How To Be Good In A Bad World

 

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What does it mean to be a good person? I think it’s to love other people more than you love yourself, in that, when given the choice between getting something for yourself or for someone else, you choose the latter, always, no matter what. I think it’s about realising we’re all God’s children and deserve to be loved and cared for, in the right way, the true way. There are so many ways we love people for the wrong reasons: their looks, their status, whether we’re sexually attracted to them or not, whether we find them useful or not, whether their lives are interesting and fascinating and makes them look like interesting and fascinating individuals, their fame, money and wealth: these are all WRONG reasons. But what are the right reasons? None. Because love, when it is unconditional (someone once completely tainted this word for me, by trying to make it into something it was not, turning it into a way to manipulate me and make me think they were being true and fair when they were not) and true, is not dependent on any conditions or criteria. It just is, the way the world just is, the way water is wet and solid when it is frozen into ice.

So, be a good person. But it’s hard, in this competitive world, to stay good and true. You want the best for yourself—at least, that’s what society teaches us, that we need to fight to win and get to the top, be the alpha male or female or whatever gender you are, the best, the richest, the most successful, the prettiest. People envy you for your talents. People envy your for your boyfriend, girlfriend, who they believe is “hotter” than you, and therefore a good “catch” that you managed to obtain through wiles and other trickery. They’ll hate you, for no other reason that than you reflect what they lack. Those people are not bad. They are not bad people. This is very important to understand. These people, in fact, are the greatest and best, because they’re in pain because of the way this world is set-up, and that shows they still have a heart, because it means they still care about themselves and getting the best “toys” for themselves. They still want to win, which means they’re not all gone, not completely. If only that “winning” streak were used for a good instead, to help everyone win and succeed, then things would be different.

The only way to be truly selfless, in a selfish world, is to transcend yourself. You have to see everyone as a part of yourself, going through the same struggles, needing the same love and affection and hope and desire and love. I repeat the word “love” because it’s the most important emotion a human needs to grow: without it, we wither and die, like plants in the sun without any moisture to heal their roots. So how do we get love? From God. I know it sounds cheesy and strange, and lots of you scientifically-minded people out there will be more than sceptical about this, but it’s true. Without God, we would be nothing. We would be animals, fighting and scrabbling for scraps, for mates, for territory, for prestige, for the brightest feathers and the prettiest beak, the best nest, everything, disgusting, low and boring. With God, we become the heavenly beings we were supposed to be, full of love and kindness, and all things pure and good.

Everyone is special. Not everyone is kind. That’s a problem. Because if everyone has their unique strengths and talents, it means the world can benefit from them; but if they’re not kind, then the fruits of their effort will not be shared with everyone else. There was something I learned a couple of days ago, that when you fight with monsters, you become a monster yourself. That is true. That is how scary true monsters are—they are strong enough even to turn you into one. But that is unnecessary, turning into a monster to fight a monster; all you have to do is be the beautiful being of pure light you are, and fight the monster that way, with love and kindness so bright it blinds them to everything else and turns them inside out. You destroyed them, not through darkness, but with light, and that’s the only way to chase away darkness, in the end, truly, completely.

More. We’re destined for a life where we will one day ascend to Heaven and reach the heights of goodness and purity. We’re all on a journey towards this light, all of us. Each and everyone of us. Some of us are closer to the light than others, still more are still in the dark, faraway, and still more never realise there is a light to be reached at all and scrabble in the darkness forever. They are to be pitied. For the longest time, I struggled with how to deal with people less fortunate than I am, who hate me. They hate me because I had the love, good fortune, talent and time to think about myself and discover myself that they didn’t. They were unlucky, I was lucky; how do you solve something like that? I don’t know yet. All I do know is, the right thing to do is to keep following your own light. You can’t stop following it, just because someone takes offense to your glow and is envious of your inner light. You have to keep going, even if it kills you. You have to help yourself, even when no-one else wants to. That’s how you win: not to beat other people, but to overcome the darkness that lives in this universe.

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🎄 Hearts and Gingerbread 🎄

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This is a dark short story I wrote for this upcoming Christmas season, about a sad, lonely woman who lives in a gingerbread house and lures men into her home, and how she came to be there and became the person she was.

 

I eat men for breakfast.

I lure them into my gingerbread cottage, with promises of love and affection, in bed and out of it, and offer them chocolate chip cookies that taste of faintly of laudanum the next morning, when they’re dusted in the sugar of my skin. They die quite quickly. After that, I put them in the oven and cook them, until they’re golden brown and well-done on the inside.

I cry when I eat them. It shows that I still have a heart. They taste of ashes and meat. I eat them all up, including the head, leaving the eyes and other unsightly body parts neatly arranged on the left side of my plate. Those I leave for my pet sugar dog. He is crafted out of boiled sugar, clear as crystal, and I spent many years getting the magic just right, to make him obey me but never leave me.

I make memorials for the men. I keep a photograph of each of them, developed using the height of candy cane technology, the photos soaked in gelatin, inside chocolate frames on the walls of my living room. There was Tim. He had kind eyes, but it had been so long since he’d had a woman he came into my house quite willingly, lured by the scent of my cakes and sweets. Then there was Ping. Poor guy. He was so hungry, so desperate, he consumed me before I could even get a word in edgeways, and was dead before the sun rose up that same day. James wasn’t very hungry. He was suspicious. Did I live here all alone, in this house made of candy? Was that a dog made out of boiled sugar? I gave him a mug of hot chocolate, to make him shut up, and when that didn’t work, pressed my sweet, gummy lips to his neck until he stopped talking. He wouldn’t take the cookies. I had to shove them down his throat. Then there was Williamson. Boy, was he greedy. He ate more of me than anyone else, never satiated, like some bottomless pit, and eventually, I was so spent I threw him into the oven, still alive. He screamed for a very long time, and I didn’t like that. It was disturbing.

The first? I remember him. He was tall, with eyes like onyx. He moved like an ox, plodding and slow, and had a woodcutter’s hands. I ate him because he ate someone else. He tasted her, and I found the crumbs afterwards, and jam smeared all over his mouth. He looked lazy, and full, sitting there in his armchair in front of the fire, and when I told him I knew what he’d done, he told me it had been going on for a long time. He told me he loved her. He told me had a tiny gingerbread baby, baking in the oven of her stomach. I don’t remember much after that. The magic came, flooding out of me in great gouts, like a river of custard, and when it was over, he had melted, like candy in the sun. To get rid of the evidence, I ate his remains. He tasted of regret. I left his little gingerbread woman and her baby unharmed—they had done nothing wrong, you see. It was him, being greedy and hungry, wanting more than one cookie from the jar.

I turned and left. I built a home for myself, here in the enchanted woods where it always snows and nothing ever melts, and I wait for the men to come to my doorstep. They always do. Like wolves drawn towards carcasses, they come. I see them, see right through them. Hate, greed, loneliness, desire, shame—I see it all. I love it all, and I eat it all. And I keep waiting, one day, for someone to come through the biscuit doors that will understand that the beautiful woman they see on their doorstep, with sprinkles in her hair and pink icing like blush on her cheeks, and smelling of their childhood, of their mothers and baking and kitchens, no longer has a beating heart. In fact, none of her is alive, anymore. It’s all biscuit and marzipan, jam for blood and dark chocolate for skin. Even my eyes, when I look at them in the mirror, look more like chocolate chips everyday.

So I wait, one day, for the right man to come along and realise this, and to eat me, finally, so that I can pass on, into lollipop land, and marry a gingerbread man, have him give me sugary kisses at night, and ten gingerbread children frolicking at my feet in the peppermint grass, and photographs of our adventures on the walls, holidaying in marshmallow town and visits to the mint mines, and no more need to eat any young men to keep my delicate, sugared heart from breaking.

