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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Becoming A Life Coach: Yes? No?

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**If any of you who read my blog or are just stumbling across it are needing any life advice or guidance, especially if you are sensitive, introverted or a dreamer and feels a little lost in this cold world, please send your Skype username to dreamerrambling@hotmail.com. Though I can’t guarantee I can speak with everyone, I will try my best. These sessions will be free, as I’m just going to be practicing my life coaching skills and developing my own techniques and learning how to talk and counsel people. Thank you for helping me practice and taking me a step further on this new little journey of mine, and I hope that I can help you in the process too. Please no spam: it’d be good to send a message along with your username telling me a little about yourself. Thanks. Keep dreaming.

Whilst searching on the internet for possible career choices for INFPs, I came across one that struck a chord: life coaching.

After reading a few articles on what this position involved, I have come to the conclusion that, other than writing, which utilises both our literary and creative skills, this would be an ideal career choice for INFPs as it taps into our often pent-up altruistic tendencies.

For those of you have do not know, what life coaches essentially do is help people overcome issues that prevent them from having the life they want, such as a lack of self-confidence or purpose, or recent adversities that have thrown a hammer into the workings of their existence. Through counseling and mentoring, these people then hopefully emerge from the counselling sessions feeling re-energized and healed. Often these sessions are undertaken over the phone, or Skype.

Frankly, as an INFP myself, I can think of few careers so suited to our sensibilities.

Most of our personality type are excellent at reading and analysing people, which would come in useful for targeting things like self-limiting beliefs preventing people from achieving the things they want to. We also like to help people nearly more than anything else, and what could be more gratifying than aiding people in building the life they want in order to achieve their own, unique form of happiness?

Not to mention the fact that most of us are budding philosophers or old souls who are wise beyond our years, and thus able to look at issues from the perspective of a much older and jaded individual.

Very little qualifications other than experience and testimonials are necessary to become a life coach. Personally I would love to work as one, rather young though I may be, especially as a life coach specifically for the groups of people I am care most about, such as INFPs, HSPs, introverts and dreamers.

Considering how many questions I receive through email and comments on this blog regarding life, it certainly seems a viable career path, especially when people who are introverts or HSPs tend to have a harder time of it than those who are not.

Of course, before you start haranguing at me for trying to exploit all my lovely readers at “Dreaming. Living. Loving.” by imposing my sudden, new-found life coaching services upon them, I’d just like to say that all these are but the seeds of ideas at the moment – nothing germinating yet folks, not even a tendril.

However, it is a possibility. Making it as a creative writer in this world isn’t the most lucrative job out there, and what else can an INFP do except capitalise on the few skills valued by society, in my case, my literary, creative and counseling abilities?

Without any hefty inheritances ready to plop into my lap in the near future, or a parent who can support me, and some family debt to boot, lately I have definitely been dwelling more on ways to survive in our capitalist society.

I do not doubt as to whether I am capable of, say, counseling teenagers on their career choices or helping people understand introverted women; it feels as much a part of my blood, my soul, as writing. I have even volunteered, two years ago, as a camp counselor, a brief stint which was very enjoyable.

However what I do not much like is the idea of asking people for money, even for services that I provide. To be honest, it makes me feel guilty, which might sound ridiculous to some, but, well, it’s true. If it were up to me, I’d help people regardless of whether they paid me or not, out of the sheer pleasure of helping others. Unfortunately, this would probably be a fast-track to homelessness, a state which I never plan on entering again.

Either way, it’s just a possibility that has been percolating through my brain. Who knows, perhaps if I do end up acting on it, I could end up helping people using my insight and wisdom, both of which I have in abundance but have little outlet for, and maybe even make a living out of it. That would be very nice; I know we can’t always get what we want in life, such as the jobs most suited to our sensibilities, but we can try.

Would any of you be at all interested, if I did act on this idea? There would be little point in starting a service if there is no need for it. I know that INFPs aren’t the wealthiest individuals out there, nor are introverts and dreamers likely to come from money too, but I could charge low fees, or allow for free sessions.

