A Boy Who Likes An INFP (Wish Fulfilment, Obviously)

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So, there’s this girl.

Before you get any ideas, I don’t like her, or anything like that. She isn’t particularly pretty, or clever, or witty, or anything, really. She’s just a little peculiar, odd, and in this world, it’s sometimes hard to find anyone really strange these days. She lives next door to me, and I see her often. Sometimes, I see her through her bedroom window—not that I’m trying to be a creep or anything, you know, sometimes I just happen to glance out my window, and see that hers is all lit-up, with the curtains parted, and I sometimes just catch a glimpse of her, sitting at her desk or walking around her room.

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What’s so strange about her? Well, get this: all the time, every single day, whenever I pass by her or see her leave the house, she carries this shoulder bag bulging with library books. I know they are library books because once I passed by her when she dropped the bag, its entire contents spilling out onto the pavement, and I saw they were all library books. And get this—they were all fiction books, ranging from children books to teen fiction, and she is practically an adult woman. An adult woman, reading fairytales! Reading little kiddy books, picture books. Who does that? I get the feeling she’s got her head stuck up in the clouds. And does she even have a job? With that misty look in her eyes all the time, it’s a wonder employees would consider hiring someone who is evidently so scatterbrained and immature.

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One other time, I caught her having a conversation with herself, or perhaps someone in her imagination, on her porchsteps. I think she was pretending she had a boyfriend, with the way she coyly smiled at some invisible man, and clasped her hands as if she were in love. It’s absolutely ridiculous, the way she—oh, just everything about her is laughable! Frankly, I do believe she might be a little mentally deranged, or at least quite the private actress. The more I spy on her, the more I feel as though I’ve stumbled across some rare, eccentric human specimen, someone untouched by the reality of the world. Someone who never grew up, when everyone else did.

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And, no offense, but I get the feeling that she’s really, really lonely. I’m good at picking up people’s weaknesses, if I do say so myself, and she seems like one of those lonely adults who never grow up, buried in books, cats and her own eccentricity. She’s literally a crazy cat woman in the making. Does she even have any friends? And what is with that look in her eyes all the time? That sad, lonely and lost look, that seems both faraway and intent at the same time, as if she lost something very dear to her long ago and has been searching for it ever since, her hope slowly ebbing away over the years. Oh, what am I saying; listen to me getting all poetic over some lonely young woman’s misery. But—it’s the way she looks at things sometimes that gets me. The clouds. Flowers. Out windows, at the stars at night. As if she is searching for a home, someplace safe to rest her soul, in whatever she looks at, and always finding herself disappointed.

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She looked at me the other day, while I was coming home from work. Right over the fence separating our residences, straight in my eyes. For some reason, it was a shock, staring straight into that soft, faraway gaze after seeing it directed other things for so long. She was picking flowers in her garden, had a whole bunch of dandelions in her left hand—a grown woman, picking flowers like a five-year old!—and the moment she saw me, she blinked, turned red, looked away, and a moment later, scurried back inside her house, the door squeaking shut behind her. She’s a strange one, I tell you. That night, her curtains were closed, but I could sense her behind the curtains, at her desk, reading her childish books or doing whatever she does, thinking her strange thoughts. Maybe thinking about me.

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That’s it. I’m going to stop spying on her, because this is the last straw. Yesterday, sick from work, I spent the day reading some books I’d loved as a kid, Zac Power and Geronimo Stilton, and in the afternoon, when I was feeling a little better, I went out into the front garden and just sat in this sunshine, stroking my cat. I hadn’t done anything like that in years. Weird. I swear that weird girl who happens to be my neighbour is having some kind of slow, insidious effect on me. I certainly hope it isn’t permanent. An independent, grown man like me has no need for eccentric women like her in my life. Besides, I have a date with Natasha next week, and need to spend my time properly preparing for that, instead of sitting at my desk staring out my window at her bedroom window, wondering if those curtains will ever open again.

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Natasha came round to my house after the date. We frolicked a bit on the sofa. Nothing serious—just a little flirtation, a little kissing. For some reason, I wasn’t that into it—and I became even less into it when I saw her through the window while I was entangled with Natasha, standing in her garden, staring straight at me. The look in her eyes—but why should I feel guilty? It isn’t as if she and I are in a relationship, or anything. She’s just my neighbour. This time, when our eyes met, she started as if I’d stuck her with a jolt of electricity, and  turned and walked away, this time without haste or hurry, with slow, measured, and, dare I say it, regal steps. Suddenly, I felt like being alone. Disgruntled, Natasha left, her hair and lipstick a little mussed, the smell of her perfume lingering all over my clothing.  Now I’m sitting at my desk, looking out the window. Her curtains are not closed this time, but she isn’t sitting at her desk, or walking around her room. She’s lying on her bed, her face turned away out of sight.

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I mean, it’s not as if I’m interested in her or anything. But she certainly is an oddity, and I’ve always been a curious person. That’s why I’m going to introduce myself this afternoon. We are neighbours, after all, and it is about time. I want to ask her what she’s been reading, and what the name of her cat is. I wonder what her bedroom looks like, when you’re standing inside it. I wonder what she likes to drink—surely not coffee? No, coffee wouldn’t suit her. For all I know, she likes to drink from juice boxes with a straw and snack on lollies. Who’s her favourite singer? You know, just ordinary questions, for an ordinary girl.

I wonder what her imaginary boyfriend looks like.

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.

Do You Have To Understand Something To Love It?

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Or someone?

For a long time, I thought this was so.

I thought, as someone who had built her identity around being “unique” and “different” in order to bulwark her self-esteem after years of social exclusion–and in a way I am unique, but so is everyone else—no-one would be capable of understanding what it was like to be inside my head, see the world through the lens of my eyes, experience my thoughts and feelings. And what was more, I certainly could not know what it was like to be in someone else’s head, no matter how far I strained my imagination or empathetic powers, for each human heart is the greatest mystery under the sun. According to this logic, then, there was no point in, or no possibility of, anyone truly loving anyone, as we were all puzzles, impossible to get close enough to properly solve, and therefore properly love.

