The Necessary Solitude of the Introvert

I lead a solitary life and I think (though I could be fooling myself) it’s by choice. 😉 I barely even think about that any more. I need solitude. A lot of it.

Being an introvert generally means that too much contact with people depletes my energy. I get very tired. Hiking and hanging around with others at the same time doesn’t have that effect, but even after the most fun times of conversation, food, conviviality and I need solitude.

There’s the misapprehension that introverts are anti-social, socially awkward, or shy. None of those are necessarily true. If you catch them at a time when they are recharging their social batteries, yes, they might appear anti-social, awkward or shy even though they might actually be friendly, gracious and interested in others.

I have a few friends who are extroverts. They “get” me because they are aware people. Most of my friends, however, are introverts. When we get together to do something, we have a lot of fun for a couple of hours then we “retire” to our caves for an undetermined length of time. It’s pretty amusing.

Basically, if you cannot live with (and by) yourself, you can’t live with others, either. Why? Think about it. No matter where you go, there you are.

Here is kind of a good article on what it means to be introverted.

10 thoughts on “The Necessary Solitude of the Introvert

  1. Having a family around me for most of my life I never had a chance to be introverted I suppose, but now as golden oldie times approach I enjoy being for I, me and myself and a book or a computer.

  2. I am an introvert; my supervisor is an extrovert. We have (finally!) come to an understanding of one another and it is great. Especially at 5pm when I have that wonderful solitary drive home. And you are right about being able to live by yourself–if you cannot stand your own company, how are others supposed to be able to?

    • Yep — I’ve had to become more extroverted here because I really like people and I wanted friends. It was hard at first to meet stranger with no “purpose” like teaching them? Very stressful. But now I’m OK. I learned a LOT from my friend’s developmentally disabled son who NEVER meets a stranger. He has a formula for meeting new people that works. He’s disarming even though, in a way, he’s grotesque and scary. First a compliment. Maybe two. Then sharing something, “See my tattoo?” then BAM there’s a conversation. And he’s NEVER reticent about expressing his feelings — usually positive and comprehensible. I watched and watched realized that, as an introvert, I don’t ask questions of people or offer much. I had lunch today with two women I don’t know well — one I barely knew at all — and I was nervous but it was very nice and fun. I needed a nap after, though. 🙂

      • Oh my gosh, Martha. Small talk is exhausting. I don’t ask many questions because I am really private and how can I not ask someone without them asking me? And then I clam up. Geez. Yes, my name is Lois and am really and truly an introvert. But I do love to talk–just no small talk. 😀

      • I know very well. I just do the Mark routine until a certain point where I see how conversation will be. If it’s small talk, I talk about dogs, where people have lived, the weather, try to get them to talk so I can relax (relatively speaking) 😀

  3. Yes, solitude is the air we breathe. I was forced to live in a shared home after I moved countries for a job, and I could just hear the seconds tick away in my head, “wasted… wasted… wasted…” I could NOT get any writing or reading done. It wasn’t necessarily because the people were disruptive, it was because being an introvert, I was easily disrupted by anything remotely capable of movement in my immediate environment. If I ever get married, I must have my own private study that locks from the inside.

    • Ha ha ha! I lived in China for a year 30 years ago. That is a crowded country, and no one is ever alone, in fact the word “solitude” means “selfishness.” BUT the Chinese have a way of allowing solitude in the midst of a crowd. They even have a word for it which, naturally, I can’t remember. Westerners don’t. There’s something about us that radiates intrusiveness.

      When I moved here 3 years ago I spent 5 months pretty much alone except for the dogs. I needed that to decompress from 30+ years of teaching, a move, etc. I couldn’t have managed without that long period of time to recover myself.

  4. Yes, that bit about solitude meaning selfishness is very true (I have Chinese relations though I’ve never been to China). Can’t help you with that word either, but I’d very much like to master it!

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