Or I could just extend my services to everyone, of all personalities and races and walks of life. The more I think about it, there more I feel as if there would be nothing more personally fulfilling. Apart from writing novels, stories and articles, counseling is my one other ability I can offer society.

This is just a thought. If I must wade my through the morass that is our capitalist society, I might as well find some ways of doing so without compromising my integrity and help those whose plights I care about in the process.

A Private Diary Entry: Bravery

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Dear Diary,

I am scared.

It’s strange, how shameful it is show your fear. You’re seen as feeble. Someone who revels in their own pain, and has the impoliteness to rip out their own intestines and show the pinkish-grey coils to others. No thank you. We don’t want that. I am scared, and I wish I knew why. I wish I could clinically extract my fear, distil it into a test tube, and then view it under a microscope to determine the best way to destroy it.

Do you ever find yourself curling your lip at your own behavior and thoughts? For a moment, you are disgusted and shamed by your own neurosis. All my life, I’ve been this tangled knot of fears and insecurities and anxieties. It’s pretty much like walking around as a human-shaped tangle of nerves. A network of live wires. I get thousands of shocks every single day, until I’m twitching and buzzing in pain. When you’re so…aware, so self-conscious, so sensitive, when loving yourself is harder than inching a nail through rock, everything hurts. It hurts so much. Honestly, it’s as if you don’t have a skin, that you’re just exposed to the world, slabs of red flesh lined with muscle laid bare for all to see and poke and prod at with surgical instruments. Lift up the gleaming organs. Stab the heart until it spurts and gushes a red fountain. It’s as if you’re entire soul is a festering canker sore. You’re a cat, festering with sores and itches and rashes, missing an eye, fur ripped out in places, crawling with fleas, and, most of all, mewling in pain, and yet they still beat you. Again and again and again.

I care too much about what people think. I’m terrified of being disliked. And this is at counter purposes with my desire to be individual. To be brave, and strong, and not care what people think. I fear everything under the sun. I fear the world. I fear it all, and it swallows me until I’m just a dark rush of shrinking. I try to be strong. We all try to be so strong, because we’re told that breaking under pain, curling up into a fetus to nuzzle at the imaginary flesh of our mother’s womb (Safe. Safe. Where has safety gone? I’ve lost it, long, long, long ago. I never feel safe. It’s all danger) is weak. Weakness is frowned down upon, in both men AND women. Strength and toughness are admired in our society, along with persistence and grit and being true to yourself. So, we are strong. We show ourselves to be strong. But being strong can sometimes be a cover-up. It doesn’t mean we aren’t hurting, hurting so much we’d rather fold ourselves into shadows and collapse into dust. I don’t know why I’m weeping a bit writing this. It’s just life. It’s all transient, and it all ends. That’s the thing about pain though – it always seems the most important thing in the world in the moment. Battling with anxiety, trying to handle social situations without looking like a fool, keeping your head up in a world that doesn’t understand you, feeling so wrong, so off, so defective, feeling so delicate and yet being told that we have to be TOUGH, tough and confident and assertive…it’s like being stabbed every day. Everyday. Wounds. Come home to lick the wounds.

I know I’m an overly neurotic, anxious, depressive, melancholy and obsessive person, but the knowledge of that does not make it any better. Only, it leads to self-hatred. Look at me. My insides are curdled with these thoughts. I feel lesser than others for being haunted by so many demons. Like I’m unhallowed. Add to this the desire for perfection in one’s art, and you’ve got an exhausting cocktail of angry shadows that seek to chew apart the deepest recesses of yourself. My writing has been taking a nosedive, along with my confidence, if it isn’t obvious already. My jewel, once so bright, and faceted, and tough, is being squashed like a mere grape. Squelch. I know it takes persistence. I know it takes hard work. I know I have to get used to misery, and create art despite the misery, even when it hurts. To run even when it hurts. Nevertheless, when you’re knee-deep in it, it’s hard. Especially when being bombarded by the talents of others. This envy is pointless and no-one cares about it, but I think that if anyone reads this diary entry, and feels the same way, and feels less alone for, then I will have accomplished my goal. I so want to love you. I so want to love everyone. I want to hug and love people. Why is that so hard? Believing in yourself is hard. Loving yourself is hard. Why is it the hardest to deal with ourselves? Why are we so often in conflict with ourselves? I wish we could separate the parts of ourselves into different people, and send them off to situations that require the specific functions. That way, I could send my confident and happy self into the world every day, rather than the hunched, scared self, wringing hands and giving weak smiles. It’s just life. We’re all going to die. But boy, must we suffer between the interval. There’s nothing I wish for more than to embrace other people who are suffering. When people suffer, and expose the rawness within themselves, a bottomless reservoir of affection within me rises up to the surface. I love the rawness. I love the pain in their eyes, not for some sadistic reason, but because it makes me feel close to them, makes me feel connected, as suffering humans.

