Thinking aloud

I’m usually an exceptionally happy individual – bouncy, optimistic, loud, and glad to share affection with the world. When I do get in one of my “funks” it’s very short-lived: a quick session of crying and then I’m back to functioning at my usual, extroverted level.

I also have a love for slow, sad music. I like reading books that plunge me into existential melancholy. My favorite movies are ones where I’m crying throughout. I’m most creative during gloomy days and rain, when I’m sitting alone at a cafe. When I can’t sleep, I take walks by myself to think. I’m an International Affairs and Political Science student – that speaks for itself.

Here’s what I think it is – I have a quiet melancholy in me, one that makes itself known through ambience and art. It’s not very salient whatsoever, a private bit of me that I can bask in without having to bare myself to the world like I usually do (so maybe the fact that I’m sharing this in a blog post is a bit counterintuitive, but whatever). Maybe throwing myself headfirst into something akin to sadness isn’t the best, or healthiest, idea but it helps me purge myself of any sentiment that might have been buried under my usual glee. It’s not an explosive burst of emotion, but more like a silent reflection, where no words need expression and all I have is my own company.

College in interesting in that sense. I’m constantly surrounded by people, be it in class, on the streets, within the company of my own friends and constant conversation is not unusual. I don’t think I’ve had a day completely to myself since I got here and that’s not an issue, but it does leave me wanting and antsy when I’m alone not of my own accord. Moments like right now, then, are moments I cherish, when I can make a natural transition into solitude and savor my own company without feeling like I’m out of a loop or without friends. I listen to jazz instrumentals, read the news, write, work, whatever, subject to nothing except my own volition.

I can look up and observe the sky as it darkens and dulls, the clouds as they float past and (hopefully) obscure the sun, choose whether I want to feel my knuckles freeze and the cold numb my face or if I’d rather stay toasty indoors in coffee-scented warmth: and the best part? Either option is equally appealing. I feel a wholeness in this temporary melancholy, by sheer virtue of the fact that I have the luxury of allowing myself to feel the depths of this somewhat-sadness.

Perhaps to other people this doesn’t seem like sadness at all. And it probably isn’t. But it’s the closest thing to sadness that I can experience; my emotions span extremes, elation, anger, (rarely) depression, helplessness, love, but sadness is alien. So there’s liberation in this chosen-melancholy, as strange as it seems, and it happens little enough that I can cherish it and feel at home when it does.

I’m getting dinner with a friend now and that is going to peel this melancholic haze from around me. And before I do shed the cloak, I wanted to articulate the feeling.

It doesn’t last long but goodness, do I feel it while it lasts.

Born an extrovert

I remember taking the Myers-Briggs type indicator test a few years ago (online, naturally) and it classified me as an INFP. This was when I was 14. I used to hate every inch of myself, and because of it, I repressed every desire I had to be surrounded by friends and to go outside and enjoy myself among other people. I knew in my heart I could be charismatic – I was told as much by strangers – and that I really wanted to be around lots of people but I didn’t trust myself to…look good. As an adult, well, a recently-turned 18 year old rather, it makes me really sad.

Not that there’s anything wrong with being an introvert – introverts are great people and I’m friends with some lovely introverts. But what’s wrong is suppressing something that’s a part of you.

I think it took until I was in grade 11 and when I made a lot of great friends in school and just generally opened up to the people around me that I felt less insecure. It was a long, hard process that involved feeling – very suddenly – horribly ill if I spent weekends by myself at home, but I grew into the extrovert I was always meant to be. And with it came a world of possibilities – I started joining clubs, being more confident in my talents, in what I could bring to the table. I got into debating and public speaking and that felt incredibly liberating. I never realized before then just how much I loved speaking and sharing ideas. I did it even as an “introvert,” yes, but knowing why you do something as opposed to just doing it instinctively are two totally different things. It’s a damn good feeling.

I stopped staring at the ground while I walked.

I looked around at people, made eye-contact, smiled. I observed people. I piped up to compliment strangers. I conversed with sales associates at stores. And I craved being around people. Soon, parties followed! Spur-of-the-moment dinner plans with friends. Trips to the beach. And I started sulking if I was at home for too many days at a stretch.

Okay, I don’t think that really warrants a past tense. I still sulk when I’m at home for too long at a stretch. Especially on weekends.

I don’t think it truly hit me how I had come into my own until I took the Myers-Briggs test again a year ago. And it’s really silly, but seeing that ENFP (well, 50% 50% perceiving/judging so it’s ENFJ too) made me realize the gravity of my transition.

This.

This right here. That’s the person I’m meant to be, a people person, who aspires to be amiable and charismatic and charming.

And yet, it feels good knowing I still love doing the things I used to do as a 14 year old. I still get lost in books on my bed, I still like taking walks by myself with a steaming paper cup of coffee, I still like browsing online and I haven’t – and never will – give up the incredible friends I made in lieu of having many people to talk to at school. I continue to make friends online and offline and that’s how I like it.

This post is a bit disjointed, I know, but I’ve been bonding with myself today. Even an extrovert needs to recharge in the quiet of her own room – especially an extrovert.

 

(PS: Sorry for the scarceness! As observed before, there’s a strong correlation between how productive I have to be and how much I post on my blog. I’ll try and update more <3)