The Girl Who Fell In Love With The Villain

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I fell in love with a prince who turned out to be a villain.

He wasn’t the knight in shining armour, riding on his horse to save me, but a sorcerer of black magic, dealing in potions that glimmered with dark radiance and evil objects capable of inflicting curses. Even though he was handsome, he was dark, dark as sin, and a curl of black vine-like tattoos traced across his left cheekbone, like a mark, a brand of evil. He came to me, not to love me or rescue me, but to take my blood and my power, both magical, and make him mine, a veritable endless supply of sacrificial blood and strength.

I was hoodwinked at first, by his beguiling voice and good looks, his scent, intoxicating and sweet, like mushrooms cooked in caramel. We met at a tavern, while I was running errands for a friend of mine, helping to supply her midnight rendezvous with chocolate cake, the cocoa beans used to make it in short supply, the Midnight Wraith one of the only places that still stocked it, as a delicacy for the drunk. It helped, apparently, to ease the wooziness that came with ingesting too much mead. He was sitting in an alcove by himself, in a black cape, a guarded look on his face—but something made me go over to him, and talk to him, ask him about his day as I waited for my order. He looked like a prince, that was for sure, a prince in hiding, and I imagined for him a sorrowful life, in which he was forced to dress as a commoner in order to obtain some little freedom every so often from the daily tolls of palace life. How wrong I was. There was a sword in his sheath, and he was soon talking of rescuing maidens from dragons and having a sorcerer for a mother, who had taught him a few tricks. I was smitten, lost the moment I looked into his emerald eyes, with their golden pupils, and when my order of cocoa beans came, it seemed the most natural thing in the world, to bring him back to the cottage where I lived and invite him to have some supper.

He didn’t ask for blood at first. He didn’t even tell me I had the kind of magical blood he was looking for: potent, but only useful for making spells; instead, he regaled me with stories of palace life, playing along with my idea of him being a prince, a wry smile on his face that I thought was charming, but in retrospect was arrogant, as if he enjoyed fooling me. Still I was drawn to him, pulled like a crystal towards a wellspring of magical water, the way he laughed, bitterly and coldly, as if he were lonely and afraid, deep inside, and the confidence he exuded, which made me feel he had seen and done things I could only dream about, fought off demons in far-off lands, perhaps, or flown on chariots made of lightning. He had done those things, as I later found out, but not for the sake of discovery or exploration or enjoyment—he’d done them to get what he wanted, and what he wanted was power, enough power to become the strongest sorcerer that ever existed.

As for the blood-taking, he did it slowly, gently, idly asking me one day if he could “borrow” some blood for spell to help a woman who was struggling with infertility, and I did as I was told, because I wanted to please him. The extraction of the blood was a gruesome process: instead of using needles and a syringe, he employed a glass snake, attaching its fangs to the veins in the crook of my elbow. When he muttered an enchantment, the snake came alive, siphoning blood into its body so that it turned a deep red, almost black, colour. Once the snake was filled from tail-tip to fang-tips—it was only about a hand span’s width—he whispered another command, and the snake turned back to glass once more, filled with blood. He took this blood-filled snake over to the cauldron he had set up in my bedroom, using my wooden spoon for stirring it, which I’d used for baking cookies and cakes, and, unlatching its belly with his finger, poured the liquid out of it and into the cauldron, giving it a shake for good measure to get rid of the last drops of blood left in it. Then he stirred the cauldron’s mixture. The effect was instantaneous. The potion, originally dark burgundy in colour, turned red, bright red, like cherry juice, and began to flash all sorts of colours, blue, green, yellow, orange. It was like watching an angry chameleon change colours in a matter of seconds. Then he began stoppering the liquid, placing it into bottles and sealing with corks and binding symbols etched onto their glass surfaces, and they turned a dark brown. It seemed an awful lot of potion for one infertile woman, and I asked him that, but he simply glowered at me and moved on, bringing an armful of books on black magic which he had brought with him in his trunk to the table, laying them out and beginning to peruse them.

The first time he summoned a demon, I was asleep. When I awoke, blearily, the ghoul was already floating in the centre of the room, above a pentacle etched in glowing, blue lines, and it was eating the soul of my friend, who had come to visit. It hovered above her, over her prone body, sucking a bluish essence out of her, and I launched myself at it and threw it across the room. It hit the wall with a thwack, despite seeming incorporeal, and turned into a dead skull, empty of magic, of life, of anything. That was the first time I encountered his rage. It roared upon me like a wave upon a shore in a storm, and he dragged me into the storeroom and locked me in it, with no food or water, for two days.

Still, I loved him. Make no mistake: I hated him, too, with every fibre of my being, every shred of my soul, and would not have hesitated to kill him if I’d had the chance, a stab to the heart with a shard of glass, a bit of poison slipped in his food. He was evil, and he didn’t care who he stepped on or whose lives he discarded in order to achieve his aims. But some part of me adored him,too, in a way I had never adored anyone before: it was like seeing a painting come to life, seeing him move around making his potions and casting his spells, and to me, his face and mannerisms were as fascinating as the inner workings of a watch. His voice dipped up and down, like music, if the music was destined for funerals and other similarly depressing events, and his happiness, when it came, poisonous and selfish, like a child delighting in killing the bees because he got the honey, was as alluring as the winter moon. His whole face would light up, wild with delight, stunning in its ferocity, and I’d be left breathless and fascinated, as if someone had hit me lightly in the chest, right over my heart.

I tried to kill him. I really did. He imprisoned me sometimes, kept me shackled to the wall in chains he’d conjured out of nowhere, and drew my blood without permission, the shadows underneath his eyes growing as the days passed, and other times, when I was behaving well, he would let me run free. Disgustingly enough, I’d feel strangely pleased when he rewarded my good behaviour, as if he approved of me on some level, him, a high-level mage, and this sickened me to no end. One day, after another blood-drawing, and returning home—it was his home now, not mine, the cottage transformed into a devil’s den of potions, cauldrons and the bitter, acrid stench of black magic—after leaving for several hours, he found dinner laid out for him, a roast chicken and peas and potatoes, an entire pecan-nut cake. He sat down, and he ate it, but before he could even take a bite of the pecan-nut cake, a demon of red light shot out of the necklace he always wore around his throat, with a pendant shaped like an animal’s tooth, and swirled around it. The cake blackened and grew dark, and the poison I had filled it with, black widow’s venom, rose up to the surface, in tiny, glistening drops.

I was in disgrace after that. I wasn’t imprisoned, or trapped. He turned me into a painting, and hung it on the wall, and I stayed there, week after week, always looking at the same patch of wall. Sometimes, when I tell this story to people, they ask how it felt, to be a painting on a wall, and, well, I couldn’t possibly describe it to someone who hasn’t felt it. It was like the world had shrunk, like the world had flattened and grown small, and all I could see was the scene of the room, the cauldron bubbling, him moving about.

He knew that I loved him. I didn’t know how he knew—I kept it as secret as I could—but he knew, oh he knew. And he used to his advantage, as any self-absorbed, cunning sorcerer would, sometimes doling out a little affection, like feeding a starving man crumbs to keep him hungry for more, a gentle word here, a glance out of the corner of his eye there, to keep me tethered to him. Then there were the times he tortured me, brought home beautiful women and let me watch him court them, kiss them. He always extracted something from them afterwards, be it information, or the strength of first love, a potent ingredient in dark potions used for making people bend to your will and persuade minds. I hated those women, hated them with a passion, and that only made me hate myself all the more.

