpoles beneath our skin. It is worse for those among us who are less easily deluded; the Shadows like us, because they feel seen, and crawl and slither the more fervently for it.

There also things which make the Shadows deepen, the way the setting of the sun makes physical shadows stretch and spread and elongate.

People with black hearts who have ignored their own Shadows for too long, and have been consumed by them.

Shadowy places: abandoned playgrounds, an empty classroom, a walk through the wood with nothing but the rustle of leaves for company.

Certain intervals of the day – particularly evenings, when the world turns gray, flat and quiet, and you feel half-ghostly, wandering and searching for something you have lost, or perhaps never had in the first place.

But fear not: just as real shadows can, if not banished completely, be driven away by turning on a lamp, or stepping into a patch of sunshine, so can your Shadows.

Various sources of light exist, one of the most prominent of which is laughter. Yes: laughter. Simple laughter. Unseen except on a spiritual level, the stuff explodes from people’s mouths like fireworks, like sparks, bursting the darkness open in a flood of fire. Others include delight, a mellower source of light that glows quietly on people’s lips and inside their eyes, and an appreciation of the present moment, which smoulders deep in hearts like a flickering candle flame.

Ultimately, nothing can get rid of the darkness forever, and there will be many moments when it seems nothing exists in the world except it. Like the cavemen-and-women of primitive times, we fear the Shadows more than anything else – for it is filled with the unknown, the painful, crawling with monsters and demons. But we are not helpless; that, I think, is important to remember. Against it we can wield light, a bloom of fire to drive away the shadows and beasts, and cluster close together around it, and live through another night.

A Diary Entry, Featuring A Big Fat “Lack”

alive

You put one word in front of the other; that is how books are written.

Sometimes, the words do not come, and it is very hard. The words are congealed at the tips of my fingers, like old blood. Any strain only makes them dribble and bleed.

A lot of the time I find it painful, to exist as an aware creature. Everything is painful: unkindness, self-doubt, consciousness, not enough time, not enough talent, not enough. Inside of me, there is a big, fat Lack. Why else do people chase after love so desperately, if not to have a pair of arms to wrap around them and make them feel safe? But there is no safety. That is the awful thing about it: there is no safety, not in someone’s arms, not in a book, not anywhere; there is just you, existing at this moment in time, feeling the pain you do and not knowing what to do about it.

Other people seem to have it all figured out. When I walk down the street, I see people, chatting and laughing in restaurants, paired-up, checking their phones and munching on chips, and I wish I was not me, wish I could be so carefree, unburdened by thoughts and mysteries, by this mind which tells me you are a Writer, you are a Conscious Being, What Are You Going To Do About It?

It would be so much easier to crawl into bed and never come out. Those with medical degrees would probably deem me depressed, but I believe depression is not a matter of popping pills, but of getting to the root cause of the problem. And the root cause of the problem is that we are looking for Home, looking for a Warm Place, and there is none – or at least, not any not borne of delusion.

There are times when I feel my life would be much easier if I simply took the conventional route of securing a job, getting married and having children. During the week, coworkers and paperwork would fill my days; after work, there is dinner and television; and then, on the weekend, time spent with children or going out to places, taking holidays and visiting restaurants. Living the “good life”. The comforting routine of it is alluring, even for someone like me, for at least such a life would provide a modicum of “It’s All Okay” that could fill the Lack inside me.
But I know that that lifestyle could never make me happy. That the only way to true happiness is to pursue my creative and artistic efforts with relentless devotion, wearing books as hats and falling asleep with trails of words corkscrewing through my brain. That if I ever did find a life partner, he would not be the kind of person to go out to restaurants on weekends and dabble in paperwork but the kind that pretends all the objects in our house are animated with feelings and talk and counsel them with me. “My dear, that door is feeling poorly, look at its chipped paint! Oh, the kettle is feeling upset again, do comfort it.” The two of us would be mad together, deliriously mad fools, traipsing through our own fantasy worlds with not a care for reality.

Still the suns and moons set and fall in the sky of my gut, and I am left cold and warm. Each day, each minute, each second, a thousand agonies streak through me; the sensitivity is an acute thing, a needle piercing into my flesh. I feel as if everyone were more grounded than I am, tougher and stronger to deal with the travails of daily life, while the slightest cruel word is enough to set me weeping – even if it is not directed at me. How silly of me! How silly.