I was wrong.

You don’t need to understand something to love it, a rule applicable to almost everything in life. I don’t understand life, yet much of the time, even in the throes of despair, I still subconsciously love it, adore the emotions coursing through my veins, the black misery pumping in my heart. I love the universe even though I find its complexity baffling. I love writing and the creative process, but, once again, I don’t understand exactly why I love it, or how it works; all I know is stories and characters come to me, and they need to be written down, almost as though I have been assigned to do it, and it makes me very happy to do it even when it is hard. So much human effort is spent on figuring things out, decoding and dissecting, and while that is not a bad thing—curiosity has landed us on the moon and given us fantastic works of literature and computers and light bulbs, just to name a few—sometimes, one simply must accept things, like affection or art, without trying to deduce its origins.

I’d even go so far as to say it’s one of the only ones to true happiness, or at least satisfaction, in life. To just enjoy whatever comes to you, each a little tidbit of happiness to be savored, with the deep, subconscious awareness that life is beautiful, even when it is bad, that life is a gift, even when it pops open like Jack-In-The-Box in your face, that life is something to be loved, even when you don’t understand it in the slightest—just like love. Whenever someone says “love is the meaning of life”, many people believe they are referring to romantic love, or the love one feels for family or friends. But that’s not true. Family and friends and spouses and children are often not enough to sustain a person. What they truly mean is that love for everything, for every facet of life, from the tiny dead flies on the windowsill to the sun shining in the sky each morning, delight at the immense complexity dancing and shivering around you, is where the meaning in life lies. Love is what propels us to do whatever we do, to struggle and work in face of meaninglessness and loneliness. We don’t understand anything, but we love many things, so we use that to keep us going.

Like everyone, I have loved before. And I’ll tell you this: all love is the same. Whether it is love for a man or a woman, or a brother, or a book, or an art form, or any piece of the universe, it gives you the same sensation of happiness and pleasure inside your chest. It reaches down into the very nooks and crevices of your essence, in tiny, golden spurts of liquid happiness. It also often aches, pain experienced along with the pleasure, because all sources of our love are transitory, including life itself, but it is a nice ache, nice and beautiful, just like everything else, a kind of sweet agony.

My advice to you, then, is to love freely, passionately, and deeply, without fear of failure or pain. When you love, inevitably, you will fail, and you will get hurt. But you will also succeed and experience moments of such blinding joy it will be as if the sun is shining out through your pores. In the past, I have not followed this principle of acceptance. For instance, for many years, I denied myself my love for writing and the imagination, believing I was no good at it and would never be any good at it after a bad incident with one teacher; but these days, I don’t think or worry so much, and just follow the honey-trail of love to where it leads me. I have also avoided people I loved, not only because I did not love myself enough at the time (an enormous problem when it comes to forming any relationships), but also because I was afraid of trusting love. I was afraid of getting hurt, abandoned, feeling lost, ashamed or rejected. I was afraid they would not understand me and my anxiety, my myriad quirks that make it difficult to feel comfortable outside the home or amongst society, especially when my struggles already made me feel defective. Should they have shunned me or exhibited scorn at my shortcomings, my heart would have died. So I pushed them away, and pushed them away hard. It was the right decision at the time—but perhaps a great deal of suffering could have been lifted, had I simply allowed myself to accept my feelings, followed them to wherever they might have led me, be that the tip of a cliff or the depths of an abyss.

This principle, to love something or someone, even when you do not understand them or it, is very useful when it comes to fending off existential angst. We don’t understand life or death, so we are afraid of both, and thus never really live or die. We just exist in this perpetuity of fearful stasis. Don’t do that. Trust love. Trust it. Whenever something speaks to your heart, makes it curl over and purr like a contented kitten inside your chest, do it, speak to it, work at it, look at it, enjoy it. That is what it truly means to follow your heart: whatever gives you a great leap of joy can only be good for you. Love desperately and passionately and gloriously, and when the end comes, remaining loving until the very last second, kiss the world goodbye with a smile on your face and a tear running down your cheek.

A Dreamer’s Advice For Relationships: We’re All Toads

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Perhaps a recluse who tends to flee whenever she catches sight of a male creature of her species isn’t the best person to dispense love advice, but there is something to be said for the knowledge observers can gain, if they look long enough, and think hard enough.

The way I see it, there seems to be a pattern to relationships that end badly: two people get together based on an illusion of each other, then gradually show their true selves until either one or both are repulsed by the cracks beginning to show in what was initially their smooth, porcelain-vase man or woman, and break up.

It’s what happened to my parent’s marriage, and one of my worst fantasies, though it’s unlikely to ever happen—I do have a habit of fantasizing horrible scenarios in my head as well as good ones—is to one day find myself loathing the guts of the man I have chosen to spend the rest of my life with. This is horrifically frightening mostly because of the parallels that can be drawn between it and the situation with my mother and father; and if I were ever to one day echo in my own life the dynamic between my parents, I think I would die of disappointment and self-hatred.

Which got me thinking: there is in fact a very easy way to avoid landing into messes like that in the first place, and that is to put your worst foot forward when you meet someone who you might consider as a prospective partner. Well, perhaps it isn’t entirely easy, but it certainly is a more practical way to approach the dating game, if you’re currently participating in it. Essentially, what you do is when you meet someone, instead of smiling and making an effort to appear wonderfully well put-together and attractive and thus inveigle your way into their good books, as we are all inclined to do, you should just be yourself—the worst version of yourself, that is, the kind of person you are if you wake early on Monday morning with a panic attack to the sound of rock music blaring from a neighbour’s window.

