Stabbed

I was stabbed in the chest. To understand what happened, I’d have to tell you how it all began.

We first met at a job orientation. He was one of the two conducting the orientation for a group of us newly hired employees. He looked like a real-life BFG, which I, as a child, would have been thrilled to see the book come to life. Intuition told me he was an ENFJ, which I was fascinated by as he’d then be the very first I’d have met. Typical of extroverts, he blabbered on during the orientation. And typical of me, I preferred efficiency and conciseness, and was somewhat impatient. I thought of different ways I could broach the topic of MBTI with him, but didn’t get an opportunity to that day.

Due to the nature of our job scope, we rarely see each other at work. It was some time after when we met a few times in passing, and one day he asked if we could leave together after work. So we talked — well, he talked more while I mainly listened. I casually mentioned something about personality and then he brought up the MBTI. That sparked my interest. I find out that he only knows about it very briefly, and he mentioned he’s an ENFP. That sparked my intrigue even further — to figure out if I was wrong and if he was right. He asked questions about my type and I gave him brief explanations. Then we parted ways.

The next time I spotted him at work, I went up to him — which isn’t something I’d do unless it’s someone I like — and shared with him excitedly that I had signed up for an MBTI training program. My level of excitement then plummeted as he brushed it off by stating that the MBTI wasn’t all that great, that it lacked substance, depth, and accuracy. That was Strike 1: to insult my knowledge and insinuate that what I learn and read about lacks depth and quality. My excitement turned into hurt, nervousness, confusion, and anxiety. Perhaps I was overreacting and being too sensitive. Maybe I misinterpreted his words. He suggested that I signed up for a different training program, one about personalities using colours. He told me that the theory was much better and I listened to him explain what it was as I genuinely wanted to learn. I made a mental note to look it up after (which I did) and then I asked if he had also heard about the Enneagram and that I was starting to read up on it. Then came Strike 2: with a look of pure disgust on his face, he asked if that had something to do with animals and the zodiac. Again, it’s insulting my intellect and dismissing my topics of interest.

I left feeling really bad and talked about this encounter with an INFJ, who encouraged me not to cut the relationship prematurely, to give it another chance. So the next time we met again some time later, I took the advice and we did the same: he asked, I agreed, and we left work together. But this time, we spent two hours talking. I asked him questions in an effort to figure out what his type really was, and from his responses, he did seem to be more like an ENFP. He asked me questions as well to find out more about my type. At some point in the middle of our conversation, there was a Strike 3: he asked if I appreciated and felt any emotional reactions to art and things like a sunset because he feels strongly about such and cannot stand it when others try to break it down logically and analyse its beauty. I told him that even though he was a Feeling type, it didn’t mean that he doesn’t have a brain, so likewise, I have a heart too and I feel things deeply. To insinuate that I have no emotions and that I have no appreciation for the arts are grave errors, especially when I had explained so much about myself to him.

Second-guessing myself once more, I continued conversing with him that night, thinking that I was just being over-sensitive. He asked more questions and I shared more things with him, revealing more of myself to him which, again, isn’t something I do with just anyone. Then comes the shattering moment: he asked how I find the work, and I said that I loved it (and I genuinely still do), but that my dream job was something else. He rolled his eyes and asked what I was doing there then, whether I was just there for the money. I felt as though a part of me shattered like glass. Money, to me, is meaningless. I do not care for money. I find intrinsic value in my work. That I’m learning, and helping others, and nurturing the intellect. I didn’t feel like he was worthy of the explanation and closed the door on him as a mode of self-protection and self-preservation. I spoke to the INFJ again as well as an ENFP about this incident and they both understood where I was coming from very well. The INFJ intuitively made the motion of a knife stabbing through the heart even before I expounded on how I felt, which was a nice touch.

