Discover more from Two-Lane Renaissance
You Need Some Alone Time
Solitude is nothing to fear.
“We are not lonely, because we chose to be alone.
We are not lost, because we chose to disappear.” ― Steven Wilson
My husband, my mother, and my BFF are all social creatures. Frank never meets a stranger, Mother is a suburban socialite, and my BFF is a native flower, known and loved by most who meet her. All three are solid extroverts.
Extrovert (sometimes spelled extravert) means basically "turned outward"—that is, toward things outside oneself. Extroverts are friendly and personable, unreserved, and seek out social interaction. For good reason, they are favored by societies such as ours.
Traditionally, the opposite of an extrovert has been defined as an “introvert.” As a non-extrovert who also doesn’t identify as an introvert, I knew it had to be more complicated than that. Introversion is a personality trait characterized by a focus on internal feelings rather than on external sources of stimulation. I can accept that, but an introvert is often considered quiet, reserved, and thoughtful.
I doubt there are many who know me who would describe me as quiet and/or reserved. (Nothing about my INFJ nature has ever been simple.)
In the four months since my return to freelance/remote work, an underlying theme has appeared in the conversations I have with my extroverted loved ones. At different levels, when the opportunity arises, each of them will encourage me to leave the farm.
We all know me. Previously, when I worked from home for a decade, I became a recluse, a hermit. Selectively social with once-a-month outings. Something that, for an extrovert, is viewed as pure torture. Mother, at nearly 90, has been tuned into the effects of loneliness during quarantine and on seniors. Social isolation and loneliness have been linked to increased risk for heart disease and stroke, Type 2 diabetes, as well as depression and anxiety.
But I like being alone. In spite of studies concerning loneliness and social isolation, I’m quite happy doing my own thing. Frank is out and about six days a week, and I putter around my own little world, dogs by my side.
There’s a difference between alone and lonely, and I recently discovered that the term “introvert” is now an umbrella over four different categories of introspective personalities: social introverts, restrained introverts, anxious introverts, and thinking introverts.
Social introverts prefer small groups and quiet settings over crowds. They tend to enjoy intimate gatherings above big parties. (Me, as I have aged.)
Restrained introverts think before they act, aren't likely to make a decision on a whim, and are generally practical and grounded in their approach to life. (So NOT me.)
Anxious introverts feel awkward or shy around people. They become genuinely unsettled in social gatherings and avoid people and settings that exacerbate their anxiety. They are aware of their comfort zones and don't like their bubbles to be bumped, much less burst. (I understand this on a mild level. However, I have worked with anxious introverts. They are the Introvert Extreme. Not me.)
Thinking introverts spend a generous amount of time in their thoughts and their creative imaginations. They love hypothesizing, creating, and storytelling. It dominates their mental space, de-prioritizing other people as an unintended effect. Thinking introverts recharge themselves by utilizing me-time to self-reflect and explore their ideas internally. (And… There I am.)
I live in my own little world, thank you very much, and I like it here - it is a pretty cool space if you ask me. But very, very few people get to experience it. You need much more than a passport, you need a stargate and/or transporter that dismantles your current mindset and perspective completely and re-assembles it in an entirely different universe.
So basically, I’m an alien. ;-)
I’m sure most introverts, no matter what category, feel alien in Dominant Society. Often called “daydreamers,” thinking introverts live amongst puffy clouds of possibilities, solutions, dreams, and other fictional plot lines, but rarely have the social awareness or the social skills to convert fiction into reality.
I’m dreaming of a renaissance, a rebirth. In the midst of what appears to be a melting, apocalyptic, AI, anti-Semitic, intolerant, unkind world, I grasp for any glimpse of faith in humanity — our species, and our souls. For every bully I endure (When did there become so many?), for every obstinate attitude I encounter, I seek out other dreamers like me, who are making dreams come true through cooperation, dedication, and hard work, fueled by a sense of service and community.
It has been a rough week. The world is watching Israel, the fall crud is creeping around, and I spent five days in the city brooding over my mother’s HOA. (HOAs are almost completely unregulated and unrestrained and feel free to repress, tax, and rebuke their homeowner members without restraint.)
While there, we planned visits to her friends/family. One in long-term care, one home but debilitated from a recent hospital heart attack, one in the hospital with metastasized cancer, one blissfully unaware of the level of her dementia. All this on a visit to celebrate Mother’s 90th birthday.
On my way home from Belpre/Parkersburg, I drove through Grantsville, where I see signs of rebirth. Freshly painted buildings on Main Street, a new public pool under construction. Pickleball at the city park. Clearly, these folks have faith in their dreams and faith in the future.
I cling to their faith to support my own. I celebrate their renaissance to believe in my own.
Thank you for reading Two-Lane Renaissance, online, via email, or via The Trader’s Guide. A renaissance is a revival of or renewed interest in something. I revived my personal writing with this online “blog/journal/newsletter. I’ve taken a renewed interest in creative expression, and I hope I can encourage you to spark a revival of your own, to renew your interest in what makes you a happy human.
Please feel free to send me stories or comments of your own renaissance experiences, signs of shining rebirth in your community, or the results of a renewed interest. We can boost each other’s faith in the future.