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

Yellow flower

So, there’s this girl.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I wonder what her imaginary boyfriend looks like.

A Dreamer Tries To Help: Q&A

Bottle 1

Since the birth of this blog two years ago, I have received quite a few messages, through comments and emails, from other lost, lonely and struggling souls – many of whom who identify with the Myer-Briggs Personality Type INFP, but also people who are simply sensitive, often introverted and feel as though they do not belong.

It has become very apparent to me that this world pushes some people to the fringes of society – and if we’re honest with ourselves, we’re happier living on the edges than amongst the throng.

We belong in the corners and the crevices, behind the secret doors and within the hidden alcoves.

However, despite liking being “different”, it does make surviving in society difficult. Sometimes very, very difficult. And there are a lot of us experiencing those difficulties. So I thought I would start a weekly Questions & Answers post, where I transpose a person’s message for help onto a blog post and try and answer it as best as I can.

That way, it will help the person who is asking (or sometimes wailing out into the ether in despair) and also anyone else who stumbles across my blog who might be struggling with similar issues.

In my head, I have sort of, well, “anointed” myself as a little, quiet supporter for misfits all around the world. A warrior, fighting for those who are too sensitive, too quiet, too strange, and who do not belong, kitted out in silvery armour etched with gamboling kittens and books, and my trusty sword named Edgar Allen Poe – please, do not laugh, he is a rather sensitive sword (which makes battles rather tiresome, mind you, as he never wants to hurt the enemy, which completely defeats the purpose of fighting in the first place, in my opinion) and you will most likely hurt his feelings and I shall have to deal with the mess. Do know how badly sword-tears rust metal?

Edgar, however, approves of subterfuge tactics, which do not actually involve shedding blood, like encouraging and helping other misfits with words so that we can rise up and silently take over the world. Or at least feel a little less sad, tired, and alone.

This whole thing, really, was mostly his idea, conjured up so he could wriggle out of fighting our enemies, like Mean Corporations Who Care About Money Instead Of People and other Selfish, Heartless Nincompoops. Fortunately, it was a good one.

Songbird asks:

“I am an INFP female, 55 years old, but, in all honesty, not only do I not ACT my age, I certainly don’t FEEL my age, and I don’t look my age, either. I feel very much like I did when I was about 9 years old. I can remember my feelings of “not fitting in”, and how in the world to try to “look and act the part” so vividly; it’s because I feel those same feelings, now.

I crave time alone. I got exhausted on phone calls. I love to talk when the conversation is interesting, but I am so passionate and have such a hard time trying to explain myself and I feel so misunderstood that my talking is perceived as “excessive”. Although, I talk no more and quite often less than friends when we are talking together.

It’s just that THEY talk about the things that they all understand and want to talk about–things that I don’t really care about, understand, movies that I haven’t seen and don’t want to see, tv shows that I have never watched and have no interest in watching, etc. I want to discuss an amazing book I’ve read and how that book actually spoke to me, stuff like that. Sometimes I feel like I am being looked at like I have lobsters crawling out of my ears.

It is VERY, VERY hard being an INFP. When I get “labeled” a “talker” or “eccentric” or whatever, I feel that I have been somewhat permanently, dismissed.

I am also a musician, which just seems to compound the problem. I am extremely artistic and creative. I have taken on the “this is who I am, and if you don’t like it, too bad” attitude, and it works for me for a while, but deep down, in my heart of hearts, I just feel misunderstood. I am becoming worn out with dealing with people. It is getting to be just too much trouble to try to deal with. I would like to go back to teaching music in my private studio and not have to put up with he politics of dealing with a public school setting or all of the women that are found in same.

I have had my feelings hurt countless times, and I have forgiven, but I am at the point now that I am ready to not only forgive, but to just move on.

I am just too tired to continue to try to put forth the effort to fit my “square and eccentric self” into this round hole of “normal existence in day to day life”.

I love VERY deeply. I care very, very deeply. I do NOT give up on my passions and I am a champion for the children that I teach. They need me very desperately, a many of them have no one else. The problem is, I have poured out so much that I am beginning to feel that I need to be re-filled. If I were to try to explain ANY of this to anyone else, they would actually believe that I had lost my mind.

So, I just don’t even try. I just continue to suffer in silence. I have always, and still do, LOVE small spaces and to be closed in, by myself in the dark with only soft light, where no one really knows where I am, and I can read my book, by myself. I can have my dog with me and just sit back and read.

All of these things would literally make others want to look for the closest mental hospital to check me in to.

I am just so tired. Does anyone else feel this way? If so, and I’m sure that you do, how do you cope? What do you do when you get so hurt and laughed at about “talking too much” when you suddenly believe that you might have picked up on something in a conversation that you can relate to and explain yourself?

What do you do when you are so deeply hurt in your workplace and so close to retirement that you just can’t really leave? I am at a complete loss and I am actually thinking that I would much prefer to stand behind a bar in a restaurant and serve mugs of beer to people that I don’t have to get so “close to”, I can “chat” a bit if I have the energy, or not, and then, at the proper time, I can leave with my purse.

Any suggestions from anyone???”

Dear Songbird,

I feel your pain.

When I say “I feel your pain”, I don’t mean it lightly, the way some people do when they say it which often makes you annoyed at their insincerity: I honestly feel your pain, because I have gone through the same kind of pain.

Though I am a little younger than you are, I have been told that I am wise beyond my years – of course, you may disagree – and hopefully I can give you some suggestions to ease your suffering.

First of all, there is nothing wrong you with you. You just have a heart, one a little more powerful than most, and a personality which does not mesh well with the rest of society. There is nothing wrong or strange about wanting to sit in a dimly lit room with your dog, where it is quiet and safe, and read, preferably for the rest of your life. There is nothing wrong or strange about caring very deeply, or feeling too much.

Your problem is that you are burnt-out from prolonged, unfulfilling interactions with society. No-one understands you, and when you reveal your true self, even just a brief glimpse of it, you are subtly rejected, which, being sensitive, stabs you to the core. You yearn to speak on subjects that matter to you – the books you read, the world of the imagination, philosophy – but no-one else seems the least bit interested, and you are left alone and baffled, unable to form a connection with anybody.