Months passed and I barely saw him at work until recently. I was talking animatedly with a co-worker when he appeared, surprised to see me after so long, and invited me to head out for a meal at once. I hesitated and asked what it was he wanted to talk about. I suppose he noticed my hesitation and lack of enthusiasm, and switched to asking if he could see me privately instead to go over a few things about work. I acquiesced and followed him into a meeting room, which was where the stabbing happened:

He first questioned if I was upset with him. I asked why he’d think I would be. He explained that my last couple of email responses to him had been curt, and accused me of giving mixed signals. Now, I’ll need to explain this statement further before I move on to what he did next. I had responded directly to his last couple of emails with my standard “Noted, thanks” response. It’s how I respond to all colleagues since emails are frequent unless I have issues to clarify with them. I do not deem that rude. I see that as a standard, neutral response. In fact, I had previously sent him a couple of reports via email, each with a paragraph-long text informing him about what the reports were for, to which he never acknowledged. That, to me, is even ruder. Granted, his emails included social niceties (which mine were void of) but I find that to be fake and a waste of time. Must I elucidate how I’ve been and what I’m up to in every email response regarding work? Especially to a person I do not like? That goes against my personal values of being honest and genuine and not lying. I am the sort to leave emotional issues aside when it comes to work and I maintain objectivity and professionalism with colleagues I do not get along with. So implying that I was reacting in a passive-aggressive way already irked me.

But back in the meeting room, he carried on by elaborating that my previous emails to him had been better (even though they hadn’t contained any niceties but merely more words), and he had the nerve to lecture me on the proper way of responding to emails as though I were an ignorant child. He made an emphasis on my current age (which he had somehow found out that I had aged up since the last time we spoke, and this irked me not just because he’s finding out about my personal information behind my back but he had the gall to rub it in my face as well) and described how the corporate world is to me, that when I join it next time, I’d have to change my ways to better fit in and thrive. As I sat there taking it all in, my muscles began to tremble and twitch. ‘How stupid does he think I am?’ What he was enumerating were so elementary. They were things that were already apparent to me, and have been so for a long time. It was such a bore listening to. My mind wandered to one of his emails updating me on the company’s new procedures, where he stated that my “smarts” would be able to understand the attached documents without him having to go into detail about them. This just showed his true perception of my level of intellect. My mind traced back to another instance during our two-hour long conversation whereby he assumed I was reluctant to change — that I stuck to old-fashioned methods of working just because I stated that he was better than I was at the newer methods and I did not boast about using the newer methods like he did — and he went on to educate me on updating my work habits. When he noticed me using the newer methods at work one day, his compliment was like a backhanded slap because it was as though he saw it as my first time implementing this new method due to his advice.

When he finished lecturing me on how to adequately reply to emails, I responded: “1) Sorry I offended you. It wasn’t my intention [to which he shook his head and denied it]. 2) Do you think that I’m unaware of all this?” I shook my head in disappointment at his response. I informed him that I was already aware of everything he mentioned — everything. “And you don’t want to change?” he asked. I echoed a resounding ‘No’ to him, much to his surprise and puzzlement. The twitches crept up to my facial muscles. My insides were bubbling. I felt like I was about to burst. ‘How could he lack such an understanding of me? How wrong could he be in his assumptions of me? How could I have been so wrong in my judgement of him? How unaccepting could he be?’ Asking me to change is akin to asking me to defy my values, to go against what I believe in, to be ungenuine and disingenuous — things that I abhor.

He proceeded to run through a list of the newly implemented standard operations he’d written on the glass panel. I’d already done a quick run through of the list when I stepped into the room, and they were so simple and basic — things that I’d already been doing at work, things that I valued, things that I took pride in. My impatience set in. I diverted to my neutral facial expression — I found no worth in expending energy on keeping a smile, especially when it was not genuine. It unsettled him. I mainly nodded my head. It took him by surprise that I understood things so quickly, many times before he could even finish his sentence. It was a bore listening to him, and as usual, he was verbose with his explanations. He included additional details about how I conducted my work, as though smugly showing that he’d been talking to others and finding out more information about me. He inquired whether I could tackle simple problems when they occurred had I not prepared for them. I took this as another insult. How little he seemed to know about and comprehend me. He seemed to think that reading up on the INTJ type on Wikipedia was sufficient to understand all that I am. The impromptu meeting ended with another backhanded compliment that not everyone was as hardworking as I am in doing preparatory work and that others preferred to improvise on the job.

I’m still unclear about his type, but whatever it is, it is clear that we do not get along. I’m also still uncertain whether it’s just hypersensitivity and an overreaction. And by the way, our relationship is completely platonic if you’re wondering otherwise.

