How To Love Yourself When You Are An Outsider

alone girl hi

The clamor for good self-esteem has become almost cliché, an excuse for parading out a barrage of aphorisms: Love Yourself For Who You Are, Accept Yourself, Love Yourself and Others Shall Love You, Woman.

Whether that means loving your skin, or eyes, despite the White Beauty ideals seen on magazines and television; or flaunting those curves or hips rather than hiding them, it is part of a new wave of Self-Love scouring across society.

And sure, I can relate.

Being Asian myself, and very thin to boot (throughout school, I was teased mercilessly for my stick-thin wrists, and a girl once, upon raking her eyes over my spindly body in a bathing suit during swim class before puberty hit, pronounced me a “monkey” – skinny-shaming is just as debilitating as fat-shaming), I have had to deal with self-confidence issues related to these two traits, just like people who are a little on the plump side, people with disabilities, any physical signifier that classifies them as “Ugly” or “Other”.

But so much of the recent Self-Love onslaught focuses on appearances, particularly the appearances of women. And while that is all good and important, humans being highly visual creatures, very little attention to paid to the confidence issues one has to deal with by having a particular personality.

Personality is the true determining factor of your self-confidence, I think, at least in one’s younger years. It is much easier to feel happy with yourself when others seek out your company, like to talk with you; when you feel loved, approved of, accepted – and when peer acceptance is not present, low self-esteem is often, unfortunately, a natural consequence.

For instance, for many years I was made to feel defective for being introverted, so introspective that I barely paid any attention to the real world reeling by before my eyes. In the media, in modern literature, a new breed of the ideal woman was sprouting forth to smash traditional gender barriers: independent and bold and confident – in other words, extroverted. Though this “New Woman” allowed for greater opportunities among the female populace, at least in Western countries, doing so only replaced a previous admittedly debilitating standard for women with another – less constraining, yes, but a new standard to measure oneself up against, nonetheless.

Being Asian, in this case, actually made matters worse, as there is this absolutely nonsensical stereotype that all Asian women (I do hate using racial monikers; we’re individuals, not groups; people do not think all, say, brunettes or Caucasian men possess the same personality type, so why the generalizations?) are shy and submissive. As an INFP, a personality type which naturally, even among males, is conflict-averse, withdrawn, dreamy and, yes, has a tendency to be quiet and shy and burrowed in a corner with a book, I fit into this stereotype perfectly.

But, racial stereotypes aside, it is a fact that introverts, or any outsiders, have greater difficulty with self-esteem than their extroverted or more accepted counterparts. People find “confidence” (Read: Extroverted) beautiful, they find a “sense of humor” (Read: Usually Gregarious) attractive; and those who are shy, reserved, slightly weird, are overlooked or disliked, dubbed sometimes, infuriatingly, as possessing no personality at all.

It is hard, to learn to love yourself, when not only do people not seem to like you, they do not even see you.

How can you love something that does not exist?

On top of being shy, introspective, and skinny as a rake, I also had Asperger’s, suffered from social anxiety, and, lo and behold, was a creative thinker and writer – and we all know how solitary and odd writers or original thinkers have a habit of feeling in mainstream society, probably accounting for their general recluse lifestyles throughout history. This is not me complaining (Oh, Delia, my dear, I had such a hard time of it, you can’t possibly imagine!); all I am doing is trying to point out the various contributing factors, along with living in a low-income household that could not afford items such as new clothing more than every few years (“daggy” clothes are not great for popularity), that led me to have such low self-esteem for years, and years. Long, long suffering years.

Oh, actually, I am garnering for a little sympathy here, but it comes from a good place: perhaps some of you out there can relate, to any of this, and will feel less alone for it.

The bullying from my peers, ranging from abuse to exclusion, the days spent hidden in the back of the library, the days spent watching television showcasing people who looked nothing like me, a lack of supportive friends, not looking right, acting right – all this, for an excruciatingly sensitive and aware child, and later teenager, added up. I did not like myself – no, I loathed myself.

As if that wasn’t enough, once the Self-Love movement took off, self-help books flying off the shelves, people told me I just had to realise I was “worthy”.

Yes, indeed; it is easy to feel worthy without the particular history I had, without the particular brain and psychology, the particular body, skin, experiences; it is easy for you to say that, when you are talkative and loved and have never spent time alone in the bathrooms, imagining yourself being flushed down the toilet in a gurgling swirl of oblivion; it is easy for you to say that, when you are not slightly neurologically different from others, when you do not feel like an Outsider, when you are not so sensitive each day is a tiny battle, each night a time to cry, and bandage your accumulated wounds.

It is easy to say that, when you are Extroverted, or Straight, or a Non-Minority, or Well-Liked, or Neurotypical, or Male (though this is unfair, men, on average, tend to suffer from fewer self-esteem problems than Women), or Non-HSP, or Non-INFP, or Well-Off and can Fit In Happily.

(Note: I do not mean to say that Extroverted, Straight, Caucasian, Well-Liked, Neurotypical, Wealthy or Male individuals do not have any problems: I am simply trying to make a point that when you are an Insider, it is rather presumptuous to dole out voice to an Outsider)

It is easy for you to say that I simply must feel “worthy”, when everything and everyone your life has affirmed that, and everything in mine has pointed to the contrary.

