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.

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.

The Intensity of Intensive Training

I spent the week at an intensive training program, and I learned so much — not about the course material and not about myself, but about how others perceive me. It’s so intense and startling that it hurts.

They found me insightful and intelligent. That the way I spoke was metaphorical and wise, that I had such a different and unique perspective and understanding, that my words conveyed such depth and meaning. They wowed when I spoke up, as though the measly thoughts of mine that I tried so hard to translate and push out were otherworldly.

The other INTJ there had the same impact on the room. It was amazing meeting another INTJ. The intensity; the depth; the mutual understanding. I learned so much about him and from him in that short span of time.

I made other connections too. Some sought me out and I also selected a few whom I liked and gravitated towards. With my knowledge, I helped them understand themselves better and eased their confusion. I seem to like the quiet ones. The little things we did for one another held so much more meaning and sincerity — those connections bore so much deeper. One said that consultancy work giving advice to others would suit me very well. Those words mean a lot.

An ENFP expressed his concern and asked me some cutting questions (in a good way). What are you going to do with all this insightful knowledge that you have? But I haven’t done anything out of the ordinary; I merely read the books, made the connections, and understood them. If others do the same, they’ll easily see it too. That’s where you’re wrong. It may seem obvious to you, but it isn’t so for others.

They questioned why I was so quiet and so private. I was the sole enigma in the room. In an effort to hide in the shadows, I somehow attracted their attention and piqued their interest.

At the end, the program drew to a close and so did the connections. I’m left questioning the oddity of the drastic differences in how I perceive myself and how others perceive me, as well as how I thought others perceive me. Why has it changed? What has changed? And most importantly, now what?

The NFs (and the INTJ)

It’s perplexing how most of the INFJs and ENFPs I’ve met lack an understanding and acceptance of the many different ways people function. And yet, they remain popular, well-liked, and regarded as wise.

They live in their NF bubble and try to mould others to become more NF in their ways, like Pygmalion. When their efforts are for naught and the other person remains unreceptive to their sculpting attempts, they become passive-aggressive and make jabs behind the person’s back. Other times, they spurt lava aggressively on the other person in retaliation to attacks, real or perceived. If it gets really bad, the volcano in them erupts. I’ve not hung around long enough to experience a full-fledged eruption and I can only imagine the damage it’d cause. I still have a fondness and admiration for these two types though, at least theoretically.

As for the INFPs, it’s like walking on eggshells. They remain distant and hard to reach. I seem to offend them with my assertiveness and use of Te (extroverted thinking). And I’ve not knowingly met any ENFJs.

On a side note, I think I’ve finally met a fellow INTJ, and a female one at that! It’s kind of odd to see a mirror image of myself in someone else. She’s much more accomplished and well-adapted than I am, and significantly older, but we’ve gotten along pretty well thus far. I can see past her “cold” and logical exterior into her gooey insides easily, and perhaps she can see mine too. This is one opportunity I must seize and not let slip past.

The Fe-Fi Divide

Lately, two new INFJs have waltzed into my life whom I get along quite well with. I wonder what’s different about these two in comparison to the dozens of others I know presently and from the past, and I have a few guesses. I doubt, though, that our relationship will go deeper or last for long. But for now, I’m enjoying their company.

I think I come across to them as insightful, since they’re not familiar with the MBTI and I have much to say about it. I haven’t really found anything they said to me particularly insightful, so the relationships are a little one-sided.

One thing odd is that I give them relationship advice. How absurd. Aren’t INFJs the ones who are supposed to have exceptional interpersonal skills? I recently spent a couple of hours talking with one of them about their feelings and relationship troubles, and I was giving advice throughout — sound advice, if I might add. How ironic. I seem to understand so much so quickly. I even seem to understand their long-term partners more than they do, although I’ve never/barely met or interacted with them. How peculiar — not of me, but of them and how little they know about the inner-workings of their decade-long (or two) partners. Aren’t INFJs supposed to read others effortlessly? During the two-hour long conversation, the INFJ confided that they feel burdened when their partner talks about their own feelings for an extended period of time, and would stop the partner. My gosh, Fe. I later pointed out and juxtaposed the length and topic of our conversation, much to the INFJ’s astonishment.

They don’t seem aware of my overwhelming sadness. They’ve had glimpses of and expressed their sadness with a couple of things I’ve mentioned to them about myself, but I don’t think they’re aware of its omnipresence.

The way Fe consoles irks me. “괜찮아, everything will be alright” doesn’t work, at least not for me. It’s a dismissal of my feelings and makes me crawl back into my shell. As an enneagram type 5, I deal with problems by turning to knowledge and information. This hoarding of information doesn’t translate much into practical use for me, so I retreat to hoard more information. It is the way I function and deal with things, but it’s not helping, so 어떡해? I understand and read people pretty well, yet still lack the practical skills to communicate and interact with others. Isn’t it strange?

I am neither here nor there
Neither living nor dead
Neither present nor absent
Friend nor foe
Intelligent nor unintelligent

I live high up in the clouds
Peering at those down below
Wishing not to be here
Nor down below