There’s a self that we show to people in the outside world, which is not real, and there’s a self we reveal only at home, amongst our family, which is who we really are, and which is oftentimes not always pleasant. At home, we might curse, yell and scream, have small tantrums and fits, act childish and immature, and in short behave in ways we never would in front of someone we found attractive. Yet who we are in the company of those we are most comfortable with is eventually the face your partner will see. Doesn’t it then make perfect sense to show this aspect of who are first, before progressing to kissing and intimacy and moving in together and marriage?

Because who a person is when they are at home, with their parents and siblings, is who you will end up marrying or dating. That’s the real deal—not the suits and the ties and the impeccably polished shoes and chivalry or the coy smiles and the dresses, but the disheveled man who hollers like a lunatic when there’s no milk in the fridge Sunday morning, or the woman who mopes and moans around the house like a small raincloud whenever her writing isn’t going well until you just want to flick her away like a flea. A person is not just the way they smile, or the gentle golden slope of their neck when it is hit by sunlight—they are also their irritating habit of not flushing the toilet or cleaning up after themselves, their selfishness and impatience, their tendency to daydream in the middle of a conversation, the way they look when sporting messy bed-hair and glasses, their high, whiny laugh that sounds like an enormous fly stuck up a pipe. The truth is, there are more aspects to our personality that are annoying than appealing, especially when endured over time.

In order for any relationship to have true potential, then, the illusion must be banished, and the problem is people sometimes can keep up the illusion for quite some time before it begins to disintegrate, though they all eventually do (no-one can pretend forever—not even actors). The truth, as they say, will come out, and since this part of the relationship is inevitable, why not jump straight to it, and skip all the flowers and make-believe which serve no purpose except to create a temporary, fantasy bubble?

Of course it would be difficult to undo years of conditioning and go against the primal instinct to impress a potential mate upon first meeting him or her. One would also run the risk of alienating the person and killing a romance in the bud before it’s even begun to blossom. The best way to go about it, then, I think, is to blatantly ask the other person to engage in a little “experiment” with you, whereby the both of you agree to show your worst selves in front of the other person, and perhaps see each other pooping while sitting on the toilet. Not the most romantic start to a partnership, but it’s certainly better than waking up angry and disillusioned many months, or even years, down the line.

Then again, perhaps that’s not a realistic way to go about relationships. Most relationships generally progress to stage where two people get to see all the ugly cracks and holes in all their irritating glory in each other after the first idealized period of courtship, which is when the decision to leave or stay is often made. Maybe we even need the shy smiles and the fantasy of the other person to jump-start the process of attraction, and make dating a little more fun and enjoyable. Maybe people want to experience a bit of fairytale romance once in a while, even if deep down they know it isn’t real, and that their Prince Charming or Princess farts and burps and snores just like everyone else on the planet, and has bad morning breath or gets greasy hair after “forgetting” to shower for several days.

Nevertheless, I do think being a bit more upfront and honest about who you are as a person in the early stages of relationship would making the process of selecting a mate much less painful and disappointing, and much more effective. If you are a messy person who believes making beds is the most pointless task created by mankind and doesn’t think twice about leaving dirty underpants on various household surfaces, then perhaps you should think twice before jumping into a relationship with someone who is anal-retentive and has a deep revulsion for anything untidy or unclean rather than pretend to be neat and prim in front of them. You’d be surprised how a little thing like a lack of tolerance for untidiness can take a toll on a relationship. If one partner constantly berates the other for not cleaning up after themselves, resentment will brew and fester in the hearts of both parties—the tidy one will think their partner is not putting in the effort to make them happy, while the untidy one will feel resentment for having to control their disorganization when it is a natural part of their “creative” nature—creating rifts and destroying love.

Little things, as I always like to say, add up, and it’s always the little things that matter when it comes to relationships—people need to sometimes sweat the small things a little more than they currently do—because being with someone often isn’t a grand romance, but an ordinary Saturday evening spent washing the dishes and then going to the grocery store to stock the fridge for the week, and if the other person grates on your nerves in various ways, then you will effectively be spending your life with someone who makes you irritable and unhappy. This doesn’t mean that two people are incompatible just because, say, one of them likes to tidy the house, and the other doesn’t. Those things can, to a certain extent, depending on the tolerance of the parties involved, be compromised. However some differences, which many people tend to hide in the first couple of dates, and perhaps even months into the relationship—for instance, if a man is a loner but pretends to have friends in order to impress a woman, or one person likes to save money while the other enjoys spending it freely even when they don’t have very much of it—can tear partners apart faster than hurricanes.

Relationships, requiring as they do tolerance, compromise and sacrifice, are hard enough without throwing into the mix the fake personalities or habits people adopt in order to put their best foot forward. We all want to seem like Prince Charmings or Princesses, but that just isn’t the reality; everyone is a toad, in their own unique way. So to save tears and long nights spent wallowing in regret or the kind of disappointment that leaves a bad taste in your mouth and frankly your entire body for days on end, maybe people should make an effort to be less polished and more authentic in their interactions when it comes to dating. Or you could just skip the tiresome business, become a hermit like me, and opt for books and cats over loving relationships with real human beings, both of which, I might add, will never judge you or hate you no matter how badly you act.

How INFPs Approach Love

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The short answer: We don’t.

Or, at least, I don’t. I can’t speak for all INFPs – every person is different even if they share the same personality type, so perhaps this should be titled “How An INFP Views Love” – but I can safely say that “approach” is not the right word to describe the way I gingerly dodge and avoid the arena of relationships, turning up my nose at the whole business around others and then wistfully gazing over my shoulder at the spectacle when no-one is watching.

The long answer is a little more complicated.

My past is a contributing factor to this caution and fear. When I was a teenager, my father walked out the door without a backward glance, leaving my mother and I without the funds to pay even the rent for the week. To this day, I have not seen him since. At the time, the sense of abandonment I felt was like a howl in my heart I could not express verbally. Even when he was in life my life, he was awfully distant, awfully selfish, and awfully unloving; I remember he used to spend thousands on the perfect sound system yet complain when I needed fees to pay for school excursions. So it only follows that, as he was the first man I tried to love, my opinion of the male species in general is quite low.

