INFP in an E**J world

Being an INFP in a world where being extroverted (E) and judging (J) is difficult. Not that extroverted and judging individuals are worse. But they are more valued in this society, and so being basically the opposite doesn’t make life easy.

It’s difficult because:

    1. Just because I don’t have a detailed reason for my choices doesn’t make them not rational.
    2. Just because I feel things with more intensity and more often, doesn’t make me over emotional, and therefore easily written off.
    3. It’s frustrating to see how people treat each other. Like the other is less important than their concerns. Can’t they feel the awesomeness of humanity in each of us??
    4. I will need a lot of alone time. It doesn’t make me antisocial, and it doesn’t make me lazy. I just really need to curl up in a ball and ignore everyone and everything. It’s like detoxing.
    5. I’m not nice all the time. I’ve got a mean streak and temper like everyone else.

But it’s also kind of awesome, because:

      1. The world is super magical and I can find so much more joy in the little things than most people I meet.
      2. I don’t need much to be content, I’m easily pleased.
      3. I understand others easily, I’ve felt their emotions and I value their existence.
      4. My mind is a massive, dynamic place. It is the biggest adventure to exist in it.

*This post is using terminology from the Meyer Briggs (MBTI) personality inventory

Let’s Talk Racism

Straight up, as a white person I’m not forced to talk about racism. As a white person race can be easily ignored. Set aside. The words “I don’t see skin color” is an easy dismissive of the whole problem. Being white gives me the privilege of not having to think about race and racism every day.

And it’s exactly because of all that privilege that I need to talk about race in the United States. Actually in the world. But let’s stick to my country for now. It’s because I don’t have to talk about race that I NEED to. When we ignore the issue it festers. It festers in each of us through intentional, and unintentional, racism. And it festers in this country until we start shooting each other over it, and blaming each other, and becoming defensive to the point of blinding rage.

The shootings that have taken place over these last years have left me sad. But the shooting by one white man of nine black people has finally made me talk. I think because I’ve finally seen enough.

Jon Stewart summed it up pretty well: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/20/us/jon-stewart-addresses-charleston-shooting-in-his-daily-show-monologue.html?_r=0

Go check out what he has to say about it. Go on. I’ll still be here.

He really states the problem well. We spend millions of dollars and thousands of lives fighting terrorists who threaten us. We walk right over international law and human rights in pursuit of our safety. But when we start shooting each other, when a white american man starts shooting black americans, we shrug our shoulders and find a way to write him off as crazy.

My father read something a minister had said, at least I think she was a minister (I can’t recall who it was, if you know please let me know so I can give her credit). She stated that the response of many is to pray. But that is inadequate and unhelpful. She says that to talk to our god(s) is not enough, God will already know what has happened and God will take care of his/her/its side of things. What we really need to do is talk to each other.

People don’t kill each other out of boredom. People don’t burn cities because they are content with life. They do so because they feel unheard and unvalidated. They do so because they are treated as lesser. This young white man was a symptom. As are all the angry and scared people of color. And we who are white are not listening. Instead we act perplexed or offended or even defiant.

I could tell you so much abut the racism the teenagers of color I work with face every day. I could tell you so much of what I see around me everyday. But that would be inadequate. Because as a white person I’m sure I don’t even understand or see half of it. Instead I’m looking to open up a dialogue in my communities. I’ve started talking to everyone I meet about racism in this country. Including with the teenagers I work with.

But that is not enough either. As a white middle-class person I have an excess of platforms to do this kind of talking. People will listen to me. Who isn’t being heard in all of this is the lower class Blacks, Hispanics, Asians, Native Americans and anyone else not Caucasian. Who isn’t being heard are those experiencing the racism.

They may be speaking but they’re not being heard.

So I’d like to ask all the white people in this country to start listening better. Like I tell all my teenagers in classrooms all over Massachusetts, listening well means asking questions and then not talking back to the answers you get. Listening well means making eye contact and not interrupting. And listening well is taking what you’ve heard and attempting to use that information in a positive way.

