How To Love Yourself When You Are An Outsider

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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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Fantasies INFPs Like To Have

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When you like to daydream more than I like to live in the real world.

  • Romantic fantasies

If you are a female INFP:

A romantic fantasy, for you, generally involves wearing something extremely pretty, and wearing a hairstyle you generally never wear in real life (or even know how to create), and bumping into a fantastically kind, handsome and beautiful stranger at a place where you are feeling lonely, sad and full of desire, who understands you completely. For instance, you are invited to a masked ball, and are insulted by some people—so you leave, in tears, to go and explore the rest of the mansion, and find yourself with a stranger in the library. But, really, as long as it’s swoon-worthy, anything goes.

If you are a male INFP:

Okay, as I have never met a male INFP in a real life, and am female myself, this is more guesswork and imagination. However, I believe male INFPs have romantic fantasies that generally involve watching a beautiful woman from afar, while quietly reading a book, and thinking they would never be interested in you—only to find out she has, in fact, noticed you quite a bit, and though she is outgoing and popular, she likes the same things you do, like reading and philosophy, and the two of you become close friends, then something more. A little less elaborate, to account for the differences in gender, but pretty much the same.

  • Heroic Fantasies

You save this [insert: cat, person, child, city, country, world, universe, flower, bee, mother, sister, father, friend, man, woman, table, chair, spoon] from being destroyed by destruction and evil, in front of everyone, risking your life to do so, cradling them to your chest with love afterwards, and are seen as a gracious, beautiful person by everyone forevermore.

  • Bad-Ass Fantasies

The definition of a “bad-ass person” is to be edgy, brave and outspoken in your words and actions. Unfortunately, this is the opposite of what an INFP is. We are most of the time never bad-ass in our everyday lives, and if we ever do somehow manage to muster the strength to do be, afterwards we feel like we are having a heart attack and need to retreat into fantasy for several months. Fortunately, we have our imaginations, and female INFPs like to imagine themselves as women who fight foes with a kick of a high-heeled boot, and make others cower in fear with just a lift of a perfect eyebrow, while male INFPs might like to imagine themselves as quiet but dangerous types, who lean against walls and in shadows, ready to strike at any moment, such as suddenly appearing out of nowhere to grab an offending fist in mid-punch.

  • Friendship Fantasies

We’re not the most social or extroverted types—in fact, a lot of the time, we can be downright loners—and even for those of us who have some friends, they are often not completely to our liking—so what better way to find the perfect friends than to create your own, inside your own head, am I right, INFPs? No? These often involve being a part of a group or team in some fantastical world, like a military faction of a planet besieged by aliens, or a travelling party crossing through a desert on a magic carpet. Point is, these people are your perfect friends—kind, caring, brave and strong, who love and understand you, and together you go on adventures for all eternity. I may or may not have watched a little too much Fairy Tail.
Sensual Fantasies

Before you start asking me to put a PG rating on my blog posts, hear me out: I’m not referring to anything lewd here. Instead, for INFPs, it’s about pretending you are someone sensual and outgoing, not afraid to drape yourself over the handsome fellow who has caught your eye, or lure in a beautiful woman with your devilish wiles. Why? Because, to be honest, it’s very, very hard for INFPs to be alluring and sexy. Sure, we can be attractive, pretty or good-looking—but we’re only ever attractive and pretty in the way flowers or kittens are. Even if we made to look sexy—though take it from me, no INFP would ever willingly parade outside in the world in something horribly revealing that would draw unwanted attention, we don’t have the stomach for it—our personalities will never match up to it. Instead, we can only imagine ourselves being such daring people, a femme fatale, a player who gets a woman to fall in love with him in just a couple of days, with a wistful look on our face.

  • Kitten Fantasies

A old house with an attic and lots of stairs and secret rooms and doors—ENTIRELY FILLED WITH KITTENS.

‘Nuff said.

