Category Archives: progress

What is a Disenfranchised Student?

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So, with this whole scandal and debate about college students and admissions, it has got me thinking a lot about my time in college, both in undergrad, and now as a grad student.

On top of that, because of the scandal, I’m hearing a lot of the “White privilege” argument. So it’s got me asking myself a lot about my time in school – This article is not going to try to say that white privilege doesn’t exist, because it does.

This article is actually about me asking, What is a first generation student?

Who deserves resources?

What groups are being forgotten?

Let me explain my situation with college. I am not the first generation of my family to go to college. My parents were the first (which is rather normal in America, so I’m going to make this about my parents being “first gen” or anything)

I am, however, the first in my family to go to what I’m going to call ‘real college’. My parents went to the local university in my hometown. This university is what’s considered a “not ranked” school. Meaning, it’s not competitive and it lets anyone in. Your ACT and SAT scores don’t matter, they don’t require any essays to be written, no recommendation letters – nothing. This university will even have billboards up during the first week of classes that saying things like “Classes have only just begun! You can still enroll! Call now!” 

Students and tourists rest in lawn chairs in Harvard Yard, the open old heart of Harvard University campus

Back when my parents were in school, college was also much different. They paid their way through full-time school with their part-time jobs – Something that can’t be done today. They both lived at home as they attended school (as many in my hometown do) and after graduating, their part-time jobs turned to full-time and so they never had to deal with internships and applying to jobs “within their field” and all of that.

In recent years, this particular school admits tons of low-income and minority students. To make sure that these students don’t drop out, the university has instated a massive grading curve. So a B- student becomes an A+ student leading the class.

So, my point is this: Yes, may parents wen to “college”. But they had never gone to anything that resembles what Americans think colleges are.

I was the first in my family to have to save up for college while in high school. I was the first to take an ACT test. I was the first to write admissions essays. The first to need letters of recommendation. The first to leave my hometown. The first to live in a dorm on campus. The first to compete for internships. And now, the first to attend graduate school.

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I had no help or guidance on these things, because nobody in my family had ever done any of it before. So, am I a first generation student? 

And if not, what am I?

I think of all the mistakes I made while in school. All the things I didn’t know. I went from being harassed for being gay every single day in my hometown by my peers, to suddenly living in a building with hundreds of them. My parents had never had an internship before and had no idea what and internship actually consisted of. I didn’t know what entering a job market looked like. There’s so much I didn’t know. So much I didn’t understand. And so much I did wrong, out of ignorance.

But because I’m a white male who’s parents technically attended college, nobody ever paid a single ounce of attention to me. There was no help. No resources. No programs. No groups.

Nothing.

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And it’s still hard. It’s hard that in this 2019 environment, anytime I open my mouth about a difficulty I’ve been through, everyone just moans and groans, and gives you this “UGH, ANOTHER WHITE PERSON WHO THINKS THEY HAVE PROBLEMS….”

So, the question becomes: Are we still forgetting about students? 

Is there a group of young people out there that society is assuming is doing fine, but is actually lost? Are there people out who need help but don’t know where to go, and feel as though they have no options?

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I think we can all admit that my college situation is very different from Felicity Huffman’s daughter. So why is it just assumed that all white people are the same?

Our society needs to focus on race. We needed affirmative action to get people of color into schools and jobs. We need groups for minority students who are disenfranchised. We need funded programs for first gen students, I am in no way saying that needs to stop. 

What I am saying though, is that there are disenfranchised white people too. Liberalism and #Wokeness has seemed to become just as blinded by anger against whites as the racists they claim to hate. The world isn’t as clear and simple as “White people get everything, colored people get nothing.” We won’t solve real problems that way.

Oppression comes in various forms for different people. Oppression, discrimination, domination can come in forms beyond race – there’s age, wealth, sexuality, gender, history of abuse, mental illness, religion, and more. It’s complex. It’s messy. It’s shitty.

But it’s reality. 