Frankly, just being an INFP and Highly Sensitive, especially if you are male, is enough to lower your self-confidence drastically, let alone the extra baggage I dragged around. What’s worse, being sensitive dreamers, we have a tendency to blame ourselves whenever anything goes wrong.

People, extroverted individuals surrounded by friends, told me, I should tell myself I was “worthy”. They were speaking from a good place; they just wanted to help. But when I was unsuccessful at raising my self-confidence that way, I believed there was something wrong with me. I grew ashamed of my lack of self-esteem, which only fueled the self-hatred.

I was a big, fat Not.

Not curvy enough. Not talkative enough. Not outspoken enough. Not friendly enough. Not normal enough. Not realistic enough. Not pretty enough. Not. Not. Not. Not. Not. Not.

Also, I was a big, fat Too.

Too weird. Too quiet. Too shy. Too strange. Too sensitive. Too poor. Too androgynous. Too isolated. Too skinny. Reads Too much. Thinks Too much. Head Too stuck in the clouds.

Above all, what drove the pain deeper, and still stabs me now and then today, was my unbearable loneliness, for I had no friends – and loneliness, as you may well know, only breeds further insecurity. A young female, or male, lonely and misunderstood, is bound to have some problems loving themselves without either a dose of wisdom or intervention.

In my case, the intervention was internal. And the recovery slow.

Yes, I did realise I was fine, just the way I was; that many writers, throughout history, had been considered eccentric, reclusive, shy, and many even had Asperger’s – so I was not alone, really; and perhaps, if I was not the way I was, I would not have my creativity, or interest in writing, or my imagination. That being shy daydreamer does not make me submissive woman; I have my own inner strength, only it is expressed differently. That the negative opinions of other people, though they hurt when expressed (“Shit! Look at your wrist: Are you anorexic?” “You’re too, um, quiet”) are less important than how I think about myself.

But the turning point, for me, was the realisation that, in the end, no-one really cares whether you are strange or different or shy, as everyone is too focused on themselves, and that everyone, even the most privileged, like all humans, go through their share of suffering. Sure, you may suffer more, you may feel lonely more frequently – but is that so bad a price to pay, for your unique gifts of sensitivity, compassion, creativity, perspective etc.? You may be disadvantaged in some respects, but blessed in others. Everyone is good at something; everyone has a spark, deep within them.

It is true, what they say: self-acceptance does come from the inside; but you will not find it by repeating mantras to yourself (I am worthy, I am worthy, please let me feel worthy…), or pretending you like being an outcast, or wearing a mask of superiority (Those unoriginal commoners!).

Instead, it comes from having a realistic outlook – no-one really cares that much about you, so you might as well care for you – and feeling compassion for all human beings. Even those who possess all the traits society accepts, they, just like you, have their moments of awkwardness, isolation, their own internal conflicts and problems.

We are all outcasts, deep in our hearts, only some people are better at hiding it. By the same token, we are all beautiful, in our unique and wonderful ways, and even if other people do not see or affirm it, you must. Hard as it may be to possess a trait that deviates from the norm, you can use it to your advantage and, if not like, at least accept your differences, in spite of the pain, in spite of the suffering.

Loving yourself, as an outsider, is not about never feeling uncomfortable or out of place among other people; that will never go away. Instead, it is about feeling Acceptance and Compassion: For The People Around You, For Others, and, most of all, For Yourself.

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Do You See Me?

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Who am I?

I will tell you who I am, because no-one knows who I am, and everyone I meet in real life invalidates who I am or doesn’t understand me, and I ache with the desire to be seen.

I am the girl who spends her time on the bus watching the other people and the people on the sidewalk outside the window, delighted to the point of ecstasy by their quirks and mannerisms, and making up stories about their lives.

I am the girl who pauses in the middle of the sidewalk to stare at a trail of ivy curling up against a building’s face, enraptured by its beauty.

I am the girl bloated with characters and worlds, my insides a-swirl with glimmering universes waiting to be tethered down and given form through words.

I am the girl so wracked with insecurities and a sense of apartness from the rest of society her soul burns with yearning for other people’s spontaneity, their confidence, their ease, their ability to not see the shadows in the street corners and the blood in the gutters and the bones amongst the rocks.

I am the girl who will imagine a relationship with a boy who barely even notices her to alleviate her loneliness because no-one understands her, then have that fantasy shattered by a real life encounter, leaving her feeling stupid and delusional and very, very pathetic.

I am the girl who will pause beside a patch of flowers and peek into their pollen centres, imagining tiny sleeping fairies curled up on them.

I am the girl who escapes, into books, imagination, into art, because the magical and strange and surreal make her feel euphoric, and because reality is so despicable and disgusting a creature she always pushes it out onto the welcome mat whenever it comes knocking on the door.

I am the girl who, whenever she asks someone whether they ever “feel” that way, divulging a personal experience of self-hatred or self-consciousness or the way she notice little things like a tarnished coin in the gutters or a golden break in the grey clouds above the city, receives only amused confusion, sometimes an outright shrug, sometimes an outright “Nope, I have no fucking clue what you mean!” And then she laugh in return, telling them it was all a joke, as a corner of her soul curls up and dies. “Just my social anxiety acting up!” “I do not really hate my face when I go out sometimes so much I want to peel it off like a mask! Ha-ha!” “Who cares about the sky!”

