At what point could one be considered a misanthropic hermit?

I’m about to give introverts a bad name.

(::guitar riff::)

In my personal research on introversion and personalities in general, I keep coming across articles, lectures, and blog posts that try to correct misconceptions about introverts.

Two things keep popping up:

1. Being introverted is not the same as being shy. Some introverts are very friendly. Some extroverts are shy. Introversion is the need for solitude to recharge; shyness is more akin to social anxiety.

2. Introverts don’t necessarily dislike people. They just are drained by being around them, or prefer to be around smaller numbers for shorter amounts of time.

I agree with both those statements.

My problem?

I’m an introvert … I’m shy … and I don’t really like people. And this has become only more obvious lately.

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…with a number of exceptions.

. . .

On my return journey from my most recent trip, I left my friend Katie’s apartment at 5:30am on Friday, July 26. I have not spoken to another familiar face since then, and it is now Sunday, August 4. Now, I haven’t been locked up in my apartment. I’ve been out running errands and shopping. I’ve said hello to cashiers, hotel staff, construction workers, and church greeters. I have spoken to friends, coworkers, and my new landlord via phone, email, or some form of instant-messaging. But I have not spoken to a non-stranger in person for about 9-10 days. This is odd, even for me.

That will change tomorrow, because I have plans for lunch with 2 friends. And Tuesday, because my dad is coming to town. I’m looking forward to all that, generally. But looking back on the past week-plus of solitude … even though some of it has been terrible, I have to say, my feelings about all this have been mixed.

During the week, it wasn’t that big a deal. I kept myself busy with work, cleaning, working out, running errands, reading, writing, and research. Plus, as I said, electronic communication—possibly the best thing ever to happen to me.

The weekend made things a little tougher. Friday night was awful. Saturday was a little bit of a blur (all I remember was peanut-butter pie and Firefly) but generally okay … I think? Today was an emotional twist. It was honestly shitty to see absolutely no one I knew at church this morning. Plus, the sermon was awful and only contributed to my ongoing church-related issues that I will be discussing here eventually, once I can better articulate them. I came home feeling sad and disappointed for a while. I went to the cemetery to read under my favorite tree, but instead journaled and listened to a religious podcast. Then I read a few chapters of That Hideous Strength. That was helpful, since it involved reading Lewis and, as I said, I am desperately in love with him now. (When he isn’t making me cry or giggle, there’s always some tidbit that, when I read it, feels like he’s reading my mind.) Later, another friend FB-messaged me to share a random tidbit about her weekend, and that helped most of all. It made me think, “Hey! I exist to someone!”

Then I read a few chapters of a church-history book I’ve been digging into, while drinking a gin and tonic, and all that made me feel better, plus more intellectual. Once my mind was occupied with something worthwhile, all the loneliness vanished and my mood skyrocketed.

And that was when I realized that I prefer books and other intellectual pursuits over people. Which made me all but 100% certain that I will die alone. Probably surrounded by books and booze (no cats—I’m allergic). This wasn’t the first time the idea of dying alone had occurred to me this weekend. But it felt more certain than ever.

I will usually go ahead and do things alone if I can’t get someone to join me. I have little patience for nonsense, so I often prefer solitude because it’s just more convenient (plus, I honestly like my own company). I do get lonely, but given how much time I spend alone, loneliness is comparatively rare. I hate having roommates, and I am fiercely territorial in the kitchen, so that doesn’t bode well for my ever living with another human being again. I hate dating, I don’t flirt, and it takes me ages to warm up to most people, so maybe I should just accept the fact that romantic entanglements are simply not in my future. I don’t particularly like or want children, which turns out to be a huge turn-off for most of the good Christian gentlemen out there.

So … yeah. Looks like booze, books, and the BBC will be my primary companions for the rest of my life.

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With the occasional friend to help take silly pictures.

4 thoughts on “At what point could one be considered a misanthropic hermit?

  1. I get what you’re saying. This spring I have been unwell and as a result I have been able to become quite reclusive and I can quite honestly say “no, I’m not up to going out. No, I am to short of breath to talk, or i need to lay down while the rest of you visit and yes I am quite happy to be alone while the rest of you go out.” Alone but not lonely.
    As I’ve improved i have had to work hard to make the effort to socialize even in a limited manner. People have actually missed me! That’s a bit awkward.
    And here I am talking to a fellow introvert more easily online than I ever could in person. It’s a strange life we live. Take care.

    • I would be in the same position—this is going to be a weird week for me, with some actual social activities. I’m tempted to avoid some of it, since being alone has gotten so easy.

      And I’m glad you can talk to a fellow introvert online; I enjoy your comments. :-) I hope your health continues to improve!

  2. “Once my mind was occupied with something worthwhile, all the loneliness vanished and my mood skyrocketed.” I have this happen to me all the time. I don’t generally need other people to be content. If I am alone long enough I will crave connection but it takes me a while (days). Good for you for knowing yourself well enough not to get tangled in society’s picture of perfect, i.e. a family that is deeply integrated into all the social norms and community activities. That scene is not for everyone. Be satisfied in whatever capacity suits you. :)

  3. Pingback: The Feast and Famine of an Introvert’s Social Diet | Em Speaks

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