I regret not having taken advantage of people more.
INTPs are pretty good at accepting the truth. We’re the type that is least prone to bias, but we’re certainly not immune when it comes to things like emotional trauma, which can damage our sensitive ’emotionalogical’ circuits. Anyhow, regret is one of those emotions we see as logically pointless and a waste of energy. To indulge in regret would mean that accepting the truth of the past is difficult, which it is not. Accept the things you cannot change, and focus on the things you can change. (However, one common INTP bias is to assume we can’t change something all too easily, usually something that requires social interaction.) You can reinvent the past, but you can’t change it.
With that gnarly introduction out of the way, I’ll talk about the only thing that I “bothered to regret about” in Romania.
I regret not having taken advantage of people[‘s kindness] more.
For anyone who’s known me for an extended period of time, this is not at all a controversial statement. On the contrary, it’s somewhat evident that I would be a better person if I was better at taking advantage of people. I’ll clarify for good measure, since INTPs can operate by pretty weird definitions (relative to everyone else) when it comes to standards of behavior (such as honesty).
To me, taking advantage of a person(s) means willfully taking and receiving what excess they were already willing to give, in a manner that results in a positive outcome for both parties.
Like I said, probably not the definition you expected. Why is it so conservative? Despite being prone to breaking rules, INTPs have a strong sense of moral principles. Mix that in with social awkwardness, a lifelong attraction to autonomy and independence, sometimes crippling beliefs about whether one in fact deserves good things, and an uncanny respect for other people’s right to be left alone. And that’s why you have such a strange definition. I mean, normal people would probably call that kind of behavior something else, not taking advantage, but I struggle to identify what it might be.
Life gets better for an INTP once they realize they deserve what they get and what they take. The INTP population is split in terms of this metric. I hypothesize the main predictors as being age and presence of childhood emotional trauma/repression. A large proportion of us (possibly even a majority) suffered from childhood trauma in some form. We’re at greater risk than other types because of how specific our needs are and how different it is from the norm.
Childhood trauma is obviously a barrier to healthy adult development, and it seems to be a rather polarizing barrier that is difficult to cross. Personally, I believe that I am now aware of the appropriate tools to overcome the limitations brought on by my own past. It has been two years since I first became self-aware, and although I made great leaps and bounds initially, it wasn’t until I reached another all-time low in February this year that I realized my methodologies were far too shallow and that I had to deconstruct myself once again to move away from the plateau.
In particular, the mindset that I needed to “fix myself, crawl out of the abyss, and become a normal, healthy adult” was harmful and unsustainable. Although it might not be so far from the essence of what I want to achieve, as a human being I cannot (successfully) navigate through emotional truth in such a precise manner. I’m a human, not a computer. I need principles, strategies, the use of the senses, feedback, reassurance, and light to guide me. But I digress, so I’ll try to wrap up my point quickly. Lasting positive change must come from a place of self-acceptance. (The media and commercials don’t want you to know that, because it’s not a message that sells; in fact, it scares us because it involves confronting our uncomfortable feelings rather than ‘powering through so quickly we don’t have to think about it.’) This leads to one of my favorite quotes, which is the mantra of Sierra Boggess (my favorite Christine Daaé by the way):
“You are enough! You are so enough, it’s unbelievable how enough you are!”
The incident I regret the most was the second time I consciously distanced myself from friendly locals because I didn’t want to burden them. I was afraid that they would invite me a second time, and ashamed to admit how much I would have wanted that. I was afraid that they wouldn’t invite me. I left in a hurry so that I wouldn’t put them in the position to have that decision over something I felt vulnerable about.
It was stupid, but understandable given my flawed upbringing. Expressing my true desires has always been a shame trigger for me, because I grew up under the idea that my wants and needs were mostly a source of trouble. This misconception was something I could not change as a child, so I accepted that “reality” and silenced my needs.
I should have loitered around. I should have expressed further interest, asserted my presence, and given myself a chance to be invited. Because of that cowardly decision, I never ended up discovering the limits of Romanian kindness, which had been one of my specific missions. (And I never got another chance to speak with the first girl to ever strike me as ‘angelic’ in appearance.)
While it still takes courage for me to accept kindness from others, I did eventually realize that I wasn’t the only one to gain from obliging. To be able to give freely is a privilege that I envy. But people received the benefit of my presence too, and if only for a few passing moments, I felt that it was real.