Do you ever find yourself longing to be alone after an hour or so of high social activity? Do you think of yourself as weird or as a loner, not fitting in with the real, normal people, finding petty conversation difficult or a waste of time? I always thought there was something medically wrong with me, that some physical limitation, perhaps in the brain or nerves, was hindering my ability to communicate effectively. Growing up, I was such a loner. During lunch breaks or pep rallies at school, I always found myself escaping to the art room to work on an ‘unfinished’ project, or to the library to do ‘research’ for a paper. Most of the time, I hid out in the bathroom with a book. I was the different, quiet, thoughtful child. But I was perfectly content in being so. Being social scared the hell out of me.
Personality is something in which you can never grow out of. Chaucer describes personality being like fire: constant, unchangeable, irrefutable. Although a thousand faces may close its eyes to it, it will continue to blaze, to burn, to devour. With this being said, my introversion has not lessened by any degree. If at all, it has escalated, deepened. I am just as much of a loner as before. The only difference: I am now being challenged with social forces that I am required to endure such as work, college study groups, church fellowship. I have become more socially capable, but the need to escape to my own thoughts is even greater, more critical to my sanity.
I have done some research on the topic of introversion. And most of the articles I found helped to explain the intricacies and difficulties of the personality. Below I have posted some selected quotes and passages from the articles I found most interesting. We are not as weird as we believe. Just beautifully different.
“Now, it’s true that introversion is not the same thing as silence at all. It’s not that introverts don’t like to talk. What I’m suggesting, though, is that introverts must find ways to insulate themselves from the effects of a crowded, draining world, and one of those ways is to consciously resist the felt pressure to chatter. And what about finding love? I would encourage you to explore the boundaries of what is permitted to two people who simply like each other and want to be together. Why should you have to pretend to be extroverted?” -Cary Tennis, Since You Asked colomn
“The mob thinks we are maladjusted. Of course we are adjusted just fine, not to their frequency. They take it personally.
They take offense. Feel hurt. Get angry. They do not blame owls for coming out at night, yet they blame us for being as we are. Because it involves them, or at least they believe it does, they assemble the troops and call us names. Crazy. Cold. Stuck-up. Standoffish. Aloof. Afraid. Lacking in social skills. Bizarre. Unable to connect. Incapable of love. Freaks. Geeks. Sad. Lonely. Selfish. Secretive. Ungrateful. Unfriendly. Serial killers…
The mob makes definitions and assigns identities based on the sorts of clues loners do not provide. We are elusive, not given to dressing and behaving such that we would be in stadiums raising giant foam-rubber hands proclaiming anything. We frustrate our observers, try their patience, make ourselves amorphous. Make ourselves either unintentionally scary or invisible. With the blithe assurance of a majority the mob nods knowingly when Justin stays home alone on Christmas Day. He is depressed, they say, or else he has something to hide. The clerk who goes home after work to have a bubble bath instead of joining the gang at the bar is declared undeserving of a raise, afraid of men, afraid of women, too smart, too stupid, scary, a pervert.” -Anneli Rufus, Party of One: A Loner’s Manifesto
“We are the ones who know how to entertain ourselves. How to learn without taking a class. How to contemplate and how to create. Loners, by virtue of being loners, of celebrating the state of standing alone, have an innate advantage when it comes to being brave — like pioneers, like mountain men, iconoclasts, rebels and sole survivors. Loners have an advantage when faced with the unknown, the never-done-before and the unprecedented. An advantage when it comes to being mindful like the Buddhists, spontaneous like the Taoists, crucibles of concentrated prayer like the desert saints, esoteric like the Kabbalists. Loners, by virtue of being loners, have at their fingertips the undiscovered, the unique, the rarefied. Innate advantages when it comes to imagination, concentration, inner discipline. A knack for invention, originality, for finding resources in what others would call vacuums. A knack for visions.” -Anneli Rufus, Party of One: A Loner’s Manifesto
“The mob needs to be loved. It lives to be loved. Or hated, with that conjoined fervor with which mobs face their enemies. Both love and hate are all about engagement. About being linked with humanity generally, as a policy. Loners have nothing against love but are more careful about it. Sometimes just one fantastic someone is enough. As a minority, we puzzle over nonloners, their strange values. Why do they require constant affirmation, validation, company, support? Are they babies or what? What bothers them about being alone? What are they so afraid of? Why can’t they be more like us?
Well, they cannot, nor can we be like them. Behavioral geneticists claim that human temperaments and talents — skills, preferences, modes — are inborn, like eye color.” -Anneli Rufus, Party of One: A Loner’s Manifesto
“Leave an extrovert alone for two minutes and he will reach for his cell phone. In contrast, after an hour or two of being socially “on,” we introverts need to turn off and recharge. My own formula is roughly two hours alone for every hour of socializing. This isn’t antisocial. It isn’t a sign of depression. It does not call for medication. For introverts, to be alone with our thoughts is as restorative as sleeping, as nourishing as eating. Our motto: “I’m okay, you’re okay—in small doses.”
― Jonathan Rauch