  • Magical Fantasies

I am a fairy, dancing in the moonlight, a child trapped inside a clockwork house, a princess who falls in love with a peasant boy, a star who comes to life…

…which year is it, again?

 

 

A Message For INFPs

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Sometimes, as an INFP, I am not sure certain whether I am sensitive or if other people just lack tact and kindness.

Perhaps my experiences are only a reflection of our times. In today’s age of cut-throat competition amongst people at workplaces and schools and offices and on sports grounds, where money and success are king, and efficiency prized over intuition, “nice” has become synonymous with soft, or weak, and the quiet and reflective dubbed “meek”. So it would make sense for people to start presenting a more brash and blunt face to the world – but for those of us who are gentle and soft-hearted, we often find ourselves battered left and right, with no safe place to turn to except, well, ourselves. And perhaps the Internet.

More likely it is simply because I am more soft and sensitive compared to the average person, and thus, as a natural consequence, find myself hurt more often. The “feminist” wave, which upholds the ideal of a bold extroverted woman who sallies forth in the world and goes for what they want with as much aggression as men, has not done people like me any favors.

Compared to my soft-hearted and gentle male counterparts, however, I am lucky: at least I can still play relatively socially-accepted the “shy girl” card, while INFP men find themselves up against centuries of masculine ideals favoring the strong and stoic and aggressive, disadvantaging them when it comes to every sphere of life, from work to dating. Stereotypes, especially those gender-based, are powerful, and harmful (suicide statistics amongst young men are a sobering consequence of such preconceived beliefs). If any INFP men are reading this, I hope you remind yourself of your own self-worth in a world that does not find you worthy, keeping in mind that this INFP female at least finds all of you quieter and sensitive and contemplative creatures far more attractive than the “macho” ideals society crams in our faces. At this stage in time, for a long-term relationship, I would only consider pairing up with an INFP male, someone kind-hearted and caring, philosophical and melancholy. Unfortunately you are a rare breed, and I have yet to come across one of you yet.

Now where was I? In life as in writing, I have a tendency to digress. Right. Sensitivity. Yes. To put it simply, being sensitive has withered my happiness, as it probably has for you. From cold teachers and students to boys I idealised, one of whom even ended up playing a practical joke on me in front of the school, to cruel customer service representatives, dealing with the consequences of being too sensitive – namely, having to nurse hurt feelings – has been the single running them in my life, perhaps more so than even reading and writing.

And sometimes I feel hurt even when the person is not being particularly mean, only very distant and impersonal, as if you were an object rather than a person, which tends to make me feel like all the light has been sucked from the world. I have a deep-seated craving for kindness and tenderness, one I expect, idealistically, to be fulfilled whenever I encounter people. An absence of it turns me into an ingratiating and obliging slave, just short of frothing at the mouth, in the hope of obtaining just a little bit of niceness from the opposite party – or, at the opposite of the end of the spectrum, depending on my mood, makes me withdraw, and turn cold and unfeeling myself.

Much as I loathe those who bemoan “I’m just not good enough” without doing anything to get better at whatever it is they find themselves inadequate or “that’s just who I am” when it comes prejudiced views which they can easily change by educating themselves, the fact is, I am just too sensitive. And, to be frank, it’s not something I can control. I have tried, countless times. It would be hard for most people to imagine the agony I put myself through by maintaining a tough, devil-may-care persona for several years. When that led to a mental breakdown and nights spent crying into my pillow from repressed pain, I tried to use reason, wagging a big, fat finger in my mind as I scolded myself.

Now, now, you know very well you can’t make everyone like you, which frankly is a mystery, I know, because who wouldn’t like someone so kind and caring and sweet? Remember that time a girl was crying and you tried to give her a hug and she pushed you away? Right. Where was I, again? Reason. Right. People are selfish creatures, darling, you can’t expect them to accommodate for your feelings every time they talk to you, busy as they are with their own thoughts and lives. What’s more, you don’t need people to be kind and sweet to you all the time. It’s not necessary. All that matters is that you are kind yourself. The tenderness you provide yourself will be enough to make up for the deficit lurking deep in your heart. The world is an angry and cold place, no-one cares if anyone dies, it’s all just a sun rising and a sun setting. Got it?