It’s Odd…

It’s odd how others view me as their close friend, as part of their inner-circle.  It always comes as a surprise to hear that expressed (explicitly) to me.  It always seems so sudden.  It always seems to form so quickly on their end when I see them as mere acquaintances.  How could they perceive such closeness between us when I feel so distant from them?  (Is it just Fe?)

It’s odd how others can be incomplete yet still live fulfilling lives and form close relationships.  In typical Enneagram 5 fashion, I’m still in preparation mode to live my life.  Like a simulation, role-playing, or strategy game, I prefer to level up or max out on skills first and read and understand all the rules prior to stepping into actual gameplay — the game of life, in this case.  I mention the cruciality of the acquisition of knowledge to others; they understand and agree but don’t seem as perturbed as I am about it — because they aren’t 5s.  I will never acquire sufficient knowledge nor be knowledgeable enough; I will never be ready enough to emerge.  That is my mentality.  I have to maintain some semblance of normalcy as the constant threat hangs over my head, where my privacy would be impinged on and my personal freedom revoked — these are vital factors to my sanity.

It’s odd how much energy others seem to possess.  They go to work or attend school full-time, do household chores, run errands, care for their children, cook meals, have hobbies, and yet still somehow find the time and energy to exercise and engage in social activities.  Doing any single one of those activities on a given day and I’m beat and drained for the week.  How do they cope so effortlessly and not struggle?

It’s odd how the various Enneagram types play such a large influential role on the MBTI types.  Individuals of the same MBTI type but different Enneagram types differ drastically from each other.  Add the wings, levels of development, as well as instinctual variants and such from Socionics, and an immensely intricate, albeit fascinating, web of personalities forms.

It’s odd how I’m capable of forming connections and having deep, invigorating conversations yet the relationships fade and dissipate.  The invigoration is laced with sadness as I foresee the end before it even begins — a sadness for the future loss of a potential friendship.  A defeatist attitude and self-fulfilling prophecy, perhaps.

It’s odd how the anxiety overwhelms me and takes over my thoughts and physical body.  It’s the same cycle: I lose sleep and go into mindless Se overload, finding comfort and escaping reality through sensation-seeking activities in a controlled yet out of control manner.  What should have already been completed has still not been completed yet, and it won’t be by the end of the year either.  What am I doing?  I want to get it over with, but the anxiety keeps me trapped.  Anxiety has its grip on me and my life — I’m under its control.  I wish to be free from its constraints, to escape.  I feel stupid that I keep harping on the same things.

It’s odd how hypersensitive I can be internally, especially when others tend to see only my rough edges.  Is it due to the tertiary Fi?  Is it exacerbated by social anxiety?  Could it be the Ni-Fi loop?

It’s odd how, in that brief moment, I saw it as pleasant.  I’ve always thought it looked horrendous.  Perhaps it was my blurry sight, perhaps it was the dim lighting, but though this perception might be fleeting, I have this moment to look back to and reflect on — so I encapsulate it in writing for remembrance’s sake.

Describing Introverted Feeling (Fi)

Imagine a jellyfish with its tentacles gliding through the waters, or the tree in Avatar with its tendrils gently swaying in the breeze. That is how introverted feeling (Fi) feels like to me.

I walk around with these tentacles — these tendrils — floating about me. One reaches out selectively to connect deeply with another, to feel what the other is feeling, to empathise and understand. It is my choice who I send a tendril out to touch and connect with, and only one entity at a time. It is intense as the emotions wash over. Sometimes, I meet others who have these vines floating around them too. They don’t always send a vine out (and neither do I), but when both vines connect, there is a deeply felt shared moment.

This connection through tendrils is not limited by time or space. It doesn’t have to happen at the same time, same place, or in-person. It travels through written words, through asynchronous communication, through others, through visuals, through music, through touch.

Emotions are immensely private and personal. Hurt cuts deep inside. Only trusted individuals are given access to a window buried deep within. Opening up is no small matter, and it’s incredibly difficult to translate into words.

I noticed a positive change in someone recently, and I exchanged some pleasantries about it. I could tell that she was very happy about it and that I had noticed. I then spent the next 20 minutes or so pondering how to clearly convey what I was feeling inside. At the end, I mustered the courage to start but then faltered midway. I frowned and looked down, trying to push out the words that I’ve rehearsed. She frowned too, perhaps mirroring my expression and/or out of confusion. I eventually managed to deliver my line and when I looked up, we both smiled at each other and there was that moment of connection and mutual understanding. These are special moments.

