Okay, this post is likely at this point to be several things. It’s likely to be morbidly depressing, quite possibly irritating to read, will no doubt contain some absolute pure arrogance, will sound at times like complaining and perhaps wistfulness, and will definitely make less sense that I would like it to. I apologise in advance, there’s just one or two things I need to get off my chest by writing them down, and, well, this is I suppose my forum for that.
Oh, some of the initial subject matter may be a little unfamiliar for some – for others, may sound like a broken record. I do apologise, again, for the quality of this post, its potential tone (as I think it through) and its potential for repetition. All right? Wünderbar.
The past few days to weeks have proven quite difficult for me in a specific way, and that is a way tied into personal identity and identification. It’s a constant source of amazement to me how unimportant this can be for some – possibly one of those NF personality things yet again – but for me, actualisation of self and being able to point at a (possibly arbitrary?) concept and say this is me is an absolute vital thing.
This came up in an email with a friend a while back, actually, when talking about apathy and the desire to improve. I’ll quote a few lines:
The easiest way to explain it is to say that I do seek to improve myself, but my mechanism of doing so is by helping other people grow. Thus, as your friend said it – I want to help others. Helping others helps me find meaning, and to people like me, we so desperately crave meaning. So when I say it’s not about me, it really isn’t. I’m merely a reflection of what I do for others.
The major reason I came unravelled a few months ago is I reached a state where I felt *no point* to life, and that I couldn’t find one – I’d lost direction and meaning, and in doing so, I lost my sense-of-self. That’s hard, Miles. I kind of anchor my world around that sense, and without it, I had nothing.
To expand on that: the sense of meaning is vital to a concept of who I am, and without that concept, I kinda unravel. I did that back in my psych rotation, as some of you know, when I lost my sense of self to the point that I felt like I was emotionally about to shatter. I came very close, actually, scarily close looking back. The reason behind it is neither here nor there, but had a lot to do with emotional attachment to certain people which were unavoidable and were eventually dealt with, through the magical means of poetic expression. Am I over that? No. Am I functional? In that regard, yes.
The current situation stems more from a word I’m uncomfortable with, namely, charisma. In the past few weeks, six of my friends (or similar) have referred to me as charismatic, or to my “personal charisma”. This has been difficult for me to process, not just because of the word itself, but because of the emotional reaction I’ve had to it – and the further reactions it has dug up.
Apparently, I have a great personal pull. I am likeable. I am ‘popular’. People ‘love’ me. I attract people. People listen and value me greatly.
What. the. fuck.
Okay, yes, I get on well with people. I admit that. I like people. But I have never, ever identified as popular, nor as a centre of attention, or as having personal pull or charisma. If anything, I have always felt the opposite and have considered the evidence, as someone pointed out, to be rather one-shot or aberrant rather than ‘a thing’. Being forced to face this has actually made me incredibly upset internally and uncomfortable – recall what I said a few paragraphs back about meaning and self? This little word has destroyed my current sense of self. Yes, okay, I admittedly must say “I suppose it’s true”. But I never really accepted or processed it, and so now I’m feeling existentially fucked over. A friend told me “you’re seriously complaining about being good at too many things. Seriously. You need to value other people’s opinions more, that’s really it.” For me though, that’s hard.
I identify as many things. I identify, firstly, as intelligent – I mean, this is probably the arrogance talking, but well, rather so. I identify as talented with language. I identify as caring & thoughtful of others. I identify as a loner and someone who needs space. So I’m going through a crisis of self here, brought on by a very positive comment in every instance.
It’s affecting me elsewhere as well. I’m feeling like I’m becoming emotionally unstable again – this afternoon, for instance, I was at a family barbeque, had a great time seeing everyone for Father’s Day, was feeling great, drove back to Bowral and got out of the car and felt “wow, it’s amazing to be home, weather’s fantastic, love it here, etc” and then half an hour later was feeling absolutely shit mentally with no reason nor rhyme, and just could not get back on top, until I had dinner with a house mate who gave me a big boost and then I did the ironing while singing love songs and feeling great, and now… I’m sort of in the middle.
There’s no major life stress I can blame right now for it. There’s no real agonising decisions to be made, I don’t have a major issue occurring in the next few weeks (apart from my birthday which I plan to ignore as much as possible as god I hate them) and… that’s it.
I’m just not sure what’s going on upstairs with me right now. I was almost morbid before, as… okay. Sometimes I’ve described living as me as a bit like acting – I put on a different mask for every group I’m with, just about, and it’s rare that people see through them – there’s two people I know outside the immediate family who have actually punctured those masks, which is damn well horrifying at times to a control freak like me. That said, I begin to wonder how much of me has become the mask – and how much of this charisma bullshit is because of people seeing the external face and thinking it’s the inside… and then I tunnel down and it’s still there and I freak out because I’m losing control of me. It’s like wearing someone else’s skin, but the skin is changing the inside, rather than the inside hiding away behind the mask.
The only bright spot was a touch of idle googling finding me this:
INFJs tend to question and examine their own motivations constantly. In moderation this is admirable, but some go so far as to decide that any “selfishness” (which often translates to taking care of themselves instead of others, for once) in their desires is completely unacceptable. Needless to say, this can cause a great deal of stress for the INFJ in question, which they sometimes resolve in a rather convoluted manner: by deriving a Higher Principle from the “selfish” need. (“It’s not OK to object to the proposed menu for the company dinner dance because I don’t like it *myself*, but it *is* OK to do so because it’s not nutritious, or doesn’t take into account ethnic preferences, vegetarians, etc.” — all of this subconscious.)
Like all NFs, INFJs care deeply about people, both as individuals and in terms of humanity as a whole. INFJs are notable for their exceptionally strong empathic, even psychic abilities, which can sometimes cause them discomfort and even pain in their dealings with others. Perhaps because of this, INFJs truly open up to only a few intimate friends–usually very long-term relationships or obvious “soul mates.” Paradoxically, INFJs often appear to be extroverts to most of the world; they are almost always friendly, sympathetic, and interested in people, and sometimes positively charismatic. This can be puzzling and disappointing to those (usually I’s) who are drawn to them in search of a non-surface friendship, and find they just can’t get very far.
So… it’s not just me? Doesn’t make it any easier. Maybe I’ll start looking under rocks for how I’m supposed to put my worldview together again when it managed to fall off a shelf and break. Who knows. Might find something else there I’m apparently like. You can read more at Signal River.