What you have to realise is that you will never receive the validation and understanding that you crave from most of the people you meet. It simply isn’t possible; it’s like trying to describe what a jungle is, exactly, to a fish. So my advice is – and this is based on experience – don’t even try.

I, myself, have launched into effusive bursts of talk, only to be looked at strangely, my skin burning with shame and rejection. To protect yourself, then, stop letting glimpses of your true self seep out, because people who reject your true self don’t deserve to see it. If you must interact with people who do not understand and never will an atom of your being, then act. Play pretend. Make it fun, which will make it less tiring; see it as game, a secret show you are putting on that only you know about.

And then exit from the interaction, as quickly and politely as possible. Any friends who don’t understand you and just drain your energy – cut them from your life. For once, be a little selfish, and take care of yourself, and spend your time doing things you like to do, rather than talking about things you have no interest in.

But what if, as in the case of work, the unfulfilling and prolonged interactions are constant, and exhausting?

There are a few solutions to this.

One, is to start carving out as much alone time as possible at work, by eating lunch in your own office or classroom rather than with everyone else, or even escaping into the toilet cubicles with a book.

It’s best, I’ve found, to establish a shy and retiring persona in the eyes of others, as that way there is less expectation that you will be talkative and chatty, and you will be less exhausted.

You can also make excuses to avoid interactions with people (there is no shame in this as it allows you to preserve your own energy), either by professing you are unwell and are therefore not in the mood for talking (say it as politely as possible, not bluntly) or that you are very busy, and “exceedingly sorry that you do not have the time to chat.”

In addition, you can try and spend more time with your students, who are, because they tap into your empathy, perhaps a little less draining to interact with than the women at your workplace. To stop letting phone-calls deplete your energy, you can try (though sometimes you simply must answer some calls, as per the requirements of your job) to use Text Messages and emails more often.

However, in the end, these are merely attempts to put Humpty Dumpty back together using plastic tape. It doesn’t solve the problem, which is that you are a retiring and extremely introverted person forced into an environment that requires you to be extroverted on a daily basis. It’s like forcing a man who can only walk two miles a day due to lung problems to run a lap of his entire town in under five hours. It’s agony, like you are screaming inside every minute of the day and will do so until you retire – trust me, I know.

Thus, if you follow these tips, you are still going to be tired – just less so. You might even become more stressed and tired because people might start thinking you are aloof or snobbish, or asking where you start disappearing to all the time, and why, exactly, you aren’t eating lunch with them anymore or answering their phone-calls. If you think you can tolerate work by inserting these little “breathers” into your day, then everything’s good, and you will be able to wake up in the morning without feeling miserable.

However, chances are, if you are anything like me, the only true solution to your problems is to find another job, where there is less pressure or need to interact and put on an act.

As musician, this might mean, as you said yourself, opening a studio and teaching students one-by-one or in small groups privately, which eliminates co-workers and where the only interaction you have to withstand is with your students and their parents.

You could also try seeking a job with a different organisation, perhaps a smaller one, with less people and less pressure to talk, where you just teach, finish the lessons, and then go home. At the time, you should try and sock away more money into your retirement fund so you could perhaps retire earlier, and sink into the solitude you crave, and try live on less, so you can, for example, work only part-time and still survive.

I would not look longingly towards retirement as the gateway to peace and serenity. I don’t know where you live, but here in Australia, both women and men retire at 65, so it’ll probably be a good decade or so before you can leave the workforce. You need to find peace and serenity now. Finding a job more suited to your social needs, saving away more chunks of money so you can perhaps retire earlier – or have more freedom to hop from one job to another in order to find the right fit – and perhaps working part-time is the best way to do this.

As for not being able to find anyone to relate to, you could start a blog to pour out your feelings and experiences, as I did, or join a forum where you can meet other INFPs (like Personality Cafe), in order to fulfill your need for meaningful interaction without the downside of having your energy drained.

It’s also Okay to be a loner. Offline, I do not have a single friend who truly understands me, and, partly due to other issues unrelated to being an INFP, spend much of my time alone, or simply with my siblings who, having grown up with me, are well-acquainted with my eccentricities and do not reject me for having them (even though they don’t understand me).

If you don’t have any siblings or family members where you can be yourself, that’s fine, too. What I have realised, finally, after many years of pain and loneliness, is that you don’t need other people to understand you or validate you. In fact, if you’re very honest with yourself, you don’t even truly need to talk philosophy or books with other humans; just enjoying the books or thinking about life is often rewarding enough.

As long as you are spending your time in activities that bring joy to you, like reading, and understand and validate yourself, that is enough. The world has over seven billion people in it. It’s impossible for everyone to have someone understand them, and the truth is, no-one really understands or truly validates anyone; we’re all trapped inside our own universes, filtering the world through our own minds; we’re all extraordinarily unique, and some part of us will always be a secret to other people.

Even the people who you see fitting in, laughing cheerfully and happily, have moments when they are alone and they feel as if no-one in the whole world truly understands everything that goes on inside their heads. As INFPs, we are just aware of this alienation a little more keenly than other people, and because often we are markedly different from the majority, the loneliness and lack of validation is compounded. And besides, sometimes, we don’t even understand ourselves! Being human is funny like that. It’s all a grand mystery, and we’re stuck right in the middle of it.

I truly hope this helps you in some way, even if only a little, and I would love to hear how you are as time goes on. Take care. You are not alone in your suffering.

Love,

Dreamerrambling

If you have a question yourself – or perhaps a lament – you can write a comment, or send a message to my email, dreamerrambling@hotmail.com.

I can’t promise that it will get answered (sometimes questions overlap; sensitive and shy people tend to struggle with similar problems) on this blog, but I always make a point to try and reply a private message to every email I receive.

Perhaps I could make this Q&A a weekly sort of thing – it feels so grown-up and professional! – what do you think?

I do love helping people with their problems; it makes me feel like I am doing my part to ease suffering in the world even though I don’t have wherewithal to tackle big issues like starvation yet. There is so much suffering in the world, and if I dwell too long on that fact, I can’t function, so I try my best to focus on what I can do. Tears don’t help anyone; action does.