I am the girl so introverted fifteen minutes’ worth of conversation is enough to exhaust her, but who forces herself to smile and grin and talk, because that is what people tell her she should do. Her mind is like a turtle, buried deep in its skull-shell, peeking out now and then only to peer curiously at the world without.

I am the girl who receives flashes of divine inspiration and knows she will be a writer one day, even if she is so scared of not achieving that goal sometimes it feels like her heart is throwing up.

I am the girl who believes she knows, intuitively, how someone is feeling and the terrain of their mental landscape just by observing them for a few minutes, even if people say she is being delusional.

I am the girl who believes that the universe speaks to her, through coincidences and signs and sychronicities, because too many strange and unlikely things have happened for it to be anything less than that. Of course, when voicing this belief to other people, she is met with further disgust and disparagement, and has henceforth chosen to decline telling people that she also believes she is clairsentient, and can feel how someone is feeling, even if they are faraway, just by focusing on them.

I am the girl who wonders about the line between creativity and madness – whether her ability to make connections between disparate objects makes her, in many ways, delusional: in short, is she mad, or is everyone else simply asleep?

I am the girl who thinks so much about everything, from the nature of reality to why particular animals developed patterned fur, that she feels odd just for researching random facts every five minutes.

I am the introverted girl, the sensitive girl, the crazy girl, the shy girl, the smart girl, the idealistic girl, the romantic girl, the creative girl, and I feel sick and sad and mad and deliriously happy and achingly lonely on most days, often all at once, and hate myself and love myself and doubt myself a thousand times over every second.

I am me. And I want to be seen.

Choosing A Career

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**To get INFP and general life advice, or Skype counselling conversations, or to choose a blog topic, click HERE or the link: http://www.patreon.com/dreamerrambling

Being the introverted, intuitive, creative, idealistic little dreamer I am, choosing a career isn’t easy.

I’m so jealous of those people who seem to shoot out of their mothers’ wombs knowing what they want to become. I have a friend who is dead set on becoming a marine biologist and has been ever since she could talk. I have people who tell me, oooh, I want to either do this or that or, hmmm, maybe even that? with smiles lighting up their faces.

And I just stand there, nodding and smiling, dreading the moment when they pop the question, ‘So…do you know what you want to do?’ And, maybe it’s just me, but that line is always delivered with such an accusatory, judgmental air, and I feel like I am before some invisible, nebulous jury who will pronounce me unfit for society when I tell them, ‘Uh…no, not really, I mean, I’m still sort of looking into options.’ Clash, bang, down goes the hammer.

I got to thinking about this the other day. As I child, I always assumed I would become either an author. It was an immutable decision in my head. I think it’s fair to say that at that age (six), I hadn’t been able to factor in the reality of money. Or any thing realistic at all, really. All I knew was that my little heart yearned to put paper to pen like all my lovely heroes, Roald Dahl, Enid Blyton, Paul Jennings, Ray Bradbury. But, if I have to put writing on the sideboard as a hobby rather than a career, what can I do? And, as usual, to work out the problem, I wrote the pros and cons of various careers down.

1. Journalist. I mean, I like writing, right? And journalism is a field that employs the written word. I could, you know, do that, can’t I? But, then again, I hear you have to sniff out stories at the crack of dawn and interview people ferociously. I’m the least chatty and charismatic person on the planet. Not sure if that would work out. And jobs are scarce in journalism at the moment.

2. English Teacher. I’m not the most verbally eloquent but I can get by, as least when I’m not nervous. I’m great at explaining complicated concepts, breaking them down into layman terms. And I love kids, I love seeing the beams of understanding on their faces. And English has always been my best and favourite subject, even in highschool. It would be perfect but it would be incredibly draining as an extreme introvert. Trust me, I’ve had first-hand experience. The level of noise that can be achieved in a classroom – ! Perhaps I have to just adapt myself to the environment? Or become a tutor rather than a classroom teacher.

3.  Counselor. Really appealing. One-to-one contact. Still would be draining but less so than talking and being animated in front of a class all day. I would get to talk about FEELINGS all day, and feelings are the essence of my soul. Hope that didn’t sound too dramatic. And I get to help people solve their problems. And be sensitive and caring and nice. But apparently Psychology courses at university are stuffed chock-full of science and spiky statistics rather than hands-on work. Would I be able to hold my interest? Not to mention job security at the end of the degree and the fact that, as a HSP, I would absorb all the emotions, darn it!

4. Editor/Writer. For some online magazine, I suppose. There are lots of those floating around lately on the ocean of the web. But I have no idea how to even crack into a field and whether I have the chutzpah to do it, especially in this ‘economy’ (newsflash: the economy doesn’t exist, it is fabricated by humans and only lives in our minds and has no bearing on reality whatever).

5. A Speech Pathologist. I mean, a lot of it is one-to-one contact. And it involves linguistics, which can sort of satisfy the literary monster within me. And I always loved biology in high school and would prefer to work with the children and the elderly rather than adults. Not a stable career where I live though, the majority of speech pathologists hold part-time jobs.  

6. Translator. You need some creativity or, shall we say, flexibility of mind to work in translation, to be able to switch from one language to another. And, if I’m translating written work, it would fit my introversion. Yes, sitting down and translating at my laptop at home in my pajamas sounds very nice indeed. The only problem is, the only language I’m good at is English. Wouldn’t it be too late to try learning a whole new language from scratch? Should’ve kept those French classes.