Not all men, of course, are as bad as him; lots of men are nice and good and kind; I am not so bitter as that. But in terms of relying on men, on handing over to them my love and trust, as a partner – frankly, I would sooner stick a skillet in my eye. I am fond of likening myself to a woman who carries invisible burns, and now, every time I come close to any “fireplaces”, even if they are not lit, I cringe and step away. This, combined with my extreme desire for love and affection, naturally anxious personality, and high sensitivity, tends to make me view love with the wide-eyed gaze of a gazelle caught in a lion’s sight.

Then there is the small matter of my sense of separateness from humanity. In truth, I do not think there are any glaring differences in myself compared to others, apart from perhaps an increased tendency for introspection. But this introspection, which some might call self-absorption, means I am a highly self-conscious creature, which means in interactions with other people I am overly focused on myself and my own shortcomings, which makes me feel removed, and, well, different. Out of place. An outcast.

Being creative doesn’t help matters, as often what you want to talk about are too strange and random and bizarre to be palatable for most people. For instance, most people do not want to make up as many symbols for Death as they can while waiting in line to borrow books at the library (though I can’t imagine why). What all this boils down to, essentially, is that there are a limited cohort of people in society with whom I can find any common ground with, and feel comfortable with. University campuses are infested with people who talk of the most banal and trivial subjects; I have yet to find that sort of odd, artsy young graduate who is by himself a lot of the time, and seems to see and notice things others do not. Basically, I like unique people, and in society there are not many unique people, mostly selfish or boring or indifferent people. Thus my very nature greatly limits the available romantic candidates. Until I find a man strolling alone through a cemetery in the sunshine, looking thoughtfully at headstone after headstone, deep in philosophical thought, and who is not a serial killer trying to select the best place to bury his victims that night, falling in love is unlikely, if not impossible.

Another complication is my own self-hatred. Because I spend the majority of my life inside my own head, thinking and thinking and thinking, it gives me a lot of time to analyse myself, physically and psychologically, and, truth be told, I do not often like what I find. Self-love is an ongoing battle, every second posing a choice to love myself or to berate myself. On my rare good days, I see myself as a beautiful creature, both inside and out, kind and intelligent and sweet. On my bad days, which is most days, it is hard for me to look in the mirror without feeling visceral surge of disgust; to not loathe my arms, any body hair, my legs, my skin; to not see myself as an a reserved and aloof woman no-one could stand to be in the same room with, let alone love. On the worst days, I am disgusted by my own bodily fluids, disgusted when I pass gas or burp, disgusted by every word that comes out of my mouth and every thought that crosses my mind, am unable to look in the mirror or leave the house, and wish I were a pristine, ethereal creature who was above all humans matters and concerns. Such an unhealthy mental state, need I say, would not be conducive for a good relationship. To love others, you must love and accept yourself – and I am just not there yet, and might not be for a long while and after many hours of therapy.

On top of all this, I am just not an easy person to be around for most people. For one thing, I am very, very introverted. I am most comfortable going through great swathes of my day talking in short bursts, and spending the rest of the time observing the world and the people around me and holing myself up in my room, doing introverted tasks, like studying, reading and writing, for hours on end. This annoys people who like to talk. Even other introverts get a little huffy at my extensive desire for alone time.

And then there are times when I am just plain unpleasant to be around. Yes, I am kind, and caring, and I would never hurt a single creature willingly; but in the privacy of my home, I can be moody and impulsive, wallowing in misery one second and then taken to the heights of ecstasy by a beautiful piece of artwork. If riled, my ability to intuit exactly what would hurt the other person most makes my tongue sharp as a thorn. When my writing is not going well, or when I begin to despair of my literary ambitions coming to fruition, the door is shut, my soul is dark, and anyone who dares come inside my room does so at their own peril. Whoever does end up being my partner will have to be someone strange or crazy enough to want to put up with my mercurial moods, my bouts of self-loathing and depression, and my isolated nature. It’s a tall order, is all I’m saying.

In theory, I am a romantic, but in reality, I would much rather be alone than spend my time around someone I cannot be myself around, doesn’t understand me, and doesn’t support my creative endeavors. With the right person, I will appear bright, sensitive, self-aware, creative and talented. All the wrong person will see is a moody and immature woman who holes herself up in her room for long hours and possesses the irritating tendency to gush over the beauty of a dead insect, a rusted tap, a flower poking its way through the footpath. I need to find (or stumble, more like; “find” suggests one is actively searching) someone whose weirdness interlocks with mine, just like everyone else, and until then, I will file away Love to the back of my drawers, to be taken out some other day, and leave the business of dating to others.

A Story Of A Girl & A Boy

street

I would like to be the girl who meets you on the corner of the street, I think, just by the red Post Office Box, two people colliding on their way to work, trying to move around the other but ending up blocking the other’s path with each attempt, smiling in spite of ourselves.

But of course eventually our feet would find their way past the other – nothing stays together forever – but as we walk off, a little breathless, in opposite directions, both our hearts would be lit by a secret glow to smoulder quietly through our day.

Later on, as evening draws close, the sky deepening, a faint wash of yellow spilling out across the horizon, when my heart has already forgotten you and is busily trying to slough off the day’s debris, I will visit a bookshop, just down the street from my apartment, because being around books, which are like bits of souls left behind by their authors, always make me feel less alone.

You will be there, too, just by coincidence, browsing the shelves – but I won’t notice you, not at first, mired as I am in my melancholy. You will see me, however, and recognise me, glancing back down at the blurb of the book in your hand without really seeing the words. You will replace the book on the shelf then take down another, blindly, glancing back over at me as you do so, unsure and uncertain.