Why is everyone so grounded? Is there some initiation process I missed out on in my childhood, whereby the fairies were excised from people’s brains, leaving them “logical” and “mature” beings? I am a fairy, lost in the clouds, lost in everything, and it is horrid to spend time amongst these galumphing beings. I am a fairy, and I need woodlands and animals and sweet music; instead, I live in a busy city, assaulted by fumes and noise, trapped in a glass box of a building.

If I could but meet one other soul who could pretend with me that there are fairies nestled in flowers and that everything from the flight of birds to a lost shoe is terribly romantic! Here I am, on the verge of adulthood, yet I know I shall forever remain a child, forever remain confused by unfairness, confused when people hurt people. I will cry at everything, like a baby, because I am soft and small, but I will also smile like a baby, because the world is wonderfully novel and beautiful.

Is it okay? No. The big fat Lack is still there, and my body is still knotted with accumulated pain. The world is still too harsh, and things are still awful, and the writing still is not working. But I feel slightly better for having written this. That is something, I suppose. We always must do something.

On Racial Discrimination & Stories

alone girl hi

Yesterday, another one of my stories was rejected.

Unlike the last rejection, which, incidentally, also plummeted me into despair, this was, in my humble opinion, unaccounted for.

In my last rejection, I could see the flaws of my story, it’s inadequacy. I knew what I had done wrong, what I could have done better. But this time, the winning entries were placed on the website, for all to see, and I could not help thinking that compared to my story, they were dull and unoriginal, that I had been cheated of something, somehow.

Of course, the case could very well be that my story was terrible; but, deep down, I knew this was not so. This was the best piece I had written so far, the most strange and unusual; yet other stories, about heartbreak and loss, cliché and overdone (written by other teenagers my age, mind you, not adults) won over mine, some of them even poorly-written. And I could not help feeling bitter, deep inside, as a result.

For this incident only spawned more writhing tendrils of self-doubt, and brought the shadows at the back of my mind to its forefront. Perhaps I am overestimating myself, perhaps the story was no good after all, and I was simply delusional in thinking I had been discriminated against in any way.

Or not. It is strange, growing up as a racial minority in Australia – you are never sure, when you are treated unfairly, whether it was not personal, and you just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time with the wrong person, or if it was because you looked different, and they didn’t like that.

If your name sounded different, perhaps, on a short story entry.

I could not help noticing that every single one of the stories which did gain a place contained at least one character with vivid blue eyes, and names like “John Kent” and “Elizabeth Avalon”, and were written by “Edwards” and “Mullivans”, and that in my story the characters were ethnic, though it was not explicitly stated.

And I felt angry. Deeply, deeply angry, to my core, that my art, which is so great a part of me, would be disregarded this way due to discrimination. It was an anger many people who live in the Western world feel when they do not live up to the ideals of Whiteness in a society of white hegemony. A pale imitation of the kind of anger so many black men in America must feel when their people are shot, out of sheer racial prejudice, and are told their lives are less worthy. One that burns and flickers quietly, at their core. In Australia, the situation is much worse than in countries like the US, or even the UK – just turn on any television channel, and you are treated to a parade of advertisements and shows depicting smiling blonde-haired and blue-eyed individuals, with not a single racial minority among them, never mind the fact that 26% of our population was born overseas.

If I were to ask them outright, I am sure they would deny that they had disregarded my story on any racial grounds. With a smile, they would probably tactfully state that judges choose according to personal taste, and to try my best elsewhere. That perhaps it was the story and the writing itself which was not good enough in their eyes, rather than the writer.

But I know better. It is not a case of blaming my own failures on racial discrimination; this story, which I wrote, was original and special, and, well, better than the winning entries by the other young men and women. This might make me sound conceited, but I’m not: I simply know good art when I see it, and this time, probably for the first time, I did make good art.

It irks me, that’s all, that some middle-aged fellow who judged the stories is probably sitting around, enjoying his lunch in the sunshine, while I spent the last half an hour curled up in bed, in the darkness, quietly weeping tears of anger and tears of sadness.

But the sadness does not do anything. Emotions do not change things; only actions do. So rather than mope any further, after writing this post, I will expand upon and edit the rejected story, a lovely, little story, like a tiny star winking in my heart, which gave me such pleasure to write.