I think I could only fall in love with someone who shows me their vulnerability, their suffering. There’s nothing I love more. As suffering organisms, all swimming in the same consciousness. If you’re suffering right now, I wish I could hug you. To wipe the tears from your eyes, and know, together, in our hearts, that this is all we have, this sun, this moon, these stars, this us. Just, to cry, and to know. I’m so idealistic when it comes to love I even laugh at myself, but it’s the bad kind of laugh, the kind of laugh you laugh to cover up the true pain underneath. I hate that about myself, you know? Independence is something I try to pride myself on. I use it to hold my head high and weather the batterings of life. I tell myself to be realistic. I tell myself not to hope for too much, for fear of getting disappointed.

Disappointment hurts more than any other emotion. It’s a grey wound, deep, and very, very quiet. When we’re sad, we cry, when we’re happy, we smile, when we’re angry, we shout and fume and seethe, but disappointment is silent. We just sit there, a little dumbfounded at the intensity of the pain, while the hurt nibbles at our soul like so many ethereal piranhas. We allow ourselves to be eaten, to be chewed, and do not run away, so stunned are we.

But, yes. Deep inside me, down where the glowing fishes and shipwrecks lie, there is a deep yearning larger and older than the universe for love. For true love. A grand, tired, sleeping fish, with sad eyes the size of countries filled with pale glitter. I tell myself it’s just a fantasy. I remind myself of my own parent’s divorce. I tell myself no-one can love me until I truly love myself. I tell myself love is transient. I tell myself there are more facets to love than that of the romantic. I tell myself I’m not worthy of love, that no-one could love anyone as messed up as me, as unwanted, as socially shunned, as misunderstood. Who wants a broken toy? No-one. I tell myself that I don’t need true love, that friendships and soulships and familial relationships are enough. I tell myself that a relationship won’t complete me, that life is dissatisfaction. That love can’t fill the gaps in my being. Nothing works. I’ve never even met true love, yet I yearn for it as deeply as mothers yearn for their lost children. The entire concept caters to my sensibilities so perfectly it makes me weep just to think of it. I yearn for it so hard it sometimes feel like my heart is ripping to shreds in the process. I yearn, oh!, how I yearn.

And how I loathe my own yearning. Sylvia Plath summed up my feelings perfectly in one of her quotes: “How we need another soul to cling to, another body to keep us warm. To rest and trust; to give your soul in confidence: I need this, I need someone to pour myself into.” The moment I saw this quote, grief stunned me in the chest, hard as a smote from a loved one. None of my family members understand the slightest bit of me. I want to be understood as much as I want to be a writer. I need to be understood as much as other people need to breathe. To grieve for something you have never known! To feel safe, secure, loved, understood by a single person. To be in someone’s arms, and to wake up in the morning to their soft comfort. To love. Love. Needless to say, if I ever loved, it would be with complete and utter devotion. If I ever loved, and were betrayed by that love, I would shrink from the world. There is no middle ground when it comes to emotions, when you’re an INFP and a HSP. It’s either splintering joy or crushing despair. I’m afraid of dying alone, and never being loved. I’m afraid I’ve idealised love too much. I’m afraid of loving too much. I’m afraid of losing the love I have not yet received. I’m afraid of pushing away love. Of being too socially awkward and in too much pain to open myself to love. I’m afraid of people being disgusted by me. I send the wrong messages. I do this stupid thing where I push people away, and act cold and aloof when what my heart really is screaming to do is to talk to them, get to know them. And this empty screaming inside me goes on and on. For instance, right now, dear diary, there is this one person I would really like to get to know. I keep bumping into him, and I’m afraid that he hates me for my coldness, my unresponsiveness. I would love to get to know him. I find him quite fascinating – incredibly logical, systematic, and grounded, yet kind and heartfelt, full of integrity and wisdom. I’m afraid of being too enthusiastic, and pushing him away. I’m afraid he won’t like me enough to let me talk to him.

