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INTJs Quitting Things

Tuesday November 14, 2017

Now that I’m a Middle-Aged Guy, I am starting to loop back around to hobbies I had as a kid. With each old interest I re-encounter, I start to think, “why did I quit doing this?”

And like 99% of the time, my answer is, “I totally grumped out of that one.” Man, I grumped out of a lot of stuff.

Do you ever grump out of your interests?

I think it works like this:

  • Get really interested in a thing
  • Find a point of leverage
  • Pursue it very deeply
  • Like a little tunnel-digger, end up with a narrow point of view on the interest (I realize this now but I didn’t before)
  • If future me is lucky, put it down gently and do something else.
  • If future me is unlucky, rage-quit the interest and burn every bridge I built.

This applies to social groups, more traditional hobbies, books I liked, whatever.

The way the point-of-view-narrowing works is:

  • I’m having a good time and really digging deep into the topic
  • Wow, I’m learning amazing stuff!
  • Suddenly I’m in the dark underbelly! Here be dragons: Controversies, unanswered (or unanswerable) questions, people behaving like idiots, clashes with my value system, recognized stereotypes, or whatever.
  • Gradually a hunch builds up within me: There are PROBLEMS with this. Something is WRONG.
  • I question myself: Can I really defend this?
  • I objectify the wrongness rather than subjectify it. It’s not me—nothing’s wrong with my approach—it’s the interest! It’s jacked up! (This could have been a great opportunity for some introspection, some writing, analysis, asking others what they think, etc. But no!)
  • At this point I can’t stand that there are problems with it. Maybe it’s all a waste of time!
  • Boom, I’m done.

If you’re familiar with any, say, Youtube INTJs who had a large audience and who quit posting INTJ videos and in fact deleted their past INTJ videos and made a video essentially explaining why Jungian type is evil, that person’s behavior also influenced the creation of this blog post. I may have lost a little bit of respect for him because I saw in his acts these old behaviors which seem a bit careless to me lately. Grumping out of things may be natural to many of us, but it really, really needs to be scrutinized.

So I’m trying to put things down more gently now, when I need to put them down for a while. It can be really embarrassing to come back to some old hobby and run into the same old people and give that cringing smile and wonder what they are thinking about your departure! And as I rebuild a model of the interest in question, and work with that mental model, I am trying to hold it lightly so that I can maximize its use while not mistaking it for, say, perfection.

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