He finally left me, one day, and it was a while before I realised why. One night, while he’d been out, I’d snuck into the town, escaping the magical barrier on the door—I’d learned a few magical runes myself by now, and it was a simple task to draw them over the existing ones with a sharp kitchen knife—and found myself at a small ball held in the village hallway. There, I danced with a man, eager and clean-shaven, and all the passion that had been building inside of me in that house all those years came to a crescendo, and we slept together in the adjacent barn, amongst the hay and the smell of animals. It was over quickly, and I returned to the house before he got back, but the damage had been done: apparently, in black magic, only the blood of a virginal female is useful, and once she experiences sex for the first time, her blood not only loses its magical potency, but begins to become useful for undoing magic, rather than creating it. In short, I became a threat to him, instead of a resource, and I was to be eliminated. He tried to kill me, in one short blast of magic, but I slashed my arm and blocked the spell with my own blood seeping into the crook of my elbow, absorbing the magic. Then, using my own blood, I drew a simple warding rune, quickly, on the floor of the room, and that certainly sent him into a tailspin, howling and knocking things off shelves as some kind of unseen pain assailed him. Finally, he left, in a whirlwind of black dust, his black cape sweeping like some evil creature’s wings out of the window and into the night.

I had a lot of cleaning up to do after that. I was twenty years old by then, no longer of marriageable age, and, besides, so many years of staying around black magic had changed me, made a scar grow on my own cheek, white as snow, against my skin, of a rose losing its petals, a sign of extended exposure to evil spells, and I had seen too much of the magical world to leave it. I began collecting magic books, ones that undid spells and banished demons, and began sketching runes in books in my spare time, muttering spells under my breath. The only thing I didn’t do was experiment with my own blood. In all the magic books I read, none had mentioned the effects of years of close proximity to black magic spells on the power of one’s blood, and one day, in trying to cast a simple finding spell, I pricked my finger on the needle I was using as a makeshift compass, and a drop fell on the thin, pointed metal. It immediately began to glow, white-hot and bright, and, ordinarily, if what I read was true, blood that could undo spells would strengthen spells only slightly, make them a little more stronger and better working. But my blood changed the tiny needle into a small, silver compass, in a flash of light, delicate and perfect, and its needle, minuscule and lovely as a diamond set in a ring, pointed straight to the north-east, in the direction he had gone.

I think I will find him someday, and I still don’t know, when I do, if I’ll kill him or kiss him, or perhaps do both. I know he’s out there somewhere, finding his way ever deeper down the paths of black magic, trying to build enough power to raise an undead army or bring torrential rain, thunderstorms, earthquakes and fires across the world, to prove to himself and everyone there was no-one stronger than he, and I intended on turning each walking, dead thing back into a corpse, and every fire, storm, wind, rain or cyclone of his conjuring into spring and summer breezes. And then, maybe, just maybe, he would look at me with fear, instead of hate, loathing, indifference or arrogance, like a scared, little boy, and I would finally be able to stop loving him, as I still did, travelling across the world in my white cloak, one hand occasionally touching the rose on my cheek.

10 Inexpensive INFP Christmas Gift Ideas

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Well, folks, Christmas is just around the corner, and while I’m a huge fan of the Christmas season, and of celebrating the birth of Jesus, our saviour and pretty much the kindest and most wonderful person to walk the Earth, I do tend to have quite a bit of trouble coming up with gift ideas for other people, because it’s sometimes hard to know exactly what to purchase others within the constraints of your budget. However, I always know what to gift myself and other INFPs, so I thought I’d cultivate a list of creative, handmade gifts you can give to the INFPs in your life for the festive season which will definitely quite delight them. I’ll skip the obvious items, such as books or movies, and try to come up with some more unique ideas, as per INFP style. Here we go!

  1. Wishes in Bottles.

Okay, so at certain craft stores, or online, you can find these small, glass corked bottles or vials, kind of like magical “potion” bottles, and to turn them into a gift, you just fill them up with small trinkets like beads, tiny cake decorations, sequins and glitter, then slip a small, curled-up note inside it for the receiver to write their wish on and then put back inside the bottle if to be “sent” and “granted”. Trust me, INFPs love tiny, adorable things, as well as anything whimsical or fun like this, so it’d make the perfect inexpensive gift.

  1. Make your own Christmas-themed plushies.

All you need is some fabric, of various colours and patterns, depending on your choice, some pretty buttons, needle and thread, and pillow stuffing. Cut out templates of the type of Christmas-themed object you’d like to create, such as a reindeer or a Christmas tree, stitch them together, fill them with pillow stuffing, decorate with buttons and more stitching for things like eyes and tinsel, and you have yourself a sweet, beautiful handmade gift to slip inside stockings for Christmas. To make this even better, you could even cram the empty “plushies” with lavender or other herbs, to make a kind of long-lasting herb plushie!

  1. A Santa Claus’s Good or Bad Wishlist.

Here’s an idea. You could discolour a large piece of paper using coffee (just cover the paper in cover so all of it is stained and bake it in the oven for a little while) so that it looks like a piece of old parchment, and then, using a paintbrush and black paint, or even a black marker, write down a list of children’s names, and “good” or “bad” right next to them. For every good child’s name, next to the word “good” you can stick, using tape (I recommend using special, Christmas-themed tape that you can find at a crafts store or 2-dollar shop for a couple of dollars), a “good” present, like a tiny lolly (or, if you want to get fancy, a sterling silver charm), and next to each bad child’s name, you just stick something you wouldn’t ever want to gift someone, like a small, ordinary rock from the ground outside the house or a tiny bag of sand.

  1. Make your own advent calendar.

Depending on the type of calendar it is, advent calendars can be jolly expensive, so I would recommend making your own! All you have to do is get some fabric, any old fabric, cut it into one big, square piece (that’ll be your calendar), and, for the doors, stitch on squares of fabric, 12 in all, 4 or 3 in a row. Make sure you leave the top of each square of fabric open, because you’ll need to fill the “pockets” with lots of tiny goodies for them to find in the days leading up to Christmas, or, if you want to get real fancy, you can stitch buttons to the fabric squares along the top or right sides and make buttonholes behind them, so you can “close” the squares by pushing the buttons through the buttonholes! Then stitch on the numbers onto each square piece of fabric and fill them up! I recommend putting things in it like a ring, or a pair of earrings, some lollies, chocolates, some fancy beads, figurines, (you could even put in a very small Wishes in Bottles!), pins, tiny candles, and anything else small and inexpensive you can find in the shops for under $10!

  1. Make miniature books.

I know I said I wouldn’t put any books on this list, but these aren’t actual books, they’re tiny, cute books perfect for the holiday season! All you need is some Christmas-themed fabric that’s quite tough, like jeans fabric or felt, and some paper and strong glue. Cut and fold a white piece of paper until you have an accordian-like long piece of paper, which will be your pages, and cut the tough fabric into a rectangular piece that will form the back and front of the book. Then, paste the paper, which will be the “pages” of your book, onto the long, rectangular piece of fabric, making sure you cut everything to size at the end, especially the “covers” of the book. Here’s a tutorial I found on the internet for it, but there are many others as well: Christmas Tutorial . They’re such fun, especially if you write tiny things inside the book, like messages and what not. INFPs will love it!

  1. “Milk and Cookies”.

