When I am asked about what I've been up to, and I'm honest in that I spend a lot of my time in a balance between intellectual pursuits and mundane chores, I am treated as if I am crazy or deficient. People who don't require my level of solitude see it as a sign that I'm broken, and they never grasp that I prefer it because it helps me stay healthy and creative.
I recently took a two week vacation from work; I had been working non-stop for over a year and needed some time to not code or work on anything. I drove out to Arches National Park, spent some time in nature, came back, and simply relaxed at home. Read some books, played video games, etc.
According to everyone, I should have gone out to see the latest movies, taken a cruise, traveled to cities, experienced night life, seen family and friends, and filled all my days with "activities". My life is supposed to be exciting, by their standard of what exciting is.
It's pretty insulting, especially because they don't even attempt to see it my way. I perfectly understand why others don't want the kind of solitude that I desire, and I don't deride them of it. To be a genuine person only to be met with implications that I'm not living my life correctly makes me think "Why am I bothering with this shit?" So I socialize even less.
To me, socializing for the sake of it is rarely worth the time. It's good practice for when you want to socialize with people who are worth your time, but the returns are pretty diminishing. I don't need to continually explain to people why I'm not filling every moment of my life with "activities" and why I care about my craft(coding). People who value socializing often talk about being a good listener, but they rarely do this themselves.
If people were more open in their attitudes, I'd be more likely to want to socialize with them.
tldr; try to get to know different 'everyones'
This sounds very, very familiar for me, were it 5 years ago. Then I took up some new hobbies which involved meeting new people. Which I was first reluctant to, not being the most social being out there, but then did it anyway because I really wanted to do new things. Man, did I not regret that for one moment. Turns out there are other types of people than your standard 'everyone' as well. You just need to find them (well, or you don't, up to you, but for me it was really an enrichment in life to meet similar-yet-different-minded people). Like you and me, basically. Not only won't they be quick to judge, but if I tell them 'oh I've been alone for 4 weeks' they just nod and say 'yeah, understandable, did the same last month'.
They don't "need" to find anyone at all. They know who they are, and seem self aware enough to know that they enjoy their own company
But just to clarify: I always thought 'I don't need no-one else'. And while that is still true, I could do fine without the people I know now, my main point on this is: since I know them, and meet them from time to time, my life simply got more interesting. Is that truly needed? Well, no, I wouldn't immediately die without it, but it surely did add a myriad of interesting aspects. More to think about when alone, for one. Something to look forward to which I couldn't imagine I'd ever look forward to when I was younger. Finally the realization of why others seems to crave social interactions, I just never truly understood that earlier. Realising I can go on with being myself, but still from time to time have social interactions which are actually worth it. Etc. Not sure if this is all clear, I mean, I still have a hard time expressing feelings like this :P
But here it goes: main one was volunteering with a local nature/environmental organization. Got into that after buying a scythe to keep the garden under control. Because I like proper tools etc. Turned out there was a local group scything in places, usually nature reserves, where that can make a difference with regards to preserving/enabling rare fauna and flora etc. And it turned out they were, almost to a scary extent, very like-minded on the bigger aspects in life while still having completely different backgrounds than me. Moreover I learned a ton of interesting things about biology, how current agriculture/inducstry/... is detrimental, etc. Which definitely creates bonds.
Second: volunteering in an organization helping the poor/disabled/... Same story as above. You don't do that stuff just for yourself, but because you want to help. Turns out I'm like that, and only really like others like that.
Third: climbing (mainly bouldering, not sure if that matters). To a lesser extent than above, but still.. Also interesting: like 1 out of 2 people I really consider worth my time there (without wanting to sound like an arrogant fck, but that's just how it is for me), happened to be connected to the same and/or similar volunteering organisations as mentioned in point 1 and 2. So the real connection is there probably.
Last: I always liked freaking out on hard, underground music (think goa, acidcore, tekno, mental, some dnb styles, some metal, ...). Even despite being older now I still do that once in a while, but instead of just doing my thing all alone I know tend to talk to people more. Ok there's the occasional uniteresting drug-heads and drunks, but also a striking amount of like-minded ones. Seemingly way more than on the more commercial styles.
Edit: I made that sound very straight forward, it isn't. But toastmasters clubs exist for you to practice interaction. It's very empowering. Go a few times, listen to others, start small, give a 1 minute speech, when you're comfortable, develop some more, talk a bit more. Force yourself to make progress, build that social muscle, gain stamina.