Harvard campus with brilliant fall foliage

So, I pose this question to the world.

What do we do?

How do we ensure that we’re helping all people who need it. How do we help prevent people from falling through the cracks of society?

How do we help make things better?

 

~ The Dark Horse

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The Macarena: The Most Diverse Music Video Ever

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Step aside all you obnoxious millennials who think you invented diversity. If you’re looking for the true trailblazer, you’ll need to go back… back to the 90’s. 

It was the summer of 1996. Independence Day was booming in the box office, The Craft had just been released that May, and Neve Campbell was about to be launched into an even further fame that December with Scream.

It was then, that an unsuspecting nation was introduced to the Macarena. Macarena fever hit hard. So hard in fact that even the DNC of that year was hit a Macarena outbreak.

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Since then, and this is embracing to admit…actually no it’s not, fuck all of you – I love the Macarena! It’s so damn catchy and so damn 90’s, it’s fuckin amazing.

So the other day, I was rewatching the Macarena music video (because yes, I do that. Got a problem? Call my agent!) and I was totally blown away.  I was like…

THIS WAS MADE IN THE 90s?

 

This music video is the very definition of diversity. And all of you 2019-ers should be ashamed of yourselves for not knowing about this important moment in music history.

Let’s meet our diverse cast:

 

The Singers

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The song is sung by Los Del Rio, a duo from Spain.  But look at this – How many hit music videos can you think of by men in their 50’s or 60’s dominating the charts? The Macarena directly combats agism!

 

The Brunette 

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Sure, blondes have more fun…but according to blondes! No matter what your hair color (or horrendous wardrobe choices…) all are welcomed to dance the Macarena!

 

The Indian Girl

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A study by PBS found that out of all the actors in Hollywood, only 4.2% are “Other”….yeah, that’s how disproportionate the number of Indian actors in Hollywood are. They’re categorized under “Other”, which would combine them with various Arab/Desi/Pacific Islanders/Indigenous peoples/and so forth…all to make up less than 5%.

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So the true numbers of Indian actors will never be known.  What we do know that is that being Indian in the entertainment business can’t be easy. And being a woman in any job isn’t easy, so for an Indian woman to be featured in such a high-profile music video is huge!

This Girl… 

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I don’t what she is, or what the story behind the hair, the lips, and the outfit are…but here’s how I’m taking it – It’s all about being yourself.  She is the embodiment of body positivity, dressing how you want, and not giving a fuck.  Let’s all raise a glass and have a cheers to that cotton-candy wig!

The Latina

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Rocking out a satin pantsuit. That’s right – SATIN PANTSUIT –  A pantsuit so elegant, I can only imagine it would make Diane Keaton jealous. Our Latina (or Latinx, because I’m not here to assume genders) is surely ready for her night at the club where she will cheat on her boyfriend… you know… he one who’s name is Victorino.

But don’t worry,

She didn’t want him

She couldn’t stand him

He was no good so….

The Black Girl

(Can I still say ‘black’? I don’t want to say African American, because what if she isn’t from America?)

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Regardless of whatever the PC term is, one thing is for sure, I love this girl . That 90’s outfit, that Amazing 90’s hair. Everything. Pure perfection. Also, in the music video she competes to be the lead. Going head-to-head with…

 

The Asian Girl

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That shirt. That hair. That everything.  Oh man, 90’s perfection. This image isn’t too clear, but she’s also got on purple lipstick.  Daring and bold makeup choices…. UGHHHHHH THE 90s!!!! COME BACK!!!!!

 

The White Blonde Girl

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I know, I can hear you groaning. You’re probably saying something like #OscarsSoWhite, and then I’ll be like, that Oscars hashtag is from 2015. OMG get with it!  But in reality, diversity and inclusion means everyone…even white blonde women

(at least she’s not a man…am I right, ladies?????…crickets.)

Will that fabulous feather jacket help make it better?  Fit for a hooker, I say!