Okay, so here’s something a little unconventional, but that’s a good thing, because INFPs love interesting and creative gifts! Instead of filling up a glass with milk, fill it up with PVA glue (you have to do this just before giving them the gift, because otherwise the glue will harden!) so that it looks like it’s full of milk, and set it aside. Next, get some brown cardboard and cut it into circles to resemble cookies, and colour, using a brown texta or marker, some dots on them to resemble chocolate chips. Place the “cookies” next to the glass of “milk”. Invite your INFP friend to dip the cardboard cookies into the PVA glue milk, and have on hand a variety of sequins and buttons with which to decorate the “cookies” after which you can punch holes in them, attach them to ribbons, and turn them into Christmas tree decorations!

  1. Reindeer antlers.

This idea is quite simple. Using brown or glittery coloured chenille sticks (which are like bendable, fluffy thin sticks of wire), sculpt and bend them into pairs of reindeer antlers. Next, using felt, make round, red reindeer noses. Then, just attach them to whatever you like using tape! You can attach them to the back of chairs, to bedposts, to computer monitors, whatever—and if you deck the entire house in reindeer ears, I’m sure your INFP will find it extremely funny, amusing and beautiful.

  1.  Snowman in a jar.

    You can create your own edible winter wonderland inside a glass jar, any glass jar, for only a small amount of money. All you’ll need is some milk or dark chocolate, coconut sprinkles, some marshmallows of different sizes, pretzel sticks, icing sugar and some orange gummy worms. First, lay the bottom of the jar with a fine layer of coconut; this’ll be your “snow”. Next, using some melted chocolate, stick a large marshmallow onto the snow at the bottom of the jar. Stick some pretzel sticks to form the “arms” of the snowman on either side of a smaller marshmallow and stick that using melted chocolate on top of the first marshmallow, then draw a face on and cut a carrot-shape out of an orange gummy worm and stick it on the smallest marshmallow, which will form the “head” of the snowman. Sprinkle some icing sugar on top of the completed snowman, then put on the lid, and there you have it, your own edible winter wonderland scene. INFPs will definitely appreciate the creativity of such a gift!

    9.  A Christmas teddy bear.

Jazz up an ordinary, small and inexpensive teddy bear in Christmas clothes by stitching your own Santa hat, tiny red top, a red scarf, red pants and small, red boots. While this might sound difficult, it actually really isn’t: you just need to sew together two pieces of a shirt, two pieces of a Santa hat, four pieces of both sides of a pair of felt boots, and two sides of a pants together, preferably using red or festive green thread. There are lots of blueprints online for making small clothes for teddy bears, but with just a needle and thread, some red fabric, and some experimentation and creativity, you should be able to make your INFP’s favourite teddy bear a nice little Christmas outfit, and return Mr Brown back to them in the perfect get-up for the holidays (PS: It’s a good idea to throw in something a little extra, like a felt candy cane for the bear to hold or a brown sack filled with tiny presents—let your imagination run wild!).

  1.  A Christmas make-over.

No, I’m not talking about buying an INFP a Christmas outfit, a red-and-gold festive manicure and a full face of make-up: I’m talking about taking one of their favourite objects, and giving it a Christmas makeover, like their phone case, their favourite drink bottle, or even a glasses case that they use often. You don’t need to go all out for this: just buy some fancy-looking Christmas stickers from the crafts store at $5-8 dollars a sheet, attach them to the object you have chosen, cover them in clear nail polish so they’ll stay glued onto it for longer and won’t wear out, tie a ribbon around it and add a sprig of mistletoe and you’re good to go!

 

I hope you enjoyed some of these creative ideas for this Christmas, and that the INFP in your life enjoys them, whoever they are. Also, these ideas, while they were designed for INFPs, with their ingenuity and creativeness, can honestly be used to give gifts to anyone this Christmas. The festive month is just around the corner, and I’ve been decorating my own home, getting gifts ready, setting out candles, sticking Christmas-themed decorations on the fridge, filling glass bowls with red and green candy, changing the theme of my phone to a Christmasy one and downloaded an app so it plays Christmas music whenever I turn on the screen, and, if you can’t tell, I simply can’t wait for grand day to come! Happy gift-making!

What This INFP Thinks Of Consumption This Christmas

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I was watching a British TV show yesterday (Britain has some of the snazziest and most fascinating documentaries about life in England), called something along the lines of “The Most Luxurious Christmas” or something, basically a documentary about how rich people in London spend their money at Christmas time (I found it on Youtube; here’s the link: Rich People’s Christmas), and I just stared at the screen for about an hour with my jaw open and my belief completely suspended. I couldn’t believe the amount of money these people were spending on things like Christmas ornaments and decorations, enough to feed at least entire suburbs of families for Christmas, and it got me thinking about privilege and money and class and greed and, well, idiocy.

This sense of there being too much extravagance, wealth and privilege in certain parts of the world, amongst certain people, struck home even further when I went shopping for a new pair of shoes. I’m broke, in case you’re wondering, but I’m not jealous or envious of the rich, nor do I aspire to be wealthy and live a life of luxury. My shoes, my flats, had been worn through: you could see, through the black faux-velvet, the pale, inner lining of the shoes; and what’s more, they were a size too big for my feet, so they felt like slippers more than anything else (my mistake, when I bought it). So I went shopping for a new pair of shoes, an inexpensive pair, of course, because while shoes are a necessity, I don’t have any spending money at the moment to spare for things other than food, rent and utilities, so I settled for an $8 pair of flats from Kmart, and called it a day.

However, as I traipsed through the large shopping centre, I couldn’t help but notice how much luxury existed around me. The fruit juice bar, with its window display filled with fruits of every colour of the rainbow; the jewellery stores, glimmering with diamonds and gold; the high-fashion clothing shops, their display windows amassed with mannequins dressed in the most wondrous flowery gowns under the sun, each one with a price tag of around $200; the children’s toy shop, brimming with miniature kitchen sets complete with tiny foods, and make-your-own-perfume kits; the make-up shops; the bath-and-body-works store; the menswear, with pants going up into hundreds; crystalline soaps on one shelf in a store, and miniature silver beads in the shapes of Christmas trees and presents inside the display case of another; and I thought to myself, well, this is the Capitol.

In case you haven’t read the Hunger Games series, in which case I suggest you do so right away because it’s a fantastic series, even if there are no Asian characters at all in it, the Capitol is the wealthy district in a post-apocalyptic world the book is set in, whereby the surrounding districts, all 12 of them, supply them with all their resources, items and products, while being (most of them, at least) quite poor and hard-done-by themselves, to the point where they’re own citizens are dying of starvation. Katniss Everdeen is enlisted for the Hunger Games, and so begins a revolution against a totalitarian state, and so on and so forth—read the books if you want to know more—but what struck me was how similar this model is to our world.

Think. The sweatshops in China and India, the underprivileged and low-income people slaving away in factories making, I don’t know, Disney-themed soft toys and high heels and high-end fashion pieces: all of them are just like the people Panem’s poorer districts, whose labour goes on to enhance the lives of the wealthy instead of themselves. And we’re the Capitol. You, me. I mean, if you’re rich enough to have a roof over your head, food in the fridge, clean water to drink, and an internet connection in this world, then you’re pretty well off, mate. I can just take a bus from my apartment and enter a world of luxury and high-end goods, like some kind of capitalist wonderland, where snow globes the size of heads exist and advent calenders with a different, exquisite but pointless beauty product behind each little cardboard door (retails for $50). It’s alarming.

It makes me wonder why such consumption, wealth and greed exists in the first place. Are we that hollow on the inside, that we have to fill the void inside of ourselves with objects? Do we really need sparkly, pink flower gel that smells of nasty chemicals in a plastic package in the shape of a heart dangling on the end of a key ring instead of a cheap, solid bar of soap, or, if we’re going on the extreme end of the spectrum, a Christmas tree star worth over half a million dollars to adorn a Christmas tree you’re only going to take down the next month, instead of a pretty, but plastic star dusted with glitter? I mean, at the shopping centre, I even found a tiny, plastic claw machine, the kind you find at arcades, for around 30 bucks and big enough to fill with lollies. It’s like we’ve gone a little mad with our manufacturing and production, like our creativity has nowhere to go but into pieces of plastic and tubes of chemicals, instead of something a little longer-lasting and important, like trees or animals.

