Having The Courage To Be Scared And Crazy

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I am, by nature, a very creative person, but unfortunately while this might be boon and blessing when it comes to imaginative pursuits, it makes living life rather difficult because—well, in short, I have found that the more creative you are, the crazier you are.

My imagination is capable of conjuring up that which does not exist, and often creates such compelling and comforting worlds that the very touch of reality often becomes as hurtful to me as contact with iron would be to a fairy. I live and breathe and eat fantasy. Only at night, when the moon is bright and the world is dark, do I feel at peace with the world, because that is when it feels as though magic could exist, close enough to touch and submerge oneself in utterly.

The other downsides of having a highly introverted and imaginative mind are far more insidious than a general aversion to sunlight and daytime. During periods of high creativity, ideas pouring out of both my ears like liquid rainbows, I occasionally descend into psychosis. Not actual insanity, mind—I am always capable of distinguishing between reality and fantasy—but delusions ran rampant through my mind and dictate my every word and thought.

On these occasions I have found myself believing I can telepathically pick up on the emotions and feelings of other people who live miles away, or send telepathic messages to certain people, or descend into such frenzied anxiety or debilitating depression that suicide starts to look a rather appealing option. While my ideas are pouring out in a liquid froth, filling me with ecstasy, my mind and body are, at the same time, contorted and twisted into such agony, all brought about by delusional thoughts, nameless fears and anxieties, that it feels as though I am dying and screaming in happiness both at once.

Much of my anxiety can also be blamed on my imagination, for something which many anxiety sufferers have in common is an ability to “envision” what may happen in the future, their brains making leaps and bounds others do not, imagining dreaded scenarios and terrible consequences. Once, when I was a child and someone in the playground rejected my invitation to play, their eyes stiff and cold in their sockets, I deluded myself into thinking they had been possessed by a demon who now lurked in their body, peering out through their eyes, smelling and breathing in the world using their nose and mouth and lips. Finding tiny, strangely-shaped black seeds, I told my friend that they were, in fact, rat’s teeth, belonging to a magical breed of rodents who lived deep down beneath the earth amongst the worms and the tree roots. She didn’t play with me much after that.

Countless times my imagination has deluded me into thinking some boy I pined and idealised loved me back, when, really, nothing could be further from the truth and they were just disturbed by this obsessive and introverted girl who acted so strangely around him all the time. I imagine malice where no malice exists, kindness where it does not live, and am susceptible to complaining of many an ache and pain in my body if I so much as feel a twinge in my stomach or a prickling. I honestly believe, as Stephen King said, that “stories are relics from a pre-existing age”, and that they exist somewhere outside of myself, with me simply being the medium through which they can then be shared with the world. When I am around “normal” people, with their inane chatter and their talk, their expressions and their exchanges, I feel so violently sick inside I want to turn myself inside out and throw up blood and guts all over the entire world. If feeling particularly lonely, I often found myself acting out various characters, talking to myself in different voices, having a conversation, all by myself, with a trio of different characters each with their unique and individual personalities, even when I am not actually writing or using any of the characters in my writing. To observe me in my natural habitat—that is, solitude—would, for most people, be a very disconcerting experience.

The grand upshot of all this is that creativity leads to a great deal of pain, from excruciating loneliness to social rejection to struggles with self-esteem. And the funny thing is, a lot of the time the downsides of creativity, such as mood swings or debilitating periods of depression, especially existential depression, are actually quite crippling when it comes to producing consistent and quality work, so it’s sort of a case of the dog eating its own tail. Every second of my life is a struggle against meaninglessness, anxiety, the suffering inherent in the human condition, overwhelming feelings of inadequacy, loneliness and the ghastly thought of my dying without accomplishing what I must in this lifetime, every second a struggle towards and against something I can neither name or say.

I have battled many evils, both inside and out, and encountered many cruel and wicked people over the course of my life, one of whom was a close family member, each incident paralyzing and world-shaking for someone sensitive and empathic like myself, but I truly believe that there is nothing so frightening as life itself. I am very scared, and very crazy, and I shall bumble and stumble my way through this nonsense we call existence with sorrow and gladness in my heart, and a smile on my face and a tear down my cheek.