Meanwhile, true to my personality, I will be oblivious to my surroundings, flipping through book after book with a calm ferocity, unaware that what might truly ease my heart stands only a few feet away. I will look sad, and you will see that I look sad, and feel sad, too. Many things will be roiling inside my mind (for I am not really seeing the words, either): fears of failure, the jealousy I feel towards my contemporaries who have carved out writing careers and now have families of their own, terrified that perhaps both conjugal and creative bliss shall be denied me in this lifetime due to my own inadequacy or stupidity or ugliness or lack of talent or discipline or lack of something. Perhaps, as I sink deeper into these thoughts, the world will a blur a little, hot tears filling my eyes, and my hand will shake so hard the book will fall from my grip.

Two outcomes can then branch out from what happens in the next moment: either I wipe my eyes, scolding myself, and pick up the book and put it back on the shelf and leave the store, or you pick it up and hand it to me without a word because no words are needed. In real life, cynicism impels me to believe the former would occur; you, perhaps, would be too crippled by a fear of rejection and your own sense of inadequacy to do anything, watching helplessly as I leave the store, telling yourself probably nothing would have come of it, anyway. But I am in sore need of some delight in my life right now, so let us pretend that it is latter that occurs. I will look up, surprised, blinking through the wet haze as I reach for the book, then blinking again, in quick succession, this time in recognition.

“Oh, thank you,” I would say, my voice full of shock, too taken aback at seeing you again so soon that I will not have time to re-assemble the false, affable persona I shed after leaving work. Before you I would stand, very sad and lonely and broken, all the cracks showing, in all likelihood unable to meet your gaze from shame.

If it were some sentimental moment in a romantic movie, you’d probably lift your hand up to my face and wipe away a year with your finger. I think I would hate you if you did that. I hate anything sentimental, even though I am a desperately romantic creature myself, which is perhaps why I do not like myself very much. There is a disconnect between my love and my hatred; the two emotions mixed up where they should not be mixed up, which, you, if you have ever cooked anything, will know always leaves a bad taste in one’s mouth. Instead, you will just look down at the book I am holding, and say, “I like that author’s work. Have you read anything else by him?”, in so casual and calm a way that I will fall in love with you almost instantly.

A nice dinner at a cafe, under amber lighting, would be next on the agenda if this were a romantic movie, the two of us discovering all the myriad things we have in common, falling deeper and deeper in love by the second as we sip our cappuccinos. But that is, again, too sentimental for my tastes. Too easy. I would rather have us leaving the book store together, empty-handed, awkwardly trying to build up a conversation as we walk down the street with a good amount of space between us. Where do you live? Oh, just down the street…what about you? Oh, yes, just across the road from here. Ah, so now we know then how close our homes are, just a hop, skip and jump away, and the knowledge will hang between us strangely heavy, as all unspoken knowledge, good or bad, does.

It is a very long walk home. There are gaps in the conversation, silences during which I act nonchalant, observing the nightlife swirling around me in pulses and blips of coloured light, even as my heart tosses like an alarmed horse. Soon we will fall back on the default topic people use to find common ground – work – and you will tell me you work at this company, doing this for them, and I will tell you that I work at this company, doing that for them.

But after a while, digging deeper, I will find out you are in fact trying to start a business on the side, selling artwork you paint, and you will find out that I am a writer, published sporadically here and there, but yet to hit my big break. We will commiserate on the impossibility of turning your passion into your job in this society, not voicing the true fear, that perhaps we are not good enough to truly succeed at our passions. At this point the air between us will be weighted, a canvas roof caving in with its load of rainwater accumulated overnight.

As my apartment is closer than yours, we will stop at it first. I will force a smile onto my lips, knowing you know it to be forced, and spit out a cheery “Goodbye! Have a good night!”, my heart still sad but safely hidden so it can be sad all on its lonesome, and you will politely return the farewell. And we will part, once again walking in opposite directions, me up the steps into my empty apartment, you a lonely figure crossing the road, this time each of our hearts heavy as stones inside our chests.

It is very likely, if this were a real story, that that would be the end of it. For you see, there is always an end to the magic, and it makes no difference whether it comes before you meet and kiss and move in together, or afterwards, when you are married and have children and are old and have long stopped sleeping in the same bed. This is because there was no magic in the first place; we all made it up, in our heads, working in tandem to build an intricate and beautiful illusion. Everyone eventually finds out, once they have lived long enough, that life is but a never-ending sense of dissatisfaction. Each time we think we have found something to make us whole, it falls into the void within us and disappears, some faster or slower than others, whereupon we try, never learning, to find something else to fill it, rinse, wash and repeat, until the true end, death.

Far better would it have been if we had met each other at the corner marked by the red Post Office Box then never saw the other again. That way, at least a little of that magic would have been preserved as a sweet memory, to be taken out during lonely hours and turned over this way and that, embellished here and there, like a present we cannot open and can only wonder at what it holds. It is hard to say who feels the greater misery, the one who can never open the present, or the one who opens the present and thus dispels the magic, the sense of possibility; all I know is that we must be grateful for whatever gifts come our way, and keep a great deal of wrapping paper in our drawers for others.

But this is not real, I am writing this alone in my room as the sun sets outside the window, so let us pretend that we do meet again, years from now, a successful artist and an established writer, on a plane or in a grocery store or at a resort, this time, as we catch the other’s eye, smiling at each other in way that feels like both an end and a beginning.

The Types Of Men An INFP Woman Might Marry

couple marriage

Yes, yes, I know, O, maiden, thou does not need a man to complete thy life – and it seems a little ironic, to say the least, to write this after recently taking a vow of celibacy – but just because I have decided not to get into any relationships doesn’t mean I can’t speculate on the various types of people who might be suitable romantic candidates, which I shall detail in this post, and whom, I might add, are, as of yet, entirely the products of my imagination. Which accounts for the vow of celibacy, I suppose.

For those of you idealistic, sensitive men out there, and my heart does go out to you for your continued survival in a conformist society that tries to mold men into masculine archetypes – please feel free to change the gender of the following types of individuals to that of Female, or Male, depending on your preferences.