I don’t know. Maybe I’m just not materialistic enough to appreciate the “finer” things in life. In fact, I’d much prefer a home cooked meal made out of ingredients straight from the ground than some fancy gourmet dinner in a restaurant whose prices go for about $500 a head. And the funny thing is, whenever I buy something, by which I mean, an object, I never feel particularly happy or satisfied about it. Sure, I might like it when it’s in the shop window, and feel a little exhilaration at having it in my shopping bag as I walk home, but afterwards, it’s just a dumb, unfeeling item, with no life or love or magic in it. Just an object. You can’t—it can’t satisfy you. No amount of luxury goods or cars or money will ever satisfy a person, or fine foods or wines or chocolates made out of gold dust and rare cocoa beans mined from the very bowels of Willy Wonka’s factory. There’s more magic in a single, real leaf than a million gold imitations of it.

This Christmas, I might get a present or two, if I’m lucky, and cook a meal for my family out of whatever ingredients we can afford on the day or the week of Christmas. We might not have much, but I’m happy, probably because I don’t go seeking it in the walkways of shopping centres, but in the lanes and avenues of nature, the imagination and art.

An INFP’s Character Development

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In every book and story—or at least every good one—a character develops and changes over time, and this is good because it’s realistic: in real life, everyone changes from day to day; who I am on Monday might not be the same person you greet on Tuesday, because I’ve learned things and grown a little, and that means my worldview and how I interact with myself, other people and society has changed. However, in books, the character development is usually more marked, because the point of the book is for the character to learn about something as she or he goes about his journey, and without this development, the story would seem a little strange and pointless, as if it shouldn’t have occurred at all.

This got me thinking about an INFP’s “character development” over time; in other words, how a person of the INFP personality might change over the course of their life, in accordance with their personal traits and characteristics. It would be different for every type: but since there are unique traits, like introversion and a mind prone to daydreaming, which all INFPs share, our character developments should, I think, sometimes follow the same trajectory.

First, let’s go all the way back to our infanthood. I think INFPs would be quite intelligent babies, because we end up growing up into rather intelligent people, and be prone to sleeping less than other babies and being more engaged and explorative of the world around them. Once childhood hits, and walking and talking enter the picture, in the home sphere, we’re likely to be quite chatty and active, because we’re comfortable with our family members, while outside the home, we’d be prone to stranger-aversion and quite touchy about being with people we don’t know.

Childcare would be another kettle of fish. That’s where our introversion would truly come out to shine, because we’d definitely be the kid that sits quietly playing with puzzles by ourselves or dress-ups with that one other friend, completely absorbed in our tasks, in an almost autistic fashion, because we’re good at concentration, creative, bright and love having the ability to let our imaginations run wild. Socialisation with other kids who aren’t quiet and strange like us will be non-existent, if there at all. We just don’t get along with other people at this point, and are closest to our own fantasy worlds and the odd friend, imaginary or not.

Primary school, or middle school, if you live in America, would be another playing field. Here, we finally begin to learn the ropes of socialisation and our character undergoes a metamorphosis, where we don’t just isolate ourselves and learn to interact with people for the sake of following social norms and because being an outcast is a hard, lonely life to lead. However, we’re still at the stage where we’re not capable of making genuine, real human relationships, because everything we do or say is “copied” or “learnt” from others: we haven’t got the hang of socialisation and have decided the best way to make friends and get along with other people is to put on a mask, talk a lot, and pretend you’re happy. Thus begins the unhappy stage of an INFP’s character development, where we feel stifled in a society that doesn’t accept us for the daydreaming introverts we are, and while we read and borrow books at a frenetic pace, expressing our individuality through our imagination and creativity in private, in public, we still go along with the crowd and do what everyone else does, for fear of rocking the boat.

Then there’s high school. Oh boy. Here’s where problems really start t to begin: puberty plus a cocktail of social anxiety means the INFP is bound to run into trouble, and plenty of it, either in the form of bullying, depression or feeling like an outcast. Because they’re intelligent, they’ll often do well in school and be considered a “nerd”, and much of their time, when not pretending to be happy and fit in—a continuation of their primary school years—is spent reading by themselves in the library or bathroom cubicles, where they can escape from the world and other people. More likely than not, they’ll not see certain boys or girls as real people but princesses and princes on pedestals and fantasise about them from afar, while believing themselves to be ugly, socially awkward and wretched. At this point in an INFP’s character development, they’ve most likely reached their ultimate “low”, where they feel like the worst possible version of themselves, both inside and on the outside, and are painfully awkward and cringe every day at their own awkwardness, and feel like life is an endless, dark tunnel they can’t seem to get out of.

Then comes adulthood. Free from the constraints of high school gossip and bullying, with the Internet at their fingertips and several hundred books of knowledge at the back of their mind, INFPs begin to come into their own, slowly at first, but gradually faster, as they realise the world outside the education system isn’t a bad place for dreamers—in fact, it’s the dreamers, creators and creative types of the world who are often the most successful and happy. Of course, the INFP goes through ups and downs, but eventually, they find an inner confidence as the progress through adulthood they didn’t possess before, mainly due to understanding themselves and learning more about life and the world, and realise who they are, someone who delights in the strange and magical, who loves Christmas like children and fawns over sparkles and glitter, and would never hesitate to help someone who is suffering, is a beautiful person, through and through. It is to be expected that INFPs still carry a backlog of pain from their early years, but this soon fades, as they discover their passions and grow into themselves, ready to sally forth into the world full of imagination and creativity, and being the best possible version of themselves they can be, each and every day.

God Exists? Yes.

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God is someone very close to me. I think of him more as a father than someone else, a Heavenly Father in the sky who watches over us, critiques what we do, punishes us accordingly, whether in this life or the next, and believes in the best of us, supports us, loves us, and carries over whatever rocky shores and boulders we come across in the waters of life.

So why I sometimes doubt him?

The answer is simple: I doubt him, because he doesn’t “exist” in the way other things do. In other words, my faith is based on shaky ground: I can neither touch, nor feel, not hear or speak or even “feel” his presence sometimes, so what makes me believe and so certain he exists in the first place?

Good question. It’s a good I’ve been meaning to ask and find the answer to for a long time, and the closest I’ve come to a proper answer is an analogy a friend once told me, about a watch found on a beach. To a bystander who picks it up, turns it over, and stares at its inner mechanism, the complex little hands on its front and the little notches denoting numbers, it is a thing of wonder, since they have never seen anything like it before, or ever since; and their first instinct is to believe the sea washed it up onto the shore and created it. This is what evolution and science dictates we should think: that, in this analogy, over time, somehow the watch was actually created by someone putting the gears together—I mean, forgive me, I’m typing this really fast at the moment because I need to leave the house soon—I mean, that it was created by accident, by the waves and shores and little sea creatures over time, accidentally and miraculously. Impossible.

The truth is, the machine was created by someone, and that someone, in this scenario, is a human being; but if you look at the complexity of the world around us, it is exactly like that of a watch being washed ashore and then picked up by an unwilling bystander: it’s too miraculous, wonderful and perfect to have been just created by “accident” over “millions of years of evolution”. The eye itself is too complex to have been created by accident over time, out of a puddle of proteins and other fluids zapped with electricity, as supposedly life was created first on land back in the old, old, old ages.