Yes, I got it – theoretically, that is. Putting it into practice proved far more challenging. In fact, it was downright impossible. No matter what I told myself, I was still getting wounded by the slightest remarks, remarks others more thick-skinned than I might have brushed off without a backward glance. Worst of all, one woman, who is no longer my friend, when I confided to her some of my problems, began using herself as an example of how one should be. At every opportunity she would point out how she wasn’t as easily hurt as I was, how strong and tough she was, flaunting her ability to throw off outright insults with a smile whilst patting me on the shoulder in a condescending “one day you’ll be as good as me” manner. It only made me, who suffers from low self-esteem at the best of times, and soul-plummeting self-hatred at the worst, loathe myself more deeply than I had ever before.

What was wrong with me? Why couldn’t I be just as tough as everyone else? Face it, in our world, men and women are both expected to be tough and strong. Whenever I expressed my fear or sensitivity, whenever I wept openly or retreated rather than confronted, or simply left the room during a horror scene, I was denigrated. Seen as weak. I was too weak, that was the problem, not strong enough, I had to be stronger, stronger, I had to let the world roll off my back like water off a duck, too weak, too weak

No.

I say, “No.”

No.

It’s time for the quiet and sensitive and shy and soft-hearted, the ones who notice what others do not notice, feel when others do not feel, who huddle in our rooms unseen, unheard, to start embracing our sensitivity. It’s time for us INFPs, the supposed “children of the MBTI”, to take a stand. Few and far between though we may be, that does not make us anything less worthy of those who already have their groups, their people, their support network, who can easily love themselves in a world that rewards them for who they are.

Without us, the world would be a lesser place. We are the healers, the counselors, the humanitarians, the artists and writers and philosophers (though this is not to say other personality types cannot hold these occupations; we must also account for variation amongst humans, not all INFPs are the same). We may take the slow lane in life, and seem stupid and sloth-like to those speeding ahead of us, but it only means we are aware of things those in the fast line can never understand. Yes, we can be moody, petty, seem odd or eccentric, “off with the fairies”, but we are also loving, caring, kind, imaginative, playful, and creative. I can nearly say with absolute confidence that very few cruel acts throughout the history of mankind were committed intentionally by INFPs, and that if there were more of us in the top positions in the world, such as the governments and the businesses and the companies, society would be a far more considerate, harmonious and loving place. Unfortunately those very fields often reward the very qualities we lack – ruthlessness, aggressiveness, valuing efficiency before emotions, money before people – thus often relegating us to the fringes of society, often with little money and little power. Idealistic, moody and fantasy-prone loners aren’t hot on the job markets, last time I checked.

Let me tell you right now: no matter how famous or rich or insignificant you are, as an INFP, you will never feel like you fit in with the rest of society, and never gain the approval and understanding of most people. So it is up to us to approve of ourselves and band together to make each other feel less alone. But we can do more than that. Each of us, with our deep feelings and deep hearts, our intelligence and oftentimes creative talent, can be forces for great social good in the world, only sometimes we are so scared and shy, and have such low self-esteem, that we sabotage ourselves, and barely step outside the door before we scuttle back inside.

Therefore it is important for us, above all, to link our hearts with a cause. Any cause, as long as you truly care about it. This is especially important for us idealists; without something to strive for, we can only stand by, hollow and empty, horrified by the world are witnessing. To make a stand, for once, we have to take action, to get out of our heads and fight. Forget about the money. You and I both know we can survive on very little of it, and still be happy: we’re not sensualists, good food and good clothes mean nothing if our ideals are not being met. For INFPs especially, we must find something to believe in, and funnel every ounce of our energies into our chosen cause. Only then will we feel worthy, only then will we begin to appreciate our unique gifts rather than deem ourselves “defective” – only then will the world, after we have done what we have done, appreciate us – and even if the world never so much as gives you a smile, you will be able to die happy, knowing you did what you had to do.