 

The Mom From ‘Blackish’

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The mom from Blackish denies being in the music video (yes, this got widespread enough  to where she had to respond) But, Macarena conspiracy theorists continue to insist that it’s her. And how could you not believe Macarena conspiracy theorists??????

The Scandinavian

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Had ABBA gotten famous in the 90’s they would have looked just like our Swedish girl in the music video. Plastic pants. Plastic shirt. And a plastic winter hat.  I have a feeling this was surely the most uncomfortbale outfit in the entire music video. But pain is beauty! 

 

The Jan

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Yes, that’s right. This music video is so diverse that it even has the forgotten middle child. Jan is so forgotten that I couldn’t even find a good image of this girl.  She’s literally hidden in ever single frame!

See, look!

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Let’s try again….

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Poor Jan. We can’t all be center stage though, I suppose.  I’m sure she has a great personality and is probably very smart.  Maybe she’s a lawyer now and making more than anyone else in the music video?

 

There you have it! The most diverse music video in the world! Now, put that song, and blast it loud!!! HEY MACARENA!!!!!

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Dance on my friends! Dance on!

 

~ The Dark Horse

NEW YORK, HERE I COME!

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So, as I mentioned last time, I had an interview in New York last Monday for a television company. Not even joking, on Friday, just FOUR DAYS after the interview, I received a phone call.

Ladies and gentlemen, it appears the Dark Horse has had a victory. I will be going to New York in January!!!!! WOOOOOHOOOO!!!!!

And this got me thinking about my journey here in grad school. When I first arrived at Harvard, I had nothing. I didn’t know a single person in Boston. I had no internships or connections to professors.

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I picked up a job at Whole Foods to pay for rent (and luckily I have federal grants for tuition). I had no real skills that I knew of, although I knew I was smart, and I knew that I knew how to survive. But nobody had every cared about me, or had ever given me a chance in life. Mostly, I just felt alone and stupid.

Essentially, I had no real skills to speak of that would make an employer outside of the food industry think I’m worth investing in. I had always taken the first job I could find somewhere, completely terrified of the idea of being unemployed and homeless. This means I’ve lived an entire life slogging through whatever restaurant or retail chain would give me a job. And thus was the cycle. Restaurants lead to restaurants. Retail leads to retail. My brain slowly rotting away with boredom in the process.

I always knew I wanted more. I was never one of those people who could work their 9-5, bored out of their fucking minds, and then justify their horrible life by going to bars and drinking it all away every Friday and Saturday….just to then have to repeat the cycle the next Monday.

 

But, growing up in Ohio during recession made me afraid.

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I watched as adults with college degrees applied to work in the diner I worked in. I thought it was so strange and scary that I, a high school student, was working the same position as someone with a college degree.

I watched my mom lose her job due to a merger, then lose her next job due to a merger, then the next due to the company going bankrupt. By the time America had finally climbed out of the hole, she had been through 5 jobs.

 

But the whole time…I knew something was wrong.

Everyone kept telling me to be thankful for what I had. They kept telling me to get my head out of the clouds. They kept telling me about the dangers of big cities (which actually, is hilarious, because my hometown has a worse crime rate than cities like New York, Los Angeles, and San Fransisco). But, when you’re 16, and everyone around you keeps telling you that being a waiter is better than being homeless, it’s hard not to let it get to you.

 

And so, I worked and worked, and the depression, the misery, and the boredom grew until it was intolerable and I lost my mind.

Flash-forward to being in grad school. I knew I needed to make a change in my life. I knew I had what it took to achieve my goals. I knew that if I could just have some way to prove myself, I could show the world that I was a force to be reckoned with.

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And what better place to do it right?

