Wednesday, August 14, 2013

A Rare Beast

My counselor has been faintly horrified at how down on myself I am. She said I've been taking responsibility for other people's projections of me and that it's had a terrible effect on my self esteem. Part of the goal of the counseling was to parse which aspects of my personality were factory standards, and which were actual character flaws or sins. I've learned that a lot of what people don't like or misunderstand about me is not actually a problem with me. This has been a revelation to me. We've been delving deep into the realms of INTP-dom. I feel relieved. I feel healed. I feel incredibly grateful to God that it's okay to be the squarest peg. Besides the old sin nature (which is everything wrong with me), there's nothing wrong with me.

One of the exercises I've been doing is looking for other INTPs in literature and film. I am using those examples to construct a lifecycle of the INTP. And I'm incredibly excited about it because it suggests a steady upward trajectory toward blinding awesomeness. Sadly, women are little represented in the sample, but women are a tiny fraction of what is already a rare type. I always gravitated toward male characters anyway, out of a sense that men did the exciting stuff and got to be heroic without having to apologize for it (or prepare the post-battle picnic).

Early Life: Luna Lovegood from Harry Potter. I would characterize the childhood of an INTP as one long daydream. I know, and my mother ruefully remembers, how completely out to lunch I used to be. She has remarked that I was so dreamy you could have tied a string to my feet and flown me as a kite.

Teens and early 20s: Kamina from the anime Gurren Lagann. This one surprised me. I've seen a decent amount of this show, and Kamina struck me as an arrogant, grandiose blowhard. But when I look back at my teens, I have to own it. I was embarrassingly grandiose and *mumbles* maybe a tiny bit arrogant and *whispers* slightly pompous. (My ESFJ mother died laughing when I admitted it.)

Late 20s and 30s: Aramis from The Three Musketeers and Geordi La Forge from Star Trek: The Next Generation. This is the mastery phase where the INTP consolidates their knowledge base and implements it. Careers and confidence are built during this time. I'm currently working my way through Star Trek: TNG and I definitely have a soft spot for Geordi. He's clearly the master of his domain, engineering, and it's an important role. He is kind, gentle, respected, and well-liked...and none of that can get him laid. I think it's a bit pathetic how he keeps running into scenarios with women where he says things like, "I feel like I know you. I thought we could be friends." and the subtext is always, "Please make out with me!!!" It makes him seem like a bit of a sad little potato, but I know I bristle at it because the characterization is all too accurate. I'm relieved I married so young and didn't really have to navigate dating. Maybe my experience as a woman would have been different, but I rather doubt it.

I like the Aramis characterization much, much better. It doesn't hurt any that Charlie Sheen's portrayal in the 1993 film was just delicious. (It's such a shame when actors get old and weird.) Aramis is an enticing blend of cautious but fearless, reserved, but possesses ironclad friendships. A fighter, but an intellectual. Cool as a cucumber and sexy as all get out. I slogged through all of Alexandre Dumas' Musketeer books in high school, and while Dumas has an open preference for ESTP D'Artagnan, to me, Aramis was always the most sympathetic character.

Midlife: John MacClane from the Die Hard series. I'm excited to see how the overt militancy of this character translates into real life when I grow into this stage. I think it's important to note that MacClane is a very reluctant hero. He resists involvement until something dear to him (family or principles) are unequivocally threatened. But once he's dragged into conflict, he's all in. Failure is not an option. Instigators will be annihilated. If I were to extrapolate to the wider INTP personality, if you close off all options to an INTP except a single, negative option, prepare for the INTP to go nuclear. It takes a lot to open the can of whoop-ass, but once it's open, an enraged INTP will make you drain the last drop and eat the can. Once the crisis passes, the INTP is embarrassed by any attention and longs to quietly return to the daily routine.

Old age: Gandalf from The Lord of the Rings series. This is where justice, wisdom, and leadership find their pinnacle. Really, really hope I end up here!

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