Square Peg #3: A Princess, An Atari, and The Cloak of Invisibility

Tuesday, May 12, 2015 12 Comments A+ a-


Hey there! Come on in, and forgive the mess. The Cafe has been extraordinarily busy today. Lots of people and commotion, numerous interactions. Data, decisions, responsibilities. Necessary things, but also very shallow compared to the depths I'm used to. The world inside my head has taken a backseat to reality. Again. That thump you heard? It's nothing...just my creativity hitting the floor. Please step around it on your way to the coffee pot.
My current level of inspiration

Pathetic, right? I agree. But unfortunately, this is the norm right now. My husband and I are living in something he calls "transition on every level." There's not one area of our lives that isn't in a state of flux, and I'm feeling it, guys. Life is demanding more time, more flexibility, more social interaction, more busy work, more technical skill...and all with little support or training. This has totally affected my brain balance: the left side is in all-out-ninja-warrior mode, while the right paces back and forth in her tower like a princess waiting for rescue.

Even here, on my blog, I can tell that I've been writing more from my head than my heart. The ninja-warrior screams at me to research, quote, make lists, research some more, cite sources, blah-blah-blah, and for heaven's sake ignore that whiny princess because she's helpless and emotional and what the heck does she know about citing anyway?!?

Grr. Did you happen to see a bottle of wine on the counter? Yeah, that one, beside the coffee pot. Pour me a glass? Wait...forget that, just hand me the bottle.

So as I sit here (drinking wino style), I'm going to skip the ninja stuff and tackle the next Square Peg topic from my heart. Let's talk about Number Three...being an old soul.

INFJs are often called old souls, and I can remember hearing this phrase from my teachers as a child. I actually thought it a little odd, because most of the time, I didn't feel old. I was keenly aware of (and embarrassed by) my juvenile reactions to life's events. In my diaries and journals, I scribbled plea after desperate plea for some sort of leash to reign in my emotions--which I now know were products of my ESTP shadow, or the Phoenix, lashing out in response to stress. Back then, I equated wisdom with maturity and didn't consider myself in possession of either.

In hindsight, though, I can see that some of my thoughts and behaviors were outside the childish norm. For one thing, I was constantly seeking truth. The most common word out of my mouth as a little girl was "why" (quickly followed by who, what, when, where, and how), and it drove my parents insane. I questioned everything from science and language to religion and sex. I'm sure I made a lot of people uncomfortable about it, too. Truth-seeking tends to do that. :)

Another thing I remember is grappling with complex thoughts. I grew up in a very small town and was involved in...well, just about everything (you can do that when the average number of students per graduating class is 25). Things like cheerleading, band, choir, and honor society required a lot of social interaction, and I needed huge amounts of solitude to make up for it. So I spent an inordinate amount of time on my own--reading, sketching, journaling, creative writing, playing video games (yep, on an Atari 2600, lol), and writing computer programs on a Texas Instruments system my aunt gave me in fifth grade.
The Xbox of the 80s. And I rocked
at Space Invaders.
I was driven by the constant desire to know more, do more, and be more than my circumstances allowed. To connect the complex thoughts running around in my head. Solitude helped me deal with this in a way that being with other people couldn't. But it also made me a loner...a girl who walked her own path. And it created a significant conversational gap between me and my peers.

Because of that conversational gap, I often sought out the company of people older than me. Not only could they relate to my complex thoughts, they also had more wisdom and experience to share. And most of them weren't put off by my vocabulary, which was extensive due to all my reading.

But I think one of the biggest reasons people said I was an old soul was because of my intuition. We all know how powerful our Ni can be and how mysterious it comes across to those who don't understand how intuition works. I can only imagine how the adults in my life perceived my insights. I lived by them, operating on a level of intuition that I felt and believed to be truth. I couldn't help it. I mean, my Fe tuned me into adult emotions that I couldn't process but was forced to deal with anyway. Ti insisted that I analyze and question everything (to build those "system maps" in my head). And Se gathered data at a rate so rapid that I sometimes said/did/dreamt/predicted things that made people give me funny looks.

So. Old souls? Yes, as INFJs, we often get this label. I don't think it's a matter of maturity. I think it's because we're loners who walk our own paths, and because we operate on an intuitive level that people see as wise or otherworldly. For me, this label was something that made me feel "different" pretty much all the time. I'm not sure if people were actually looking at me differently. I only know I had a strong realization that I wasn't like others. That realization never left me. It wrapped itself around me like an invisible blanket--a barrier between me and the social acceptance I thought I needed in order to fit in with everyone else.



