I Live My Life Vicariously

I live my life as a hermit. Staying hidden in my shell is where I feel the safest. I escape through books, videos, movies, games, music, podcasts, and daydreams. When I have to leave my comfort zone for work, I hide beneath books for temporary cover.

I ventured out of my shell all on my own accord once, for no other reason than to challenge myself to experience life firsthand and to mingle with others in society. It took courage and arduous effort. I exposed myself and peeled back the layers. It took a lot out of me and was extremely taxing, mentally and physically. During the times when it got too overwhelming, I scurried back into my shell, metaphorically — if there were no possible escape routes then, or physically — if said escape routes were accessible. But I was accused of being an escapist, of pretending to be someone else with others, when I was forcing myself to be out there, all bare and naked without a shell. So I retreated back into my shell, crestfallen and defeated that my efforts were for naught. I have not left since. I am encased in a metaphorical shell when I’m out, and I stay in my physical shell as much as I can.

I live my life in a shell, experiencing life vicariously through escapism.

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It’s a Wonder

It’s a wonder how, even with a deeply cracked shell, I’m still able to mend some of the cracks in the shells of others, and am glad to do so. They don’t seem to notice how badly cracked mine is but, instead, view my shell as the more intact and stronger one.

It’s a wonder how positive feedback at work lifts me. They had no reason to lie; there were no hidden motives, no hidden agendas. They were just glad to report the positive changes in their lives. My typical response is to chalk it up to external factors or to compliment them back. It feels good though that I’m positively impacting the lives of others, that I’m aiding in their improvements, that I’m nurturing their intellect.

It’s a wonder how a certain handful see my endearing qualities while most others see only my abrasive side.

It’s a wonder how I seem to be a magnet for the INFJ type. Perhaps I spot them more easily, perhaps the places I go to happen to attract them too. Almost every venue where I’m at, I can be certain to bump into an INFJ. I’ve recently come across another two. Roll the repeats and credits, s’il vous plaît.

A Couple of Solo Theatergoers (& Excerpts)

Is it common for solo theatergoers to socialise with another singleton at the theater?  Is it a social practice that’s generally accepted and implicitly understood?

It happened once before, although this time, it was a lady who sat beside me. A while had passed before she asked,

“Are you here alone?”

Her question broke my reverie. It took me a moment to gather the scattered pieces of the puzzle and form a comprehensible picture of the social context — that she had indeed said something, that she had asked a question, that the question was directed at me, and that those were the words that formed her question. As it took me by surprise, I wasn’t quite sure how to react so I simply smiled and gave a slight nod, then turned back to face the stage and resumed my original sitting position, wondering what her motives and reasons were that prompted her to break the silence between us and to ask me that question.

It got awkward between us after that, and there were no further exchange of words for the rest of the show.


On a separate note, the following are excerpts from 3,096 Days in Captivity by Natascha Kampusch. They echo my thoughts and are worded much better than I could have.

Nothing is all black, or all white. And nobody is all good or all evil. These are words that people don’t like to hear from an abduction victim. Because the clearly defined concept of good and evil is turned on its head, a concept that people are all too willing to accept so as not to lose their way in a world full of shades of grey. When I talk about it, I can see the confusion and rejection in the faces of many who were not there. The empathy they felt for my fate freezes and is turned to denial.

That, within the evil, at least brief moments of normality, even mutual understanding, were possible. That’s what I mean when I say that there is neither black nor white, neither in reality nor in extreme situations, but rather many subtle shades in between that make the difference.

Our society needs criminals like Wolfgang Priklopil in order to give a face to the evil that lives within and to split it off from society itself. It needs the images of cellar dungeons so as not to have to see the many homes in which violence rears its conformist, bourgeois head. Society uses the victims of sensational cases such as mine in order to divest itself of the responsibility for the many nameless victims of daily crimes, victims nobody helps — even when they ask for help.

Crimes such as the one committed against me form the austere, black-and-white structure for the categories of Good and Evil on which society is based. The perpetrator must be a beast, so that we can see ourselves as being on the side of good. His crime must be embellished with S&M fantasies and wild orgies, until it is so extreme that it no longer has anything to do with our own lives.

And the victim must have been broken and must remain so, so that the externalisation of evil is possible. The victim who refuses to assume this role contradicts society’s simplistic view. Nobody wants to see it. People would have to take a look at themselves.