7. Advertising director. Creative job. Someone has to come up with unique ideas for advertisements and write the slogans on pamphlets. And I could use my writing skills and it pays well to, at least, working in advertising does. It might be a bit too extroverted of a job for my tastes, but hey, no job can be perfect, right? But is apparently very high-stress, with all the deadlines and whatnot. As a highly sensitive and anxious person, I would prefer a more toned-down occupation but I you can’t everything. I will have to sell a little bit of my soul though, seeing as I hate the entire concept of consumerism and psychologically manipulating people to buy mere objects that they don’t need.

8. Copywriter. Churn out the slogans, write for the pamphlets, be the word flag waver for these countless corporations that want to bleed your pockets dry. But, seriously, it could work? Then again, how does one go about creating a portfolio to get hired. It’s not an easy field to crack into but perhaps I just need to believe in myself a bit more.

As you can tell, I still have no idea what I want to do. I just want a day-job that pays the bills and doesn’t suck out my soul each day so I can go home and spend the rest of my time writing. Deep down, I just want to escape from society and live in a garret in the woods or something as a starving artist, picking off squirrels and writing from dawn till night. But we all know that’s not going to happen.

-Dreamerrambling

I Want To Be Anyone But Me

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I Want To Be Anyone But Me

I want to be anyone but me.

I hate being introverted.

I hate the shiver of anxiety I get when I talk to someone new.

I hate the fact that I can’t talk and be bubbly for as long as I want to.

I hate that social interaction makes me feel like my cells are withering after an hour or so.

I hate that people think I hate people. I don’t. I just hate the feeling I get when around too many people for too long.

I hate people drawing me out of my book to talk to me. Just, please. Can I have a little bit of peace?

I hate the fact that my mother thinks I have a mental disorder because I don’t want to be around people all the time.

I hate how she puts me down and hits me because I had a mental breakdown after a day of work and university.

I hate that no-one around me understands.

I hate that the people who ‘get it’ are in books or on the internet.

I hate that I can’t live my life in a hut somewhere on a remote island and just live on wild plants and read and write everyday.

I hate the fact that I completely understand why Emily Dickinson became a recluse.

I hate knowing that so many careers are closed off because I can’t stand extended periods of social interaction.

I hate that the only times I am happy are when I am reading or daydreaming.

I hate feeling so out of place. Everyone seems to be swirling around in the maelstrom of life while I teeter on the edge of it, an observer, peering into the dark, thrashing masses and trying to make sense of it all and never succeeding.

I hate having to please and satisfy the social demands of extroverts.

I hate feeling shame for stealing away to be by myself.

I hate people’s reactions when they find me, all alone with my thoughts, happy as a breeze, in some corner. Why the pity and scorn? Why? I’m not weird just because I’m not mingling. Stop it. Stop making me feel like nothing.

I hate introversion being mistook for submissiveness. Especially since I’m a feminist. They. Are. Not. The. Same. Thing.

I hate having to keep quiet in class even when I know the answer to the question the teacher is proposing, simply because it uses up too much of my socializing battery to speak, my voice echoing through the room, everyone watching, everyone listening.

I hate knowing that I could be a great English teacher but being barred by my introversion. Teaching? Got first-hand experience. Could I do it? For years and years and years? Day in, day out, laughter, chatter, talking, talking, talking, students, teachers. Help.

I hate being highly sensitive.

I hate that I can’t stand next a busy highway without wanting to curl into a ball and wail because of the noise.

I hate that I pick up on everything, social cues, gestures, until I convince myself that everyone hates me.

I hate that I can’t stand my raucous students after thirty minutes.

I hate having to leave the room to go to the bathroom when a bloody or violent and frightening scene appears in a movie and seeing the derisive glances of my friend, ‘Oh, what a wimp, what a soft, weak, little, fragile thing.’

I hate having to move to a different seat in the classroom with everyone watching my migration because one of the fluorescent bulbs above me is flashing.

I hate that I feel like crying if someone looks at me the wrong way.

I hate replaying every social situation or blunder or painful experience from the day. Over and over again. Like a tumor I can’t rip out.

I hate the fact that my own mother doesn’t understand and in her fits of frustration at my sensitivity (life is hard for everyone! Pick yourself up! Why are you crying just because you’re tired of noise and people and talking? What’s wrong with you? You have a mental disorder. SHUT UP. It’s not sensitivity. Don’t use it as an excuse. You’re lazy and didn’t get enough sleep. You’re useless. How do you expect to survive in the workforce? Whack. Slap.) Her physical assaults only sting but the emotional pain burrows deep inside my soul.

I hate being an extreme right brain thinker.

I hate not being practical.

I hate having my head up in the clouds so people think I’m either crazy or weird. Or both.

I hate liking the humanities more than the math and sciences. Math and science are practical. They will get me a ‘proper job.’ It’s where the money is, darling. Now go and study those scrawling numbers that are like barbed wires sticking into your brain, prodding and churning it into a grey mush.

I hate how I’m not suited for any job in the world except being a writer. That’s going to pay the mortgage, isn’t it? Sitting at my desk, typing words, not knowing if I’m just fooling myself and not selling any stories. Not to mention the self-doubt. Besides, your parents will need you to support them, one day. Give up your dreams. Stop being fucking foolish.