If it weren’t for my anxiety, I think I would have loved to be a counselor, though perhaps the sort of counselor who heals people through words or talks over the phone rather than in person. I’m better at solving other people’s problems rather than my own, which is both funny and sad, like so many things in life. Well, it’s always a possibility, even if it seems an impossibility at the moment — obstacles are also funny like that.

I love all of you. I love humanity, and I love people (at least from afar; I like watching people a thousand times more than I like talking to them) – it’s just there’s a lot of good mixed in with the bad, and the negative is often harder to ignore than the positive. Just yesterday there was an article in the news about a teenager inculcated with terrorist ideologies who shot a civilian near police headquarters in Sydney, and the dark cloud of that event still has not left me. It’s frightening, on a personal level, and it’s saddening. I will never understand why people hurt, kill, torture, exploit. Never.

PS:

Edgar would like to communicate to everyone the following message:

“Words are stronger than swords.”

It’s true, in a sense, I guess. Words can change minds, which changes lives, which then changes the world. But I do think some people in the world respond better to a knife at their throat than an appeal from thousands of suffering people – don’t you?

INFPs And Earning A Living

money

Sometimes, I feel as though asking a monkey to build a Ferris Wheel using only banana peels would have a higher success rate than finding an occupation INFPs feel comfortable in – apart from, of course, the quintessential “I want to be a writer” spiel that sends parents all over the world into heart attacks at the kitchen table. Our personality perfectly predisposes us to the task – imaginative, creative, with a natural love for words, for thinking and pondering and spending great periods of time alone – and it’s been a firm belief of mine for a while that a great deal of the books in the world were written by INFPs.

When it comes to making money, however, we seem to hit a wall, against which most of us will beat our fists at for a great deal of our adulthood. I, myself, even if I did not have the anxiety and sensory issues preventing me from pursuing a traditional pathway for the time being, find it terribly difficult to slot myself into the machine. I think there a few reasons for this. One is that we are free-spirited creatures – occasionally a little too free-spirited. This not only spurs us to rebel against authority and tradition, it has other darker sides: procrastination, never committing to anything, flitting through life thinking we are free when in truth we are only sabotaging ourselves by not following a schedule and working steadily month after month in order to become an expert in whatever field we have chosen. But most of all, this means that the thought of someone – be it the government, or a teacher, or boss – monopolizing our time, forcing us to spend our days as they see fit in order to earn “money” we see all too clearly as being a sham, just paper collectively agreed to possess value, doesn’t sit right with us. In fact, it sits so very poorly that sometimes the necessity of earning a living in this world feels like a noose around our neck, tightening by the day.

Though some among us do end up making a living as writers, most of us do not have that privilege, at least not yet, and must “clock in the hours”. Thus, we end up in three possible situations. One is where we work at a tedious and usually stressful job that takes a toll on our hearts and our mind while pursuing our interests, like writing, or philosophizing, in our spare time. Another is that we end up dependent on others to keep a roof over our heads and food in our stomachs, as is the case with my life right now, living with my mother despite having reached adulthood this year and struggling with some psychological and sensory issues. The final situation is a compromise: we find something in our daily jobs to love, such as the connection or bonds formed with customers, and thus find ourselves able to bear it even if the other tasks involved in the job make us want to tear our eyes out. There is, in fact, a fourth scenario, which is that we end up homeless, extravagant little hippies living out of the back of caravans or in cars, and on the dole (if we’re lucky), despite the deep well of kindness in our hearts and our high intelligence.

However, none of these situations – and I am sure I don’t have to point out that the last is particularly unpleasant – are ideal, and sometimes not even tolerable. First, working at a job that wears away at your soul is going to have consequences, ranging from chronic fatigue syndrome, depression and panic attacks. Make no mistake: you are going to be miserable, and most likely bored out of your mind. Look, we’re quiet creatures who are energized by solitude and quiet contemplation – and most jobs either require extensive contact with people or are stressful, filled with phone calls and paperwork. Depending on someone for your livelihood can be just as miserable, and I speak this from experience. For one, you be plagued by skin-peeling guilt almost every second of the day for not financially contributing to the household and gradually see yourself as a useless, lazy excuse of a human being, even if you suffer from mental issues or have been unable to find or hold down a job due to your natural introversion or inability to tolerate workplaces. Our independence is also important to us, and it is impossible to feel independent if someone else is paying the bills for you – or, in my case, buying the groceries and even helping me borrow my library books. What’s more, INFPs need to be occupied in personally fulfilling work at all times, regardless of whether it brings in an income or not, which is why, although I do not have a job, I am taking free online courses and pretending writing is a full-time job (your imagination can do wonders for fixing your procrastination issues! A favourite of mine is to pretend I am in jail, and all I have is a laptop without internet, or a pencil and paper, in order to get myself writing). As for holding a job we acclimatise ourselves to, teasing out the good parts while tolerating the bad, well, once again, eventually, it takes a toll. Homelessness is the worst option of the lot, though living in a caravan or a car, if you do not struggle with any mental issues, can be, depending on your personal tastes, a viable method of existence.

Compounding this problem is the fact that our natural skills and abilities are not prized by the modern workforce, and are sometimes even liabilities rather than assets. We are highly empathetic, highly independent, highly scatter-brained, highly idealistic, highly imaginative, highly melancholy and highly introverted – almost the exact antithesis of the kind of person society values: extroverted, charismatic, charming, bold, a go-getter, cheerful, good social skills. All we have really going for us is our creativity and writing skills – hence why so many of us gravitate towards writing as a possible career path – but, as we all know, getting good at writing takes time, and you often need to support yourself in other ways as you build up your skills. So basically, what you have is a group of people who are creative, philosophical, sensitive and kind who find themselves without a place to call home in the world.

Granted, some INFPs do end up landing in jobs which are the right fit for them, such as roles in non-profit organisations perhaps involving writing, or as a freelance writers – but they’re rare, and those INFPs who are successful today in a field they enjoy often went through similar struggles due to their personality type before they hit their sweet spots. So what do we do? Where is this elusive home that everyone else seems to find and for which we seem to be forever seeking?

