The three reasons I think INFPs are lonely are:
1. We separate ourselves.
2. We exclude ourselves.
3. We refuse to be compared to others.
Part One was about how we separate ourselves. Part Two is about exclusion.
In my early 20’s, I was looking for Us people who thought our problems were what made us individuals. What I attracted were depressed, angry and angsty people who blamed society for our woes. I saw myself in them and when realized that this wasn’t who I wanted to be, I felt more alienated and alone than ever.
My attitude changed when I started dancing. By some fluke, I was a good dancer and people would say hi. Over time it became easier to talk to people who I would have avoided before. In talking to Them, I realized that they weren’t this amorphous blob of shallow compromise that I had projected on to Them. They were individuals going through their own struggles and dealing the best they knew how.
That’s when I became “accepting” of other people or so I’d thought. I kept my eye out for potential friends. My friendship was an exclusive club and only the like-minded need apply.
A boy goes to his mom and says, “I’m bored.” The mom replies, “Then you should stop being boring.”
This lesson applies in different variations. If I’m lonely, then I stop being alone.
In my early 20’s, I thought loneliness stemmed from feeling disconnected, and that disconnection was caused by having no people in my life who really understood me. So fixing my loneliness was about fixing the disconnection. I spent years finding people who understood me. However, when I did find a handful of people who I felt really got me, I still felt lonely.
It took me a decade before I realized that we don’t feel lonely because we’re disconnected. We feel lonely because we’ve made a habit of being alone. We can stand alone amongst other people. However, standing alone keeps us from connecting to those around us.
I was trying to fix the wrong problem. I was working on the disconnection when I should have been working on what kept me alone.
Almost every Friday for the last 13 years, I’ve gone dancing at the same dance club. Last Friday, I met Ryan. I wouldn’t have noticed him if my friend Rebecca hadn’t pointed him out as someone she considered cute. I asked her why she didn’t go over and say hi, but she’s shy. It’s hard to put yourself out there when you’re single and a corner mouse. I was that shy in my early 20’s. Since I wasn’t anymore, I decided that by the end of that night, I’d meet him and introduce him to her.
I told Ryan how Rebecca and I noticed that he was a good dancer. I asked him how often he went to this club. He said he’d been dancing for years, but he kept to himself. I proceeded to introduce him to all the regulars who are hubs (i.e. people that others flocked around). Ryan does SCA (Society for Creative Anachronism), graduated from one of the top engineering colleges in the country (School of Mines) and plays D&D. I use to go swing dancing with a guy who did SCA so I know little about it. My sister went to School of Mines and I use to play D&D. So I kept my small talk to those three topics.
This is how I met Rebecca 3 years ago. She was a dance club regular, sitting in the corner. I said hi and introduced her to all the hubs. I discovered she was a teacher and we ended up talking about teaching and school districts. Three years later, she’s one of my strong ties.
I wrote in my first post on friendship about how I decided to stop having friends. Because of that I have more people in my life now than I did before.