+ Weightlifting at the gym. Met a lot of really nice people who I wouldn't normally talk to. Can be hard to make friends this way if you just go during the lunch rush, but try and go early on the weekends.
+ Martial arts. You tend to become good friends with people when you spar with them weekly.
+ Hiking. In the US, see if you have a local Sierra Club. The ultimate introvert activity.
You may have to find a way to work past some asocial/antisocial behavior. But they certainly won't judge you not wanting to experience 'the nightlife'.
At the same time, team endeavors allow you to achieve goals you can't achieve by yourself, and require teamwork at a level not found in any other sport I can think of. You must trust your teammates completely, or else you'll never achieve your potential. Your closest friends will always be those you can trust your life with.
When I'm out alone for long periods of time, people always ask what I do. I must bring tv shows to watch, or books to read at the very least, and sometimes I do bring a book, but often I'm just enjoying being where I am. The odd part, is that I used to get questioned about being an introvert all the time before climbing. Now, unless people know we well, they'll just assume that I'm an extreme extrovert for performing a dangerous activity.
These days I try to be as honest as possible. Mostly I still get raised eyebrows and weird looks when I say that I spend a lot of my time learning new things and getting better at this or that, but every now and then I find people who don’t recoil or laugh, and they’re usually the ones I most enjoy talking to.
I think people would be more understanding if it was more widely known that a) it’s possible to teach yourself new things, and b) it’s one of the most satisfying things you can do for yourself. Or maybe most people just wouldn’t find it that satisfying, but I find that hard to believe.
I'm a dabbler by nature, and while it feels rewarding to get to that high-novice stage each time, I've got a nagging disappointment in not making it much past that in anything.
Here's are some examples of how I've used my spare time:
- I once was taking math lessons through Khan Academy from the ground up. Yes, this meant going all the way from arithmetic to at least college algebra. I wish I could have gone a lot further, but I had to devote my time back to programming and other topics. I did this because I have always been absolutely terrible at math, and as I got older I didn't feel good about it.
- For a while, and still off and on, I became fascinated with player pianos, music boxes, nickelodeons, and orchestrions. More specifically, I was very interested in understanding how self-playing instruments could function without electronics. I spent many nights reading through patents and Mechanical Music Digest trying to understand the basic inner workings of self-playing instruments, and even got in contact with a retired player piano repairman.
What I learned was that a lot of the basic concepts in electronics existed in pneumatics before electronics took off.
- I have a casual interest in my local botany, edible plants, mushrooms, etc. I'm actually pretty good at plant identification and remember the scientific names better than the colloquial ones. It's a very interesting experience to forage for your own food in the wild.
- One of my interests of the last ~5 months is learning the mechanics of nuclear explosions, radiation, fallout, etc. Of course I have recent events involving North Korea to thank for that. Since I live in a likely target for an ICBM, I wanted to learn just what it can take to survive such an attack. I've learned that most preppers are woefully underprepared.
- There's a nearly unlimited supply of lectures on YouTube about human psychology, theoretical physics, etc. I usually pop one up on my Chromecast while I'm doing work on something else.
But do give bandwidth to the 'everyone' you talk about: In my experience, many people look at communication as a 'contributing' activity: meaning they want to add to it with their own color / knowledge rather than listen to what you are saying and go "that's awesome dude!" and move on. I would assume some like it too instead of looking at it as one-upping because this is pretty wide spread. I just look at it as chatter rather than judgment nowadays, frees me from the insulted feeling. I didn't do that for their approval, so while approval would feel nice, I am totally free to ignore their judgment :)
That's quality socialization right there. After a few years, we could even work our way up to having personal spaces overlap a little.
The people who don't understand this already probably won't ever understand.
You're kind of proving his point by saying this as if solitude is undesirable, when clearly it is desirable to him (which I understand completely).
This response makes me wonder how exactly you are answering the question. I can't image almost anybody giving guff for "honestly i've been working non-stop and just needed to unwind and clear my head".
Worse yet, I'm asked by friends and family why I spend my free time doing work(that I enjoy doing), and why I'm not dating anyone. "Aren't you worried you're going to get old and be all alone?" they ask. No, I'm not, because I've always had people around me. I just don't need them for every waking moment of my existence. "Don't you hang out with anyone?" they ask. I've got my neighbor, who's a good friend I see around once a week, my best friend who I see a few times a year, a female friend I see about twice a month, and regulars I'll see at meetups. The rest of the time I spend alone, and it's great. I don't need a gaggle of friends to be with on weekends. I actually don't want many friends at all. My time is valuable.