I’ve kind of let the relationship (if it could be called that) devolve into mutual hostility from pretended apathy on my part, when all my heart wants to do is be amiable. This has been bothering me a good deal, and I’m afraid of not talking to him soon enough and thus giving my silly brain time to build him up in my mind, to fall in love with a fabrication of my own imagination. I’m afraid of falling in love with ghosts. I’m afraid of being seen as too obsessive or weird. I’m afraid of passing up an opportunity to get to know a good soul. Someone I can connect with. You can see that kind of stuff, in the eyes. The next time I bump into him, I’m going to try and strike up a conversation, and if it doesn’t work, if he brushes me off (a stab of rejection, deep into the sensitive flesh of my soul), then I’ll lift my head, put on a brave face while my heart cries, and move on. That’s what I always do.

Maybe if I yearn hard enough, I’ll disintegrate.

I’m going to write for a while, and then go to bed. I’m going to find solace through my distasteful words, and dream of better worlds. Of better “Me”s. Of true love. I’ll probably sniffle and a shed a few tears. And then I’ll wake up in the morning and scoff at this entry and scoff at myself and scoff at my words and toss my hair over my shoulder and go out into the world with a flat smile on my face.

I’m brave.

Love,

Anne

Anthem For Misfits

Anthem

I’ve suffered from an inferiority complex all my life.

No. It’s not just my own problem. It’s because of you.

You were so sure, so bold. So confident. You still are.

But the problem is, with that assurance came cruelty. Indifference. You batted me down, like an alleyway of cats swiping at a single desperate starling.

Your words were etched in stone. My own opinions, qualms and dislikes, even when I did voice them, evaporated like smoke. I was a ghost among the living, unheard, unnoticed, unheeded.

When you’re introverted, it’s hard not to be intimidated by extroverts of facile tongue.

When you’re sensitive, it’s hard not too feel weaker than your less soft counterparts.

When you’re a dreamer, it’s hard not to let the words of realists get to you.

Every word I hear in my day-to-day life is another nail hammered into the coffin.

You can’t be a writer. You don’t have any talent. Besides, it’s really hard, and takes a lot of time.

Thud. Thud.

You’re too sensitive. And optimistic. You need to start thinking realistically.

Thud.

Why are you so quiet?

Thud.

Only unintelligent students who will get nowhere in life skip school.

Thud.

You have to go to university to be successful. Otherwise, you’ll be a failure. Washed up.

Thud. Thud.

You must work at a job, even if you hate it. You must give up precious minutes of your life and stand at a desk shuffling papers and twittering on phones. This is the contribution of every good citizen.

Thud.

Follow our rules. When the bell rings, then you can go home. When the man turns green, you walk across the road. When everyone rushes in one direction, you better follow.

Thud.

You’re dead. You’re dead and buried, at least three feet down beneath the earth, and you can’t breathe. Thick earth clogs your throat. A thousand beetles scuttle industriously over your body. Rats chew out your eyes. You’re dead.

And how fantastically easy it is to live a life this way, with a tombstone weighing on your heart. There is nothing less stressful and more simpler than to coast along the path ordained for you, passed from hand to hand like a well-trained little puppy.

After all, that’s what they told us, and look at what tough, grand, glorious, knowledgeable people they are! Navigating through the perils of society like it’s only a little trip down to the corner store. Their words must be right. They understand the harsh realities of this world, and while they go out and succeed, sipping wine in their million dollar complexes, you’ll be a raggedy, homeless person by the curb with only the bitter dregs of broken dreams in your mouth.

