The American Psyche: Tipping Toward Solitude?
Bella DePaulo writes in Psychology Today:
I live alone and I am almost never lonely. I am also rarely bored. Then I realized something that seemed startling at first: During those atypical times when I am bored, I am almost always with other people. I’m never bored when I’m alone.
I don’t consider myself an introvert. I love to socialize (with people who do not bore me), I love the visits (time-limited) from friends and family who come to catch up with me and soak up the sun from my deck, and I love to entertain. But I also cherish my solitude.
Jonathan Rauch does consider himself an introvert. In 2003, he wrote an essay for the Atlantic magazine that began like this:
Do you know someone who needs hours alone every day? Who loves quiet conversations about feelings or ideas, and can give a dynamite presentation to a big audience, but seems awkward in groups and maladroit at small talk? Who has to be dragged to parties and then needs the rest of the day to recuperate? Who growls or scowls or grunts or winces when accosted with pleasantries by people who are just trying to be nice?
If so, do you tell this person he is ‘too serious,’ or ask if he is okay? Regard him as aloof, arrogant, rude? Redouble your efforts to draw him out?
If you answered yes to these questions, chances are that you have an introvert on your hands – and that you aren’t caring for him properly.
Rauch, a prolific writer, got more enthusiastic responses to that essay than to anything else he had ever written. Three years later, the Atlantic reported that readers were still clicking their approval: Online, no other piece had drawn more traffic than Rauch’s “Caring for Your Introvert.”
The same year that Rauch’s essay appeared, the witty and wonderful Party of One: The Loners’ Manifesto was also published. Loners, notes author Anneli Rufus, are people who prefer to be alone. They are not sad, lonely, or deranged.
True loners do not withdraw in order to stew in misery or plot violent revenge. Instead, Rufus reminds us, loners “know better than anyone how to entertain themselves…They have a knack for imagination, concentration, inner discipline, and invention.”