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