No. I refuse to believe it. I refuse to believe what they say. I refuse to be buried. I refuse not to trust my own words, my own instincts, my own intuitions. I refuse to feel inferior every time you ignore me, talk to me, hate me, avoid me, look down on me. I refuse to see my strengths of sensitivity, creativity, quietness, insight, and understanding as weaknesses.

Enough.

I’d rather be a pigeon pecking at crumbs on the sidewalk than live on jeweled fruits in a gilded cage.

I’d rather be out in the open air, and see the sky, the clouds, the stars, than be buried in the most comfortable coffin.

Yes, I’m not like you.

I like to talk to flowers more than people. They can teach me more of life than you ever could.

I like my own company better than that of others. Our conversations will sparkle like stardust. You don’t like talking to me? You think I’m too strange and awkward and quiet? Good. Because I don’t like talking to you either. After conversing with you, the taste of lies and high-pitched laughter that lingers in my mouth reminds me of blood. My eyes are shiny and bright and blank as copper pennies after trying to light up for you. No more.

I like to be quiet, and I like silence. All the better to hear the mice chewing through your soul. Oh, did you know your face was cracking? Look, it’s splintering like plaster. Goodness, what squeaking. I wonder when they’ll burst your skin open and crawl down your chest in a tidal wave of furry grey bodies.

I like to daydream and imagine. It makes my existence happier. Sure, I might lose my keys. Misplace my money. Forgot phone calls. And maybe my imagination will not earn me a single dime – after all, like you said, I can’t become a writer, right? But don’t slap me across the face for it. Don’t rip my books out of my hands and slam my head into the jaws of a mechanical grinder. My brain works differently from yours, and, in the long run, you’ll lose more than me.

I’m soft. I’m sensitive. I’m a daydreamer. I’m quiet. I’m an introvert. I’m a misfit. I’m scatterbrained. I’m awkward. I’m solitary. I’m not like you.

But that does not make you better than me.

But we both have dreams, don’t we? Only, you sure like to crush mine, grinding your heels into my fingers until they break and bleed. You sure like to discount me. And I don’t need that. I have enough self-doubt as it is. I don’t need you to make me feel worse.

And your dreams of making big bucks and living the high life? They don’t touch upon the pulse of life. They are dead, shiny dreams, like slaughtered animals with hairy golden pelts.

We are different. I chase my dreams. You chase yours. Just don’t try to kill mine before they’ve grown their wings. Don’t try to put me down before I’ve even taken my first shaky step.

We’ll see who’s happier in the end.

Reasons Why I Am Actually An Alien

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I have some news for you.

Good or bad, you say? Well, I’ll leave that for you to decide.

I know this must be hard to grasp, whether you are a reader of my humble little blog or chancing upon it for the first time.

I have a confession to make.

*takes deep breath*

I am actually an alien.

Okay.

Just going to let that sink in. No, no, not the human-eating kind! No, I can’t go back to my mother ship. No, I told you, I’m not going to eat you or that man over there! Why are you backing away? Don’t you dare throw that banana at me, I’m warning you!

I know. I look remarkably normal, thanks to the craftsmanship of skin-clothing by the talented tailors of my home planet. But don’t judge a book by it’s cover, as you Earthlings all are fond of saying. How am an alien? You want me to prove it you? Fine. I will. Behold. Reasons why I am an alien.

1. No one understands me. Goodness, I sound like a irritating adolescent human bemoaning her own incomprehensibility. But I have a legitimate reason. It’s because I’m an alien and my brain is super weird.

2. I hate pop music. I hate loud music of any kind. I only like quiet, lullaby-like music. But, mostly, I like silence. I know, it’s crazy.

3. I have no interest in the bits of coloured paper which you humans use to purchase things.

4. I like being by myself. Okay, I’ll wait until you all finish gasping in shock. I actually hate human company. I like being alone. I wouldn’t mind being alone all the time. If everyone had a unique disease which prevented everyone from contacting anyone, it would be a blessing.