It’s different for every INFP, but I believe that our only true homes are our own minds and imaginations, the one place in the entire universe where we can be entirely free – yet another reason why writing is so natural an activity for us. What this means, however, is that anything which exists beyond the boundaries of your mind – basically, the rest of the world – will never live up to your expectations, and never satisfy you (this is true for everybody, on some level).

Thus, the only solution to living the life we want (once again, not applicable to all INFPs) is to find a way to live inside our minds as much as possible, where we are the happiest and often find the greatest fulfillment. Now, there are probably people out there who will disagree with this conclusion, because it seems to suggest that INFPs should, instead of going out there and truly “living”, retreat into their imaginations and escape reality. But they do not understand that it is only in the realms of our mind do we feel truly free and happy, nor the joy wandering through the labyrinth of our own thoughts brings us. The true reason why we find it so hard to find a place in this world is because we are internal rather than external creatures; we are organisms of the mind and the heart, rather than the body. Therefore, as dreamers, centering ourselves more in the mind and the heart, where we naturally feel the most comfortable, is the truest path to happiness.

I don’t know exactly what you would find most fulfilling – it doesn’t have to be writing, not all INFPs are natural-born writers or love writing, we’re all different – but chances are, it’s connected to the heart or the mind in some way, in that it is something that engages your creativity, imagination, and natural empathy for other living creatures. As long as you make sure whatever you are doing comes from either of those two spiritual organs, you’re on the right path.

The good thing is that your mind and your heart can be engaged no matter what task you are doing or where you are in life. If you are working at a job you dislike that burns your soul a little more with each day that passes, then use your imagination to free yourself. Escape during meetings, while waiting in line for the photocopier; it will be enjoyable, and make the time fly by much faster whilst also exercising your creativity. This will be easier if your job does not involve much higher-order thinking. Pretend you are a djinn, forced to do tasks for your unbending master, trapped by shackles made of crisp dollar notes. You can also use work time, as surreptitiously as possible, to write, or engage in whatever task that fulfill you. For example, write on used office sheets, or finish the work you do very quickly and write during the rest of the time while pretending to be doing company work. Be creative: write in office diaries, on Post-It Notes. It’s not unscrupulous – much of the workforce is set up to waste your time on meaningless, dull tasks just to spool some extra numbers into your bank account and keep you occupied, and if it’s possible for you to find a loophole, a rambling little path away from the highway, then, by all means, take it. No matter what your situation is, use your creativity to try and make life fulfilling for you, while still allowing you to keep a roof over your head.

For those of you who are unemployed and on the dole, living in caravans or cars, or dependent on another for food and shelter, the same principle applies. Just because you don’t have a proper “job” doesn’t mean you can’t keep yourself busy. It’s easy for INFPs to fall into procrastination and laziness, as we’re easily distracted by anything that flies by our way, and, with the Internet, the air is now filled with swarms of interesting flying things. Reading books is much easier than writing them; thinking about philosophy much easier than putting philosophical concepts into practice; imagining a flourishing garden easier than getting your hands dirty and planting one. Often for us, like most people, the more time we have, the more we squander it. So don’t. If you’re not in traditional employment, make sure you are still constantly engaged in productive and meaningful tasks, whether that is writing, or reading up books on Psychology, building your own freelance writing business, planting some spring onions in pots along the grimy windowsill of your caravan – anything other than being idle and wasting your time. Doing so will also help beat back the guilt that will swamp you for not working and contributing to society, because technically you are working, working very hard indeed, only you are not being paid for it yet.

Also, I would recommend you try and save your money and not purchase unnecessary items – not only will it help the environment, but the less money you spend, the more money you save, and the more money you save, the more freedom you will have. Don’t eat out, buy second-items and less-processed foods, save up for items that truly contribute to your well-being like books. This shouldn’t be particularly difficult, as most of us are quite content with very little, and have little desire for extravagances or luxuries. Pinching pennies doesn’t make you a cheapskate – it makes you smart, and environmentally aware. Consumption in the world is at an all-time high, flushing the environment with our toxins and wastes, and the consumerism model of a constant cycle of using and discarding just isn’t sustainable in the long-term. Besides, the best things in life, like friendship, literature and the imagination, are free, anyway.

What’s more, the more money people like us have, the better of a world it will be, because, being kind folks, we’re more likely than any other group of people to donate to charities and help people if we have the resources to. If more of the world’s wealth and power was concentrated in the hands of INFPs (unfortunately most of us only seem to make our fortunes through artistic fields, like writing and film-making, notorious for their low entry-rates), there would be less suffering on Earth. Take J.K Rowling, for instance, a famous INFP – she is no longer a billionaire because she gave away so much of her money. In that sense, we almost have an obligation to try and accumulate as much wealth as possible (out of all MBTI types, we tend to earn the least due to our natural skill sets – bankers earn more than psychologists – so it’s a tough call), to the best of our abilites, in order to help the people who need help, rather than let wealth pile up in the bank accounts of the greedy, selfish and less philanthropic, where it sits there, an untapped resource, doing nothing and helping no-one.

There are no easy answers, but armed with our hearts and our minds, our imagination, creativity and kindness, we can fight back, and carve out lives true to ourselves and make the world a better place in the process. We are often intelligent and discerning, able to see easily into the workings of society, the shams of the modern-day world (the crowning jewel of which is the economic system), yet powerless to change the terrible things we see, and often the most oppressed group of people by the system itself. You are not alone, however; a small percentage though we may make of the world population, we do actually number in the millions if you take the total world population into account. So, in reality, there are millions of good people, idealists and dreamers, INFPs, out there, who all feel alone, and like they are the only pure and good souls in the world, the last moral bastions of society, when it’s just that we’re a little spread-out – and it is this dispersal that reduces our power.

With the Internet, however, that no longer has to be the case. It’s cliché, I know, but it’s true: alone, we are weak; together we are strong, stronger than our wildest dreams. Can you imagine what it would be like if we formed a global network of INFPs through the internet, leveraging our combined strength to help each other and do good in the world? INFPs are, in essence, an untapped resource of kindness in humanity, and have been up, until now, being soft, shy, retiring, unseen, brushed under the carpet, our voices drowned out by louder ones. You must stay strong – for yourself, for other INFPs, and for the world (and really, when I say “INFPs”, I am in actuality referring to anyone who is extraordinarily kind and idealistic; the MBTI just allows us to find like-minded people more easily). Take heed my advice on making money so you will be able to survive in society whilst maintaining your sanity. I will do my part, continually honing my writing skills so that one day, when I am a published and established writer, I will be able to leverage my economic and social power to help you, to help any suffering people in the world, and to help and bring joy to as many human beings as I can over the course of my life. That is what making money means for INFPs: to allow us to survive so we can seek personal fulfillment and improve the world.