The Sensitive Artist

Marrying the Sensitive Artist, with his deep, soulful eyes and melancholy outlook on life, is sure to be rewarding – especially if he lives in a dingy attic that overlooks other rooftops in a romantic city, like, say, Paris.

The two of you can spend twilight evenings walking down the boulevards, past quaint cafes with green awnings and golden lights flickering behind the windows, other strolling couples, the odd bicycle rider passing by in a tinkle of bells, having deep, philosophical conversations.

Back at his “studio”, the prints cluttering the walls and the floor resembling multi-coloured puked-up guts can offer plenty of fodder for further philosophical thought – as an INFP, you are sure to discover the meaning of life in a splotch of red and green paint, or uncover a fantastical scene in something that looks like a dog’s breakfast after it has been partly digested. Your rapture at his artistic talent will satisfy him greatly.

In return, he will listen to your deepest desires and dreams, understand the despair you feel towards life and the world, and refer to you as his “Muse”, which you will brush off with an embarrassed air, smiling shyly, but secretly feel very pleased about. However, be prepared to pay for meals and other necessities while with him, and, when the man racks up hundreds of dollars in debt buying new easels and paint tubes, remain uncomplaining as you scrawl your signature onto the bill handed to you by the delivery man at the door.

Who knows: Through your experience with the Sensitive Artist, perhaps you will learn something new: that your INFP nonchalance towards money was wrong, and that no matter how “deep” a partner is, sometimes the depths of his pockets is a little more important.

The Good, Caring, Responsible Man

What INFPs need most of all from other people, and which they very rarely receive, is kindness; and this man is bound to provide this scarce resource in abundance.

He will care for you, just as if you were his own flesh and blood, treating you as the fragile, little creature you are: Helping you with real-world tasks, like filing for a savings account at the bank or getting your car registered; comforting you in the middle of the night when you start crying remembering something horrible you said to someone last year; and he will never berate you for being “too sensitive”, or “too quiet.”

No matter what happens to you in the outside world you can have the comfort of always returning to someone who will tell you that he loves you, and cooks you nice, warm meals to show you that he cares. Unfortunately, though he will be smart enough to work as a system’s manager at his accounting firm, chances are he will not possess a drop of imagination, and bore you to bits. In which case, you will have to decide which is more important: having your own equivalent of a talking pillow to soothe you after being battered by the vagaries of life, or someone you can intellectually connect with.

Intellectual stimulation is simple to obtain on your own, in the form of books and, well, more books, so perhaps it would be nice just to settle for someone who cares. Then again, books are fine company on their own, and, unlike this particular breed of the male species, never become too smothering.

The Executive

The Executive is assertive, confident, and bold – in other words, the ENTJ Myer-Briggs Personality type, who values rules, systems, actions and logic, and is the antithesis of the INFP personality type.

Isabel, creator of the Myer-Briggs Personality Type Test, however, has proclaimed the Executive to be the most compatible with the Dreamers. Though I have yet to completely puzzle out her reasoning – the two personalities could not be any more different – nevertheless, it does not require too great a leap of the imagination to envision the Executive being charmed by the INFP’s air of mysterious shyness, and the INFP attracted to the Executive’s boldness and social ease. After all, we often admire what we lack in ourselves, and opposites, as they say, do attract.

In this relationship, regardless of what gender you are, who the dominant partner is clearly defined. You will always have someone to tug you down from the clouds back to earth  with his rational thought processes, thereby helping you to take action rather than daydream your life away; but be prepared, as he is a predominantly logical thinking, to sometimes have your feelings trampled over, and to pick up your battered heart from the floor at the end of a long day.  On the other hand, expect good conversations, as both of you, being intuitive, will probably enjoying imagining the future together, and developing long-term plans.  You will also not have to worry about having your bank account drained, as this type of man is often quite successful in the career, usually opting to work in lucrative fields such as business.

Ultimately, he will be appear powerful and dynamic – captivating, even – but this relationship is liable to go down in flames unless either he grows a little more sensitive to your feelings, or you grow a little tougher in order to withstand his constructive criticism. Still, it can be the basis for a good partnership, and you may even find yourself peeping a little more out of your shell due to his influence, growing a tougher exoskeleton – but, if I were you, I’d stick with the books for less heartache in the long run.

The Quiet Writer

For those INFPs out there who are fond of writing themselves and are looking into it as a career, the Quiet Writer has the ability to offer the perfect partnership – it will be practically like dating yourself! A shared love of literature will be the glue that binds the two of you together, and dates will probably consist of visits to the bookshop or the library, tottering back to the car with tiny towers of novels balanced in your respective arms.

The rest of your time together will probably be spent sitting together or in separate rooms writing or reading, with the occasional visit to the other’s room or lifting of eyes from the page, to comment on what one has read, or written, and ask for additional input regarding it. Birthday presents will be books, and more books, and for the two of you, the idea of a good evening is to sit, side-by-side, at the kitchen table, upon which lies an open dictionary, and giggle over the strange words that exist in the English Language – erinaceous, for instance, which means to resemble a hedgehog. The next morning, you will say to the Quiet Writer, as he awakens with scruffy bed-hair beside you, “My darling, you look most erinaceous,” and the two of you will burst into laughter again. By all accounts it sounds like the perfect relationship, but there is always the chance, the two of you being equally retiring and antisocial, for the relationship to dwindle away into something that more resembles two roommates, sharing a living space, than  anything romantic or loving. But, you know, at least you’ll have plenty of books.

I hope this selection of potential mates has given you some food for thought. Do not forget that dating is not confined to Myer-Briggs Personality Types, and that any personality type can fall in love with any personality type, as each of us are too complex and nuanced to be encapsulated by four mere letters.

I, however, in the process of writing it,  certainly came to some conclusions of my own – namely, that, well, as long as I have books, there is very little else I need; but, we all desire companionship, sooner or later, so it’s best to keep an open mind regarding such things, even if having a partner, though it might be an evolutionary imperative, is not exactly a psychological necessity. This should not rule out the possibility of one enjoying having someone warm to curl up against at night, when your heart is too cold, and the world is too big.