I, personally, intend to fulfill this creed as a writer, though my goals aren’t confined merely to getting books published. There are greater goals inside my goals. In my books, I plan on featuring characters, male and female, who are cautious and sensitive and atypical and plain; literature, especially Young Adult fiction, has enough of the bold and the brash and the beautiful. In addition, my characters will be predominantly from various minority backgrounds, to help those, like myself, who grew up reading books without seeing their own ethnic background reflected in the characters, feel seen, and represented. I plan on fighting my own fights, through the best sword I have – my pen – to enrich the lives of others, and make thousands around the world feel less alone.

And I challenge you to do the same. Your sensitivity is a gift. Trust me when I say I know how powerless you feel in a world so big and cold, where you do not even have a strong personality to shield yourself against it all, to help you weather the rains and the storms, and sometimes even not a single friend, because you are strange and quiet and no-one understands you. Sometimes, it just feels easier to escape – into books, into films, into pointless philosophizing and fantasies.

But what you do and achieve during your life matters, even if it touches only one person. As the saying goes, “To the world, you are just one person – but to one person, you may be the world.” So go out there and make yourself someone’s world. Go out there, and let your heart burst open, splattering the world in the form of love and art and aid and kindness, even if you risk rejection, risk getting hurt. Dig deep inside to find out what you want to do, what you were meant to do, what feels you with burning fervor, and go do it.

Then it won’t matter whether you get hurt, or if people push you around and misunderstand you and look down at you, for you will be fighting for something bigger than yourself, and that you will lend you strength some can only dream of possessing in their lifetime.

Scattered all over the world, we may feel lonely and misunderstood and useless, but if we remember that we are together in this, that there are other Dreamers out there who can understand us more deeply than any of our family and friends might be able to, we can use that to give us more strength. Strength to make the world a better place. To improve the lives of others. Kindness and big hearts are just as useless as cruelty and cold hearts if they are not mobilized and used as engines to power action. Do what you have to do. Create what you have to create. Be who you must be. Listen to your heart, the little compass-shiver deep in your chest that tells you when something is true and good.

It’s time.

How INFPs Seduce People

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Though I do not speak for all INFPs, it is a well-known fact that we are masters of the art of seduction. Or I am, at least.

You know someone is an expert on something when they Google the word representing their field of expertise, in my case, “seduction”, to clarify just exactly what it means – that shows initiative, it does.

Of course, it doesn’t help matters when the definition is something along the lines of seduction is “the act of seducing someone”. Highly uninformative, if you ask me. After some further digging, however, I came up with much better spoils. According to Wikipedia, seduction is “the process of deliberately enticing a person to lead astray, as from duty, rectitude, or the like; to corrupt, to persuade or induce to engage in sexual behaviour.”

Now doesn’t that sound like something an awkward, shy creature would be brilliant at? My thoughts exactly.

Indeed, not to blow my own trumpet or anything, but I can go about the business quite creatively. A few bats of an eyelash, and the lads are all falling over each other on my doorstep, if you get my drift. However, if you were not blessed with my excellent seduction skills, as so many of you poor souls probably are (we can’t all be so lucky), here are a few of my exclusive techniques to help you seduce that lucky lady or gentleman.

1. Pretend you don’t like them.

This method is more effective than it sounds – trust me; I’m the seduction expert here, after all. You see, it follows a natural principle of human nature, which is to want what we cannot get. Ergo, pretending not to like someone is the human equivalent of throwing catnip over yourself while in a room full of cats. Who could resist someone who does not seem to notice they exist, even actively avoids or ignores them? That’s right: no-one. Absolutely no-one.