If you need any help or support in life, no matter what the issue is, please feel free to contact me at dreamerrambling@hotmail.com. In the past, I’ve not been the best at replying to emails on time, but these days I am making a conscious effort to check it more often, and to try and reply to every message that I receive, especially from INFPs who are struggling. Please, however, do not be disheartened if it takes a few days. You are NEVER alone; every single INFP existing in the world today, including myself, suffers along with you, and understands you. Let us support each other, and, in doing so, support the world.

A Message For INFPs

moons

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.

A Peek Inside This INFP’s Heart One Warm Night

summer

There is something awfully depressing about summer nights, though it’s hard to say exactly what.

And it’s only summer nights, never winter, wherein one often welcomes the opportunity to snuggle beneath the warm covers, nor autumn or spring, which are generally very cool also.

I think it’s the heat. That sticky warmth that envelopes you as you lie down on the bed, the strangely hot and sweet smell of summer that wafts through the window, the feeling of sweat oozing from your pores.

It’s worse if you sleep alone, as I do: the bed, in the darkness, seems altogether too wide and large, a barren landscape upon which you lie, a tiny spider on a wide tundra, horribly alone and tossing and turning and sweating, your mind tortured with thoughts and despairs and dreams and desires and fears and terrible, shifting flashes from your past.

Summers, for some reason, also remind me, with a gut-wrenching stab of nostalgia, of many good memories spent as a child during the school holidays, when my father was still in my life.

We’d go to the park together, as a family, and I’d slide down the slippery dip, laughing, dancing across grass and feeling the sun burn on my cheeks.

The ice-cream truck would occasionally come tinkling down the streets and at the sound of it I’d come rushing out the front door down the steps and across the yard to the truck, money in fist, gazing at the board on its rear-end displaying the cold delectables on selection.

I never liked ice-cream, which others in my family thought strange, finding them to be too thick and creamy and gluggy, and preferring instead sweet popsicles. In particular I had a fondness for the mango-flavoured ones, and after buying them from the ice-cream trunk I would bring the cold box, cradled in my arms, back inside the house and we would rip the cardboard open and eat them, together, in the kitchen, as a family, licking and biting off crisp, cold chunks, happy. So happy.

I do loathe summer nights like the one I am writing this on. When the world grows warm, it seems to grow larger, somehow, the way objects expand in the heat, larger and darker and more frightening, and I feel a dull urge to scream, forever and ever, just below my heart.

It’s like an ache to shout myself hoarse, empty myself of something, rip something out of myself that does not exist but does a lot of unseen and invisible damage; I want to turn myself inside and out, and then back again, just to cleanse myself or change something or shake the universe. Or something.

Summer nights make me melancholy, which is different from sad.

Sad is when you are miserable and you want to cry, and so you cry and then you feel a little, or a lot, better. Melancholy is different. Melancholy is like a sadness that has stayed around for so long it has grown into something else, something old and tired, withered.

It sinks into your bones, as if your skeleton is a creature separate from yourself, calcium-controls directing the flesh covering, and it is so unhappy it’s misery has seeped into the rest of you, only the rest of you is not aware of where the misery is coming from, so it is just feeling this sadness and confusion rolled into one.

The awful thing about melancholy is that unlike other unpleasant mental states, such as dissatisfaction or depression or boredom, you cannot use anything to escape from it. Not books, not films, not daydreams of finding the partner of your dreams who will shower so much affection upon you you’ll almost drown in it, not hopes of a better future just around the bend, not self-talk, self-encouragement, not sleep, not food, not writing, nothing.

It is like rainy weather; you are simply stuck with it, the rain falling on top of your head no matter where you stand, and that is that. Or at least a special sort of rain, the kind that can penetrate roofs and ceilings and umbrellas, you know, if we want a metaphor that makes logical sense.

Here is something that I have learned recently, which I am sure you are very interested to know: you cannot build a house properly without drawing up a plan before you even put down the first brick. Ridiculously obvious, I know, but you would be surprised how long it took me to apply the same principle to writing.

For the longest time, I believed the creative process involved my sitting down at the computer and typing away, the Muse’s magic spurting out from my fingertips as I wrote. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Writing a book, or sometimes even a short story, needs planning, otherwise it’s like hastily constructing one wall then looking around and scratching your head and wondering what to do next, because you don’t know what the house looks like and what is where and where is what. That’s what I’ve been doing. Booklets and computer files of mine are scattered with half-built walls, standing upright on a desert terrain, baked hard and lonely in the hot sun. It’s time I drew up a plan, and built a nice little house to live in.

I really want a nice, little house. In real life, I mean, not metaphorically. Like a cottage, by the seaside, or near the woods, or something like that, very secluded, with little gardens crawling with roses and buzzing with bees, and a chimney and a fireplace and cozy bedrooms with beds heaped with quilts and old-fashioned bedside tables with carved handles for drawers and a gilt-clock on the mantelpiece. Lots of bookshelves, lining the walls, and several cats. A partner, and two little children, one girl, one boy, and my own little study, with an old-fashioned writing desk, where I go to dream and write of other worlds and other people. You can’t imagine how much I would like that. Or perhaps you can – we all have our own, secret “someday” yearnings. I can already see it, ever so clearly: sitting at that varnished wooden desk, in that close room, with the window, the white paint on its frame peeling, thrown open, the summer breeze flooding in warm and delicious, grass shining in the sun for miles outside, and a little vase balanced on the sill, with a sprig of pretty red buds tufting out from it and flittering in the breeze.

At night, O, how glorious it would be, to cluster around the crackling, warm fireplace, staring into the mesmerizing flames that dance as though they understood our hearts, with my children by my side, and my husband, to read to them, or for each of us to have our own books and be silently reading, together but lost in other worlds, the cats threading their way amongst us across the carpet, tails flicking.