……It is society’s self-hate that rebounds on society itself, begging the question of why it allows something like that to happen.

I was unable to find any desire for revenge within me — just the opposite. It seemed as if I would only reverse the crime he has committed against me if I delivered him into the hands of the police. First he had locked me up, then I would make sure that he was locked up. In my twisted worldview, the crime would not have been cancelled out, but rather intensified. The evil in the world would be no less, but indeed would multiply.

The sympathy extended to a victim is deceptive. People love the victim only when they can feel superior to him or her. …But even the offers of help were indicative of what was going on inside many. It is a human reflex that makes you feel better about yourself when you can help someone weaker, a victim. That works as long as the roles are clearly defined. Gratitude to the giver is wonderful; but when it is abused to prevent the other from developing his or her full potential, the whole thing takes on a hollow ring.

MBTI Types At Sea

SJs pool together at the surface, at times diving down midway but quickly resurfacing due to a lack of oxygen. They’re puzzled by how the iNtuitives enjoy getting lost in the depths of the ocean when the surface is a much safer and more comfortable place to be, and try to school the scattered SPs who’ve gone astray from the SJ way of life.

SPs spread out at the surface, tinkering with things they find floating at or near the surface, at times diving down to bring something interesting back up to break apart. They sometimes feel constrained by the floating SJ communities and are perplexed as to why the iNtuitives aren’t as excited about all the wondrous things the surface has to offer.

NJs dive deep down into the depths of the ocean and remain there, sometimes going up to the surface but never staying for long or else restlessness kicks in. When they find something that interests them at the bottom of the ocean, they tunnel down deeper to investigate further. They wonder how the Sensors are able to float at the surface for so long yet not be overcome with ennui, and mock the NPs’ lack of depth.

The NPs scatter about at the bottom of the ocean, many times propelling to the surface excitedly before quickly diving back down again with similar enthusiasm and speed. Most everything fascinates them, and they quickly swim from one thing to the next shiny thing that captures their attention. They wonder why the Sensors don’t dive down with them as enthusiastically and frequently, and laugh at the NJs’ tunnel vision.

Tears Falling by a Playground

I hadn’t noticed her there. I was on my phone looking up the directions and walking past a playground. This little girl looked up at me and, instantly, I knew something wasn’t right. She was slumped on a bench and there didn’t seem to be anyone else around.

I stopped in my tracks and asked, “Are you okay?”

Tears started spilling uncontrollably. I knelt down beside her and rubbed her back. Her troubles spewed between sobs. As I looked up at her, I tried to understand where she was coming from. The few words I could catch were ‘London’ and ‘going back home’.

I took a shot in the dark and asked, “You don’t want to go back home?”

She corrected me and said that she did want to go back home (to London) as she did not have any friends here.

“How long have you been here?” I asked, still scrambling to comprehend her situation.

“For a while,” she said.

“Maybe if you wait a little longer,” I replied.

“Okay,” she exhaled.

“Is your mommy or daddy here?” I asked. She looked at me quizzically. “Is your mom or dad here?” I rectified. She told me that they were at work, that she was with her aunt, and that her aunt let her go to the playground on her own.

Something clicked within her. Her tears ran dry.

“Aw, you look so sad…” I said and winced. I stood up, placed my bag on the ground, glanced at the ball on her lap and offered, “Do you want to play?”

She declined politely and said, “I think I’ll go back home now, but thank you.”

I asked if she was sure and she nodded. So she rode down the path on her scooter with the ball in one hand and I headed off in the other direction, glancing back at her a couple of times pondering about the situation.

Perhaps she realised she was talking to a stranger, perhaps I spooked her, perhaps I hadn’t comforted her the way she needed to be, and perhaps I should have been more of an adult and gone with her back home to ensure her safety.

She struck me as a little INFJ, which pains me.

“How are you?”

How are you
Is an open invitation
For you to talk
About yourself, your feelings
And what you’re going through

How are you
Is an act of kindness
On my part
Showing that I genuinely care
That I’m concerned about you

How are you
Is a sincere question
Letting you know
That I’m here to listen
That I’m here if you need someone to turn to

How are you
Isn’t a meager expression
Uttered without a thought
Out of habit and politeness
Which dilute its true value

How are you
Isn’t something to take lightly
All I ask is
For you to grasp the gravity of it
And to realise the magnitude it has too

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]. 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.