2. Talk to them only through social media.

If, impossibly, ignoring the object of your affections has failed to seduce them, the next best alternative is to contact them exclusively through social media. I cannot stress this point enough: under no circumstances should you talk to them in person, even if you see them almost everyday. Why? Because this makes you mysterious, a disembodied, friendly voice behind a screen, and everyone likes mysteries. It is also recommended that you contact them sporadically, so as to throw in an additional element of surprise, and, when they fail to respond adequately, employ a series of deftly placed emoticons to dispel the awkwardness.

3. Convince yourself they are secretly in love with you.

This is when that big imagination of yours can come in handy. Any smile or glance in your direction – especially those which were directed at someone behind you rather than, well, you – should be interpreted as a sign of undying love. Whenever you pass or bump into them, believe, deep down, that they harbor deep, concealed affections for you. Now before you start haranguing that this is veering into delusional territory, and that a visit to the therapist is in order, hear me out. Ever heard of the Law of Attraction? It states that whatever you believe or focus on becomes your reality. Therefore, if you believe they love you, they will love you. Simple as that.

4. Confess your  feelings – vaguely.

Nothing is more seductive than a confession from someone who you barely know, and who ignores you at every turn in real life. Once again, social media comes in handy; I recommend Facebook, though any other site which allows for private messaging is fine. Now the key here is to not actually say outright that you like them – that is a big no-no when it comes to seduction. Instead, skirt gently around your true intentions.

In a message long as an essay detailing your utmost apologies for ignoring them (see how that technique comes in handy also at this point?), embed, here and there, small hints of your affections, be it that you have always found them to be a most intelligent and discerning creature, and that, well, you yourself are also an intelligent and discerning creature, the implied but unstated meaning being: look, man, we’re perfect for each other, can’t you see?

It’s also a good idea to intersperse mentions of your positive traits as well, including sensitivity, shyness and an appreciation for philosophy and beauty – these are all highly seductive traits, perfect for showing off through text rather than in real life. All there’s left to do after that is press SEND and nibble your nails and hyperventilate while you wait for the reply.

5. Realize that it is not always about the goal, but the journey.

If, after your confession, you receive a curt message in return outlining your delusions, along with a few pieces of advice on how to increase your confidence and be more comfortable with yourself, you are ready to learn the greatest lesson of seduction. It is this: you don’t need to actually seduce someone to seduce them. So realize that, if you followed each of the techniques outlined above carefully, you did technically seduce them, only you did not actually bring the seduction to a conclusion. And that’s perfectly fine. Like some Zen philosopher who most likely drank herself into oblivion and died alone once said, it is about the journey, not the goal, and I’m sure, by this point, you have experienced quite the ride.

I hope this information aids you in your no doubt thriving love life. In a world where sensitivity and shyness is often derided rather than appreciated, seduction for us INFPs is obviously a piece of cake. Our idealization of people, so often interpreted as an inability to separate reality from fantasy, is a gift rather than a burden when it comes to love. Oh, and one last piece of advice: never underestimate the seduction of good books. They are far more sexy than the most intelligent and talented of men or women, with their delicate spines, rustling pages and spidery writing – who could resist?

How To Stop Idealising People

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If you’re a dreamer, chances are you idealize people. It’s wired in our natures. We live in a world of imagination and fantasy, and we can’t help but superimpose our glorious visions of perfection upon those around us.

This can sometimes cloud our judgment to an unhealthy extent. It’s a good thing to see the silver lining threaded through the soul of every human being, but we have to understand that not everyone is a marble statue of wonder. Often, upon closer inspection, we find cracks feathering through the structure of our idols, and the weathering of age upon their visages.

But disillusionment is not the only ramification of idealizing people. Idealizing is a veneer of pretty glitter. It distorts your vision. You see a goddess instead of a woman. You see a superhero rather than a man. And by doing so, you prevent yourself from truly getting to know other human beings.

I recall idealizing a boy in primary school to such an extent that I could not even speak to him, for fear of shattering the illusion. I had also blown out of proportion his good qualities, and made myself feel astronomically inferior. I regret that. Maybe I could have got to know a really friendly guy, but my fantasy-loving brain got carried away, and left me with only an fragmented illusion.