It’s an old-fashioned, idyllic sort of scene, I admit, nothing I would ever admit to desiring in front of anyone in person. Especially not in this age of feminism when wanting a husband and children is seen almost as a moral weakness, something that hearkens back to an older and more conservative age. Especially when my own family was so far from idyllic, and still is, that I am afraid of repeating the own patterns again in my own family later in life, and therefore shun the idea of marriage and push away any man who dares come within a five-mile radius.

The problem is, my insides don’t match up with my outsides. Outwardly, I am the most bitter, cynical, solitary and introspective young woman you can possibly imagine, barely crested the divide between childhood and adulthood yet jaded as a woman old as the hills. Inside, I am disgustingly soft, all warm melted butter and golden puddles of honey – and it’s horrible, because life then becomes a matter of using that hard outer covering to keep the warm core hidden, only the warm core, like magma roiling beneath the earth’s crust, has a habit of spurting out, here and there; it can’t help it, it’s simply its nature.

So every time a little of that warm sweetness seeps out, as it inevitably does no matter how hard I try to prevent it, I have to frantically patch the hole back up and make sure none of it escapes again. It’s so difficult. It’s so difficult. Somehow, something terrible will happen if someone sees the softness, the liquid warmth beneath; I will break, or collapse, or something. I feel as though I would die of shame if someone find out about it, how lonely and desperate for love I am, how scared and unsure, how broken and sad. Quickly, patch it up. Staunch the holes.

Ah, here is another thing that I have found out recently, which is that nothing which does not come directly from the heart is any good. Stuff that comes from the mind, when it comes to writing, is no good at all. It is rubbish. At the core of all good art is emotion. My last piece of writing, for instance, on this website, came entirely from the mind, squeezed out, word by word, like cement through a sieve.

And it was absolutely rubbish; I did not feel a word of it. Whereas what I am writing right now comes directly from the very core of me, and therefore it is good and true. You know it is good and true if writing it nearly makes you cry – whether from happiness or misery or both, it really doesn’t matter, as long as you have the emotion, the feeling. Art without heart is dead, just words on paper, paint on canvas. I have been, unknowingly, as a writer, making corpses instead of living things.

You know, it is the big things that you remember, but it’s the small things that prick at your heart.

Like walking home at night from a restaurant, staring up at the stars strewn across the night sky, the cold wind on my face.

Sucking on a Chuppa-Chup lollipop, staring at the way the sugary sphere, translucent, glowed in the sunlight.

A tiny red plastic ball, with a bubble of air inside it, which I found behind the garage as a child, my first bit of found treasure. Little things.

Just silly, little things, more inconsequential than the big things in the grand scheme of things, yet somehow monumentally important, if only to yourself. We all live our lives, separate, alone, our memories a colourful mass of echoes lurking in the back of our minds, but we all have these little things, these tiny details, tiny moments and captured bubbles of time, which matter only very much to ourselves and yet are so beautiful to recall they make our hearts break. Is that what life is, then? I think so. Somehow, I think so.

You know what’s funny? It isn’t summer, not for a month or two yet. But the air is already growing warm, and with it the memories are already rushing back, in a tepid, liquid froth. I am choking on them, which is both horrible and delightful at the same time. They say we only ever have the present moment, which is true, but that does not take into account the past’s nasty habit of elbowing it aside now and then. I wonder, in ten year’s time, whether I will look back, a published writer, and smile at how lost and vulnerable I felt.

You know, the only reason I did not kill myself on multiple occasions when life is was very bad was because I knew that time passes, and people change, including myself, and perhaps my future self would look back on my present self and shake its head at my stupidity. When I look back on myself when I was fifteen, or ten, or five, I can only sigh at my own narrow-mindedness. As you grow older, the mind keeps on expanding, like ripples radiating from where a pebble was thrown in a pond – until you die, that is, upon which the ripples fade away entirely, leaving nothing behind.

I would like to go to sleep, now, curl up against a loved one, preferably someone who was asleep because the people you love always seem more lovable while they are sleeping, and feel the warmth of their body against mine. Animals do it, too. Sleep together, I mean, side-by-side, to keep away the darkness and the fear. In the end, all we have to hold onto is each other, hands clutching other hands in the never-ending darkness, fending off fears of hopeless and the emptiness with company, even though we know, deep down, nothing and no-one can protect us forever, that one day we will all be bones, buried in the ground. All we have to assure ourselves is that others have died before us, millions, in fact, and that millions will spring up after we have gone, according to the cycles of life, and they, as expressions of the universe, will be us, too.

Typing these words, sitting at my desk, alone in my room, I am constructing new memories, new little details, this very moment, to recall at a future time, when I am a different person in a different world. That is what they mean, I think, or should mean, when they say life is beautiful. It is. To be conscious and aware, no matter how briefly, is an excruciatingly lovely gift, even when times are bad.

I like being alive, and all the pain and joy and despair and boredom, and, yes, melancholy that comes with it. I do. I even, deep down, like being me, conflicted and difficult a business though it sometimes is – and I really do like people, too, including men, no matter how much I may turn my nose up at humanity and proclaim myself a misanthrope, destined for a life of isolation and spinsterhood.

But that’s just the soft part talking, pouring out in great, golden gushes now that the hardened covering has relaxed in this warm, lonely darkness. Tomorrow, when I wake up, it will solidify and harden again, perhaps even tougher than before, and I will go about my day filled with an aching love that has no outlet.

Things People Say To INFPS – and The Answers INFPs Would Like To Give (But We Usually End Up Saying Something Polite Instead)

INFP girl

Person: Oh, hey! What are you reading?

INFP: Oh, goodness, please disappear; I am busy reading, as you can evidently tell, and what I am reading is none of your business, even though you only mean to be friendly. The next time someone interrupts my reading, I shall pluck out their heart and feed it to the fishes, and skin them to make bookmarks.

Person: Well, somebody got on the wrong side of the bed today, didn’t they?

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Person: You’re weird.

INFP: If I pointed out the weirdness of other people, there would such an immensity of weirdness to point out that I would have to transmogrify into an extrovert just to accommodate for the strain of the task. Which would be highly unpleasant, to say the least.