5. I have no interest in the economy, in politics  or in current affairs. At all. Zilch. More gasps? Wait, why do you look so offended? What, I’m not ‘cultured’ enough? Your petty human troubles bore me. It’s all just a bundle of messiness that wants everyone to know that it’s messy.

6. Other humans don’t like me at a higher frequency than is normal. I can see through people who are being transparent or artificial quite easily. It’s part of my emotional x-ray vision. It makes humans uncomfortable because I can see the dark shadows that writhe beneath their skin and the skeletons clattering inside their bodies.

7. I don’t want to work, not because I’m lazy, but because I have no interest in being a slave to the system and selling my time and soul doing something I will probably hate. In fact, I would almost rather be homeless than work at a job I loathe. I know, it’s astounding.

8. A permanent melancholy pervades my thoughts. You humans have tried to diagnose me with depression, told me to ‘cheer up’ and even thrown glitter and confetti in my face on multiple occasions. But it’s actually part of my psyche. Sorry.

9. I SEE DEEPER MEANINGS AND TRUTHS. Not to honk my own horn, we aliens are humble creatures at heart, but the things I can think about and the concepts I come up with about life and existence are so freaking deep and convoluted that it sometimes makes me feel like I’m insane just thinking about them. All I’m saying is, everything is an illusion. Literally.

10. I have no interest in personal adornment. You humans seem particularly fond of this past time especially the female members of your species. How little interest, you ask? Well. If I’m not leaving the house, I will not brush my hair or get out of my pajamas. Sometimes, I even forget to shower. Okay, I saw that, now you’re really backing away from me.

11. I can’t communicate well with humans. See, I’m a different species, so it’s just pretty darn difficult. I stutter, I feel awkward. Just having a human look at me makes me feel unbearably vulnerable and self-conscious.

12. I don’t like parties. Period.

13. No one understands me. I know, I said this at the beginning, but it deserves another mention. Do you have any idea of the wackiness of my brain? Do you have any idea how lonely it can get, being the only alien for miles around?No, I thought not.

14. Aliens are more sensitive than humans. It’s why I hate loud noises and bright lights and those horrible movies with random scary faces that pop up.

15. A library is my ideal habitat. I feed off of books and creative energy.

16. I am very scatterbrained. I will get lost on the way to my own house. I will lose my own sister at the shopping centre. It’s the magnetic poles you have here, throws me all out of whack.

17. I have a special kinship with cats because it has been my long held belief they were imported from my planet to yours.

18. I am particularly susceptible to the love bug, which is spread through Valentines Day and romantic comedies. My immune system just isn’t strong enough to fight it. Symptoms include self-pitying weeping, fantasies about the perfect romance and lots of cat cuddling to assuage loneliness followed by yelling at self for being a stupid dreamer and idealist. 

18. Back at my planet, procrastination is necessary for survival. See, over there, everyone lives for at least a million years, so if you did not procrastinate, you would get bored and run out of things to do. Unfortunately, this trait is still a part of me despite my abridged lifespan here on Earth.

19. I love the night sky. It makes me wistful and think of home.

20. Existential angst is a trademark of my species. I don’t understand other humans and how they can do the things they do everyday and think the things they think everyday without having an existential crisis every weekend.

Now, I know this has all been a bit of a shock for you. I must say, you’re taking it better than the last group. They wanted to take me to the laboratory. Thankfully, I sorted them out. I don’t think they’ll bother me again.

Well. I’m sure you’ll gradually adjust to the idea. I must admit, you humans are pretty good at adaption and survival.

And I’m sure there are many of you out there reading this who are fellow aliens. Greetings.

To you, I say: Uogoegyouvouvdfvjflfvjiueorvoeifhbfdohbauerybuerbhlfhblbflbdlfbm.

To those who do not speak Alienish, here is the translation: When is the mother ship coming back, gosh darn!

Choosing A Career

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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

The Need To Be Special

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We are inculcated from the moment we are born with the idea that each and everyone of us are special.

“No fingerprint is the same! You’re unique!”