So, what can you do to fix this?

It’s hard to rewire our thoughts, especially since we live in a society where celebrity worship is, well, celebrated. People faint upon meeting their favourite actresses or getting their book signed from a famous author. This societal glorification, a large-scale projection of idealization, almost seems to tell us that human worship is okay.

Sure, you can love people for their public image and their work. But what you have to realise is that everyone is human. I mean it. Human. Raw. Sometimes ugly, sometimes beautiful.

The only way to stop idealizing the people you currently worship is to talk to them and get to know them. However, if the wall of illusion is already built, and you can’t stand tearing it down, you can prevent it happening in the future by changing your mindset.

How?

By keeping in touch with your inner humanity. Now, this doesn’t mean feeling compassion for the creatures of this world – you have enough of that. It means seeing humans for what they truly are. They are not deities. They are just like you. No, seriously. Think about it. They are just like you. Sure, give or take some differences in terms of talent, money and looks, but, in the end, they’re human. We all cry. We all eat. We all hate. We all love. We are united by our common humanity. We all have horrible I-want-to-die days and blissful life-might-be-okay-after-all days. Yes. Everyone. That cute girl that sits behind you in class. Your favourite pop star. The president.

All I’m saying is, dear dreamers, that we’ve got to be careful and not create a land of jewel-soul beings of unparalleled perfection in which we’re the only sand-bag rag doll. It’s no good for forming true relationships, and no good for you, either, because you’ll just get up feeling terribly inferior.

And, hey, if you’re really struggling with pulling away the veil of moonbeams, just imagine the object of your idealization sitting on the toilet and pooping. And maybe not even with grace. Just the way you do it, slouched down on the toilet seat, playing on your phone. It’s a bit unsightly, but it works. That’s a sure fire way to drag the cloud down to earth.

But in all other respects of your life…

Keep dreaming.

My Love For Weird Fiction

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For some reason, I feel like I am going to make a confession, and a sinful one at that.

After being aspersed for most of my life for being ‘strange’, ‘abnormal’ and ‘eccentric’, it’s hard to de-wire the internalization that being weird isn’t a bad thing.

So. Here is my sin. I adore weird fiction.

Like, the psychedelic kind.

Surreal imagery. Grotesque descriptions. Outlandish, creepy concepts.

Animals turned inside out, suspended in amniotic fluid basins. Flowers that chew the fingers off children. People that weather and disintegrate into hollow skeletons by the end of the merry ground ride. Bugs that slither tongues into mouths and feed off dreams. A mother with button eyes. Dolls that come to life, bloom to full-size, and traverse the floorboards at night, enormous woolen heads nodding, knitted mouths hungry.

My favorite book as a child was Alice in Wonderland.

My favorite writers are Ray Bradbury, Neil Gaiman, Edgar Allen Poe, Paul Jennings, John Collier, China Melville, H.P Lovecraft and Roald Dahl, all of whom are a dab hand at penning bizarre, off-beat tales.  

I find the odd, alien and peculiar absolutely fascinating. Perhaps it’s because I’m odd myself. Or maybe reality is too normal for me, so I seek the abnormality I crave in other, more fantastical realms. I don’t see, and this is just my opinion, the point of writing stories which involve real life, with real people, with no touch of fantasy. Hasn’t reality got enough of that? Instead, my imagination only likes to twist and distort and venture out into strange territory. Let the shoes of inspiration take me where they may.

So what’s the big deal? It’s hardly immoral, right? I used to spout off freakish ideas that sprouted in my mind like gloriously fetid blooms of dream-fungus in the middle of conversations, simply because it struck my fancy and sometimes the ideas were to strange and wonderful to be savored alone. To my horror, I received pointed looks, even reactions of disgust.

It may sound trivial, but as a painfully sensitive and introverted person, further social rejection in response to an aspect of my being was torture.