I hate people making me feel dumb for liking the soft subjects, the arts, literature, philosophy, anthropology, history. I’m sorry, okay? My brain just isn’t intelligent enough to chew through quantum physics and calculus. And I’d rather die a million horrible deaths than force myself to study them because something deep within me roars and screams and tears at its rib cage enclosure when I do, screaming to me that I’m wasting my time, my life, my abilities, that I’m trying to sieve cement, that I hate this so much, all these dead numbers and formulas, that the only way I could ever push through it is if I daydream and imagine the numbers coming to life and peeling away from the page and pirouetting across the ceiling, telling me about what life is like in a textbook and the students they meet everyday.

I hate that I don’t like the practical subjects, which means I can’t get a practical jobs, which means I’ll be poor forever. Or so they say. Or so my mother says, with her disappointed glare. Only my mother can look both disappointed and affronted at the same time.

I hate my mother’s wrath when I told her in high school that I wanted to drop math. I hated her threats. I hated her telling me I was her only hope and that if I didn’t study some practical subjects, she would die in poverty. Did I want to do that? Her own mother? Sell your soul with a smile, dear.

I hate having weird, off-beat thoughts. I hate having once made the mistake of voicing them once. I hated the judgmental stares and the silence.

I hate feeling like such a freak in a left-brain society. I hate the fact that health and engineering and accounting or whatever are where the jobs are and the art courses are being cut back at universities every year. Arts degree? Pffft. Hope your parents are rich. Literature and writing is a luxury, darling. First, go off and study something practical, like pharmacy. Then you can save up money to dabble in your quaint, little writing hobby. Besides, who knows if you’re good enough to make it? Don’t take the risk. You’re probably not good enough. Only one in a billion make it. You can’t make it.

Money. Love. Money. Love. ‘Money!’ they scream, gold fever fizzling in eyes, lips stretched wide and teeth whisked with gleams, a billion faces, clutching banknotes and throwing them like green birds into the air. Love. Love? It’s a job, honey. You’re not meant to love it. A starving, disheveled writer at his desk in a garret, nibbling on a piece of bread and fighting for crumbs with the rats. Now, now, you wouldn’t want that would you? That’s it, get in line, become a good, hardworking citizen of society. Join the ranks! Collect your retirement money. Live for the weekends. Don’t think too much. They say that helps.

‘She was such a quiet, strange child,’ said Society.

‘Oh?’

‘Oh, yes. In kindergarten, wouldn’t talk to or play with any of the other kids. Best friend was a cat.’

‘How queer.’

‘I’ll say. And she reads, all the time. And she always looks off into space. She gives me the creeps, to be honest.’

‘What does she want to be when she grows up?’

‘Ha! Get a load of this. A writer. The stupid flake wants to be a writer. When her parents are in a state of such indigence. Irresponsible. Flighty. Morose.’

‘Does she need to see a doctor? We can book a psychiatrist for her. There’s something terribly wrong. Yes. Not quite right in the head.’

‘Yes,’ says Society, and pats the heads of laughing, gaggling children.

I hate me.

Reaching Out

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I need your advice.

I know each and everyone of you have very busy lives and that there are better ways to ask questions on the internet, such as on yahoo answers, but I’ve just met so many wonderful, lovely introverted or highly sensitive people through my blog that it makes my heart ache with joy because they UNDERSTAND that I thought it would be better to ask the tiny community on my blog or any empathetic readers that straggle by.

I hope that doesn’t sound presumptuous.

Given my lack of blog posts, I don’t blame any of you for not tuning in to my rambles.

Either way, I’ll spill out my emotional guts as usual.

For the past few weeks, I’ve been drained. Absolutely drained. Bone-crushing, cement seeping, cells withering kind of drained. The kind of drained that makes you want to collapse into a dead faint and sleep for a thousand years. My nerves are fried, they spark intermittently with bursts of anxiety and tension. Even the skin on my face feels as if it were old and sagging like leather, though it looks perfectly smooth and youthful in the mirror. This is a fatigue that has set its roots in my soul. And I want out.

Why are you on the verge of throwing in the towel and moving to the Tibetan mountains to become a monk just so you can have some solitude, you may ask? I’m currently a student at school. I am studying a strenuous course jam-packed with contact hours. Jam-packed. Forty hours a week. No time to take a breather in the library or bathroom cubicle. Rush, rush, rush, from lunchroom, to classroom, to get on the bus for the racous commute, to home. I am an extreme introvert. Like, more than 89% introverted. Which means all of that whizzing around? It is exhausting. I’ve felt like a robot set in triple-speed motion, all blurred limbs and buzzing brain.

Now, if it were just the classes, I would be dead brain tired. After all, I even hated high school due to the extreme noise and requisite social interaction in that institutional hellhole. But, no. Oh, no. On top of all that (which may sound like not much, but for an extreme introvert and anxiety sufferer, it’s like being put onto a forever tightening torture rack each day), I have a part-time job. Why? For money.

I don’t come from an extravagant background. Even though my parents aren’t dirt-poor anymore, they’re still struggling with the mortgage and other bills. They can’t help me when it comes to paying for tuition, buying textbooks (and they can get real expensive. I mean, what are they, made out of solid gold?), paying for food, for school supplies, for transport, etc. And I don’t want to leech off my parents and put even more strain on them in their middle age. They’ve endured enough. I need to be independent and make my own livelihood.