And once I have done that, edited and rewrote, over perhaps a period of a week or so, or more, I will send it out again, this time to somewhere else. I will not listen to my step-aunt, who, after reading one of my pieces, told me, very politely, I had printed it from somewhere on the internet, that it wasn’t mine at all because someone as young as me could not have written or imagined such things, let alone a female teenager of Asian descent.

Looking at history, were not the greatest writers and creative minds of our age Caucasion males and females, or, with the likes with Miyazaki and Ishiguoro, Asian males? There is no-one in the writing world who I can look up to, no Asian female writer who wrote strange, unusual fantasy stories, and gained a place in the upper echelons of literature. To some this might not be important; after all, our race is simply phenotype, a sign of genetic diversity; but it is very important to have role models in life, whether you are a shy girl living in Australia writing stories in her room or an actress in Hollywood carving a place for herself in cinema history.

But, that is okay: I shall be the first. This is not some false conception of grandiosity; I know it in my heart, know it as only as an expression of the universe can know things. If you believe it, you can achieve it, and I do believe.

And if my next piece is rejected also, whether on grounds of race or age or inadequacy, I will write another one, and edit it, and send it out again, and I will write another one, and edit it, and send it out again, and I will write and write and write, for writing is something I can do as long as I am thinking and breathing, it is my blood and my life, it is everything, and no-one can take that away from me.

My heart is hurt, deeply, deeply hurt, for injustice, especially racial injustice, pierces me more deeply than anything else. It seeps like black poison through my body, staining my organs and sinew. Sensitivity is a liability when it comes to dealing with failure, or poor treatment. But this is not over; I believe in myself, and I believe in the stories within me.

No matter how much other people may tear me down, strangers and relatives, or even the little black crow of self-doubt perched on my shoulder, I will keep on going, and in the end, I will triumph.

Those endure, succeed.

Wish me luck. And for those of you who do believe in me, whether you are reading this or not, I thank you, from the bottom of my heart. I won’t let you down.

On Charismatic People

bird

I’ve never been the kind of person with charisma, whose smile and very presence seems to shine outwards like a tiny sun to encompass everyone in a two-metre vicinity in their radiance.

Do you know the kind of person I’m speaking of? The kind who everyone secretly notices when they walk into the room, their every movement and word signaling who they are; there’s an almost atmospheric shift, as if even the air were parting to make room for them. People naturally flock and gather around them as if they were Jesus, reborn, come to deliver salvation to all those who speak to him, hanging onto their every single word like they were jewels, or delicate berries, to be savored and hoarded. In that moment, they are a God, they are Goddess, and even those who do not openly worship them makes an obeisance, deep in their hearts.

I’ve never been that kind of person, and, truth be told, it has always been a sore spot for me. People with social anxiety, or any type of personality which prefers to shrink rather than flaunt, often find charisma elusive. Charisma: it’s like the metaphorical equivalent of a stimulant, a pair of fingers always clicking, amping people up; they want to know you, hear you, be around you. I was never that person people wanted to be around – quite the opposite, actually: usually they didn’t hear my words, as they curled like wisps of smoke from my mouth, or disregarded and avoided me entirely.

I used to envy charismatic people, used to want to be them, so desperately it was like a physical ache in my gut. Of course, that was before I grew more comfortable in my own skin and with my own identity, but it is a wound I still carry. I tried to emulate them by employing my acting skills, pretending, in my head, that I was someone important, someone with secrets lurking behind her eyes and laughter on her lips. None of it worked the slightest. Only now do I realise that charisma simply cannot be faked – it is inborn, and you either have it, or you don’t.

Still, that did not stop me wanting. For many years, my envy actually fueled a crush, for we often both admire and envy in others what we do not possess ourselves, and I believed myself “in love” with a boy who emanated charisma from his every pore like sunlight. What I could not understand, for a long time, was why I felt so bitter and inadequate around him. Surely if I did love and admire this person, I would not feel this way in their presence?

That was when it hit home, all the self-esteem issues and self-hatred buried inside me, and I realised I was using this love as a way to hide my own pain. Whenever I was not true to myself, laughter bursting from my mouth like showers of candy or delighting in the latest gossip even though it bored me to tears, the thought of him popped into my mind, like a model I could mold myself to.

