Since I was a little girl I have always been an alien. I couldn't explain it back then, but I unconsciously understood that it is difficult for me to fit in with most people. I was one of that loner little girl, having to bear people misunderstanding me from time to time.
I'm all grown up now and I can say that nothing much has changed (aside from the normal physical, biological changes and the development of thinking). I can feel that there are parts of me that haven't changed at all. There are things that have already been there since a long time ago, even before I was born.
I remember that there were certain phases in my life where I was completely frustrated because I couldn't understand myself better. I started to learn how complicated I am and how it frustrated me to know that and could not do anything to change that. I couldn't change the way I was because, no matter how good my understanding was, somehow I knew I couldn't touch that part. I felt that there's a distance between me and that certain parts of myself.
It was a long years of struggling. I was always one of those people who are completely uncomfortable with themselves, and constantly think that there must be something wrong with them. At my worst moments, I usually felt like Eeyore, Pooh's donkey friend who carries dark clouds above its head wherever it goes.
It wasn't until a year ago that I finally made peace with it.
I've learned to accept that there are some people who are sunshine, and there are some people who are clouds. Some people are meant to shine and cheer, and some people are meant to sit quiet at the back row, doing whatever they have to do, watching the whole world from afar without making any intrusion to the cheering crowd. Not because they don't want to, but because they just can't. Having these people inside the cheering crowd would be just wrong. Because they cheer differently, they laugh and shout and celebrate silently, and most of the time, they do look peculiar in the middle of the cheering crowd.
One day I found the test about Jung personality types.
I took the test and the result came out that I am an INFJ (Introverted, iNtuitive, Feeling, Judging).
INFJ - "Author". Strong drive and enjoyment to help others. Complex personality. 1.5% of total population.
Out of curiosity, I did further research on the personality types, particularly the INFJ, and found a lot of useful readings related to the topics. And it quite gave me the creep initially because what I found there was exactly what I've been feeling/having all along.
Here's a brief explanation (or rather, collection of words) describing the INFJ:
I discovered that every aspects of myself that I wished to change, are exactly those that make a person INFJ. I wished to be more outgoing and easy with people, I wished to lessen my craving for solitude and be more comfortable in the crowd, I wished to be more rational and get my head off of the clouds, I wished I wasn't that sensitive and difficult to be understood. I've tried many ways and every time I did something to change them, I lost myself. Until one day I feel that it's really exhausting to keep changing yourself to be something that probably not you at all, and decided that if it makes me a peculiar person being who I am, then be it.
Of course there should be more comprehensive test and more complicated reading on the test result, more than just what I found online. But I'm glad because it reminds me that there's nothing wrong with me, that I was just being me, and that such people like me, do exist. And that there's nothing I have to change about me because all the things I wished to change, are not actually bad to have as a part of my personality.
It really depends on how you look at it.
Yesterday, I accidentally opened this ebook which has been in my folder for months. It was a book about self acceptance, and the author was someone who has gone through tough times in his journey towards maturity and self acceptance.
I admire his courage, because to share such personal experience like his, I believe, requires a great deal of courage. He didn't mention details, but even to admit that you were once one of those negative persons with a very dark view about the world, in my opinion, requires a great deal of courage. I also appreciate his intention to inspire a lot of people by sharing the idea of self acceptance.
However there's one thing that bothered me when reading his book. I couldn't help but feeling that he was suggesting that if you want to be happy, you have to change to be what other people see as normal or right.
I agree with him that to be happy, you need to feel good about yourself. And that's where I think the problem is. To some people, going out and meet with a lot of people might help in exercising their confidence and eventually will teach them on how to feel good about themselves. But to some others, this could be a worst nightmare.
Some people avoiding interaction with a lot of people because they are not confident enough to be part of the crowd. Once they master the skill of self acceptance, I'm sure they will have no problem having interaction with a lot of people or being in the crowd and present themselves to the world openly. While some other people, avoiding interaction simply because they just can't. They're not comfortable with the idea of having to open themselves to a lot of people or people that they don't close with or they don't know well. And it's not because of lacking of self confidence or self acceptance.
Why would you involved in activities that will only make you feel miserable or out of place? Why would you meet a large group of people in an attempt to have fun when you know you will not be able to have fun and you know that you'll have more fun spending time with your family or meeting your best friends (which is not more than five persons), or simply lying on your bed reading your favourite books?
I had gone through quite a similar experience as the author's. I even went to see an expert and she said that I should go out more and meet a lot of people. Having fun. I'm not old enough to spend my spare time reading books alone in my home. Such activities, she said, are only for elders.
I tried, and I failed.
I couldn't find the excitement being in the middle of the crowd.
And I finally learned to accept that this is just the way I am. I am just fine. I maybe having a problem with myself, but that's no more than other people having problem with themselves too. Instead of wasting my time questioning myself and wondering why I can't be like other people and trying so hard to be 'normal', I learned to accept that I'm just different. And there's nothing abnormal about being different.
A friend once asked me whether I'd come to the office party that was about to be held. I said I don't think so. Then he said he doesn't understand why I shouldn't come, because it would only justify the stereotype about research people.
I'm working in a research division, and I'm not sure about the existing stereotype about people working in research field. For one, my boss, who is a Research Manager, went to the party, and she enjoyed it. Secondly, I did came to the party held in the previous year. I didn't come this year, simply because I didn't feel like to at the time.
I understand that, this friend of mine, he might have this stereotype in his mind that people working in the research field cannot have fun with themselves. And there's nothing I can do about it. He didn't gave me the chance to answer, and I choose to let it go anyway.
I believe that if you want to be happy with who you are, you have to accept what you are. And by that, I'm not talking about becoming who you are and adjusting it with what other people see as right or normal.
Bottom line is, know what makes you comfortable. Accept it, and make the best of it. People might think of you as peculiar or weird, and that's just the way it is. They should not force you to be what you are not, and you should not force them to understand what you are. Keep in mind, that you're not the only 'weird' person in the world. And even though their number is limited, that should not prevent you from being happy.
I have a very dear friend who constantly reminding me that happiness doesn't always materialized in laughters and cheers and the sound of trumpets. Happiness may materialized through serenity. And more importantly, through whatever it is that makes you happy.
So, I guess I've finally found the answer to my question: is there something wrong with me? Or am I just being me?
I am not Eeyore, and I am not a donkey, and I don't think I've been carrying dark clouds above my head.
I think, I am just being me. And that should not prevent me from being happy :)
Bintaro, on a cloudy Sunday afternoon