Our world is a place of wonder. The natural world, and the man-made world. But the natural world is where the raw materials are at, and where the most wonder exists: no matter how far science advances, it will always be reliant on nature and it’s resources: without matter, without plants, without flesh and DNA and energy, nothing would be able to be created or formed on this planet by human hands. And the wonder of nature is miraculous indeed: just one drop of water contains hundreds of millions of tiny particles and amoeba and living creatures; just the human eye is more complex than the most complicated machine on the planet. We can never catch up to nature because there’s just something fundamentally mysterious and magical about it.

And that’s where God comes in. He’s the creator. He’s beyond our wildest imaginings, and also very, very good. He’s a benevolent creator, in that he has created food and water, and everything we need to live, he has created happiness and talent and joy and sunlight and birds and trees and everything: and we need only trust him to leave good lives. Sure, bad things happen on this planet, but that’s because evil still exists, and may still exist until the Second Coming, when Jesus returns and restores the balance of all. I know this might sound like religious mumbo-jumbo to you but I promise it’s true and I believe in it wholeheartedly, no matter what people say or how shaky my foundations of faith are that day, because I picked up a watch from the beach, and it told me the time, and I believed the sea spat it onto the shore for a reason, and was created by a long-lost, faraway watchmaker, in love with beauty and me.

What To Do When People Hurt You

 

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In this world, I am of the firm belief that we can sense, and even absorb, the negative energy of other people, such as hatred, disgust or animosity, the way we might ingest poison or breathe in polluted or toxic gases. Just being near someone who feels “evil”, or extremely unkind, is like standing to close to a burning fire: you cringe and wince a little, knowing you are near something dangerous and bad; and if someone is cruel towards you, or wishes you ill-will, this cruelty and ugliness translates into energy as well, which you absorb, oftentimes just as damaging as a physical punch or kick might have been: that’s why people say words feel like “a slap in the face” or like being on the receiver end of emotional or verbal abuse feels like they’d been “punched in the stomach”.

I’ve been on the receiving end of a lot of bad energy in my time, despite the fact that I’ve only lived on this Earth for about two decades, and I’m sure there are many of you who have experienced a great deal of pain and suffering at the hands of other people. In my younger and less experienced years, some of this negative energy came in the form of racial discrimination, or microaggressions (I copied this from Wikipedia; a microaggression is “a term used for brief and commonplace daily verbal, behavioural, or environmental indignities, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative prejudicial slights and insults toward any group”), where I would be treated badly in a subtle way, that would leave me hurt and unhappy, and feeling unworthy about myself; it came in the form of a young lady in high school who enjoyed bullying me; a man who hurt me the most effective way any man can hurt a woman, which is to repeatedly sexually harass her to the point where she becomes too frightened and afraid and disgusted to go near any man for months; in the form of cousins who bullied me, taunted me; a father who didn’t realise girls need to be treated tenderly and carefully; a mother whose sharp words, to this day, pierce my skin like barbs; and from living in a world where just stepping out the door is enough to have someone attack you, verbally or emotionally (or, heck, even physically, depending on where you live), because they’re unhappy or having a bad day.

It’s not a good world, because people are not good. That’s plain and simple. I used to think, wrongly, that people were just hurt, lost, lonely and suffering—that’s why they hurt other people. I pitied them, felt compassion for them, because I’m just like that, silly and melodramatic and too-kind sometimes. But then I realised that wasn’t the case, because I’ve been in so much pain before, to the point where I wanted to (I’m quoting myself here—apologies) “paint out the world with my own blood”. And yet, no matter how much pain I was in, no matter how dark my inner world became, I never, never hurt another living person because of it. Just because I had a thorn in my side didn’t mean I felt the need to start poking other people with sticks. That’s when I realised those people that you hurt you? Yeah, they’re not good people. There’s something wrong with their hearts, and there’s no fixing them. I would like to say they’re evil, but decorum dictates that I refer to them as being “ignorant” or “cold-hearted”. Scrap that, they’re just—hideous.

So what do we do when these people hurt us, hm?

It’s a tricky thing. It actually all depends on the situation. For instance, in some situations, people are just bad-tempered for that one day, when generally they’re a nice and caring person, and you just happened to receive the brunt of it. Then there are the others. The ones who want to see you suffer, who want to take from you what is yours, who are jealous of you and hate you because they don’t like themselves or the world. They’re unhappy, supremely unhappy, and they want you to feel the same way they do. These people, and I know I’m going to get called out for being callous here, need a dose of their own medicine. You have to take matters into your own hands and stand up for yourself. If someone holds a gun to your head, occasionally, you have to hold a gun to their heart. It’s tough, but that’s what I’ve learnt, after years of being trodden on and abused. Those people will never stop abusing you if you never stand up for yourself. Trust me on this. They won’t listen to reason, they don’t care about your tears, they won’t even stop if you show them why what they’re doing is wrong. Trust me on this.

It’s a hard pill to swallow, but there are just bad people in this world.

So, sometimes—not all of the time—you need to stand up for yourself and fight back, rather than take the hits like a champion. Let me give you an example. The man who sexually harassed me in my teen years and left me with a long-lasting fear of being raped and creepy men? Yeah. I told his wife everything that had happened. I did. It was harsh, but I did. I didn’t go to the authorities, or even tell a teacher or a mentor: I just quietly went up to his wife one day, when we were alone, and told her exactly what was happening and what he had done to me. Then I left. The rest was up to her. Not only did I never see that man again, I hear his marriage isn’t going so well and there’s hell for him to pay at home. Do I regret it? No. Because if I hadn’t done that, he might have never left me alone. And I would have had to undergo seismic-levels of suffering as a result.

You might think this is cruel, that I’m fighting fire with fire, that two wrongs don’t make a right. I say: you’re wrong. I’m sorry, but you are: only someone who has never been at the receiving end of severe mental, sexual, emotional or physical abuse can possibly say they’re too “kind” to fight back. When you reach a point where someone is literally suffocating you with their toxic energy, their hate, or, in the aforementioned case, their greedy hunger for your body, you’re not afraid to pull out the knife and slash them in the leg. That’s the truth. So while such a method of dealing with “people who hurt you” might seem vindictive, cold and calculating to some, to me, and I know to many people in this world, it’s the only way to fight against demons. Niceness gets you nowhere, except broken and hurt.

You stand up for yourself. Sure, if you believe in God, and I suggest you do, you know that justice will ultimately prevail and that those people will get their comeuppance. But there’s something to be said about fighting back in the real world, in this lifetime. One time, this man actually ignored me for fifteen minutes at the bookshop. I kid you not. It was like he’d decided that someone of Asian descent didn’t deserve to read or something. I was so hurt, I actually left without buying any of his books (which, in retrospect, was a good thing). A week later, I phoned up the company that owns his bookstore—it was a franchise—and complained about my experience, as well as giving them a description of the man who had refused to process my books for purchase. While I don’t know exactly what happened, at least I fought back and stood up for myself. Standing up for yourself builds your confidence and makes you a stronger human being (I feel like this should be a tweet).

Once again, I want to stress that there are actually bad people in this world. I keep droning on about this because it took so long for this to get into my own head. I had this preconceived notion that all people were good, they’d just lost themselves somewhere along the way due to bad experiences. That’s usually not true. If someone has the capability to hurt you just because they want to, because they hate you for being better than them, or some other stupid reason, then they’re not good people. They have darkness inside of them. A little part of them is poisoned. And you don’t deserve to inhale a single breath of their toxic cloud.

