Dear Future ISTJ Self,:
Is this formal or informal—our relationship, that is? I’m not sure so I used a colon and a comma. Niceties dealt with, I hope to Christ you’ve learned to relax. What exactly I mean by that is anyone’s guess, which means it’s not that likely to happen.
The AARP says 70-somethings are more relaxed. I hope you, future-self, are part of that mellow statistic. That your newly minted high blood pressure doesn’t lead you to stroke-out when the barista messes up our latte on some hot Sunday in your 40’s. That we don’t Phineas-Gage the shit out of our frontal lobes via aneurysm (as our doctor warned us of this week if we don’t get on blood pressure meds) and kill our ability to control our future emotional temperance from mid-life till death. Let’s hope it doesn’t get to that point, future-self.
Present-self is an ISTJ; and, I’m guessing you, future-self, will likely be some iteration of a similar human with similar dispositions who still hates the smell of yogurt.
Introverted. Sensing. Thinking. Judging.
That’s you, and me. That’s both of us except hopefully you’re somehow better I guess. Possibly more at peace with uncertainty and maybe less blissfully satiated by the want for closure and “rightness”. Or not any of those thing. I’m not entirely sure.
Just thinking out loud here.
I suppose that we may never be someone who feels comfortable leading with our heart given the loud protest of our head. But, I do think we’ve got the potential to not commit suicide, future self. Maybe also not to cringe when we write about our dulled emotionality on paper for fear that admitting it will lead a programming panel to appear on our back like an antiquated Small Wonder.
The thing is, future-self (and I’m preaching to the already aware choir here), is that your strengths and weaknesses are the same. Which is cool but also blows, ya know? Of course you do. I don’t need to tell you that your intense loyalty to anyone that enters your life for even a second has led to very fulfilling life-long friendships, despite rough times when others would have bailed. I also don’t need to tell you that the very same fierce loyalty led you to overstay the time in your marriage by a few years. So, the loyalty panacea doesn’t exist, because loyalty is also a crutch, sometimes.
And, as you know better than I, because I’m the past tense version of you, your ability to objectively and rationally handle conflict situations has both led you to be able to handle the emotions of others in constructive ways so that your relationships don’t implode; AND, has left more feelings-oriented friends and partners feeling like you care about them as much as you watch television–which you mostly find annoying and don’t do a lot of.
This has made you wish they realized that you do these things because of your love for them and not in spite of it. But, of course, if they “realized” “understood” or “thought” as your ISTJ brain does, then you’d be two robots seizing on a Sunday morning instead of one robot convulsing on the ground with the Lion from the Wizard of Oz nursing his tin back to sanity. Two tin men don’t make a right (future self, you better not use puns or else I’ll murder you with string).
One thing that I’m working on now as an ISTJ –that I think as my future self you deserve to be clued-in on—is how to grow to my appreciation for idealism, the possible—not the probable. You know, the unknown. Actually, you don’t know and that is what ISTJs HATE about the unknown. For a while I thought I was doing ok with tolerating the feeling of being blind-folded in a room full of landmines (i.e., what the future feels like) and then I fell off the free-wheeling intuitive wagon because wagons are dangerous and scary and honestly I don’t feel comfortable in them.
The thing with idealism and future oriented thought is that my brazen ISTJ realism at times feels too massive, too powerful, too bullish to hang in the china shop of idealism with all its tentative frailty. Idealism is lustfully slutty, begging to be pulverized. Jugulars, thin veins, and zero forethought just aching to be eviscerated with a simple, yet elegantly executed, “But did you think of x?” question, piercing the aorta of possibility. Putting it down swiftly and humanely before it can injure, hurt, destruct, and crumble in the palm of its naïve hopeful. What I’m trying to say is that I am a God Damn Guardian God. Bow down to my timelines and household chores schedule or deal with my wrath. That’s really all I’m saying, guys.
The possible is that super niche entrepreneurial poster business that ate up your savings and floundered around like a mostly dead mouse the cat wouldn’t let go of. You are the cat. The mouse is your idealism. I am a very literal person. I just want to make that clear. Ok. Moving on.
It’s that thing we knew would hurt them. That thing we could have saved them from if they would’ve merely listened to our rightness. Because, you see future-self, [enter intellectualization stage-left wearing crotch-less panties and steel-toed boots] it’s not that we as ISTJs don’t value mistakes. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. We’ve always respected people who challenge themselves in ways that are painful but have the possibility of being deeply rewarding. In other words, we value people just like ourselves (the ISTJ said to no one’s surprise at all).
Like taking improv classes, for example. Even though we consistently found the experience terrifying, we sometimes went to class. Or doing stand-up at open mics even though our intuition at reading an audience was so poor that even when they laughed we didn’t enjoy the experience. Clearly those experiences were just bursting with
What I’m trying to say is that the future is scary as fuck because right now what will be our past is not yet known because it’s going on right now; and, it’s unlike any previous experience we (you and I) have ever had. All the old methods are failing. And the nightmares have come back. You know the ones I’m referring to, where we’re naked in a lecture hall taking a Chem 101 test we haven’t prepared for holding a box of Magic Markers. And the nudity isn’t even as big of a deal as the test because not being prepared is something we, as an ISTJ, could have prepared for! So, the test isn’t what bothers us—it’s knowing that we will think back on this moment and regret it. And, we don’t have many regrets in life because we do prepare so well, as you already know. The Magic Markers are completely irrelevant but always there.
And knowing you, and you knowing me, we view living in the past with regret as the worst possible future outcome we could possibly encounter—almost as much as we fear living in the future with uncertainty about what we’ll do that may regretfully become the past the we focus on in the future, [enter maladaptive mental cycle stage-right wearing shame and a collection of hair dolls it’d really prefer you not ask about].
And so our best attempt at ISTJ-ing these unsavoury realities is to live in the present with thought. Not ease. Not fun. Not relaxation. Just thoughts. Thoughts that keep us centered on the line in between the known past and the unknown future. Thoughts that trick the past out of remembering some things and whisper different thoughts into the ears of the future—feeding it knowing lines in the way I imagine Woody Allen does for Soon-Yi.
But dear future ISTJ self, I’ve got some bad news, the line is too thin and we got too fat or something. Basically, it isn’t working like it used to anymore. And Soon-Yi is still retarded and Woody is still a nut–a funny nut, but also gross, you know. So, it’s time for a divorce of a marriage of tendencies that quite frankly everyone knew were inappropriately paired to begin with.
The death of a dominant patriarchal past orientation incestuously influencing it’s naive future perspective—forbidding it from giving interviews for fear it’s naivety might slip out on-stage for all to see. The end of a future-self bombing during an open-mic with the past cringing as it sits helplessly as a bystander dreading the transition when future becomes present, present becomes uncomfortable, and past gets saddled with present’s credit card bill of regretfully sub-par choices.
“Another poorly timed dick joke, and lack of a solid closer?! Jesus. Learn how to close a set, present.” the past reels as she throws back another shot of Whiskey. It tastes gross and warm which is still better than that ill-timed dick joke that present just said on-stage, so the past is still better off.
The present sighs on stage in a dimly lit basement bar full of hip beards and musky 26-year old sarcastic desperation, as she prepares to tell her final joke. Present would call it her “closer”, but most wouldn’t feel completely comfortable dignifying it with that title:
And she begins,
A past, a present, and a future version of yourself walk into a bar. The bartender asks the past what he can get for her. The past responds, “give me the usual”. The future replies, “surprise me”. And the present answers, “Intimacy” to which the bartender laughs and instead gives her a mug of Liquid Plumber and a small bowl of Craisins.
No one laughs, and future takes the stage.