After all, even dreamers have to eat.

So I work at my part-time job after school hours. Seems pretty normal, right? Fit it in when you’ve got time sort of thing. I’ve been working as a part-time teacher for teenagers in high school. Hey, shut up, you have a job, what are you whining for? But it’s like two school days packed into a twelve hours. Like trying to cram two meaty burgers into one’s already shrunken stomach instead of the usual one, and even that it usually has trouble digesting.

And the job isn’t some introverted stocking-the-shelves kind of gig. It’s teaching. I have to be animated, talk in front of the class, smile until I feel my lips are going to drop off, followed my cheeks. It means crinkling up my eyes in bubbliness, because it’s the only way to get their attention, a happy-go-lucky persona, until I want to gouge out my own eyeballs so I can turn this world to blackness and not have to look or face it any longer. It’s slowly killing my life force.

I’m convalescing in bed right now. I’m sick. I have a sore throat, achy limbs. It’s obvious I can’t keep it up. I so desperately crave solitude after a day of slogging at university but I’m not getting it. I’m jumping from the lion’s mouth into a pit of fire. Screaming silently all the way. And I don’t know what to do.

I need the money.

It’s hard for someone like me to find another job. I found this one after many applications. I’m also sick of the application process. Maybe it’s just fear? This job pays well for someone with my level of experience and I feel like I am giving up an opportunity others would die for (ironic, seeing as I feel like I’m practically slowly dying for it).

I’ve tried asking to switch the classes to the weekends. Been told right of the bat that it isn’t going to happen, something about the schedules of the students and their parents. Was wallowing in too much despair to absorb the exact details.

What’s a girl got to do? I’m so sick of this loud, talkative world, it makes my brain rattle and tangles my nerves terribly. I can’t stand it, I want to scream and bawl and cry. I want to hide in some remote cave and live off bats, anything is better than this (well, maybe not that exactly, I couldn’t bear to kill a living creature. Gah. I’m so soft and sensitive it’s no wonder I’m trampled over by the callous, thick-skinned, extroverted people of this land).

Note:  My self-deprecating part of me would like to say some things right now : Oh, poor little me, poor little me. I know I’m being selfish complaining about my introversion issues when people are struggling with far greater issues in the world. My empathy and imagination simply cannot ignore that others might be suffering much more. And that any of you who read this needn’t give a damn about me, I’m just another voice on the internet. So, please, if I’m taking up your time unnecessarily, do not answer. I have no right to your time.

So, here is my question. What should I do? Quit? Stay?

The thought of quitting is liberating, my lungs expand in response and my nerves slacken. But some part of me whispers, maybe you’re giving up too easy. I mean, you’ll have to a get a job one day, right? If you can’t handle this, what if you can’t handle a job in the future? What if you just need to toughen it out? 

I don’t know. All I know is I am a highly frazzled extreme introvert/HSP in need of your help.

Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, if you cared enough to read this long-winded post this far.  

Dreamerrambling 

Feeling Ugly

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Hi.

I used to hate my looks. I avoided looking into mirrors. I squashed any compliments on my appearance. I voraciously consumed what the media told me was beautiful – tall, thin, curvaceous, busty and perfect facial features. Every woman in a magazine or television was a moving work of art. And I hated myself for not being even close to looking like them.

It didn’t help that I was highly sensitive, idealistic and introverted. I was this little, shy girl and inside me was a  mess of insecurity, self-hatred, perfectionism and anxiety that brewed and knotted itself into greater insidious tangles. I didn’t have many friends (two, to be exact) to feed my ego. I never really talked to boys and had zilch reassurance from the opposite sex that I wasn’t disgusting. My mother was no help. She called me beautiful but it was perfunctory, as I was her daughter. My sister tore down my self-esteem every day through verbal abuse, commenting on every aspect of my looks until I wanted to cry. She laughs about it now and tells me she was joking but I have never really forgiven her. What she did was cruel. She didn’t realize that every insult dug like barbed wires into my skin and that, as a result, I was bleeding for many years.

After being bombarded with representations of beauty, it got to the point where I was too anxious to leave the house. My face and body seemed odious. In my head, I imagined coating my face in tar so other people wouldn’t have to look at it’s ugliness.  My eye were not brilliant enough. My eyelashes were not long enough. My nose seemed to be a fat potato resting in the center of my face. My lips were too broad. Now I know I look perfectly normal. But at the time, my mind warped my face into one that was freakish and grotesque. My idealism yearned for perfect skin, perfect eyes, perfect body, perfect lips, perfect hair. I wanted to be elegant and flawless and every day the mirrors contradicted this illusion.

I started binge eating intermittently. My depression started to tickle at the edges of my consciousness. I experienced immense anxiety if I was stared at. I avoided people because I thought they wouldn’t want to hang around someone as ugly as me. I had flighty urges which I never acted on to wear a paper bag over my head when going out. Hoodies began to be my favorite clothes. I watched movies to escape but it only made the problem worse as the actresses were all stunning.

