I walked to the beach alone at dusk, listening to an ominous Radiolab podcast about a necrophiliac serial killer (perhaps not the best choice for a solo hike in the fading light), but I didn’t feel lonely. I don’t get lonely when I’m alone.
In fact, strangely, the only time I feel lonely is when I’m surrounded by people.
Perhaps all introverts are this way.
I spent a lot of time by myself growing up. When I think about the things I used to do for fun when I was 8, they haven’t really changed all that much: reading, making up stories, hanging out at the library, adventuring around in the woods by myself.
Because I live in a very ¡fun! Place (the Bay Area), and I have a lot of ¡fun! friends who go to Burning Man and costume parties and other ¡fun! stuff, I am constantly getting invited to social goings-on. I almost always say no. Often. When I say “no thanks” to a party, I’ll generally get the cajoling, “come on, it’ll be fun” beg from the friend in question. It’s almost as if they think, if they could just get me to go to a party/festival/block party/rock concert just this once, I would realize that I really do in fact like huge group gatherings; I’ve been wrong this whole time; I am a whole different person than I think I am.
Occasionally I acquiesce and go to a party. 97% of the time, I regret it. Parties are not my thing. I usually end up huddled in a corner with the person I came with, desperately avoiding eye contact and taking frequent trips to the bathroom, where I can get brief moments of respite in a stall by myself.
That’s not to say that I’m not social. I go for hikes with my friends; I go to movies with my friends; I make dinner with my friends. Sometimes I do those things with my friends, and sometimes I do them by myself. I like both.
I’m glad I’m not a person who needs constant company to keep me grounded. I’m glad I need lots and lots of alone time. For many years, I dated outgoing, sociable guys who liked parties and Halloween and Bay to Breakers and all those things that make me highly anxious. More and more, now that I am committed to remaining single and solitary, I am a happy shut-in. I’m not planning to try to be different any time soon. The nice thing about being single? I can be exactly who I want to be.
Editor: Lynn Hasselberger
hot on elephant
Boomers vs. Millennials: Will We stay the Course or Change It? Instead of Sabotaging another Relationship, here’s how to Run into your Fear. Join: Elephant’s Fall 2016 Academy. When you’re Stuck, Remember to ask yourself this Question. Welcome to September’s Eclipse Season—Anything is Possible. Thank You to the Men who Didn’t Know what they had—When they had Me. Wait for the One who Falls in Love with Your Naked Soul.