Person: That was weird. What you just said. You’re weird.

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Person: It is only a documentary, why on Earth are you crying?

INFP: Because I, unlike you, have a heart.

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Person: You know, he doesn’t like you. He does not know you; the two of you have never even spoken; in fact, the only reason he knows you exist is because you tend to walk in the opposite direction or ignore him whenever you are in his presence, which is, frankly, counter-intuitive, as it conveys an air of haughty dislike rather than interest.

INFP: I know. And I do not care. The Heart has spoken.

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Person: How did you even come up with that? It’s ridiculous!

INFP: I naturally find associations between things. Possessing an imagination helps. A bird makes me think of cages which makes me think of prisoners which makes me think of war which makes me think of blood which makes me think of Death – and therefore I get depressed, just by spying a pigeon whilst walking down the street. A man wearing a hat is sometimes shielding himself from more than just the sun; every time I see a flower, I hope that it will speak, just like the flowers in the Alice in Wonderland books; and I think it is a beautiful thing, rather than outrageous or stupid.

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Person: That is illogical.

INFP: What do humans really know of the world, the universe, and even ourselves? To me, it seems like we are discovering, using our little toys, only things which fit into a model our measly brains are capable of understanding. Or, to put it metaphorically, a caterpillar, crawling over a softball, might deduce shape and texture, but never utility. I think humans are the same. So what we term “logical” only makes sense from a human perspective, and sometimes not even that, whereas what is termed “illogical” may well be the caterpillar getting a vague inkling of a large object hurtling through the air for the purpose of amusement, the way eating leaves amuses it.

Person: I did not understand a word of that, which only proves my point.

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Person: Where did you last leave it? I swear, you had it in your hand only a second ago!

INFP: It has vanished. Unbeknownst to myself, when I turned my back to sing a song and ponder the life of a squirrel in its tree hollow, a portal opened up above my cupboard, out of which sprung a team of tiny green aliens that picked up my pencil case, held it high above their tiny green hands in a line, and disappeared back through the portal with it. Even now, perhaps they are using the pens as signposts on their tiny planet, and prodding confusedly at the erasers.

Person: …I think you just misplaced it.

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Friend: I cannot imagine you getting married; the man would either have to possess a level of craziness equal to yours, or greater (unlikely), or be able to tolerate your madness. Frankly I am of the opinion that, clever and beautiful as you may be, you will remain both celibate and single until the day you die. You’re just a little, well, odd.

INFP: Not to worry – I have my books, and my brain is populated with an assortment of interesting characters, who I can talk to for hours on end, so I will never be bored or lonely.

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Person: Why are you so sensitive?

INFP: Because I, unlike you, have a heart.

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Person: You spend too much time by yourself.

INFP: It is excellent company, you should try it some time. And that statement is incorrect, for I have characters existing between the pages of books and the lobes of my ears to keep me company that are often far more interesting than the people one meets in everyday life – though I do stumble upon some interesting ones, now and then.

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Person: Why are you always attracted to assertive, logical and confident individuals? They are obviously not the kind of people that would be most suitable for you to enter into a relationship with.

INFP: Probably because people are attracted to what they lack in themselves, and though I am getting more confident day-by-day, conflict is still scary, and being assertive is tiring, and I tend to be more emotional than logical, so I guess I am attracted to them as someone standing in the rain might be drawn to an umbrella.

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Person: You are too quiet. You need to be more outspoken.

INFP: I am an introvert, which means I gain energy from being alone rather than being in the company of others. I have a fascinating, internal landscape – perhaps if you tried to get to know me instead of criticizing that which I cannot change, I would give you a glimpse or two of it. Treat me as an individual, not a silent shop dummy, and I will respond as an individual.

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Person: You are a people-pleaser, a doormat, and lack personal boundaries.

INFP: Yes, it is hard for me not to cater to the needs of others, as I am adept at picking up the emotional states of those in my vicinity, which can be viewed as a gift than a burden. I am not a doormat. I stand up for myself when the occasion requires it. Only, a lot of the time, it is simply easier just to be the more lenient one. Conflict drains my energy. Just because I try to go with the flow, and create harmony, does not mean I am meek or submissive.

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Person: They’re just people! Go talk to them!

INFP: They’re just dinosaurs! Go slip your hands into their reeking, blood-stained maws!

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Person: You think too much.

INFP: You think too little.

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Person: On the one hand, I think you’re a great person, very humanitarian, kind, artistic, etc; but it’s like you have all these dreams to help the world, but are too shy and reserved to express or put them into action. Kindness is useless when coupled with weakness.

INFP: Thank you for that curious mixture of an insult and compliment, it was very interesting. Yes, I can be shy, and reserved – once, I was too afraid to give a homeless man a chocolate and whisper to him some caring words. But that does not mean I cannot help, in my own way, through my words – and I also plan on donating every cent of the proceeds from my books after my death to charities. The act of helping others does not always have to be loud and extravagant. I do things my way, you do things yours; and perhaps let us not judge one another, in the process, my friend.

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Person: You idealise those of the opposite sex too much, and come across as weak and needy.

INFP: That is true, but only because I have a habit of seeing the good in people rather than the bad. And yes, I do have a habit of getting infatuated easily – but the moment I speak to them, and their true self slips out, I can instantly gauge their character, and if I find it unacceptable, I have no qualms about detaching myself from them. I will always believe in love, and no matter how many times I am disappointed or get hurt, I will still love, because loving is who I am – and that, I think, is not always a bad thing.

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Person: You are going to die alone! You are a sad, lonely, loser, with only her dreams to keep her warm at night! No-one understands you! And I hate it when you stare at me with those stupidly deep eyes of yours, like you are literally peering into my soul, and the way you turn a hot dog into a metaphor for life!

INFP: I am not alone. Last time I checked, at least 4% of the population shared my personality type, and though we are scattered far and wide, and are not all the same, our hearts are joined by ethereal links of love, hope and kindness. We are the dreamers, the philosophers, the humanitarians, the psychologists, the writers; and we will contribute to the world, in our own way, and if that means taking the lonelier path, then so be it. I care more for those that I touch than those I offend.

