seeking authenticity


I’m obsessed with personality tests, star charts, and anything that quantifies or explains me to myself, no matter how silly. I feel a constant need to define and understand myself, as if in doing so I might be better able to understand and move about in the world. My favorite of these tests is the Myers-Briggs personality test, which explains my personality in the most accurate and nuanced way I’ve found so far.

One of the things that’s supposedly very important to my Myers-Briggs type (INFJ) is authenticity. According to one of the most recent profiles I read on Truity, “Although [the INFJ’s] rich inner life can sometimes make them seem mysterious or private to others, they profoundly value authentic connections with people they trust.”

This rings so true for me that I find myself thinking about it almost on a daily basis, especially lately — I’ve been spending a lot of time alone, which means my gears are always turning. Over the years, from childhood and into adulthood, I’ve had many friends. Some are still close, others are nothing but a very distant memory, while most are somewhere in between. The people I keep closest to my heart are always the ones whose friendship is unconditional, compassionate, loyal, and — of course — deeply authentic.

There is nothing more important to me in a relationship than absolute honesty, sincerity, and mutual trust. My instincts are to trust people immediately, as I pride myself on being a good judge of character (even if that might not actually be the case). But when someone breaks my trust, it’s the worst betrayal. It takes me a very long time to get over.

Ever since 2013, after being ultimately betrayed by someone who I thought I could trust utterly with no reservation, I began to teach myself how to detach. And not just to detach — to build a wall around myself. I lived by self-imposed rules: if someone hurts you, cut them out; love is overrated; you don’t need more friends; people are ultimately selfish; feelings aren’t worth the effort; nobody will ever prioritize you above themselves or anyone else, so you need to look out for number one — always.

I gave the wall I constructed around me a name: my Hag Armor. It made me feel safe, and somehow superior. In my mind it elevated me to wizened crone status, the old witch on a craggy mountain watching beautiful young lovers below her, plotting their demise. I felt I had reached the next step in my maturation as an adult. When it came to interpersonal relationships, I had run out of fucks to give.

This summer, I warred with myself. I started feeling too detached. I wasn’t sure who I was anymore. Had I broken? Why couldn’t I open up to people? Why was my first instinct to lash out or to disappear at the slightest provocation?

My behavior affected every facet of my life. When coworkers asked me to hang out after work I would answer, “Nah, I have enough friends.” It was supposed to be a curmudgeonly joke, but I truly meant it. I just didn’t care. I had myself and my dog and Twitter; what else could I need?

That is, until I found that I was lonely. It took me a long time to admit this to myself. I had moved to Los Angeles on my own looking for a new adventure, yet here I was, less than two years later, unhappy and unfulfilled and feeling more isolated than I had in years. And this wasn’t just because of my geographical location. It was my own fault.

My Hag Armor had kept hurt and betrayal at bay, but it had also kept the good things out.

After visiting a few close, trusted friends in Edmonton this past October, it finally became clear that I was unhappy in LA. I was lonely. And when I was happiest, I was surrounded by friends and family who I trusted — the moments when I could shed my Hag Armor and become my whole self.

Now, in the last days of 2017, I finally know who I want to be in the coming year: authentic to myself. I want to be open to new relationships and people. I want to trust and be kind. I want to extend as much compassion as I can to those who need it. I want to become whole again, even if it means opening myself up to pain.

I want to be the best and most sincere version of myself.

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