Monday, April 27, 2009

This Post Went in a Completely Different Direction Than Where I Planned...

I always thought that eccentricity was something that happened when you got old- but apparently it can strike at any age. Although perhaps "eccentric" isn't really the word I'm looking for. It might be "hermit-like" or even "reclusive." Or even worse "intolerant."

It seems that some people really need to be constantly exposed to people in order to get along with them. The more certain people spend time alone, they become increasingly impatient with the foibles of others. It's as if they've forgotten how to co-exist with humanity.

Freud wrote a book about the creation of "civilizations." I don't remember all of it but it seems to me that it was very profound. It had to do with the realization that man had that to live alone would create selfishness and chaos. (I think it also had to do with the sons murdering the fathers in order to have control over the women - but that's just an amusing detail).

You see people who are alone too much DO become selfish. And reclusive. And intolerant. Anything done in extreme isn't healthy. So when one works alone, lives alone, spends a lot of their spare time alone...well, that person might consider themselves admirably independent but in actual fact, they are nurturing a dangerous trait. A trait that leads to solitude, loneliness and resentfulness.

This is something that I thought a lot about while on my family vacay last week. During all the times I would wander off...alone. When I was on the shuttle going back to the hotel craving some "me time." While I was waiting for a movie to start after I lunched with Britt and Hilly rather than going back to the hotel where my family would eventually appear. (Loved Downtown Disney btw- movie theatres, shopping, restaurants etc etc).

I could easily dismiss this behaviour as the pain that anyone would go through when finding themselves thrust into a group of 11 other people for 7 days. In fact I could spin this so it's perfectly understandable. I mean after a few days, I stopped hating the sound of everyone's voices. I stopped trying so hard to get my brother to go off with the step family.

But that's just a detail. I like being alone. For the most part, I've worked either alone, or with one other person my whole career. My last job? I didn't mind it when my boss was on leave- though it meant more work for me. This job? I can go an entire day without having the need to exchange words with anyone around me. And frequently I don't.

This past weekend? I got back from my trip on Friday at midnight. I didn't call anyone on Saturday or Sunday. And not all the laundry, unpacking and finishing up Flat Jess projects in the world can really justify that. I had calls to return. I had people I could visit. But I chose not to.

My birthday a couple of weeks ago? I didn't plan anything. I had friends call me and offer to take me out/come over/feed me...but instead I chose to stay home - with the exception of an hour out to have a drink with My Dear Anon.

It's becoming increasingly apparent that this "independence" thing is blossoming into something worse than that. I find myself simultaneously losing patience with everyone around me, and feeling unworthy to be in their presence. The longer I go being single, gaining weight, doing nothing but work - the more I feel like I don't deserve better. So I start to retreat into my shell. And the thought of reaching out to people just seems so hard sometimes.

So yeah, I'm thinking I can go two ways with this: either start to make a massive effort into being with people or just stop trying altogether. People have lives. They'd give up on me after a while. Cause I can see where this is heading - and the more I avoid humanity, the harder it's going to be each time I have no choice but to be a part of it...


Sim said...

you have no idea how much your words resonated with me. It's the same way I live my life these days - jolly/friendly when i'm thrust in a room full of people, but when given the opportunity, I'm away from them. I can spend hours by myself, adn the scary part is, I've always been social, and loud. And yet..

I "celebrated" my 30th birthday two weeks ago, by choosing to stay mostly at home, except a quick dinner with the family..

Jess said...

I think there is a middle ground here. I don't think you have to force yourself to be with people all the time or that you have to stop trying. Some people recharge by being alone while other people recharge by being around others. It sounds like you are definitely part of the former category. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. So take the time you need on your own, to recharge, don't force yourself to hang out with people if you don't want to. But at the same time, remember that people DO want to hang out with you, that you ARE fun and smart and interesting, and that you do not need to think you're not good enough because it's just not true. So, you can totally take all the time you want on your own, but that doesn't mean that you need to totally withdraw. People will miss you if you do.

Nat said...

I just spent 36 hours in a van with four strangers and if I had to listen in on another cell phone conversation I was going to shoot someone...

Reclusive sounds good. :)

Jade said...

OMG, are you me? Honestly, I spent a very good portion of my 20s in a self-imposed isolation. I've always been a bit of a loner, and when I moved out and got my first job, I just retreated. The funny thing is, I didn't even know I was doing it to myself.

It wasn't until I turned 30 that I really made an effort to be more out in the real world. And let me tell you, it's a constant struggle to keep from slipping back.

The longer you go, the harder it is to come back from it. There is nothing wrong with enjoying solitude, but if you find yourself slipping back do your best to catch yourself.

Good luck!

Ali said...

Hmm, are you saying that me being a hermit and hanging out with an infant for 12 months straight, might have something to do with the fact that within 3 seconds of being greeted by any slow blinking waitress in a restaurant, I want to slap them out of irritation?
Actually, you might be on to something...

Sheila (Charm School Reject) said...

I am never alone which is why I choose to not go places that leave me surrounded by people.....but that's bad too. It's bad when your best friend almost didn't bother inviting you out for her birthday because you always say no. The few times you do say yes, something happens and you have to bail anyway.


I'm so glad that you had a great time in Florida!

Faiqa said...

Like Sheila, I am NEVER alone. So, I envy you, a little.

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