But, then again, you could just get a cat for that – much less maintenance.

Why I Chose To Be Celibate

sunset

Relationships with a significant other, no matter how wonderful they may seem at the beginning, are not worth the trouble. In accordance with this personal conclusion, I have chosen to not seek “love” in this life, and remain celibate. In this post, I detail some of the reasons behind this choice. Even if you do not agree with this viewpoint, perhaps you can still take something away from some of these harsh truths of love.

Articulating why exactly I have chosen, at my age, to be celibate for the rest of my life, is difficult. After all, not only am I still young (even though I feel old, on the inside), I have never been in a relationship. This, however, does not mean there are no insights I can share regarding the bonds people make with each other, and why I think that sometimes, sometimes doing without can bring you more happiness in the long run.

The first thing you must understand is that everyone, once you get very close to them, are a little broken and insecure, just like you. At the end of the day, even the richest woman or the poorest man is afraid, because the world is a big place and life is complicated. I particularly touch upon this because some people – not only women – get into relationships in order for someone to “save” and “protect” them from the vagaries of life. Only thing is, there is nothing under the sun which can ever keep you safe forever (except perhaps money, but even that can’t shield you from everything), least of all another person; and nothing coming from another person will comfort you if those same things do not exist within yourself. Death awaits each of us, security is a myth, no-one really knows what they are doing – we might as well get used to it, rather than chase fantasies of a savior dropping into our lives.

People are also, well, selfish. Don’t get me wrong: they can be kind, and caring; but they are also angry, judgmental, selfish, lazy; we are all a combination of the good and the bad, and none of us are perfect. This means that the perfect partner that exists in your head (and I know it does; as humans, we cannot help but secretly yearn for perfection) will never be found out there, in the world. As you spend more time with a particular person, gradually their imperfections begin to rise to the surface, and you realise that even Princes and Princesses get grumpy, paranoid; that people can be both simultaneously lovable and irritating. What’s more, you are the same: you can be grumpy, and annoying, and mean. And when two people get together, for long periods of time, friction arises, passion dies, and you are left with two displeased people, unhappy in each other’s company, at best tolerating each other. It is simply human nature.

Whatever you desire in life cannot be found outside of yourself, whether it is love, or appreciation, or something to assuage loneliness. When all is said and done, only you can love yourself, appreciate yourself; and the ultimate cure to loneliness is not to partner up with other people, or have children, or surround yourself with friends, but to reconcile yourself to the innate loneliness of human existence. We live and die, alone, trapped in our own minds, and things like relationships only provide an illusion contrary to this reality.

Others also get into relationships for the elusive “emotional intimacy”, which is, in fact, an imaginary closeness you feel towards another person. No-one under the sun can truly understand you, inside and out, except yourself. You, if you do get into a relationship, can never truly understand another person; we are all mysteries to one another. Relationships are just two people, living together, having fun together, and participating in an illusion of intimacy to assuage existential loneliness. For me, this means that being on my own, and understanding myself, is more fulfilling than tying my life to someone who could never scratch the surface of who I am.

Apart from the perceived emotional benefits of getting into relationships, there are two others: Sex, and Children. Personally, the former is not an issue for me; I hardly get any “urges”, though if you are male, I can understand how being in a relationship could afford you the opportunity to relieve those particular urges. As for children, for a long time, my sole reason for one day wanting to get married was to have kids. I find babies sweet, and lovely. But we must not forget that all babies eventually grow up into their own people, with a consciousness and life entirely separate from yours – that they will be, in many ways, just as incomprehensible to you as your husband, or wife, or friend. Blood ties mean nothing: We are all individuals, separate from our family members. It would be wiser to view children not as extensions of ourselves, but little humans we are choosing to bring up – and though there may be joy in that, I find the prospect to be too tiresome and time-consuming to be worthwhile.

Those are just a few of the reasons behind my choice to remain celibate. I do not believe relationships can offer happiness; true happiness comes from within yourself, enjoying the experience of being human, and doing work that you love. My books will be my children, and I shall, each day, wake up to have a relationship with nature, and the beauty of the universe. Of course, this decision is not final: who knows, maybe one day I will meet someone who changes my mind, even despite knowing these dark realities. But that is unlikely.

In the meantime, I am perfectly happy on my own little island, gazing at the stars and thinking my own thoughts. You do not need anyone to complete you, or make you happy; all that lies within the bounds of your own control. I think it is good to remind yourself of that, every once in a while.

Loving Others & Loving Yourself

hands

Who we are is so much more than our bodies, which are but skeletal structures sheathed in flesh and skin, our eyes and noses and lips and mouths. We are our brains, our hearts, our souls. Yet it is astounding how difficult people find differentiating between the two.

One of most important skills you can learn in life is to see beyond the flesh into the soul winking and animating the body like a hand thrust in a puppet. Some never learn this, going through life focused on the wrapping paper rather than gift, which is the same as smelling food but never eating it so as to stay thin. Others discover the skill early, igniting a lifelong fascination with people.

In every life, there comes a moment when you realise those around you are just as complex as you are, possessing just as vivid and varied worlds inside their heads as you do. That they are people, with their own dreams and ambitions. entirely separate from your own. This realisation brings a sort of peace: you realise to control people, unless you have monetary wealth in abundance, and sometimes not even then, is futile, and that even those who you thought you knew well can be full of surprises and idiosyncrasies.

Racism and any other form of discrimination based on the looks of a person is the lovechild of ignorance and superficiality, of a concentration on the wrapping paper rather than the gift. Deep down, everyone knows that people are more than how they look, yet so many pretend not to, either for the sake of convenience or perceived superiority. Though our modern society is more liberal than ever, there are still many barriers to equality to overcome, and if perhaps more people were made aware of this concept, that skin is just skin, flesh is just flesh, a treasure chest overlaying the true jewels within, we would treat each other better.