And so, the job at Whole Foods turned into a job on campus, giving me more flexibility to get involved in school,

which led to me joining clubs,

And then I picked up an internship with a nonprofit where I created Facebook posts to help inspire students,

Which then led to another internship managing social media for a literary magazine,

which led to editing for that literary magazine,

which led to me getting an internship at a second literary magazine,

which led to me getting an internship with a podcast,

and then my internship with the literary magazine started paying (woohoo!),

and then I created and hosted a huge event at school,

and there was that paid job I had in Shanghai over the summer that I never would have gotten without all the other experience from being back in school,

and now, the real fuckin’ deal. Working for a big TV channel in New York City.

Is this the fabled American Dream ? 

Have I just made something of myself ? 

 

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Am I about to be a writer living in New York City? Just a small-town boy tryin to make it in the big city?

(Also, (Groans) Im sorry for using yet another Sex and the City GIF… God, Im such trash…)

 

 

Anyways, I’m excited for my future.

I’m excited and I think my writing talents have grown. I believe in my writing now. I believe that I can get published.

I also believe that my life can be filled with adventure.

and most importantly, meaning and happiness. 

 

Are there people out there who are happy living in Ohio or Iowa or Indiana? YES.

AND GOOD FOR THEM! THEY CAN DO WHATEVER THE FUCK THEY WANT.

But just like they’re allowed to work at H&R Block in some city like Dayton, you’re also allowed to go big, and want to work a big city, doing whatever the hell you want. Never let the people from where you’re from try and tell you you’re not allowed to dream big. Because changes in this world only happen when people dream big.

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~ The Dark Horse

(#NotProofRead. Proofreading is for your grandma! Live on the dangerous side!)

The Highs and the Lows: Riding The Emotional Wave

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So, I just got back last night from New York City. I was there for an interview.

Yes. Someone actually thought I was good enough to be interviewed in New York City. (I can’t believe it either, trust me)

So, anyways, it goes like this. I was here alone for Thanksgiving break. The entire city clears out because Boston is one of those places where people move to, not someplace where they’re from. So the city is empty. It’s 10 degrees F, everything is closed. And I’m alone.

I feel like shit.

Until….

I get an email. 

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This email is to inform me that I have an interview, for a very large company. A media company. A media company whose offices are in a very trendy building with other very trendy companies in a very trendy part of town.

So, my dread turns to intense anxiety and joy, and I head to NYC as fast as I can…

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So,  wind up in a hotel, next to Bryant Park,

during the holiday season

in New York City.

It was like a movie.

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I ate sweets as I watched ice skaters while Christmas jazz played, with the Empire State Building in the background.

I got donuts, I went to New York delis, I got amazing Chinese food. I walked fifth Ave. and Central Park.

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It was like life had gone from zero to hero. Finally, I had a real tangible piece of evidence to prove that I was making something of myself. An interview. (This was actually my second interview…the first was via phone). So, it was like a MEGA self-esteem boost to see that someone thought I was good enough. And not just someone, but a fuckin huge awesome company.

 

So then the day came. The interview. OMG people it was amazing. The office was amazing. And it was located in an awesome building. As someone who had grown up working retail and restaurants, and being told constantly that I’ll never get anywhere… THIS WAS FUCKING HUGE!!!!!

I hope the interview went well. I would love the job. I would love to live in New York. I would love to have a chance to show the world my skills. To show the world that I do mean something.

So, I walked out of my interview, and got myself a tea at a trendy little cafe.

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(I couldn’t write a post about NYC and not reference Sex and the City….cmon people!)

 

 

But now, Im back in Boston. The interview is over. The whirlwind is over. And It’s like someone has slammed on the brakes again.

And I have this feeling in my throat. Like a weight, pulling me down. A weight saying YOU KNOW YOU’RE MEANT FOR THAT LIFE. YOU KNOW YOU’RE MEANT TO TAKE ON THE WORLD. YOU DON’T LIKE YOUR LIFE BEING SLOW BECAUSE YOU’RE NOT A SLOW PERSON! YOU WANT TO LIVE IN THE FAST LANE AND THAT’S OK! YOU SHOULD! 

I’ve spent too long listening to people. Too long listening to anyone and everyone who’s willing to spend their time putting me down. Telling me I can’t. Telling me I have no talent. Telling me I’m worth nothing.