“Ever since humanity began, there has been no one like you. You are one of a kind. Cherish, that. Oh, you’re so special darling.”

Most of us have friends and family to shower us with love and compliments. They tell us we are beautiful and wonderful. Your mother looks down at you and says, yes, dear, you are so special in my eyes.

But are you really?

See, the thing this, if everyone is actually ‘special’, the concept of uniqueness is nullified. If everyone is special, then everyone is technically on the same level and therefore no one is special. If the idea of exceptionally is to exist, there has to be some people who are special and other people who are, to put it bluntly, not special. Common, pedestrian, ordinary, white bread people.

But most people would recoil at the idea of being merely average. Deep in our hearts, each of us thinks we are special. That we have some sparkle within us that no one else has. Why? Because it allows people to create a sense of their own self-worth. It gives them a reason for entitlement. People cling to the idea of being special because it validates their existence and creates a comforting, fugitive illusion of their life being valuable, like, hey we are all going to die one day, me, you and everyone who comes after us and humanity itself will shrivel up into nothing some day but at least I’m special, I’m different, this gives my life meaning, doesn’t it? doesn’t it? *claws at the other person’s shirt collar with fever of desperation in eyes*

I’m exactly the same. It’s terribly hard for me to admit it, like digging up the unsightly, sordid dregs of my personality, but I obtain my self worth from being different, being special. It even allows me to accept parts of myself which I would otherwise be adverse to.

I’m an introvert. Translation: Oh, I’m different, I’m quiet and mysterious and think deep thoughts, I am a great listener, look at those chatterboxes with such malarkey spewing from their mouths.

I’m a HSP (Highly Sensitive Person). Translation: Everyone else are these thick-skinned, emotionless people who go through their days numbly and thoughtlessly. I’m so subtle and sensitive, like a delicate little flower, picking up on all the nuances of the world, look at me, sensing everything, feeling everything, imbibing the beauty of the world.

I’m an INFP (Idealist). Translation: I’m so misunderstood by society, so unique and complex that others can’t understand me. My thoughts are so august that mere commoners cannot comprehend them. They say I’m weird and strange but that’s because I’m special. My idealism soars above the banal, pragmatic thoughts of others, my mind is alight with wonder, I am this jewel nestled among the dull pebbles, my coruscant surface winking now and then.

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People try to salvage their self-worth from aspects of themselves which they believe make them special.  

For me, I think I’m creative, deep and intelligent. I think I have some wonderful literature within me that is still fighting to escape. I use these aspects to satisfy my desire of being unique.

It could be different for you.

Maybe you have great physical beauty. Yes, you say to yourself, I’m a moving work of art. People stare at me longer than they should or love me more because of it and that makes me special.

Maybe you’re brainy, logical and smart. You’re another Einstein in the making. You’re so special, you’re going to make all sorts of scientific and mathematical breakthroughs.

Maybe you’re the kindest, sweetest person. Maybe you connect with animals. Maybe you are spiritual. Maybe you have a special connection with a deity/God that you think no one else has. Maybe you have a glib tongue and can convince and persuade people to believe anything you say. Maybe you’re a magnificent actor/actress and can cry at the drop of a hat.  Maybe you’re funny. It could be anything.

The desire to be special is a universal urge of humanity. We don’t want to be nothing. We don’t want to be worthless. We don’t want to be another nameless organism that dies and returns to the soil as part of the circle of life. We want ourselves and our lives to mean something. The only way to do that is to convince ourselves that we are unique.

And even though not everyone on Earth can be special, there is a strange comfort in knowing that this concept is propelling people all around the world to do greater things and achieve greater heights and bring their own kind of magic into the world that will shine on long after the breath has faded from their lips.

Because, ultimately, even if the idea of being special is but an illusion for most of us, it brings meaning into our lives. It’s good. It’s beneficial. And it helps us to do the things we want to do and become the people we want to become.  

In the words of Mark Twain, ‘Don’t part with your illusions. When they are gone you may still exist, but you have ceased to live.’

And that is something this dreamer will definitely remember.

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.