(Video that sparked inspiration;
Talk on Enneagram Type 5;
Documentary on ‘Finding Vivian Maier’)

Trust Broken

She’s broken my trust. She’s broadcasted the private messages I’d sent her to her entire extended family. It’s written in Mandarin so I’m having difficulty reading it and looking up the translation for a few words. I wonder what else she’s been reporting about me, and worry about how much access — unauthorised access — she has to my personal data.

She’s broken my trust multiple times before. This is the final straw. I’m closing the door on her permanently.

Escorting a Walking Caricature

I’m seated in the middle of a long table at a somewhat classy restaurant with a group of people. It’s the end of our meal so we stand to thank and say goodbye to one another. I glance at my watch and realise that I’ve overshot my next important meeting by two hours! I’m supposed to be meeting my new client at this same restaurant. I swerve my head to the right to begin scanning the environment for him. My eyes first land on a slightly disheveled man. We make eye contact and there’s an innate understanding between us that the other is who we’re supposed to meet even though this is the first time we’re seeing each other.

He looks like he has just entered the premises and is a little out of breath, which I’m relieved by. But those details are not what strike me the most. It’s his unnaturally large head and exaggerated features: a very high forehead; an incredibly long, broad chin; extremely wide and angular jaws. He’s a walking caricature. We greet each other and then proceed to do the awkward “social do-si-do”: I ask if he’d like to start now, or later if that’s better for him; he says he’s fine with whichever but asks if later works better for me. There’s a misunderstanding about which we’ve both settled on but, in the end, we decide to start now.

We sit at a table for two, across from each other, and start making conversation. He seems quite at ease talking to a person he just met and is a natural conversationalist. While I, on the other hand, am nervous and overthinking about what to say and how to respond. He is my first client since I’m new to this line of work — escorting, or whatever it’s called, where I’m being paid to accompany a client by dining with them at a restaurant. I try to feign good conversational skills; after all, that’s what he’s paying me for — to socialise with him. I try to act natural, behave comfortably, and, to the best of my ability, try to hide my anxiousness. I worry that he’ll see through my act and know that I’m a fraud. What did I get myself into? Why have I gone into this line of work when I don’t possess the skills needed and when I’m unsuitable for this job?

As he talks, my mind wanders to analysing why he’d pay for such a service. He seems like a friendly, likeable, and casual person, so why would he need to pay for companionship? Is it just because of his appearance? Or is there something more sinister underneath his friendliness? Is he expecting something more from this service? Am I in danger? How can I leave this place safely after we’re done? What other routes and backup plans do I have if he were up to something?

Imposter of Impostors

Is it ironic that I feel like an imposter feigning/thinking I have imposter syndrome?

My self-esteem stems from my intellect.  What am I without academic or intellectual achievements?  I have nothing substantial to prove on paper.  I have nothing to show in person.

It’s the idealistic idea of my self that I wish I could be, but can never reach.

It’s an infinite loop: I fear failure to the point of immobilisation, which results in ultimate failure, and this leads to being more catatonic from the fear of further failures, and so on.

It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.  I am a failure; I am useless; I am horrid. I am stupid. I am a fraud.  I’m digging deep down into my own grave.

A Three-Pronged Fork in the Road

I’m at a fork in the road — a three-pronged fork.  I’ve been idling along the area, mulling over my predicament, prolonging making a decision.

One path requires a tremendous amount of effort and hard work to trudge through — something I don’t seem capable of producing.  It’s a treacherous path that causes an extreme level of anxiety and stress, but completing the journey successfully would give the best outcome and reap the most benefits.  Losing one’s sanity and suffering injuries and/or death are possible, however.

Another path looks deceptively smooth and easy at first – it is tempting – but is littered with land mines further down the road.  In comparison to the first path, there would at least be a chance to relax and breathe for some time on the smooth portion of the road.  There’s no telling what would or could happen during the mine-filled part of the journey though.  Naturally, injuries and/or death are likely.

The last path is dark yet mysteriously calm and comforting.  It’s a wild card; one would have to go in blind, not knowing what’s to come or how it ends.  It promises the potentiality for relief and freedom, but it doesn’t guarantee it.

Those are my options; which shall I choose?