Of course, this is applicable to concept of self-love as well, which, for many women, is unfortunately centered on appearances. As a person who has struggled to accept herself, flaws and all, for many years, realising that I am more than the size of my waist or the lustre of my hair has been a breakthrough. When you are kind to yourself, and really see yourself, you are kinder to others.

In the end, it’s all about being aware of what actually matters: their personality, their values, their skills, their intelligence and creativity, their laughter and smiles. For we, each of us a tiny portion of the universe, are all beautiful, and are all equal. We may have been packaged in different colours and styles of wrapping paper during our time on the physical plane, but this is irrelevant to what exists on the inside, at the level of our souls. So open the gifts that other people are, enjoy the gift that you are, so, as one with life and the universe, we can celebrate together for all eternity.

My Tiny Love Life.

Happy

So. There’s this boy I like.

I think that’s the most teenager-ish phrase I have written on this blog.

Years ago, I tried to talk to him. When he socially rejected me (not really, but I was in a sensitive phase at the time), I promptly swore to ignore him for the rest of my school years. He, having picked up on what I was doing, did likewise.

So we did this for a few years, this strange tension hanging in the air between us whenever we came in close proximity, all the time, invisible to everyone but ourselves.

And I hated it. I hated it because I wasn’t in good state of mind at the time. I hated myself, a lot. I had an inferiority complex, knotted and gnarled from a young age, and didn’t even know how to begin unraveling it. I hated that I was hurt by his lack of attention, as if I were a beggar starved of love. I hated my own idealization of him. I hated my own coldness towards him. I hated that I felt lesser than him (he is a very confident and extroverted person) and I hated, most of all, that I liked him.

He is nothing like me. Nothing at all. They say attraction doesn’t always make sense, but my brain is truly open-mouthed and agog at the idiocy of my own heart. For one thing, he denounces (if playfully) everything that I believe in: creativity, imagination, literature, books, art. He prides himself on his rationality, adores numbers and science, and believes anything other than what is objective and can be proven is airy-fairy dream dust. He’s blunt. I’m sensitive. He’s assertive. I’m passive-aggressive. He’s intimidating. I’m about as intimidating as an earthworm. He’s loud. I’m quiet. He’s surrounded by crowds of people. I always walk alone.

That just screams incompatibility.

But I…like him? Why? It doesn’t make sense. Really, it isn’t my heart speaking at all. It’s something else. Lust? No. I’m not a lustful person by nature. It’s more about the mind than the body. The body is just a flesh receptacle. Is it my soul? I don’t believe in souls. I think. I don’t know what I believe. I’m a mad, alternating mixture of rationality and irrationality. One moment, I believe in destiny and fate; the next, I denounce it as mere coincidences.

That’s another thing. Despite forcefully telling my brain to forget about him, we keep on bumping into each other. Everywhere. Not just at school. Out of school. Just, everywhere. In the most unlikeliest places, even far from home. Once, I was at some far-off area, and then I literally froze at hearing his voice right behind me, talking to someone. I couldn’t believe it. I just stood there, in utter disbelief at my own senses. Was this happening, in actual reality? Of all the places, times and days, he just had to be where I was, for, what, the fifteenth time? It’s happened often enough to veer into the surreal.

And part of me wants to shut it all down. To fire arrows at each of my flying feelings so they fall to the earth as wounded birds. Better for me to hurt myself than for him, or my hopes regarding him, to hurt me. It’s just coincidence, that’s all, I scold myself. The universe isn’t prodding you two closer. That’s just your stupid, little, hopeful heart talking, and you know how much trouble that can get you into.

Sure, he is intelligent and a lover of justice, but are you sure that it’s not all in your head? You can’t trust your heart because you dream too much. He can also be calculatingly cold and conventional and arrogant, at least in public, though you secretly think it’s a social front he puts on. You know very well you idealize people. Maybe you’re just seeing what you want to see.

But I there are some things I can’t ignore. Some things that I feel are true. That slightly embarrassed but disarmingly sweet smile when he greeted me in person for the first time. That internal pain and sensitivity that he tries so hard to bottle down by building up an armor, kind of like the way I put on a cold and aloof front so that people can’t hurt my feelings or get too close to me. And just a feeling. Of rightness. A chirp of golden light behind my left rib.

When he smiles and looks, I smile and feel seen.

Gosh, this is melting into sappiness.

I’m in a much better place now. Though I’ll never be the girl strutting down the sidewalk, I’m much more content with myself. I’ve accepted myself. I like myself. My confidence is not flashy, but quiet and understated. I have a surety in regards to who I am, what I want, what I love, and that keeps me strong. Of course, I’m still prone to the odd surge of self-loathing and criticism, but I’m getting better at it. I’ve always had high standards, and I don’t think that’s always a bad thing. Everything in moderation, as they say.

And even if nothing happens between us, his existence has been a blessing. Each time he crops up in my day-to-day life, I’ve re-thought some thoughts I have regarding other people and myself. His very existence has made me a more optimistic person, because he is an optimistic person. It has encouraged me to smile and laugh more, to not take everything so seriously. To even love myself, by using him as an example of steady confidence.

I do dearly want love. I want to be understood, for who I am  – to be seen. I feel like he can understand, better than others, but I don’t want to think about that because I don’t want to hope too much. If I ever did love someone, I would be utterly loyally, and give it all my heart. I love very, very deeply, when it’s the right person. It’s just the right person has never really come along.

And now maybe he has. Or maybe I’m just seeing shapes in the clouds that aren’t there. Either way, I’m learning, I’m growing. I’m concentrating my efforts on bettering myself rather than pining. Love isn’t about devotion, laying your life down for someone. It’s about deep, mutual respect and deep friendship and sweetness and laughter.

Love is a gift. If it comes my way, I’ll be incandescently grateful. If it doesn’t, I will still be wonderful. I will still carve out my own dreams. Build my towers. Weather the rains and storms. Become a better person. Grow. Live my life.

I’m happy with me. I’m nice and kind to myself.