But GOD FUCKING DAMN I CAN’T ANYMORE.

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Every time I get these little tastes of a life I like, the voice in my head gets louder and louder. It keeps telling me this is where I belong.

It keeps telling me that I AM ALLOWED TO DREAM. That I am allowed to fight for a good life.

I’m allowed to have friends

I’m allowed to fall in love

I’m allowed to have a career I love

If I feel like I want a high profile job then listen up MOTHERFUCKERS… I CAN!

AND WE ALL CAN. FUCK ANYONE WHO TRIES TO KEEP YOU DOWN.

I read a great quote the other day that said something like, “The only people who try to put you down are those who are already beneath you.”

So boys and girls, let’s find out nicest clothes, polish up our self-esteem, brew a little confidence and rock out our best Carrie Bradshaw

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PS – Ive never actually watched Sex and the City…is it even good?

 

~ The Dark Horse 

 

Another PS- I also never proofread. Oh well.

 

Learning New Things: Or, Learning To Soar And Never Giving Up

 

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So, I’m picking up some hobbies. I’ve grown tired of feeling stale and boring. When people ask what I do in my spare time, I’m like… “I read, write, go to the gym, drink tea at cafes as read and write…and I eat….and stuff?”   And then I sit there and I’m like… my god, I sound like I’m 90.

 

I need a little more magic in my life. I need something that takes me away from the constant cycle of “reading and writing”. Which, don’t get me wrong, I love to read and write…but sometimes I just need something else.  Anything else, really.  I love writing and It’s a great creative outlet. But it’s so silent, so isolated. I want something performative and exciting!

 

Years and years ago I bought a banjo. A banjo I have hardly touched ever since because when you’re consumed with depression you don’t feel like you have the energy or brain power to do anything. But, I’m better these days. And it’s time for me to start doing all the things I spent so many years not doing. So, I’m gonna’ pick that bitch back up again. I love music and I wish I was better at being able to make it. And then I was like…

Well, I own a fucking instrument!!! Why don’t I do something about it????

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I’m working on this huge project right now at school where I’m writing a podcast episode on Drag. And even though I’m gay and have had a few experiences where I’ve seen a drag queen walking down the street or something, I’ve actually never been to a show, nor have I ever watched Drag Race or anything. So I’ve been doing a crash course in Drag lately and have been discovering a whole bunch of really talented people. The crash course is what’s gotten me into the UK Big Brother season that Courtney Act on it (who thank god won, cuz everyone else in that house was a bloody cunt to her)

Anyhoo, there is this drag queen named Trixie Mattel. She sings folk/country/alt/singer-songwriter something type of music or something? I’m not sure how I’d classify her style, but anyways, she’s super talented. She can play instruments and sings really well.

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I had reached out to her for an interview for the podcast episode I’m working on, and she totally blew me off….which kind of sucks….BUT I’M NOT BITTER AT ALL..….WOULD A BITTER PERSON TYPE IN ALL BOLD CAPS????? I DON’T THINK SO!

But anyways, I was like, look: If this sassy cunt has the balls to put on a dress, wig, and makeup and then rock an autoharp on a stage….then god dammit I can learn a fuckin’ banjo!  And so, learn a banjo I shall!

 

 

On top of that, I’ve also started learning Mandarin.

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I have an internship in Shanghai this summer, and I’ve also been selected to do some travel blogging while I’m there, which is insanely cool!

The internship says I don’t need any experience speaking Mandarin, but fuck that. Goin’ to a foreign country without knowing any of their language is white-fuckin’-trash.   Ok…actually, I take that back. If someone is going to a tourist place for a week, then I can see them not needing to learn the language.  I don’t think anyone going to Cancun for Spring Break would have any need to learn Spanish (however, America is rapidly changing, so learning Spanish is becoming more and more useful in our country and I may argue should be a mandatory secondary language taught in schools).