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Best Traits In A Partner For INFPs

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As dreamers who often have a habit of idealizing those we love and seeing the good in people, it is very easy for us to end up in relationships that are unhealthy, even abusive, especially if we struggle, as many INFPs do, with low self-esteem. This issue is often compounded if one grew up in an abusive home environment with an abusive opposite-sex parent, forming a blueprint in our minds for what to expect in a relationship. If the only man you ever loved treated you as a punching bag, or something to be discarded or neglected, then it is very easy to fall into the trap of believing that is what you deserve. In the past, I found myself attracted to someone who was cold and selfish; and the more badly he treated me, or the more he ignored me, the more I loved him, because he resembled my father. Not a healthy mindset, to say the least. Here, then, as some traits to keep in mind if you’re an INFP looking for a partner so you don’t settle for less than what you deserve.

  1. Kind.

We’re often soft, sensitive and shy creatures, whether male or female, which means that in a romantic relationship, our partners need to be kind people. In fact, for INFPs, the kinder the man or woman, the better. Considering our uncanny ability to see into and understand people, determining whether someone is kind or not should not prove a problem. Signs of kindness include treating the downtrodden nicely, going out of their way to help the disadvantaged, their general treatment of other human beings, and the degree of their love for children and animals (again, the higher, the better). For an INFP, to be in a relationship with an unkind person is suicide. It is the emotional equivalent of walking through a barren wasteland dotted with bones and swirling with vultures or falling asleep next to a monster each and every night. If he or she is a kind person, then he or she will treat you kindly, and a loving, kind environment is one an INFP will warm to like a flower towards the sun.

  1. Generous.

This is a pitfall many INFPs are liable to fall into, which is to put up with a little bit of selfishness in our partner. As we are generally very selfless people ourselves, we don’t require much in a relationship except love and affection. High-maintenance is certainly not a word I would describe us; we are very free-spirited. While this is all well and good, it means that we might end up with people who are miserly, cheap or tight-wads, without realising these are signs of selfishness and a lack of love for you and an overabundance of love for money or security. After all, if your partner doesn’t give you anything for your birthday, or for Christmas, or for your anniversary, or even flowers on Valentine’s Day, our minds are often good at rationalizing such incidents. Maybe he was busy. Well, I don’t really need anything at the moment. Besides, if I don’t get presents, then it means I’m not supporting capitalism. It’s the thought that counts, not the gift—or lack thereof.

This is a situation where our selflessness and creativity can work against us. Love can be expressed in many forms, and one of the ways to express love is through giving. Gifts don’t need to be wildly extravagant, or even expensive—a good book, for instance, is a present many INFPs would appreciate—but if there is a complete lack of gifts, a complete absence of generosity in any form, where you feel like you are not being taken care of or cherished, then such a partnership should be abandoned, immediately. And as much as we hate extravagance and capitalism, a thoughtful, little gift, like a necklace with a tiny silver charm dangling from it, can, when we wear it, make our heart glow for months.

  1. Physical affectionate.

No—I am not talking about sex, though I am sure for many couples that is a good way to show love. No, instead what I am referring to, when I speak of physical affection, is the stuff of romantic comedies: cuddles and kisses on the cheek, surprise hugs from the back. INFPs, by nature, are very loving and warm people (though sometimes this warmth is buried beneath layers of cynicism and hurt built up over the years that can only be chipped away by the right person). If the man or woman you are interested is not physically affectionate, and instead cold or distant, or adverse to kissing on the mouth or on the cheek, or generally someone who doesn’t even like hugs, my suggestion is to flee as fast as possible in the opposite direction, for that way lies only misery.