I still wear that blanket. It reminds me of Harry Potter's invisibility cloak, because it keeps others from seeing who I really am. I've learned to ignore it, even forget about it at times. But I've never been able to rid myself of it. And that's why I'm giving this one five out of five stars.

So there's my heart, spilled out on the page. The princess has had her say. Now, let me hear from you. Does this resonate? Could the very thing that makes us "old souls" be a vital part of why INFJs feel like strangers in the world?

Let me know. Cheers!

Image Credit: Inspiration, Rapunzel, 80s Xbox, Invisicloak

12 comments

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Stephanie
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May 13, 2015 at 10:44 AM delete

Thought I just posted but now am not sure, so sorry if I'm commenting twice. What I said in my other comment was something like this: This has to be my favorite post so far, because like you, I'm too busy in my "outside life" to give my "inside life" much attention. My left-brained ninja is tackling tasks left and right and my inside princess is feeling neglected. Because of that I can't even come up with the words to articulate why I loved this post. So mostly with grunts and gestures... YES! This. What you said. All of it.

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May 13, 2015 at 8:35 PM delete

This post definitely helps me feel understood, and that is saying a lot in a world where I have not only been misunderstood but judged for it as well. Your last post and this one mention the Ni and dreams/prediction. My daughter is INFJ as well and last night we both had dreams with similar themes. I wonder if this is common for INFJs that live together, like their Nis are in tune. Thoughts?

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May 14, 2015 at 12:12 AM delete

These posts, this one especially, is helping me in immense ways. I've been struggling so much lately as I've been writing more from my heart and letting my INFJ personality poke out a little from my own blanket. You are giving me so much confidence in my insights and helping me to just put it out there, even if others don't quite understand. Always, thank you.

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Meridian
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May 14, 2015 at 10:54 AM delete

That's okay. My princess "feels" your princess and knows what you're trying to say. I can see them waving at each other from their towers, lol. Hopefully we'll both find a way to let them slip out for some freedom. :)

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Meridian
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May 14, 2015 at 11:11 AM delete

My youngest son (age 17) is an INFJ, and we're constantly amazed at how similar our thought processes and viewpoints are. Sometimes I'll make a comment, and he's like "I was just thinking that!" I don't know if this is because we live together and our Nis are connecting, or if it's because we're just both INFJs. We've never lived apart, so it's hard to say. But that's a very intriguing concept. I'll make a note to write a post about that sometime!

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Meridian
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May 14, 2015 at 11:21 AM delete

You're welcome! I'm so glad you're finding them helpful, and I pray that you will continue to grow in your confidence as you become the superhero you were meant to be. <3

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May 14, 2015 at 11:50 AM delete

I haven't done any reading on the subject, but it seems that 2 dominant Nis sharing a lot of time together would be reading the same things into situations. My daughter is only 7 which made the similar dream theme seem to support that idea since she is so young and the theme being an adult concept that may be difficult for someone so young to grasp. So, as to say, each individual Ni will connect after picking up the same information in the environment though the connection will not be evident until those times when one says what the other is thinking or has similar dreams and communicate that to each other.
Sorry for the ramble of thought process, just had to get that out. :)

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jonathanrenck
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May 14, 2015 at 11:26 PM delete

I've always said that the worst thing to happen to me would be loss of my eye sight. Of all my senses, it is the one that seems most highly wired to gather in the outer world. I had trouble learning to paint because I can so finely detect the subtle change of hue in an object. Why is this a comment of for this post, well my eyesight, as well as my awareness of my surroundings, is the great marker for me that I'm different. I still have my sketch books from elementary school, and I can see a boy trying to learn how to process what his eyes are telling him. And trying to pull the vivid stories in his head into something he can interact with. I've spent a great deal of time with older folks, for many of the same reasons you did Meridian. They seemed able to think closer to the levels that I did. My well read vocabulary seemed more at home in conversation with my elders, and I hate having to stop to explain myself every two sentences.
The tricky part of all this for me is the intuition part. For so long I didn't realize that I had intuition. And I certainly never would have thought to claim intuition on the level that it seems to be at. I just thought that I had worked out (logically) things that I'd actually been intuiting all along. But as I grew older, learned some true logical skills, I realize that I find the logical answers in an "irrational" fashion. That is I cannot give a blue print of my reasoning in an accepted form, but I do achieve the correct answers. Yet, the more I learn the more I wonder about my intuition. Not because it's wrong, but because I'm aware of it. It's almost like the idea in quantum physics that observation of an event alters the event.
One suggestion I have for those struggling with the lonely part of being a loner. Make conscious efforts to befriend a few people who can take the intensity of being around you. Do what you can to get those touchstones in place. Look hard for your Rons and Hermiones. Yes, Harry has his cloak but he also had a couple of people he knew could be trusted to see the worst what happened and stand in support of him. It's not easy, but not having those supports makes it painful beyond belief when loners become lonely. And we can all work to share our burdens here.