Nothing against people who live their lives differently than mine, but the least I could ask for is some basic respect when my life choices harm nobody else. I'm sure many of them are enjoying their lives. That doesn't mean that I would enjoy their lives, and it isn't my problem if some folks don't grasp that.
I wonder whether there's a fixed total amount of excitement most people can tolerate, which we have a choice of distributing as we see fit between different kinds of pursuits. Most people don't have control over their work life and it's often monotonous, leading them seek excitement in personal life.
There are vacations to go see things and vacations to relax. For me, they aren't the same. I can see how for others going somewhere would be just as relaxing, but I'm quite happy to avoid crowds and popular places.
I've found that as I spend far less time with people, I am much more attentive, patient and kind when I do spend time with them, especially when it's with people I choose to be around.
I get time to reflect on things too, because there's enough space in-between to go 'oh, I was starting to get agitated when this happened, that's interesting'.
With strangers, it's a different vibe too, because it's fun to see what they'll do. I don't have a perpetual self-defense shield up, because I'm not emotionally destabilized from over-stimulation - from interactions I'm forced to be in.
So yeah, it's great to be able to choose :)
- I make choices and I learn from mistakes. I'm trying to be better about not having regrets as in repeatedly reflecting emotionally to mistakes and misfortune in my past.
- I try to do things that are important to me when I have the time for them. I'm choosier with what movies I watch, games I play, and the things I do. This beats going to parties sometimes.
- I'm honest about why I can't go to a party. I take my feelings out of it - if I am genuinely tired and need rest, then I say that. If I'm sick or have a headache, then that's what I say. If on the other hand I have nothing better to do, and I'm being lazy - I go to the damn party. 9 times out of 10 I end up having more fun than had I not gone.
>If on the other hand I have nothing better to do
Ah ha! This requires having something planned or desiring to do something at that time. For me rather than phrasing it as "nothing better to do" it comes down to "I don't have any current plans and while I may feel lazy and unmotivated, there's value in socializing with others". And yes, 9 out of 10 times I'm glad I did!
I'm the same. If I want and choose to be social I can be. I can easily be the center attention and a goof ball having silly fun or just a social participant in a social gathering.
As I have gotten older I tend to pass more on being center of attention goof ball (it is fun and it is fun laughing with others) and spending more of my time doing things I currently value as being more important.
Here is the conclusion of the article:
"Thus, if your personality tends toward unsociability, you shouldn’t feel the need to change. Of course, that comes with caveats. But as long as you have regular social contact, you are choosing solitude rather than being forced into it, you have at least a few good friends and your solitude is good for your well-being or productivity, there’s no point agonising over how to fit a square personality into a round hole."
There were articles and discussion yesterday and in the past about the dangers of loneliness which may be salient as social networking creates a paradox of socialization: I'm with all my friends (maybe even humanity), but physically I am alone.
"Men seek retreats for themselves, houses in the country, sea-shores, and mountains; and thou too art wont to desire such things very much. But this is altogether a mark of the most common sort of men, for it is in thy power whenever thou shalt choose to retire into thyself. For nowhere either with more quiet or more freedom from trouble does a man retire than into his own soul, particularly when he has within him such thoughts that by looking into them he is immediately in perfect tranquility; and I affirm that tranquility is nothing else than the good ordering of the mind. Constantly then give to thyself this retreat, and renew thyself; and let thy principles be brief and fundamental, which, as soon as thou shalt recur to them, will be sufficient to cleanse the soul completely, and to send thee back free from all discontent with the things to which thou returnest."
But Marcus was no loner, and neither are the people who are able to use isolation healthily, for the most part. We should neither over- nor under-emphasize "the things to which thou returnest."
> There is a silence within, a silence that descends from without; a silence that stills existence and a silence that engulfs the entire universe. There is a silence of the self and its faculties of will, thought, memory, and emotions. There is a silence in which there is nothing, a silence in which there is something; and finally, there is the silence of no-self and the silence of God. If there was any path on which I could chart my contemplative experiences, it would be this ever-expanding and deepening path of silence.
I'd write this as: "diet options tend to be sugar based and nutrient poor, filled with soy and corn syrup."
This may seem a small thing, but people really do socialize around food to a large extent.
They didn't control for nitrates/processed meats either in some of the studies.