How did I get out of this funk? No, I didn’t come to the epiphany that beauty did not matter. Of course beauty matters. Beautiful people consistently receive higher salaries, have more friends, are more successful, happier and confident and even perceived as being more intelligent and likeable. There were girls at school at the time who were fantastically beautiful, intelligent and witty. The jealousy writhed within me every day. It was incredibly unhealthy. I could see their bright future ahead of them. And my future? It was bleak.

In the end, what helped me to come to terms with my looks was pondering about existence. I became aware of my own mortality. I realized how stupid a thing it was, to care about one’s external beauty when one day everyone’s flesh will rot and their bones will crumble. When we’re fertilizer, we’ll all look the same. Also, beauty fades. When I am old and wrinkled, will I lament not leaving behind something that will immortalize me, such as a book, or that fact that I was never pretty or that my beauty is gone? I’m sure I couldn’t give a damn about beauty if I was on my deathbed. No one would. They would be thinking about the significance of their life, whether they had any regrets and be reliving joys.

Beauty can sometimes be every thing. In our society, looks are paramount. Humans are visual creatures. The prettier you are, the more chance you have of attracting a mate, of getting a job, of being selected as a model or actress, etc. But in the full scheme of things, when life or death stares at you hard in the face, beauty doesn’t matter one jot. Whether you are ugly, average or beautiful, you are still going to experience suffering and sorrow. You are still going to be born. You are still going to die one day. Because we’re all humans. We’re all blood and sinew underneath. It doesn’t matter.

Do I still feel ugly sometimes? Hell yeah. And, just saying, Facebook doesn’t help. But do I let it get to me so much anymore? No. Even if you’re not the most attractive person, you can still read. You can still write. You can still dream. You can still create. You can do all sorts of things. You can be happy without being the epitome of beauty. You can be happy with being average. If you think you’re ugly, you can use make-up sparingly to brighten things up and work on your confidence. There’s always going to be someone out there who thinks you’re beautiful.

You’re beautiful. So what? You’re ugly. So what? No one really cares.

So, all I’m going to say is, live your life, breathe the air, smile and to hell with what society or other people think. You are you. You exist. You have a mind. You can think. Your hands can do things, your eyes can see. And that’s all that matters.

Why I Love Being Highly Sensitive

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Hi.

It seems that high sensitivity is more often viewed as a liability than an asset. In my last post, I lamented some of the difficulties I have experienced as a HSP.

However, I don’t think we should forget all the wonderful abilities and attributes highly sensitive people have. And yes, even if we don’t fit in with the rest of society sometimes, react far too strongly to everything and are viewed as just plain weird or different, the silver lining is glorious. I wouldn’t trade my high sensitivity for anything.

So, without further ado, here are a few reasons why I love being highly sensitive (I really have come far in acceptance and I am proud of myself. Used to think of myself as defective and now I am writing a blog post on why I love being sensitive. Go figure).

1. Good listeners. We are that kind friend who listens to others pour out their sorrows. Except we don’t do it just to put on a show and be a ‘caring friend’. When you tell us your worries and problems, we truly feel for you. Acutely. Because we are so finely tuned to emotions, we empathize incredibly well with people. And that’s why I am always the shoulder to cry on in my circle of friends.

2. Imagination and creativity. Okay, I know that people who are not highly sensitive can have great imaginations and creative capabilities as well. But I swear, my imagination is directly linked to my sensitivity. If I wasn’t so incredibly sensitive to all sorts of things as most people, I don’t think such vivid ideas and images that I translate into stories I write would ever spring to my mind. It’s like having a more fine tuned nervous system makes me more aware of what is weird, fantastical, beautiful and wondrous.

3. Being a HSP makes me highly intuitive. I can ‘feel’ the emotions of other people. But I don’t only operate in the arena of feelings. Oh no. I can sense what others are thinking, what their dreams and goals are, what they worry about, etc. I’m not saying I am psychic or anything. I can just read people really well. And I am usually uncannily right. I can tell if a person is fake or genuine, moral or immoral, simply through observation of their mannerisms. Sometimes, I am the only one who sees it when a person acts superficial, glib words spouting from their mouths much to the delight of others.

4. Appreciation of nature, art and music. When I say ‘appreciation’ I don’t mean it in the normal sense of the word, that ‘I really like this stuff because it’s so beautiful’. No. When HSPs say they appreciate things like art, we often mean that we cannot live without it and that if we come in contact with it, we are in heaven and tears seep out of our eyes like there is no tomorrow. It doesn’t happen with all kinds of art or music. But when we hit upon something that really touches us, we become some of the most happiest people in the world at that moment. When I read an achingly beautiful line in a book or my eyes land upon a fantastically strange surreal artwork, I want to cry with joy because it is all so beautiful that my mind and body is utterly overwhelmed.

5. HSPs are compassionate. At my core, I am an idealist who is filled with empathy and compassion that I want to expend. Translation: I want to help suffering animals, children, insects, adults, teenagers, the misunderstood, the overlooked, the underdogs, that decrepit library that should be renovated so it can bring joy to readers, that poor pair of shoes that must feel so lonely because it hasn’t been worn for so long and that poor careworn blanket that wants nothing more than to be hugged…you get the idea. I was that kind of kid who does things like trying to revive a dead ant by letting it crawl out of the water onto a stick to dry in the sun or is filled with anguish when seeing dead birds lying near the pavement.