But I don’t know how to empower people to start talking, how to give them a platform. The best I can think to do is start a dialogue about race. I’m starting to ask questions and listen to answers.

And it’s super uncomfortable. But nine people were shot in a church where they were praying for peace because for decades we’ve been too scared of being uncomfortable. People are dying and cities are burning all so that we don’t have to face each other, make eye contact, and listen to what the other has to say.

Symbolic Guns

It’s a mindless kind of driving that happens in the mornings. The same route as always. The same songs on the radio. There’s always construction somewhere. I never remember much of the drive. Nothing much changes to spark my interest, to make my brain hold onto it.

The traffic light is red and I tap the wheel impatiently. As always, I am running late. Do the traffic gods not realize this?? The light remains red, almost in defiance of my irritation.

I stare to the left. I generally look to my left when I’m bored. Why does my head turn in that direction effortlessly. Does it not like my right side as much? (My thoughts are very deep and philosophical in the morning. please note the sarcasm.)

The statue on the small strip of grass rises above the dust and fumes of summer traffic. Dressed in Revolutionary era garb it seems out of place in the fast paced metal and rubber world of the 21st century. Gripping his rifle he stares into the middle distance. He’s clean shaven and his boots look new. No one looked like this during the Revolutionary War. This statue does not represent the real men, but the conquering nation as a whole.

Now my brain is interested. I’m sure I’ve seen it before but this time I remember it. I hold onto it. And I am bothered.

I have seen many statues like this one. Similar ones are in almost every city I go, in the United States of America and abroad. They symbolize bravery and victory. In the case of the Revolutionary War they symbolize the beginning of a nation. Why must these symbols always carry guns? Sure, soldiers technically won the war. But not these soldiers. Not these perfect, clean, well dressed soldiers that the statues are. And there’s no sign of the many civilians who hid them, who fed them, who worried for them, and who mourned them. No sign of the PTSD and internal struggles those who survived had to live with.

Wars are often won by military might and the people who support them. But nations are built in the aftermath. They are built by politicians and by farmers. They are built by teachers and doctors. They are built by carpenters and social workers. Why are they not represented?

We say we pray for peace but we build statues holding guns.

I’ve Fallen Down. Again. No Surprise.

I haven’t written anything in a while. And my twitter has been pretty silent. This happens from time to time when my anxiety levels ramp up. When life gets too busy. When the noise of my life begins to overwhelm me. I shut down. Take a step back. Do the bare minimum and power through.

I’ve been drinking coffee again. And until this morning hadn’t meditated in 2 weeks. Always signs of a mini crisis for me.

There are days, weeks, months, when things run smoothly. Life seems to progress quietly and I feel in control. But that sense of control is an illusion and quickly ruined by reality. Sometimes shit happens. Sometimes it’s one colossal thing that brings life screeching to a halt. Other times its just a million little things that sneak up on you until you are in the middle of a giant fuck fest. The latter has been my issue recently.

I made a mistake in my teaching style and was called out on it. I had to talk to my supervisor and boss, who supported me, and then deal with the drama of going back into the classroom and continuing on. My car broke down and needed over a grand worth of repairs. Where to get the money for that? I got accepted into grad school (yay!) and I now need to juggle full-time work and part-time school. Two friends started nose diving as well and needed support and help. And it’s busy season in general at work.

I don’t do well with all that. I thought I was doing fine until I found myself with back problems once more and overwrought emotions. I cried over a bottle of wine. I cried with my cat (she didn’t seem terribly interested). I cried alone and with people. At work I sucked it up and plodded on. Smile and nod and do your job. I was -I am- not happy.

What’s the lesson I am learning from all this? Why am I writing this?

In part I’m blogging because it’s very cathartic to say I’m miserable. To admit that I have all the tools (faith, meditation, friends, yoga, family, anxiety medication) but I still fucked up. I let life unbalance me.