Those days, thankfully, are over. Never again will I pretend a happiness I do not feel, a personality a do not possess, a charisma that will never be mine. In doing so, the wrong people were attracted to me, anyway, people who I did not find interesting, who had nothing in common with me. Throughout it all, pride strung me along and kept me trying, but now, I know who I am is the way I should act.

This does not mean that the envy has left me entirely. Now and then, I do look upon charismatic people with a great deal of wistfulness, wondering what the secret ingredient is, and how lovely it would be to have people instantly devoted to you like that. But then  I remind myself of my own shy and reserved charm, and the wonderful worlds that exist between the lobes of my ears and lurk behind my gentle eyes, and I blow them a kiss in my heart. For I will be me, and they will be they, and the world will be as it should be.

On Good Days & Bad Days

rainy

On some days, you do not doubt yourself, because the sun is shining high and bright, like your own heart, and everything feels right.

Those are the good days, and they are few and far between, like rainbows, and meant to be savored when they come.

Then there are the other days.

The days when even the way you pick up a spoon to lift some cereal to your lips is incorrect, somehow uncoordinated, a gangly movement from a creature more doll than human.

The days when the sky feels heavy with the storms and clouds, even if it is blue and unblemished, and everyone walking along the streets are bent and hunched over as if it were already raining.

The days when birds do not sing, they squawk, loudly, a great blaring cacophony of them, and, conveniently, just outside your window; when every car seems determined to run your over in a swerving rush; when puddles drench your socks rather than splash up prettily; when apples taste like sugary balls and sugary sweets taste like bad apples; when people you thought liked you do not seem to see you when you wave at them…

The days when the money trees not only do not grow in your backyard, but seemed to have become extinct, perhaps many years ago, along with the dinosaurs, and the days when even people you love, just yesterday rosy-cheeked pixies and fairies, morph into ogres and demons to hulk and growl in shadows….

…when everything you write seems more a condemnation than a mere word, each one driving into your heart like a nail, until your chest is full of splinters like a fleshy pincushion…

…those are the days, I think, that define us more than the good ones; it is the rainy days, rather than the sunny days, or the coldly beautiful days when everything is blanketed in sparkling white snow, which determine who we are, and what we make of ourselves in the years to come.

For on those days, unlike the other days, we are given a choice: a choice to push on even when it is hard or to give up; a choice to smile or frown; a choice to hate or to love.

Today was a rainy day, a pouring day, and, when I stepped out the front door, was drenched to the skin in seconds, and shivering with cold. The rain trickling down my face mingled with my tears. What I wanted more than anything else in the world was to retreat back into the warmth of Inside, where I could hide beneath a blanket and weep and shriek to myself in peace.

Instead, I simply took out an umbrella, unfolded it with a snap above my head like an enormous mushroom, and walked down the street, with my back straight.

Are You Afraid? Don’t Be.

fear crazy

In life, there is no ultimate security – only what exists in the present moment, what you hold in your hand and heart right now, nothing more, nothing less.

For many, this is a hard fact to digest, let alone accept, something which is reflected in our capitalist culture based on consumption. To medicate ourselves against the frightening tenuousness of existence, we chase stability in the form of careers, relationships and material objects to soothe, reassure and satisfy.

Why else, then, do so many people spend many hours of their lives each day engaged in activities they loathe purely for the money, or feel such an urge to “settle down” and get married? Why do so many yearn for what popular media has described to be “true love”, hoping a prince or princess will ride into their lives on a white horse, ready to banish away all their problems with a flick of a sword?

The truth is, we are all, deep down, scared, because some part of us, usually subconsciousness, knows that even the richest or successful person on earth does not have security. One moment you could be at the prime of your life; but one accident, one bout of illness, could change it all. No matter many zeroes trail the ends of numbers on your bank statements, the number of zeroes at the end of your age will only ever be one or two.

As I child, I did not understand this, and this resulted in a form of depression that festered beneath the skin, paralyzing but unseen. In order to gain some sense of security, though I did not realise the reasons behind my actions at the time, I hoarded objects: toys, and hair clips, pretty stones and clothes. Before bed, I got into the habit of arranging and checking my possessions, as if suspicious bogeyman monster would slump out from beneath my bed in the middle of the night to filch some of them.