6. Curiosity. I don’t think I am at all smart or intellectual. Just because I think deeply about things now and then doesn’t make me better than other people in the mental department. It just means my brain is wired a little differently, being a HSP, introvert and right-brained thinker and all. But I truly believe that my sensitivity at the very least lends me great curiosity. Because I am so hyper-aware and notice every little detail, whether it be of my physical surroundings or of the emotions and reactions of other people, I am a very curious person. I see everything, so I want to know everything. I hunger for knowledge, to figure things out about people and the world.

7. Allows me to see the important things in life. Perhaps this ability is a combination of my introversion and being an INFP. But nevertheless, I think that being a HSP has allowed me to see the bigger picture and cut down to what truly matters in life. This is due to my extensive observation throughout my life of the world and people and subsequent introspection. I don’t go for the petty things. I just know that there are greater and more magical things in life to worry or care about. And that’s pretty cool.  

So there you are. I’m sure I missed out on lots of things. And I’m sure other HSPs might have different things they love about their high sensitivity. I’d just like to say that some of the worlds most famous writers, inventors and pioneers had traits of high sensitivity. And that makes me happy. I am not gloating. But I feel happy to know that I shared a personality trait with all those wonderful human beings with their wonderful minds that have brought something magical to the world during their existence. It makes me believe that I can do something like that one day too.

Have a wondrous day.

Will you love me?

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Hi.

I’ve written a previous post on the negative impact my idealism has when searching for love. If you’re the slightest bit interested, it’s here: https://dreamerrambling.wordpress.com/2013/11/12/he-loves-me-he-loves-me-not/

Okay. Now back to what I wanted to talk about. I have this terrifying fear that I will be, in the words of the hackneyed internet catchphrase, ‘forever alone’. Now, I have tried to rationalize why I shouldn’t fear this with my INFP logic. I came up with a nice little list.

1. Why should my happiness depend on finding the right man. I should be happy with myself and my own life. I should become my own person, figure out my identity and personality and get started on my career and bringing in an income before I even start lamenting about my relationship issues. Hell, I should be concentrating on reading more, writing more and getting a cat. Make that plural, cats. Love them.

2. The idea of true love makes me gag. I scorn it. I disdain it. It’s a fantasy fabricated by Hollywood movies. But deep down, am I belittling the concept out of fear that I will never experience it in my life? Could I be denying its existence in order to soften the disappointment if I don’t ever fall in love? After all, I cried a river at the end of movies like Amelie and Shop Around The Corner (more on my favorite movies and why in the future).

3. My idealism is a huge barrier. I’m too picky. Too fussy. My expectations are too high. How could I ever choose a man? And then there is that little voice in my head who tells me that I’m not good enough for the men I, on the rare chance, are attracted to.

4. There is nothing wrong with being a bachelorette.
Why is it okay for fifty year old men to not marry but when middle aged women are still not married they are considered the ‘leftovers’? I get it. They are no longer youthful and fresh sylphs. But still. Why the double standards? I rebel against such gender conformity.

5. Not good enough.
Not good enough, no one wants you, not good enough, not pretty enough, not sexually appealing enough, not charismatic enough, too introverted, too shy, loves surreal art too much, is too attracted to the weird, strange and eccentric, too much of a nonconformist, overthinks everything too much…

Number 5 is the crux of the problem. And I don’t believe it is just me. I know in my heart that there are young women all over the world who are highly critical when judging themselves like me and don’t think they deserve to be loved. Being an introvert, Highly Sensitive and an INFP doesn’t help at all.

Anyway. All I wanted to say is, I am always at cross purposes with myself when it comes to love. First of all, I just have this immense sadness within me, that no one will ever love me for who I am because I am simply not good enough. I look around and I see wonderful qualities in other women that men would find attractive and I feel depressed because I seem to pale in comparison.

Then I have this intense desire because of my idealism to find my soul mate. I have never admitted this to anyone in real life (in real life, I am known as the relationship cynic. But you know what they say. Scratch the surface of a cynic and underneath you will find an idealist).

I am desperate for someone to understand me. Not trying to be melodramatic but tears are springing to my eyes as I am typing this. After being shunned so much throughout my life, just once I would like someone to just get me and where I am coming from and look into my eyes and tell me that I am special in my own way even if society says I’m not good enough and love me and hug me. It’s pathetic I know.

I abhor that side of me because I think it is so pathetic. And thus I am also tough and cynical of love in order to never let myself get hurt. It’s my armor.

Then some part of me whispers that no matter how hard I try, I can only get so close to another human being. This existential loneliness, the idea that people are completely alone in their own minds and with their own lives no matter how many loved ones surround them, makes me feel that even if I attain love, it won’t be completely fulfilling.

But I’m not going to lose hope. Because, my friends, I’m idealistic and hope is the bread and butter of idealists. I’m going to wait. I am going to wait for him. And damn it I won’t cry if he doesn’t come or if when he does he isn’t as good as I hoped him to be. The former because I will be spending my time and energy on my career and reading and writing. The latter because I know there aren’t any perfect human beings in the world. I also won’t cry if existential loneliness hits me when I date or marry or whatever because it is part of the human experience and inevitable.

Most of all, I’m no longer going to be ashamed of this part of me. Hi. I am a human being with real responsibilities. I should be starting to act like one. I should be working hard at school, thinking about my career. I should be facing reality. I should get my head of those damn clouds.

But I still believe in true love.