But I think that’s why I’m putting this out there. My faith gives me a strong belief in a God and a vision and peace, but it’s still not enough. I read all these blogs where people are finding themselves and giving advice and occasionally just making me laugh, and that’s great, but there really isn’t an answer for how to manage life.

I wish there was. I keep hoping someone will stumble upon it.

However what I’m learning is that there isn’t an answer. Life is messy. Like children, the minute you think you understand it or at least have a handle on it, it changes on you or goes entirely to pieces again.

Put another way, life is a continual process of falling down and figuring out how to get back up. So I need to be more forgiving of myself when I find myself on my ass.

So I’m sure I’ll post something soon, I have a few ideas. But right now I’m still nursing my bruises and looking for a way back.

Why I Support Churches (or any religious institution)

I thought it would be easy to write this initially but when I sat down to write the post I began to get very confused about what the Bible means to me, and what Jesus means to me, and what Christianity means to me. I was getting very lost in my head.

So I finally decided to just start at the beginning …

It’s been a tough year for me. My grandmother died, and she wasn’t just a grandmother to me, she was a second mother. For a long time I believed she was only one who loved me unconditionally because I was an insecure child. So she was very, very important to me and she died. And the family was very far away. In the meantime I just started a new job and it’s emotionally tough. And I’d moved out of my home and discovered making new friends is a whole lot harder when you’re not in college.

So things had been building up a little bit.

It had gotten to be one evening where I just discovered I was alone on a Friday night. In an apartment. And I was missing my grandmother. And I realized I had no clue what I was doing with life. I felt very, very alone.

So I was just sitting there staring at a wall.

And my friend called, out of the blue. And my mother called to check in because she hadn’t heard from me in a while.

And then a friend of the family called.

She was calling me to thank me for spending time with her teenage daughter while she and her husband were gone overnight. Which she didn’t need to thank me for because I love their daughter and count her as a friend, despite our age difference. But she was calling to thank me anyway. And I said, ‘listen, we should really get together for dinner, I know I keep saying this and we never do, but we she should.’ And I started to laugh because I’m very flaky when it comes to this family; I keep saying we should meet up and I don’t. So I felt bad. But this family friend just kind of laughed and said ‘don’t worry about it, we love you anyway.’

After I’d hung up, I started to cry, because that was exactly what I needed at that moment. I realized I felt so much better suddenly, and so much less alone.

Then I realized, that’s where I find God.

I can have my issues with the Bible, and I can have my issues with my religion, and I can have my issues with … all of it. But that’s why I believe in God. Because the moments where I’m just sitting, staring at a wall, as they happen from time to time, is the moment when someone calls, or someone says something that I needed to hear. When I’m given what I didn’t even realize I needed to make it through. It didn’t mean my grandmother was back alive, or that I was in any different of a situation, but it meant that I was able to make it through.

Then I called my parents to thank them for raising me in a church community, and for having a family, and for being taught what God is. So instead of me thinking it was just a coincidence, or what a nice happenstance that someone called, I went ‘no, I’m being taken care of. I have something, or someone, watching out for me, and I have a very large family I can come home to at any time.’

And that’s why I think religious institutions, of all faiths, are important. Regardless of how many issues I have with some of the stuff. Because there are going to be, there are, more people like me, who need to be given the chance to know a higher being, and need to feel less alone, and be given a family.

Grandma’s Front Porch

The sky has stripes of red and the apple tree is just a silhouette.

Summer evenings.

The cicadas make a steady strum in the background to match the almost silent beat of the ceiling fan. A glass of wine and sweet tea sit sweating on the wicker table as I sprawl on the matching couch. The breeze from the fan and the laughter from people outside wafts over me.

It’s like an old southern novel.

Time seems to spread out before me motionless. I feel boredom knocking to be let in, but I’m too relaxed to contemplate being thus. Someone gets up to walk the dog another to clean the dishes.

The light from the kitchen suddenly beams bright.

The clock in my brain starts ticking. The moment dissipates and I’m left with the feeling of losing something that never really existed.