Contrary to popular belief, materialism is not a product of greed, but of insecurity. Adult hoarders, whose homes overflow with junk and debris, with stuff, so that there barely exists any room left for functional living, are in fact deeply afraid of the world, and to comfort and make themselves feel more safe, they accumulate objects. Dragons hoard and sit atop piles of gleaming treasure even though the bounty serves no purpose for them; instead, it is the solidity of it, beneath their scaly legs, which makes them loath to leave it.

As with all fears, to face is to banish; and the fear of insecurity is no different. Nothing which can be, in a sense, “possessed”, be it the love of another human being, or luxury homes, can staunch the black wound of terror, for this kind of fear is an internal lack that cannot be plugged up by external influences.

That does not mean we can’t do anything about it. First off, however, we must accept that nothing is certain, and nothing will keep you safe forever – after all, we are all going to die, rich and poor, beautiful and ugly, privileged and disadvantaged; it is a simple fact of life. Nevertheless, there are some ways to combat this fear; namely, seeking spirituality.

When I speak of seeking spirituality, I do not refer to blindly following the doctrines and dogma of a particular religion, for that is only another kind of possession, another desperate grasping for security. Instead, what I am talking about are the handful of spiritual truths lodged at your core, most likely dormant, but easily revived.

Some of these truths include the fact that we are all each other, but can only experience life one at a time; that both suffering and joy is transitory; that the present moment is all we have; and that there is more to all this, this life, this consciousness, this existence, only perhaps the information will forever be barred from us to preserve our sanity.

In any case, next time you lie awake at night in bed, feeling adrift and afraid, your mind snatching at this and that thought to gnaw and worry over, remember this single phrase: It Is Okay. Do not think too deeply about things; do not fret, or try too hard to control your life. Instead, flow in it, a part of the grand cosmic dance that is the universe, rejoice in the tiny role you have been given, and tap your heels in a few happy little clicks before you fade back into the symphony.

For Those Of You Feeling Lost In Life

lost creature

On a daily basis I feel lost, which is perhaps something I should not admit whilst looking into life coaching as a viable part-time career.

Thing is, what I’ve found so far is that solving other people’s problems is so much easier than tackling your own. Perhaps it’s the sense of perspective fixing someone else’s life affords; while, when we are living our lives, moment by moment, it is difficult to get a good look at it, analyse and dissect it as we would another’s.

Then again, maybe it is more a case of denial: we solve other people’s problems so we do not have to face our own, like the doctor who heals patient after patient while secretly harboring a tumor in her brain, an insidious fungus that flowers larger each day.

For me, lately life has been a matter of overcoming my own personal delusions borne of both an overactive imagination and a sporadic inability to face reality (which are pretty much same thing, anyway). My delusions are colourful and varied as coral in a reef – something which I should probably state with less mischievous pride.

Some of them are centered on people, as mentioned in my last post, whereby I construct fantasy relationships only to be severely disappointed – not in the fallibility of reality, but my own brain. No matter how many times it is let down, the squiggly lump of protein housed in my skull never learns.

Other times, they revolve around my own “goals” in life, signposts which mark arbitrary points of progress over the course of an existence. On some days I feel ready to sally forth into the world, pen held high like a sword, to carve out a living as a journalist, or an author, buoyed on a drift of euphoria. Then, sometimes the very same afternoon, I read a book, gape at the exquisite prose, then plummet back to earth to lie in curled in a crater of despair. These shifts in self-belief occur with alarming frequency, up one minute and down the next like a pogo stick.

Judging by what I write on this blog, you may come to the conclusion that I am a remarkably even-tempered human, able to dole out sound advice and act as a voice of kindness and reason – which is true. I am all those things.

But every person is a complex mix of opposing traits, and I am no different. If you were to ask my family, “temperamental” would perhaps be a more apt descriptor. Or “moody” and “fickle”. To be honest – and I would forgive you for thinking me mad – I sometimes feel as if there are at least ten different people crammed inside my body, expressing themselves in turns on a strictly unstructured rotation.

This lack of a certain identity, of a foundation on which one builds the self, has made me feel inadequate for many years. If you carefully look at the way people interact with the others, they often have a particular and often unconscious “fixed” personality uniquely their own, whereas I feel more like a perpetual actress, jumping from one role to the next in any given day, before crumpling at the end of the day exhausted backstage. Rather than ask for others to accept me as who I am, I adapt, changing myself to suit them.