That’s what it comes down to: good people fighting against bad people. In the process, do we become bad, in some way? I know, when I finally fought back against the man who harassed me, I felt a sense of triumph, a satisfaction that he was finally getting what he deserved. I was wary of this feeling. Was I getting a little drunk on the fulfilment of revenge? That’s still something I’m trying to figure out. While I’m certain I have nothing evil or dark in me, I’m afraid that sometimes my own pain and suffering can muddy how I should actually feel when fighting back against people who hurt you: not triumphant, not glad, not content, but sorry, sad but determined. That’s the key. It’s not a dog-eat-dog world, because there are nice people, but it is a fight-back-or-suffer world, and I intend to stand up for myself, as I would stand up for anyone else in the world who was in pain or suffering. Because me, you and we deserve it.

An INFP’s Latest Discoveries & Reflection On Jealous People

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I’ve discovered quite a few things lately, all of them the kind that would very much appeal to INFPs, so I thought I’d share them with you.

One of them is a search engine called “Ecosia”, which turns your searches into trees! Literally! Every time you search for something using this search engine, you help to plant trees in places like Africa and the plains of Asia, with 45 searches equivalent to one tree planted. It’s very easy to download, it acts just like Google or Bing or any other search engine, the only difference being your searches end up helping the environment and rebuilding the world’s forests! It’s so amazing, I’ve been using it for a while now, and I’ve racked up, on my phone and on my desktop, about 1500 searches so far, and as the years go by, I’m sure I’ll “earn” more trees and help the environment by doing my bit! So can you! And so far, Ecosia has already planted 41, 132, 323 trees at the time of my writing this piece, so go ahead and add to that number, which is growing everyday, for a brighter and better future for Earth, our beloved planet.

Another discovery I’ve made is an orchestral musician named Michael Ghelfi. Here is a link to his work: you can find him easily enough on Youtube, and it’s a shame he doesn’t have more views and subscribers, because his music, much of which is “steampunk-themed” is absolutely gorgeous, stunning, amazing and fantastic. It’s whimsical and pretty, sweet and complex, and evokes emotions, scenes and worlds through its notes and tunes and accompaniments. If I ever wrote a Steampunk book, and it had the good fortune of being turned into an actual film, I would seek him out right away to ask him to write the score for the film. Just, check him out: you won’t regret it.

One more discovery: the song “Wanderer’s Lullaby” by the Youtube singer Adrisaurus, which is almost a kind of motivational song wrapped up in melancholy and sweetness, is about believing in yourself in spite of the world and other people. I think that’s something everyone, on some level, can relate to, because we’ve all had our dreams doubted by someone, we’ve all encountered jealous people, no matter how fortunate their lives might be compared to ours in the first place, and we’ve all, deep down, doubted ourselves and our ability to achieve our dreams. This song is absolutely perfect for all of us who are striving towards a castle in the sky, out of reach, only accessible if we somehow build a jeweled floating sleigh or capture a pegasus; and it gives you strength and hope to fight another day.

I’ve been burned many times. This is no understatement. I’ve been burned, again and again, by other people in my life, people who I believed wanted the best for me or liked me, when in reality, they harboured secret jealousies and hatreds. When I was younger, I was too confused and naive to fight back. As I’ve grown older, I’ve also become a little tougher, and it’s a little harder to cross my path these days, because I’m not afraid to speak my mind, speak back, and tell you if you’re not treating me right or are a toxic influence in my life. I’m not afraid to get out the knife, and cut the gangrenous limb right off, with or without anaethesia, with my teeth gritted and sweat on my brow. I only wish I had that kind of courage in my younger years, that I hadn’t been brainwashed into being a meek, cowardly creature by the people who raised me.

There are people in this world who do not want to see you succeed. In fact, their idea of their dreams coming true is to see you fall, stumble, fall flat on your face and never get back up again. They want to see you in the dirt, and to put a foot on your head, and laugh like a maniacal, evil villain in some story. Let’s get this straight: they would be happy if you died, or were even murdered, and your dreams died with you. Make no mistake as to how evil or bad some humans can be, because I have lifted the rocks of humanity and seen the bugs and creepy-crawlies that writhe on its underbelly. I have met them, talked with them, laughed with them, been in their company and their homes and eaten their food. They are like monsters in angels’ garbs. They have different faces, and come in all shapes and sizes: friends, family, loved ones, teachers, mentors; you name it, they can hate you and dislike your ambition and desire for success, because it highlights their own failure and lack of success. Darkness doesn’t just resent light: it loathes it, with all of its being. That’s because it knows light is something pure and wonderful that it can never be, and so it hates it with all its heart.

You need to shine in spite of the darkness. I know it’s hard. These people, these influences, can be brutal. They can even come in the form of someone you love romantically—you’d be surprised—which makes it doubly difficult to brush them off. In some people’s eyes, life is a competition, and they want to be the one on top. What they don’t realise is that the true queens and kings of this world don’t murder, scheme and kill to get to the throne, but are chosen by the people, and because they have something special inside of them which makes them shine a little brighter than most. Kindness. Love. Courage. Faith. Belief. Heart.

“Wanderer’s Lullaby” reminds you that who you are is worthy. You and I, we are worthy; and anyone who tells you you aren’t worthy can go (insert expletive starting with “f”) themselves, because they’re not worth bothering about. Light is useless if it doesn’t learn to increase its brightness around darkness, otherwise the darkness will swallow it whole and be very satisfied, like a cat that has eaten the canary. No, you must shine brighter and brighter, bright enough to blind them; and then, they’ll leave you alone, because if there’s anything I’ve learned, it’s that those who put you down are the most cowardly and disconnected from life and themselves, or otherwise they’d be chasing their own dreams, and living their own lives, instead of spending all their time hating you and your bright, sparkling eyes, and trying to bring you down to their level.

The Definition of “Womanhood”

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What is the definition of “womanhood”? Any takers?

I am 21 this year, I just turned 21 last month. 21. Twenty-one.

I’m a woman. At least, according to social psychologists and the dictionary, and other professionals like doctors, and in the eyes of the government and the law, I’m no longer a little girl anymore, nor am I a “tween” or a teenager; I am a full-fledged woman, ready to go forth into the world and discover, explore and conquer, be it new lips to kiss or new books to read, in the full prime of my life, with rosebud lips and unwrinkled skin and high heels on my pretty, little feet.

Or say they say.

Today, I went to a wedding. It was a beautiful wedding, in a church, and there was a sermon and pastor; there was music and singing, vows were read and spoken; food and refreshments offered in an annex off the church, on long, huge tables, salmon canapes and sushi and finger sandwiches; and I had quite a pleasant, if not wonderful, time.

The whole entire time, however, new thoughts and revelations were whizzing through my mind like pinballs. First, I was suddenly surrounded by scores of beautiful women, many of them much older than me, 27 or 28, even in their 30s, all dolled up, dressed in finery and heels, earrings and necklaces, hairdos and rings. Not all of them were exquisite—that is only to be expected—but they all had this certain “grown-upness” about them, a kind of glamour and beauty that comes with age and experience and worldly knowledge, or perhaps is inborn, like a seed implanted in them when they enter the world and which blossoms and grows inside of them as the years pass.

They seemed so dazzling, so faraway, floating about in a world I couldn’t reach, speaking high-sounding words and laughing and interacting with one another like women in a fairytale, in a clique, in a secret club. In my pretty black dress with a lace bodice, and black flats, my hair done up in a bun, sitting in the pews near the back, I felt secretly very childish and small, like I was a little girl, masquerading as a grown-up, and doing a very poor job of it to boot.