  1. Gives you priority in his or her life.

Again, this goes back to our selfless, giving and accommodating natures. While it is perfectly fine for your partner’s career to take a precedence—for many INFPs, our work, such as saving the world one animal or person at a time, is our biggest priority—if you begin to drop any further down the totem pole of his or her concerns then perhaps the relationship isn’t one you’re meant to be in. Determining whether you are a priority in someone’s life is harder than finding out whether they are kind or generous because it is an arena where excuses are easily made. He didn’t call, or text you, or reply to your texts? Perhaps he was busy. Or maybe, when he returns from work and goes straight to his room to play games on the computer or read without kissing or greeting you, he’s just recuperating from a hard work day. That money he spent on himself for the latest set of headphones when he forgot your birthday is just something he needs for work, a job-related, necessary purchase. His lack of compliments just shows how comfortable he is with you now that the two of you have moved in together. He doesn’t have the time to call you during his lunch break, not when he has to juggle such a hectic schedule.

No. Don’t make excuses for someone who doesn’t make you one of his or her top priorities when you deserve to be taken care of and looked after by the one you love. Imagine someone you dearly love—how would you treat them? Then compare that treatment with the treatment you are receiving from your beloved, and if the former is significantly nicer and more pleasant than the other—well, you know what to do.

  1. Respects you.

In life, or, more accurately, in this world, INFPs, unless they’re highly esteemed individuals in their field, often find it very hard, as sensitive, introverted and scatterbrained people, to gain people’s respect, or even their attention. Generally, we just hide in the shadows and corners, nose buried in books, thinking our silent and complex thoughts as the world bustles and rushes past us, loud and irritating. This, then, is why it is very important, especially for INFPs, to have partners who respect them, who don’t think they’re poetry is silly, or their quirky and meaningful insights pointless. Sylvia Plath’s partner, Ted, I think his name was, in her memoir, described poetry as “so much dust”–that, my friends, is not a way to gain an INFP’s favour. If you’re partner doesn’t respect your kindness, sensitivity, imagination, love for literature and quirky intelligence, or even outright scorns the things you love, you’re better off cuddling up to some books in a library.

  1. Is even-tempered.

Emotions like anger or hate corrode INFPs the way acid does iron. To put it plainly, we are not good with conflict or hostility; it is actually very frightening, painful and disturbing for to witness, let alone experiences ourselves or be on the receiving end of it. Bad tempers, like good wine, often do tend to mellow over time, but you should not base a relationship on hopes for improvement. It’s like living for fairies and wishes. Much as we like fairies and wishes, they will never exist except inside your head. So if your partner, or the person you’re interested in, is an angry, aggressive sort of person, even if they do have a heart of gold underneath their rough exterior, it’s best to stay away and find someone less emotionally volatile (after all, we tend to have more than enough emotions for two people).

On The Incomprehensibility Of Romantic Love

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I tend to go through life in a constant state of low-level anxiety and panic, which occasionally crests and soars into hysterics, and very rarely dips into short periods of serenity. Overlaying this backdrop of discomfort are a plethora of several other unpleasant emotions, like misery, despair and wistfulness, each of them taking their turns to fill up my chest, or sometimes even arriving altogether at once. In other words, I have a lot of feelings, and it makes my tiny, ordinary and very uneventful life both very passionate, and very difficult. There is, however, one thing that brings forth a whole cascade of emotions every time I think of it, or encounter it (very rare, but it happens) and that thing is love; specifically, romantic love.

Romantic love is something which, deep down, deep into my every pore and every fibre of my being, I desire very much. I am a hopeless romantic, through and through, just like most of you who walk this planet. For many people love is so entrancing because it is an escape from the monotony and tedium of their lives, a chance to bask in secret joy and delight with another person, and to feel wanted and cherished. Unfortunately love, being so universal and complex a phenomenon, is also where many people trip up, or, in my case, fall flat on their faces and scramble around desperately like an overturned beetle in futile attempts to pick themselves back up.

I have been in love once in my life, many years ago. It may have been conjured up by my imagination—I’m not sure, it’s very hard to distinguish between fantasy and reality sometimes when you’re prone to daydreaming at all times of the day—but it certainly felt like love, and when it ended, very shortly after it began, I certainly felt heartbroken as one would after a failed relationship. Of course, I never really spoke to him, but, well, who needs to speak to a person to determine whether you love them or not, eh? Not I. I pined from afar, let my heart break from afar, all the while lost in the clouds and in books. Nevertheless, from this limited experience, I have learned a great deal about romantic love. One must never pass up an opportunity to learn the gears and bolts of life, and there is nothing like love to knock some lessons into your head.

