Besides being the name of best video game franchise ever, the persona, for Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung, was the social face the individual presented to the world—”a kind of mask, designed on the one hand to make a definite impression upon others, and on the other to conceal the true nature of the individual.”
This will be a very a very personal post, in the one I will attempt in the form of a list, to deconstruct my mind and uncover what lies beyond the surface to maybe discover who I really am. With the help of Mr. Carl Jung and information from some INTP forums, I have compiled a list of personal traits, habits and thought processes that I (maybe mistakenly) associate and identify myself with, so that then, maybe, I can understand why I wear those masks and what hides behind them. I need to learn what does it mean to be me, why am I me and what makes me me.
- I can be best friends with someone for over a decade and still not feel any kind of emotional connection because I shun emotions and feelings.
- I know a lot about many things and have a wide range of interests, that makes people connect with me in many ways but I very rarely connect with them because I understand not all people need the same things, some need to connect with others and some don’t. I don’t. Even though others try hard and convince me that I do because we are all the same, I still can’t be convinced and I believe the reason they say that is to avoid having to think about life deeply because that would imply admitting that they will die and cease to exist together with all those emotional connections they made.
- I can’t be bothered to proofread before submitting something because I don’t care about the details as long as I am able to communicate the main point. I also never read the instructions because I think we learn by doing, not by reading how to do.
- I have hundreds of websites bookmarked to read later and I know I will never get down to it because something new is always more interesting and every time I get a new computer I create new bookmarks that are then lost in space whenever I lose access to that computer or phone, and so it has been more than 14 years of it, bookmarking things and then losing access to them.
- Most of the ideas I have, never get to see the light of day because I’m too scared of failure and the projects I do start are either abandoned out of boredom when I manage to solve the tricky part or find something more interesting, or they are self-sabotaged because I am not only afraid of failure, but also of succeeding, like a dog chasing a car, he just wants to chase it but he doesn’t know what would he do if he got to catch it.
- I like something in theory but I’m disappointed by the reality of it. Because everything sounds better in my head. I want to be with you because I like the idea of being with you, but I don’t really want to be with you because that would involve an emotional commitment as well as monetary and time-wise that I can’t afford to undertake.
- I have a list of things I have to do every day and they never get done, and things keep getting added up to it until there’s no more space because the day has very few hours, and I have a list of books to read that will never be read because they are too long and life is too short.
- I am a theorist and I know I could solve all the problems in the world, but just in theory. Because of my lifestyle, I got the chance of living and traveling in many countries and got to see how different countries solved different social, economic and environmental issues, so it would take me only a few weeks to compile a manual called “How to solve all the problems in the world” and publish it and promote it myself and I have actually already planned the whole book in my head, it will have 100 chapters because 100 is a neat round number, with chapter 1 being called for example ‘transportation’ and documenting which countries have good transportation systems, and how they do it and which ones have a terrible one and why. Chapter 2 could be called ‘housing’, 3 ‘education’, 4 ‘energy’, 5 ‘health’ and so on. But I can’t be bothered doing that because the thought of writing the book, in theory, is more appealing than the practice of writing it, so why should I do it if I can already imagine what it would be like? And also everything sounds better in my head, but when I try to put something into words disaster strikes, and another reason I don’t write it is because I somehow think things are good enough because there are no rivers of blood flowing outside my house then things are not too bad yet. And then there’s the fact that I think faster than I type, so by the time I finish a paragraph I already forgot about what the next one was supposed to be about and there is also the fact that I have a lot of confidence and no confidence at all, all at the same time, so that my confidence and lack of confidence conflict while writing something, just like they do right now.
- Small talk not only bores me but it’s actually insulting. For me it means people don’t value my time, because anyone who knows me, knows I have a full-time job as a teacher, and I’m also writing and editing every day, and I’m still running 100 instagram accounts, and doing SEO and still need to find time to meditate and read and exercise and look after my dog and there’s always a million things on my to-do list so anyone who has the need to make small talk they are actually taking away some of the precious time I have so little of, and forcing me to spend it in something I don’t enjoy and don’t get any benefit from, which is making small talk.
And now that the list is finished, here’s a fact: “We tend to exaggerate our good qualities and project who we want to be rather than who we are onto our answers” and now there’s another fact: “I tend to question everything and I don’t even believe a thought I think, because I suspect myself of being secretly biased towards something”. So what should I do with the above information? Take it at face value or keep digging and digging trying to come closer to the truth only to realize later that there’s no truth. I think therefore I am, and I question my thoughts because I think and I don’t trust them, because I know how fragile and malleable human minds are, including mine.
And the next point is that I believe that the reason I question myself is to feel special, to feel different, because I believe most people don’t really stop to question their thoughts or actions, they just wake up and go about their habits every day until they die. So in that sense, if I question it means I’m different, and that would be ok if I were to stop there instead of questioning the reason why I question myself. And if that wasn’t enough, I can’t avoid questioning the reason why I question questioning myself, only to find that it wasn’t so that I could feel special and different but it was so that I could try to find a meaning to it all. To my thoughts, to my life, to the universe, thinking that maybe if I keep digging deeper and deeper I will find the answers I’m looking for. Except that there are no answers, not for me and not for anyone. I have created the questions and then got puzzled because there were no answers to the questions I had invented, which were not real in the first place, because what we call reality is probably an illusion, and if it isn’t then at least my thoughts and ideas are most probably an illusion and in the remote case they aren’t they are still meaningless. The fact that they are real doesn’t guarantee they have any meaning or value, they are just thoughts and ideas, theories and conjectures, that creep in uninvited.
To go a bit deeper, and now assuming that my thoughts are somehow real, I must go on and admit that whatever I think, do and say is a consequence of what we call causality and conditioning. We are all conditioned by our environment, by our thoughts, by our upbringing, by our level of awareness, by our education, by our experiences, by the way in that we see the world, by the way we see ourselves and by some other variables. And once I start to understand how conditioning really works, I can see past this “everything’s either an illusion or meaningless” mentality and I can understand who I really am and why I am trying to understand myself. Only to realize there never was such a thing as ‘myself’ to begin with. And there never was an answer to who I am or why am I the way I am, because there never was an ‘I’ to begin with.
It’s the idea of the non-self. There is nothing inside us besides those things that are a product of causes and conditions. And that’s as far as I’m willing to go, today at least.