This can make even simple, everyday exchanges precarious. I  feel like I am always on quicksand. Constantly, I ask myself, am I being “myself”? Am I conforming to the persona I usually reserve for this individual? What is the real me, anyway? What if, deep inside, there is nothing there at all, just a blank canvas upon which to paint whatever person whenever I want? Or does my true personality only radiate through my writing, is speech to limited a medium for someone so introverted as I?

All this makes me feel like I have no control over life. I feel lost, unmoored; the world is a tossing sea without any lighthouse or constellation to guide the way. Every component of existence, be it belief in my own writing, or who I am, are not bricks but loose coagulated masses of sand, liable to crumble to pieces at the slightest touch.

And I am forever searching for land, for a solid foundation. Perhaps that is why I construct fantasies: to create a semblance of security. I delude myself into thinking someone loves me, because a loved one can act as an anchor in life. I delude myself into thinking my literary dreams are achievable in the next five years, rather than ten or twenty, so as to have something to clutch onto when the night gets dark and the seas get rough. I talk to my characters, in my head, as if they were real people, to feel as if there is someone out there who knows and understands me – even if it is only a product of my own mind.

That doesn’t make me crazy; in fact, it could be seen as a gift, from the right perspective. For instance, being able to shift myself into various personas to make others feel comfortable is useful if you’re a therapist. And talking to people in my own head, though a sign of madness in many books, is something which writers do all the time.

So if you are feeling lost, or without a stable identity, I want you to know that is perfectly fine. We all drown, eventually, and we all have parts of ourselves that lie dormant, never erupting unless the right circumstances transpire. Deep down, no-one is sure of anything, and no-one knows anyone.

In this murky realm between what is true and not true, what is part of reality and what is a delusion, instead of sobbing at the incomprehensibility of it or trying to come up with definite conclusions, we should embrace and step into the fog, and simply, well, live. And by the end of it, perhaps we will look back and realise what we were looking for was there all along.

How INFPs Seduce People

seduce

Though I do not speak for all INFPs, it is a well-known fact that we are masters of the art of seduction. Or I am, at least.

You know someone is an expert on something when they Google the word representing their field of expertise, in my case, “seduction”, to clarify just exactly what it means – that shows initiative, it does.

Of course, it doesn’t help matters when the definition is something along the lines of seduction is “the act of seducing someone”. Highly uninformative, if you ask me. After some further digging, however, I came up with much better spoils. According to Wikipedia, seduction is “the process of deliberately enticing a person to lead astray, as from duty, rectitude, or the like; to corrupt, to persuade or induce to engage in sexual behaviour.”

Now doesn’t that sound like something an awkward, shy creature would be brilliant at? My thoughts exactly.

Indeed, not to blow my own trumpet or anything, but I can go about the business quite creatively. A few bats of an eyelash, and the lads are all falling over each other on my doorstep, if you get my drift. However, if you were not blessed with my excellent seduction skills, as so many of you poor souls probably are (we can’t all be so lucky), here are a few of my exclusive techniques to help you seduce that lucky lady or gentleman.

1. Pretend you don’t like them.

This method is more effective than it sounds – trust me; I’m the seduction expert here, after all. You see, it follows a natural principle of human nature, which is to want what we cannot get. Ergo, pretending not to like someone is the human equivalent of throwing catnip over yourself while in a room full of cats. Who could resist someone who does not seem to notice they exist, even actively avoids or ignores them? That’s right: no-one. Absolutely no-one.

2. Talk to them only through social media.

If, impossibly, ignoring the object of your affections has failed to seduce them, the next best alternative is to contact them exclusively through social media. I cannot stress this point enough: under no circumstances should you talk to them in person, even if you see them almost everyday. Why? Because this makes you mysterious, a disembodied, friendly voice behind a screen, and everyone likes mysteries. It is also recommended that you contact them sporadically, so as to throw in an additional element of surprise, and, when they fail to respond adequately, employ a series of deftly placed emoticons to dispel the awkwardness.

