So, NaNo, hey?
35,928/50,000 words at the start of Day 16. Like, how?!
In previous years I would’ve been lucky to be 19,000+ words into writing by this stage. Maybe practice makes perfect. The more terrible novels I write, the slightly less terrible they become each time. But I’ve been drifting a bit and getting bored and yesterday spent too much time on MBTI introvert memes on Instagram. And I realised that a lot of the time, Introvert memes aimed at ISTPs tick me off. They often have this controlling tone about them, like one I read and reshared yesterday said, “ISTP: you will likely do something for someone rather than give compliments. Give praise. Some people need to hear your appreciation.”
Okay, I get it, like when one of the kids was going through a rough patch at school recently what they needed wasn’t just me fulfilling my basic parental obligations to them – they needed me to actually say, “You are doing really great and I’m sorry I don’t say it often enough.”
There often seems to me to be this onus on behalf of the reticent introvert to still go against their very nature and talk more. Talk a lot. I’m not saying I am opposed to bettering myself if it’s going to improve my relationships – the few meaningful relationships that I have – but why is it always on me – the quiet, observant, thoughtful, reflective individual – to have to talk more because someone else feels like they have the right to demand my praise?
And I’ll be honest, the first thing I thought when I read that meme (and I have ranted before on why I think memes are great but they’re totally not adequate for the construction of one’s own ontological foundations) was that if the person who wrote that was feeling like the ISTPs they know don’t verbally praise them enough, MAYBE IT’S BECAUSE THEY HAVEN’T DONE ANYTHING PRAISE WORTHY.
I mean, not to sound like a cold jerk, but really… I don’t know many ISTPs but the ones I do know, who I actually get along with*, are not incapable of giving praise. It’s more that we reserve our praise for the people who matter to us. Or who’ve actually done something tangible that warrants praise.
(*I reckon we’re a bit like cats, territorial and not huge fans of their own species, but sometimes we forge transcendent bonds that connect us, so that some of the longest-term friends in my whole life include a few people I’m 90% certain are ISTP women. Oh yeah, we’re all loners who are happier with our pets than we are with other people, but once in a while we just really need someone to catch up with who we can talk animals and motorsports and being outdoors and video games and tattoos and sci fi/fantasy movies and how life is tough when other people just don’t understand that it’s possible for people to get along despite our different political & religious views. And content with that, we can still maintain meaningful friendships even if we then don’t talk again for several months.)
If I like you, I will occasionally emerge from my Batcave to spend time with you. I will text you once in a blue moon. I will listen to you tell me about your life and I will try to make sure I don’t cut you down with my dry humour and apologise if my sarcasm goes too far. If we talked about a particular topic and I happen to have read a relevant book or article or whatever on it, I will send you the link. (I basically turn into your quiet little research assistant – I don’t want to tell you what to think but I like to show you where I got my ideas from.) If you want to ask me advice on something I know about I will go out of my way to help you find the answer you’re looking for – most often I find people approach me because they want advice on how to be a vegetarian or where to go looking for folk metal music or they need help with Arts/Humanities homework. Stuff I can actually do. I often lack confidence in doing things for people because life has taught me that I usually screw things up, so I’m not necessarily about to help you pull apart your car (because ISTPs are ALL mechanics… so I’ve been told… rightio…) but if I can do something – like, listen to you when you’re going through a rough patch because you need to get stuff off your chest, I will do that much. If I like you. Not if you’re some random who needs to rant at me because you exhausted all your other friends and you’re now just scraping the bottom of the barrel and found me in there with all the dregs of your other half-hearted relationships. And I will encourage you to take a leap of faith when no one else will if you’re looking at taking on some crazy adventure like a new career or a new educational opportunity or moving to a new part of the world. And I will believe in you – when you’re taking up a new hobby or interest or life stage, I will quietly be standing in your corner, occasionally telling you that you can totally do this thing you want to do, showing my support by helping you learn more about it.
So yeah, sure, if you’re the kind of person who’s content with just words, and you’re not close to me but I decide that it’s useful to me to manipulate you in some fashion, I could learn to talk at you so you feel good about yourself. I could push myself to be someone I’m not just to heap shallow verbal praise on you. But then, I probably won’t, because that’s a lack of integrity on my behalf and if there are things I loathe they’re dishonesty and insincerity. Words mean nothing if they’re not founded on some underlying truth. I have to get to know you a bit before I praise you. Otherwise everything I say will become just noise in a too-noisy world.