The first thing I learned about love, is this: romantic love is not a necessity, in that you won’t perish should you find yourself without it; but it nevertheless is something that is very good and healthy to have in your life. Having love is like having fruit in your diet—you certainly won’t die without eating fruit if you consume plenty of grains and vegetables, but with their wonderful nutrients and antioxidants, it is nevertheless a very good thing to include in your daily meals. Being single and celibate, as I currently am, and am likely to remain as, is not the best state for a human being to be in, no matter how much of an introvert or loner you are. Fruit is good for you, and so are relationships, even the bad ones that leave you broken and afraid of the world. There is a reason everywhere, all over the world, throughout history and to the present day, people pair up: it is because that is what human beings are designed to do, not only for the sake of procreation, as some scientists would have you believe, but also for the sake of companionship. A partner is an antidote to loneliness. A partner can make you smile. A partner, while they can’t give you happiness—that is something you have to obtain for yourself—can contribute greatly to your existing contentment. Should you be discontented, a partner can make sad and bad days a lot less sad and bad.

The second thing I learned about romantic love is that it has the ability to bring a great deal of one’s internal issues to the surface, even if you never actually enter into a relationship with that person or even talk to them. As love is such a fundamental part of being human, it is linked, like the centre of a spider’s web, to various psychological nodes of one’s being, from self-esteem to the relationship you had with your parents. Just by being around your loved one can make you realise how much you perhaps yearned for but never received your father’s approval or how you actually kind of hate yourself and the way you look, deep down. Love forces you to confront your own failings, and to fix or improve them. In this respect, it is actually a very emotionally rejuvenating thing for a person to experience.

Closely linked to the yearning for love is the yearning for security. In most peoples’ minds, including my own, the idea of love is wrapped up in the idea of one day settling down and starting a family, tapping into a deep primal instinct present within almost all mammals: build a home, have children, and rear them together, in a safe, happy, loving and secure little universe. With the world such a scary and quicksilver place, people turn to love for refuge. Much as I doubt I will, especially considering my various issues, ever find someone to settle down with, just the very thought of having a husband by my side, of seeing him come home from work to kiss me on the cheek and then play and laugh with our child, is enough to fill my heart with a wistful and pained joy. As the child of divorced parents, the idea of creating my own perfect, happy family to heal myself from the unhappy one I grew up in is overwhelmingly tempting. If I could just have a child to kiss, to tuck into bed, to read bedtime stories to, then a man’s arms to return to, at the end of a long day’s work, then maybe, just maybe, I will stop feeling so scared and scared and anxious all the time. It’s a fantasy, I know. It will probably never happen. Marriages are very breakable; I know that first-hand. But I dream, nonetheless, and will never stop dreaming, along with several millions of other people who desire conjugal bliss.

Above all, however, what I have learned is that I am very afraid of romantic love. Familial love, parental love—those things, though I have lacked them at various points in my life, I have never feared. Romantic love, I do fear. I fear it because I am afraid of things turning out badly, the way things turned out badly for my parents and many millions of households across the country, and I fear it because if it does turn out badly, the pain will be very great indeed, a cataclysmic shock to my emotional system. And I fear it because I am afraid of not being accepted or loved back, or seen for who I truly am. I fear it because death exists, and therefore if I let myself love someone, show myself to someone in all my strange and awkward glory, there is something that can take them away from me. I fear waking up one morning to find myself sleeping beside a stranger. I fear the sound of voices raised in argumentation, echoing and jarring down through the very walls of a house like earthquakes. I fear looking ugly, appearing ugly, speaking or talking in an ugly manner and revealing all the not-so-pleasant aspects of my personality, and being scorned or derided or hated for it. So I fear, and I dream, and I go on living and working—just like everyone else.