3. Convince yourself they are secretly in love with you.

This is when that big imagination of yours can come in handy. Any smile or glance in your direction – especially those which were directed at someone behind you rather than, well, you – should be interpreted as a sign of undying love. Whenever you pass or bump into them, believe, deep down, that they harbor deep, concealed affections for you. Now before you start haranguing that this is veering into delusional territory, and that a visit to the therapist is in order, hear me out. Ever heard of the Law of Attraction? It states that whatever you believe or focus on becomes your reality. Therefore, if you believe they love you, they will love you. Simple as that.

4. Confess your  feelings – vaguely.

Nothing is more seductive than a confession from someone who you barely know, and who ignores you at every turn in real life. Once again, social media comes in handy; I recommend Facebook, though any other site which allows for private messaging is fine. Now the key here is to not actually say outright that you like them – that is a big no-no when it comes to seduction. Instead, skirt gently around your true intentions.

In a message long as an essay detailing your utmost apologies for ignoring them (see how that technique comes in handy also at this point?), embed, here and there, small hints of your affections, be it that you have always found them to be a most intelligent and discerning creature, and that, well, you yourself are also an intelligent and discerning creature, the implied but unstated meaning being: look, man, we’re perfect for each other, can’t you see?

It’s also a good idea to intersperse mentions of your positive traits as well, including sensitivity, shyness and an appreciation for philosophy and beauty – these are all highly seductive traits, perfect for showing off through text rather than in real life. All there’s left to do after that is press SEND and nibble your nails and hyperventilate while you wait for the reply.

5. Realize that it is not always about the goal, but the journey.

If, after your confession, you receive a curt message in return outlining your delusions, along with a few pieces of advice on how to increase your confidence and be more comfortable with yourself, you are ready to learn the greatest lesson of seduction. It is this: you don’t need to actually seduce someone to seduce them. So realize that, if you followed each of the techniques outlined above carefully, you did technically seduce them, only you did not actually bring the seduction to a conclusion. And that’s perfectly fine. Like some Zen philosopher who most likely drank herself into oblivion and died alone once said, it is about the journey, not the goal, and I’m sure, by this point, you have experienced quite the ride.

I hope this information aids you in your no doubt thriving love life. In a world where sensitivity and shyness is often derided rather than appreciated, seduction for us INFPs is obviously a piece of cake. Our idealization of people, so often interpreted as an inability to separate reality from fantasy, is a gift rather than a burden when it comes to love. Oh, and one last piece of advice: never underestimate the seduction of good books. They are far more sexy than the most intelligent and talented of men or women, with their delicate spines, rustling pages and spidery writing – who could resist?

Toxic People

walk away

Over the course of my tiny life, I’ve met my share of toxic people. In my mind, I refer to them as “leeches”. When I am around them, it honestly feels as if my energy were being slowly sucked out of me, leaving me bloodless and drained.

Some of these people simply suffer from a judgmental attitude; no matter what you say or act, it will never be enough to truly please them. Every aspect of you is dissected and analyzed, disapproved or approved in turn. For someone who suffers from anxiety, being around them is like trying to defuse a bomb while a crowd watches on.

Others, to put it simply, are shallow people. There are a lot of them in this world, which is sad. Every word that drops from their lips makes you want to cringe. If there were a type of planet their thoughts revolved around, it would be a cold, dark orb, devoid of life and warmth, and encrusted with ice crystals.

But these kinds of people are nothing compared to those who are arrogant and confrontational.

A disclaimer: I do not mean to say there is anything wrong with the way some people are; this is only an expression of my personal distaste.

As a rather sensitive, shy creature, whose spirit animal would probably be that of a woodlouse or a baby turtle, individuals with the roar but none of the heart of lions are poison. These are the kind of people who do not understand the meaning of “kindness”, who have never spoken a tender word in their life or felt the slightest modicum of empathy or sympathy for anyone. They barrel through life, trampling underfoot anything lying in their way, for the sake of success. They have little time for the intricacies that make life so beautiful, be it a sunset or a cat or a good book. For them, life is a battlefield, and they are out to win.

Once, what feels like a million years ago, I encountered someone like this. At first, I was quite captivated by her; she seemed so bold and confident, embodying all the assertiveness that I so dearly desired but lacked. When she expressed interest in obtaining my friendship, I felt flattered and pleased. Obviously we complemented each other perfectly, the shy one, the bold one, what could be better?