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Kristine
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May 15, 2015 at 5:48 AM delete

Your beautiful ninja/princess metaphor reminded me of this quote I found once: "My brain has no heart. My heart has no brain. That's why when I speak my mind I seem heartless, and when I do what's in my heart I seem thoughtless." I really liked this! It's really hard to reconcile these two, it's very much 'either/or'. The best way to deal with them, I suppose, is to multi-task (which is, in essence, multi-switching!). Paying attention to both features, not simultaneously but successively, creates the balance I think we crave. These past weeks, I've felt more in balance than I have for years, for no conclusive reason... and because I am not "feeling" this problem at this moment, I am typing this from my head, and not my heart; from what I think, but not from what I feel. So I prefer to move on to the "old souls" problem :)
I came across this term when I discovered these personality types, and although I liked the sound and concept of it, I never truly felt it applied to me. Feeling like an outsider, or being on a different cognitive level of sorts than my peers? Definitely, no INFJ could deny that. This issue is heartfelt, since I'm now a first year student in university and surrounded by new people, which unfortunately involves making new friends. Not unfortunate because I don't like friends - I simply dislike the process, the mad scramble for connections which often turn out to be superficial. So far, I have not found anyone I could truly connect to. I can't speak my mind - if I do, I'm sure they'd think me a freak. If "old" implies wisdom related to that supposed foresight of our intuition, then I might relate. Yet I feel "odd souls" is just as accurate!
I also really like the idea of the Invisibility Cloak - invisibility in general - as we can so accurately understand others, but are not made to be understood. Thank you for this post!

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jonathanrenck
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May 15, 2015 at 9:08 PM delete

Kristine, I had all that fun of trying to find a new group of friends in university. It can be a struggle. I would encourage you to find ways to let those thoughts out. If you find yourself in a small group setting and things seem to be going well, make that off-hand comment that's tickling your mind. You will find that yes some may think your weird, but you may be surprised at the responses you do receive from others. After all INFJ's don't typically need a crowd of acquaintances, we're much more into a few deep, relationships. And remember grades are the least important part of learning. (They are important, so don't ignore them.) As a Fine Arts major, I took hits to my letter grade a few times in pursuing ideas that spoke to me, rather than just taking the easiest means to an A.

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Julia Humphus
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February 12, 2016 at 2:25 AM delete

THIS! All of this! I've read a few of your posts (just found the site tonight) and can say that I've never felt more understood then by your post and the comments of other INFJs in my entire life. Internally I feel extremely overwhelmed, all of my insides are screaming that I'm not the only one (because of said emotions, I apologize for a potentially scattered bit of feedback).
Starting with the old soul comment. Yes. I never understood as a child why I was referred to as one by adults, but for some reason it made sense to me and I went with it. I actually remember using it as a discriptions for my personality in my early teenage years because it felt like a good way to help people understand me better. I too enjoyed the company of adults to kids my age because it was so much easier to make a connection and have a meaningful conversation. To me they were books of unlimited knowledge that I hadn't read yet. 'Why?' Was and still is my favorite word (it drives my boyfriend up the wall, he doesn't understand why I want to understand the way everything in the world works).
As to the cloak of invisibility (also to which, I dig all the small nerdy comments strewn through out your posts!) it really is the best discriptions I could think of, now that I think of it. I've always been one to want to know more about people, how they feel, act, think, etc. but I've never been one to open up about my personal feelings or thoughts. Not because I don't want to open up, because when I have in the past, they don't understand me. Like I'm this foreign type of person and 'why would anyone think in that fashion'. Or at least that's how it feels. So it just makes it easier to stay hidden or pretend to be this shallow vessel of a human with little thoughts or emotions, at least that way I don't get the whole "wow, you are really weird." Call it a coping mechanism for years of being called weird as a child I suppose. Either way, great analogy!
My apologies about the lengthy post, but I very much enjoy this site and will continue to venture deeper into the posts. Thanks for the good reads!

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Meridian
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February 12, 2016 at 7:20 AM delete

No problem...I love lengthy comments! :) Thanks for the kind words and encouragement, and I hope you enjoy your time out here!!

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