The feeling worsened when the most beautiful woman I had ever seen sat behind me in the pew. I only turned around and glanced at her for a second as she sat down, but that second was enough: she was tall, elegant, her face gorgeous and perfectly-formed, her body willowy yet womanly, her hips curving within the confines of her tight-fitting blue gown. But it was more than her physical appearance that struck me like a slap across the face: it was the way she carried herself, her aura; she seemed to exist in a grown-up world of handsome men and suites in fancy hotels and champagne and cocktails, cigarettes and James Bond movies, sex and money. Everything I was not, she seemed to be. To me, she was the epitome of the exquisite womanliness a thirteen-year-old girl might bask in awe of, not a twenty-one year old woman already growing into her own bones and limbs, already starting on her own path in life. No, more: she was the popular girl in school, who always seemed older and more womanly than me, bolder, braver, more interesting, brighter, who captured the boys’ attentions and made the girls laugh. She was the kind of woman the tall, handsome men who populate the novels I read and write would find themselves drawn towards, like a moth towards a light. She would laugh, shining with her womanliness and sexiness, and they would be captured, just like that. I was just a little girl, watching from the sidelines—I had no hope of attracting the attention of a prince.

“Not all of them were exquisite—that is only to be expected—but they all had this certain “grown-upness” about them, a kind of glamour and beauty that comes with age and experience and worldly knowledge, or perhaps is inborn, like a seed implanted in them when they enter the world and which blossoms and grows inside of them as the years pass.”

I suddenly felt very, very small. Very small. Like I was a child, a stupid child, who didn’t understand the world of grown-ups and could be awed by her first sight of a true and proper lady in a fancy dress, her arm hooked with the arm of a man in a suit. I felt as if I hadn’t grown, not really, not in all my years, not since I was ten years old, or even eight. I was still a little girl, and somehow, other woman had grown up and left me behind. I was suddenly acutely aware of how grown-up and womanly some of the ladies around me were, with a pang of—of grief. Of hopelessness. They had babies, husbands. They had boyfriends, careers, taxes to pay and cars to drive. What’s more, they had the kind of womanly figures I’d always dreamed of having—elegant yet curvaceous, with just the right amount of femininity and sensuality. Meanwhile, I was small-chested and had barely any hips to speak of—I’ve always been rather gangly and thin, with not a trace of sexiness in my appearance, demeanour, body build, personality or mannerisms. That’s who I am. That’s who I’ll always be. A strange, imaginative little girl, building her own stories behind closed doors, dreaming of faraway lands and magical princes, thorns that grow when you speak to them and birds which talk and whisper to you their secrets. Maybe I was stuck, I thought, horrified, stuck in the world of my own mind, stuck in the imagination of a child’s, the thoughts of a child’s, and it had stunted my own growth somehow, made me into this strange hybrid of adult and child.

What makes a woman a woman? Is it her sensuality? Is it her marital status? Is it her maturity? Is it the width of her hips, the size of her cleavage? Is it a certain aura about them, that seems to speak of an understanding of men and all their wonders and quirks? I felt as if I was in high school all over again, standing on the other side of the window to the other teenagers, watching as they laughed and socialised, and I stayed quiet in a corner and buried my nose in a book. I felt left out, cheated, angry, sick. I wished I could slot myself amongst all those gleaming, beautiful women, laugh with perfect, painted lips, my earrings dangling and catching the light, perfume radiating from my hairless, glowing skin. I hated myself in that moment, hated my childish-looking body, my childish thoughts, my insecurity and inferiority complex—I hated myself, and wished I was grown-up and womanly with that air of glamour about me, like cigarette smoke, like sex.

I’m a little girl, I thought. I’m not a woman. This is a joke. Give me twenty years, fifty years, a hundred, and I’ll always remain a little girl. In my heart, I am a child, and physically, I’m thin and straight and flat as a board. I don’t have the femininity to lure men into my clutches and make them fall in love with me and my body. I felt wretched. Tears threatened to build in the backs of my eyes. What makes a woman? I pondered and thought. I wasn’t a perfume-radiating, high-heel-wearing creature of womanliness and beauty. I had no baby to rock on my knee and feed to my breast, confirming my womanliness. I had no man’s attention, lavished upon me, no strong arm wrapped around my waist, steering me as I walked through the world. I didn’t cook or clean very well, I didn’t sew (as outdated as these ideas might be), I had no group of laughing girlfriends, I didn’t have a career in some corporate office with eyeshadow on my lids and pencil skirts, I wasn’t a doctor or a nurse or a scientist or an artist or a singer or a teacher; I was just a writer, a lonely girl, tapping out her thoughts and imaginative worlds onto an electronic screen in an empty room.

“I hated myself in that moment, hated my childish-looking body, my childish thoughts, my insecurity and inferiority complex—I hated myself, and wished I was grown-up and womanly with that air of glamour about me, like cigarette smoke, like sex.”

But was that what it meant to be a woman? To be feminine, womanly, sexy? Is that the only definition of womanhood that exists? Babies and husbands? Careers and conversations revolving around housing prices? Pretty dresses and earrings and bloody perfume? No. There are different ways to be a woman. After thinking about it all day, to the point where my head hurt and I had to down some water and Panadol to stop the ache from splitting my head open, I’ve realised womanliness doesn’t necessarily revolve around curvaceous bodies and babies and men and perfume and high-heels and job stability and sexual experience. I’ve realised there are other ways to be a woman, because everyone is an individual and different. I dug deep inside myself, into the core of who I was, where the dark, poisonous wells of my self-loathing lay, and drew it out of myself and inspected it, ran it through a sieve, through a filter. And I realised something.

I’m not a “girl”. “Girls” don’t have the wisdom I do, to see into myself and the minds’ and hearts’ of others. “Girls” do not possess the kindness to want to plant trees all over the world and help people who are starving, or thirsty, or suffering from toothache, in some ugly, third-world community. “Girls” do not spend their waking hours painstakingly writing word after word after word to construct a book, a story, diving into otherworldly worlds like a fish. “Girls” do not realise a man who wants you for only your body isn’t a man at all. “Girls” do not write articles like this. “Girls” do not love animals enough to weep at the fact that they have to consume them for the sake of their health and nourishment. “Girls” do not listen to music as if they are drinking water after a long thirst, soaking in the notes and tunes, feeling them thrum and dance through their blood, weep at the sense of nostalgia, the feeling of yearning for someone or something you’ve never known, that rises in their heart at the sounds of certain songs. “Girls” do not watch films with a bittersweet feeling in their chest like a hard knot of bone and sinew, or lie awake staring into the vastness of themselves. “Girls” do not see their father and mother as flawed, unhappy humans with their own pain and inner worlds and lives and thoughts and feelings. “Girls” do not possess the heart that I do, that mind that I do, the spirit I do, and, yes, the body that I do. I may be flat and straight as a board in all the wrong places, but as far as I know, all the pieces are in working order and, if need be, I could birth a baby just as easily as the next woman.

“I’ve realised there are other ways to be a woman, because everyone is an individual and different.”

There is no one definition of being a woman, just like there is no one definition of being a human. We’re all marvellously intricate, special, unique, lovely and one-of-a-kind. We are who we are; we are ourselves; and that’s wonderful. We’re children of God. Our lives are blessings, our experience of the world gifts. When the time is right, someone will be attracted to me; when the right person comes along, in his eyes, I will be the most exquisite creature on the planet. But I don’t need the male gaze or the male presence to feel womanly, or to be a “woman”. The definition of womanhood is that there is no definition of womanhood, because womanhood isn’t defined by the world or society: it’s defined by the size of your heart, the maturity of your soul, your connection to life and the universe, and the strength of your spirit. And, in that case, I am most definitely a woman.