Things progressively spiraled downwards. Back then, my self-esteem, after years of bullying, was the size of a pea, so it was easy for her to manipulate and control me. In a way, I think it was a power trip for her, to have someone always by her side to squish. She was my first friend at a new school; I was so terrified of being alone that I was in denial for a long time as to how abusive she was.

When we went swimming, she derided my figure, glibly stating that I looked “scrawny as a monkey.” In retrospect, she was insecure about her own body and found glee in putting me down instead. But at the time this burned me down to my core, planted seeds of shame that blossomed into poisonous tendrils of self-loathing; I was so insecure already, and everything this girl said seemed to confirm what I had long suspected about myself. She took my food without asking, giggling and telling me friends “always shared”. Whenever I did well in an exam, usually ones in History or English, she would pronounce me a “nerd” in front of the other students until I started to cry. If I did fail an exam, which happened often when the Mathematics tests rolled around, she gloried in gloating her test papers over me.

Thinking back on it now, it was all very childish, silly and ridiculous. She was horrible person, through and through, though perhaps deep inside there was some sadness, somewhere. There usually is. Still, that did not give her impunity to torment me to the point where I dreaded attending school, and would pretend to be sick so I wouldn’t have to face her, or any of the other kids.

Time brings maturity. Now, if something like that happened again, I would extricate myself from the person’s presence entirely. Now, I am comfortable with the way I am, even if it means I’m not the loudest and most popular person in the room. Now, I have dreams of my own, wild, blazing dreams which light even the darkest of moments.

I only wish I realise this sooner, and spared my younger self all that suffering, that torment, all those nights of sobbing into my pillow. The energy used to expend those tears could have been spent on activities far more productive. But, perhaps the experiences are needed, to build us up, make us stronger.

All I know is that just because there toxic people in the world doesn’t mean I must suffer in their presence. I have free will, I have the choice with whom I spend my time with, what I care about, whether I let those words or that glance or that cackle dismantle a piece of my self-esteem, or whether I simply smile and walk on, blithe and uncaring, with a song tingling in my heart that they can never hear.

We All Want To Matter

treescool

We all want to matter. Quite desperately. In fact, it could be said to be a driving force behind so much of what we do: getting a job, chasing money and fame, working hard towards our dreams. We want people to care about us. We want the world to weep when we die, we want for people to want our presence, we want to be validated; it is one of the reasons why rejection or being ignored is so emotionally painful, as it undermines our entire being.

Of course, the unfortunate truth is that none of us matter – not in the sense that we want to be. Every second, people are dying on this planet, fading into the wash of time, who are neither remembered or cared for. Even those who are famous are afforded only a passing glance in people’s minds. Inherently, everyone can be rather selfish, focused purely on the individual experience of their consciousness. It doesn’t matter whether you are the richest or smartest or most beautiful creature beneath the sun: the plain fact is, we don’t matter to the majority of the planet.

Think about it. Millions died during the Holocaust – did they matter? Today, did anyone truly mourn for them? No. Life goes on, and it always will; this is simply a fact of nature. No-one cares for anyone, and no-one, in turn, is cared for themselves. Though there are people who do care to a certain extent, such as a kind stranger or your friends and family, no-one cares for you as much as you care for yourself.

Rather than view this as a point of misery, it should be seen as an opportunity for freedom. If it matters little whether you do this or that, whether you live the way you want or conform, whether you succeed or fail, what is truly stopping you from doing whatever that makes your happy and will, hopefully, gift the world with a few handfuls of your heart once you are mulch in the dirt also?

Yes. Very few people care about you. That’s okay, because that’s how it is for everyone. This should make you care all the more about yourself, and how you can unleash your talents and fulfil your internal purpose on this planet. In time, others will care for however you enriched their lives through your efforts, whether it be writing a book they enjoyed or helping to operate on their sick son or simply making them a good coffee early in the morning when they were cranky.

It’s simple. If you help yourself, you help others. You follow your heart, your dreams, create what you want to create, do what you want to do, and, when you do leave this planet, you can go with a smile, knowing you have done what should of have been done, said what should have been said, and lived a life true to yourself.

Forget about being an important figure in people’s minds; instead, treat your own life as a sacred object to be handled carefully and delicately, so you can die with no regrets. If you can do that, it won’t matter if you matter, anyway, because you are happy with yourself and the life you lived.

I wish you joy.