I Don’t Want What Other People Want

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I just spent the last few minutes repeatedly banging my head against the wall.

Well, not banging exactly, because that would have given me concussion. More like knocking gently, enough to convey to my family members that I was in the throes of despair.

You can probably guess what I’m despairing about based on the title of this post.

Warning: This is going to a mostly stream-of-conscious, blubbering, blathering rant that may or may not make any sense. Proceed with discretion.

Note: I would love for some comments, pretty please, anyone who can understand, even a little bit, just, out of the kindness of your heart, from one fellow human being to another, so I can just stop feeling so strange and crazy. This is my version of tragically hollering into the abyss of the cyber net in the hopes of receiving an echo back.  

I don’t want what other people want. I REALLY, really, really don’t. You can’t imagine how much I don’t. And it’s REALLY, really, really isolating.

1. I don’t care about money.

I literally have zilch care for money. As long as I am not starving and out on the streets, I’m fine. My most treasured possessions are my books, laptop and phone. I don’t care about anything else. As long as I can have a teensy weensy room that is relatively clean for myself, an internet connection, a source of relatively nutritious food and clean water, I’m happy. I don’t want an apartment. I don’t want a house. I don’t care for fancy clothes, I can still write in rags. I don’t care about cars. I don’t care about makeup or jewelry. I don’t care about ‘financial security’. I don’t care about eating out at restaurants. I don’t care about having fun at parties, going to the movies or even going on holidays. Sure, I don’t want to be homeless. But between slaving away at a 9-5 job I despise and being homeless yet having the time to write and do the things I want, I would choose the latter.  *takes a deep breath* Anyway, what I’m trying to say is I DON’T CARE ABOUT THE LUXURIES OF LIFE.The only reason I’m not leaving society and going to live in the wildness is due to my dependency on the internet and fear of wild animals. Also, I’m get cold really easily and a sleeping bag in a tent might be okay for the summers but not so great for the icy winter nights.

2. I don’t care about conventional success. 

I DON’T CARE ABOUT GOOD GRADES OR PRESTIGIOUS JOBS. I don’t! Society, just, please, yes, I’m looking at you, just please, stop cramming down my throat that I am only intelligent if I have excellent grades and go to a prestigious school and get a nice, cushy job that will get me a nice cushy retirement nest and let me live a nice, cushy, safe life. Bloody hell. Personally, I don’t think I am a stupid person. You may beg to differ of course. I may not be a prodigy or some otherworldly genius, but I can THINK, and quite well. Yet, all throughout my time in the education system, I was told I was stupid and lazy, a daydreaming IDIOT, simply because I didn’t get the excellent grades because I found what we learnt to be POINTLESS and spent most of my time writing. I would rather chase my own literary dreams, spend time with nature, live in my own imagination and toy with philosophical thoughts. Sure, you may you say you need to compromise to make a living. Do know how much time a job sucks away from your life and happiness?  Call me lazy, retarded, an utter cretin, I don’t care  – I would rather be homeless than get a job I despise. All I want to do is write and read and learn. It makes me happy and keep on living.  And maybe, after years of grueling work, scribbling down my imaginings, I’ll get published. Maybe I won’t. But I’ve only got this one life and I want to give it all I’ve got, damn it. I really think I have something, some spark, call it what you will, talent, intuition ( though I doubt my writing capabilities to the point of depression), I truly think I can make it. But I can’t make it if I sell my soul to society’s version of success.

3. I don’t want to get married and have kids and live the disgustingly boring suburban life.

I’m actually crying right now with frustration. Real tears, man. It feels like I’m the only one who feels this way, like I’m the only one sees the ghosts that wisp and waver beneath the thin film of the reality of our world. I don’t want to get married. Marriage is a social construct. A shiny rock and splashy ceremony isn’t needed to prove the love between two people. You promise each other with your actions and words, not showy stuff money can buy. I would only marry someone if they shared my views on existence. You may think that’s narrow minded of me, but it’s true. And, about the kids. I love kids. I think they are beautiful angels. I would love to have a kid of my own. But I don’t want to have a kid and lapse into the normal kind of life, where I am either a stay-at-home mum or juggling work with kids and then the relationship between my husband and I stagnates and one day I’ll wake up in the middle of the night, heart pounding in the  dark, and realize I want a divorce and I’m not happy, I’m not happy, that I’ve wasted my life, the tears streaming down my face.

4. I don’t want a life of comfort.

That might sound a bit strange. But I’ve found that most people like to be comfortable. They work hard their whole lives just to get comfortable. To feel secure. To feel safe. Then they blow their time on usual past times like television and other pleasurable activities. I don’t want comfort at all. I want to feel like I am alive every single moment of the day. I want to strive towards achieving my literary dreams. I don’t want stagnation. When I was in school, the other kids dutifully memorized what was needed for the exams, while I asked questions beyond what was being taught and was actually criticized for wasting class time. Everyone’s too comfortable. Everyone wants comfort too much. What’s so great about comfort? Maybe I’m missing something.

Just. JUST. I want to leave society. No, some parts of society are good, like the internet and libraries. I want to buy a single room somewhere and camp out there for the rest of my life. I want to go to some isolated community in the middle of nowhere and live there, writing. I want my time to be my own, to be spent on things I want to do. Yes, it’s sort of like financial freedom, but financial freedom needs some imprisonment to attain.

I feel so trapped. I feel so strange. When I tell people I don’t care about these things, they look at me condescendingly and with pity, like I’m a stupid angel that recently lost its wings and hasn’t adapted to the reality of my winglessness. My mum thinks I’m mad. I feel crazy. Am I crazy? I don’t know. I must be, if I’d rather choose homeless over the usual lifestyle.  

I want to be free. I want to live. I want to write to my heart’s content. I want to be able to stroll in the woods in the middle of the day, be around nature. I want to be able to lie in the grass and look up into the night sky and just revel in the beauty of this existence. I want to find someone who understands me, ME, wholeheartedly, because I’ve never met anyone in real life who understands me, not even the slightest, and that makes me curl up and cry at night from loneliness. I’m surrounded by people but I’m lonely.

I don’t want what other people want. So where does that leave me?