Anyway, I still think that I’m pretty entry-level on the whole Myers-Briggs thing, even though I have read a number of books and goodness knows how many websites on the topic… Oh and, you know, read a compendium’s worth of memes. Because as anyone who knows me very well can testify, I read waaaaay too many internet memes.**
(**Oh so, like, on the memes thing, I was born on the generational border of Gen X and the Millennials, so my peers are a weird mix of cynical capitalists who feel gloomy about existence and hate poor people and feel like life let them down in myriad ways, versus positive-thinking sepia-filter folks who grow their own organic veggies and do interior decorating and cake-baking as a hobby. I never really fit either group very well, but in terms of humour and relative maturity levels and an inexplicable optimism about the effects of socially conscious living, I always gravitated towards Millennial bracket. In practice it’s funny because even though The Husband is a mere two weeks older than me, he may as well be ten years older in terms of his attitude to existence. Where I’ll be there laughing myself stupid over our Gen Z teenage son’s memes, The Husband sort of looks on in bewilderment. As if to say how is that funny? My response being to dab, make a reference to Harambe and dance out of the room. Well, maybe not. I don’t know.)
I find myself wondering if maybe I can procrastinate life a little by coming up with some little “ISTP confessions” or thoughts or anecdotes. Like I said, I am not an expert. I quite frankly haven’t felt motivated to learn MBTI in too much depth – that’s more my INTJ Husband’s hobby so that in the space of a week he went from newbie to talking at length about functional stacks and goodness knows what else and I was like, yep, I kind of get what you’re saying but meh… the effort.But I do sort of wonder if there’s space on my blog here to do the occasional insight into my exciting wonderland of Introverted Thinking (it’s really very exciting in my head – much more interesting than real life – in my head I’m fighting zombies in some glorious apocalypse). Because as much as I like and appreciate Introvert memes, they often don’t mesh with my kind of introversion. They’re often about how all an introvert wants is a bubble bath and lots of hugs from that one special person in their life and I just cannot click with that kind of passive floating in bubbles approach to existence (100% good luck to you if that is what you enjoy, no negative judgement intended). I’ve tried it and I think I spent more time filling the bath than actually sitting in it because I get really bored lying there trying to convince myself that it’s enjoyable turning into a veritable prune while bathing in candlelight. I would rather wind down by playing war games on my laptop or going for a bike ride outdoors or digging in the garden or painting or listening to heavy metal more than I do by these things you mortals call “hugs.”
[That said, my kids – an ESTP and an INFJ – are very huggy and I will hug them because my kids matter to me more than my own need for vast expanses of personal space. So I can actually learn to override my personality if necessary to the benefit of someone I actually care about. But it’s not easy for me to do so.]
I’ve heard somewhere along the way that people see relationships with ISTPs as enigmatic and dangerous and cool and confusing, and as much as I like being thought of as mysterious and enigmatic, I am tempted to maybe pull down the barriers (just a little bit) and reveal a bit of what’s going on in my head to see if I can help deconstruct the masculinity-heavy stereotype of the ISTP as Adrenaline Junkie James Bond And Part-Time Mechanic Part-Time Jerk All-Time Breaker Of Women’s Hearts. Because my own viewpoint is that of a married ISTP woman in her 30s, who has grown up in a culture where things like being a mechanic are still often gendered occupations subconsciously assumed to be men’s work, and who has this horrible internal war going on between my ISTP daredevil versus my anxiety disorder & depression. So while I do know at least one ISTP woman I can think of who goes skydiving and snowboarding just for a bit of a lark, the limitations of anxiety disorder mean that skydiving is unthinkable for me.
My ISTP daredevil is more like… riding my bike so fast down a hill that I’m not 100% sure my brakes are going to work if someone steps in front of me. Or driving my car assertively (some would say aggressively). Or having blue hair in a world of blondes. Or going to heavy metal concerts where there might be all of five women in the room. Or speaking up when I see an injustice that other people try to ignore. Or leaping in with my saviour complex, [metaphorical] guns blazing, because someone I care about &/or a nonhuman animal is suffering for some reason, or because I found out that a group of people have been unfairly marginalised by an authority figure or authoritarian social structure.
So I don’t know but maybe after NaNoWriMo (so I don’t procrastinate it any further today) I might try to compose some short little one liner scripts and anecdotes based on my own experiences.*** It’s possible that they might not be uniquely ISTP so much as broadly introverted or even just random human stuff, I don’t know. I think these are things that come out of my inherent personality traits and I think they could be funny / interesting / helpful to people who know an ISTP or are ISTP. Because if there’s one thing I’ve found genuinely helpful it’s reading the handful of other ISTPs who’ve shared online that actually we aren’t really jerks, at least, not all of us, or that we aren’t actually void of all normal human emotions, it’s just that our ways of expressing things – if we express them at all – are a little bit unique. And by unique, I mean, other people tend to not comprehend them. And how that’s okay because it’s still in the realm of normal to be diverse little potatoes in a world full of pumpkins. Or something. (???) (I am sick and subsisting on coffee and air so if my thoughts trail off or head in food-related directions, that’s why.)
***Note: as I find it hard to commit to just about anything, it’s possible I might just, you know, meh… and not write anything. But I can dream.