So. Here’s my confession. I’m an avid reader, love and writer of weird fiction. I’m not twisted or sick. I’m just an average person with an above-average imagination. And I’m going to see where it leads me, whether people in my life accept my eccentricity or not.

What about you? I’d love to hear from anyone who is also a fan of weird fiction. Or have any of you harbored a secret love for something which was unconventional and therefore shunned for it?

How To Break The Magic

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Reality sucks, right? I know. I feel you.

It’s why books, movies and television shows are so popular. You know the old deal. Escapism. And escapism is good in small doses. But sometimes, we can get lost in the wonder of a fictional world. We’re not just lured in by the perfect people in stories with their perfect problems. We like to see suffering, we like to be scared, so that we can feel a tad better about our own often excruciatingly imperfect lives with problems that can’t be solved with a kiss or a lucky save or final showdown.

I’ve fallen down the hole of fiction many times. I’m a huge fan of imagination. I feed on stardust and magic and fantasy. It rejuvenates me, gives me a reason to live in this world.

Thing is, though I don’t feel too guilty about reading books as a form of escapism, because any kind of reading is good, every time I watch a movie or television show, I feel like a child sticking her hand into a jar of forbidden treats, knowing I might get caught and the sweets will make me sick but doing it anyway.

I feel guilty. I feel like I’m wasting my life, the seconds, minutes and hours swirling down the drain of my limited existence. And yet, sometimes, I can’t stop.

You know what I mean.

You come home, tired of reality and the daily drudgery of existence. You want to forget you are you, you want to forget your problems, even if momentarily. Of course, you don’t want to drink yourself into oblivion – that would be reckless. So. You sit down before your television or computer screen. And you watch. You watch, knowing that work is piling up, that you should be doing other things, knowing you should be working towards your dreams, working towards making life better, solving your problems in the real world.

But you don’t want to face it, damn it. You just want to wallow in the beauty of what is on the screen, cry, laugh, let your heart crack open and unleash forth a brief glimmer of joy through a slit that reality normally stitches tight.

But the difficulty of life isn’t the only reason we want to escape. It’s also because we’re bored. Reality is boring as hell. Though we want to solve our problems, we want the solutions to come in a big bang and trumpet of fanfare. We don’t want to talk over relationship issues with our spouse in a silent kitchen sitting opposite each other – we want him or her to clasp us in their arms and profess their love to the sky. We want it to be dramatic, interesting, for the blood to pump in our veins, to live our lives vivaciously.

But most of our lives revolve around work and school, with the occasional holiday and break. It’s painfully dull.

So. Life is hard and boring. Talk about a double whammy. It’s no wonder we want to escape. Reality pumps us full of toxins that only fiction can cleanse us of.

But you’ve got to cling on.

I know. I know. I know. It sucks. It sucks, sucks, sucks.

But don’t let yourself became a slave to fiction. Don’t become an addict dependent on your daily shot of soap operas and Nicolas Sparks novels. It’s easy to, especially if you’re a dreamer or idealistic –  escapism runs in your blood. Heck, your own imagination is a portable form of escapism.

Here’s one of the best ways I broke the magic of television shows and movies. It might not work for you, but it did wonders in helping me break free.

Watch videos of the making of the films. Watch the behind-the-scenes footage. It’s like seeing the hands at a puppet show, knowing how a magician did a trick. It loses all of its magic once you realize it was planned, constructed, not real, not real.

What I’m saying is, you can watch your shows. Read your books. But don’t overdose. Force yourself to walk away after the fifth episode. Turn off the computer. Force yourself to turn away from the screen and do something else.

Spend your time wisely. You have less of it than you think. It’s so little – you can’t imagine how little time you truly have in the full scheme of things. Chase your dreams. Work hard. Procrastinate, have fun, waste time here and there, but bounce back. Always bounce back. Step away. Learn to control yourself.

Break the magic and cultivate your own brand of magic in the real world.