Anyways…. what the fuck was I saying? … Oh right. So yeah, I’m going to be in China for the summer. And when you settle and live someplace for a while and have a chance to really just get into a groove there, knowing the language and culture is key. Especially since I’m going to be venturing out on my own to explore the city to write these travel pieces on top of the internship.

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So, I’m doin’ this! 

I’m living my life. I’m done sitting passively as life passes me by. Any of you, go back to my early blog posts. Read some posts from back when I was agoraphobic. It was insane! I literally let my youth slip by as I struggled and fought against the issues I was having. It breaks my heart when I go back and think about my years in California, Australia, and New Zealand. I was running and searching. I was looking for myself. I was trying to find who I was. But I was so hurt from my past and had nobody there to help me move forward, so I just stumbled tumbled and crashed.

But, that’s growth right?  Growth is moving forward and learning from the past so you can become better for the future. I remember a great line from one of my favorite movies, The Time Machine. The main character keeps trying to go back in time to save his girlfriend who dies, but no matter how many times he goes back and tries to change the situation, she always dies in some way. The past is cemented. There’s no changing it.

At one point he says “The only way to go is forward”.

~ The Dark Horse

INFJ and Emotional Intensity

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Hello my fellow INFJ’s!

So, today let’s talk about something we all experience: Emotional Intensity. 

 

Emotional intensity has been described by Imi Lo as:

“Emotional intensity is a form of neuro-diversity that is most often misunderstood by our culture. It is characterized by heightened and intense feelings, a constant stream of both positive and negative feelings — pain, distress, despair, fear, excitement, love, sadness or happiness — sometimes a mixture of many at the same time.”

For those of you out there who like images, I’ve made this:

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INFJ types are known for our strengths. Such as being creative, insightful, inspiring and passionate.

These come from our intense sensitivity, which we get from this emotional spectrum.  We can see such beauty, but also such pain. We can see the light and the dark, and we can see them with a sharpness that others can’t.

 

For example, have you ever been talking to someone and they’re going on and on about how great their weekend was?  They’re sitting there saying things like, “OMG we went to this bar and OMG we were there till like 2am…and I was like…OMG I have work Monday, but whatevs right, it’s the weekend?!?!  OMG it was so much fun!” 

And you’re staring at them blankly, almost in pain. Wondering how something so insanely boring and trivial could bring them such joy?

 

Well, that’s the emotional spectrum in play. Normal people can really only feel so much joy and so much pain. They live in a relatively constant stasis, unaware that there could be anything more. And for the most part, not even caring if they ever have more. Because as far as they’re concerned, they’re happy.

But not us. When we hear them talk, our stomachs sink and our palms sweat. When you’ve felt intense joy and intense pain, the idea of spending your entire life only 60% switched on is scary.  AND IT SHOULD BE! For us, living that lifestyle would mean that we aren’t letting ourselves flourish. We need more because we know that there is more. 

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For us, living that kind of life would be like being locked in a cage for eternity.

 

That’s why INFJ types are natural artists, travelers, philosophers, teachers, and preachers. We need more.  We need to feel like we have a cause. Like we have a purpose. 

And sadly, a lot of us don’t get nurtured and supported the way we should. A lot of people don’t understand us or refuse to help.  Then, our sensitive nature, which could have been there to push us to be the best we can be, ends up devouring us.

We wonder why nobody gets us and why nobody cares. We wonder why we’re so different…why everyone says it’s so wrong for us to just be…us. And thus, we fall to the dreaded INFJ dark side.

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But, we don’t have to.  We don’t have to hate ourselves. We don’t have to feel like crap. We don’t have to let society tell us that we’re bad for feeling such intense emotions.

Will people always tell us that our head is in the clouds?    Yes.

Just remember you’re not alone. There are other INFJ’s out there.  We are few and far between, but we are here. And we get you. And we don’t think you’re weird. We think you’re awesome!

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Let yourself bloom!

~ The Dark Horse