Sprouts or similar type stores have pre-prepped ready-to-cook (sometimes even just microwave!) fresh veggies and the like. Lentils will get you a bunch of protein and fiber and cook in ~30min, without a bunch of excess carbs or sugars. Legumes in general are going to be your friend. If you want meat, do something like get a bunch of frozen tuna steaks or chicken breasts and then toss one in the oven - under an hour total, most of which is just oven pre-heating. Beans take longer to cook, but it's mostly just occasional stirring, so not that big a deal.
The secret to keeping cook time down is to minimize prep and ingredient count but experiment a bit to find good combinations of minimal seasonings and such. Or just accept a blander main course as a trade for not spending hours prepping and all.
I absolutely understand your frustration with this. Especially because it's certainly not obvious that many of these items contain animal products. I hope that one day the US adopts the green/red mark system for distinguishing between vegetarian foods, but for now, it's probably best to assume that all ready-made food in the US contains meat products, unless it's explicitly labeled otherwise.
What? Are you expecting to be able to eat high quality, nutritious, and tasty food without investing either more time or money? I live in NYC and you can absolutely eat healthy food without cooking, it just costs a bit more.
From what I see, in New York City and other major cities, it's a lot easier to find restaurants that are more balanced in portions and/or promote healthier fare. This is not necessarily true everywhere in the United States... and even in NYC, I'm sure there are quite a number of restaurants that fall into that ballooned portion size category. If a group of folks decides that this type of restaurant is what they want, if you are on a diet, what do you do?
In this sense, I actually think the introvert has an advantage here. Heck, so many of the US social activities revolve around often junk-y food and/or alcohol... whether it be a celebratory party, a pancake breakfast, a picnic lunch, a potluck social, gathering to watch a game, etc...
Where this argument fails is probably due to lack of economies of scale. Ie if those substitutions were made with the subsidies and scale of their animal based contemporaries they would be dramatically cheaper.
Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda
This material may be protected by copyright.
"See, it's ok to be alone. That one study from 2011 of pizza chain efficiency suggests there could be potential benefits to being alone."
"See, it's actually a good thing to drink alcohol everyday as long as I do it 'in moderation'."
You simply didn't have an option to develop introversion unless you were extremely lucky.
> The premise of Walden—a man adventuring in a hut he builds for himself near a lake—seems like the ultimate boy ’s fantasy, and the convenient proximity of Thoreau’s cabin to friends and neighbors can remind one, a bit wryly, of a child pitching a tent in his parents’ backyard.
Consider "In rural areas, which reflect the dominant lifestyle of human beings for 10,000 years, it was common to have many hours alone to think while performing labour. Hence it's obviously not a privileged mode of thought."
It is difficult to replace such an intensifier as "fucking" without simply using a common replacement (bloody, for example). The most neutral I could come up with is something akin to "counfoudedly", and naturally one would do away with the word "very". Another simply worded option would be to repeat the word "very" once or twice more. I'm more likely to use the latter in some spheres online or with my mother or in an English speaking workplace, especially in the US. (Norwegians seem a bit freer with expletives, especially the English word "fuck").
If you use expletives all the time, they lose their value, which is the ability to make a very strong point, such as expressing utter disgust.
Also, HN tries to be more than just your average internet message board, and making it just a little less informal may be what helps keep it a generally civil place. Our comments are going out to the whole world here, not just to a small group of our friends who have similar backgrounds and preferences.
In other contexts I just want to fucking vent about some stupid shit that dumb people say. But I'd suggest this site isn't the best place for that, and I wouldn't expect such a tone to help people consider my point of view more carefully.
All I'm saying is, that the things introverts take for granted today, like the ability to opt out of social hierarchy, was not available to most people throughout history.
"Well, it was a lot worse before, so you should be happy!" is a terrible message on multiple levels.
I thought dinosaurs were extinct but that guy proved me wrong.
That wasn't my intent at all, rather to add weight to the thesis of the article. Aloneness is something humans naturally seek out, not something to fear.
We certainly cannot opt out of social hierarchy and being one does not mean I want to be alone every waking moment. It does mean however that I like and need to be alone some of the time (alone, not idle).
I happen to like being idle some of the time too, because I think it makes me more creative in the long run, but I don't actually need it otherwise.
Think back to high school. Sure, you could go off and study by yourself if you want. But the ambient social situations around you can't be banished for long.
I spent a lot of spare periods buried in mid-20th century Canadian and American literature and would often isolate myself in the cafeteria to read since a lot of classes would occupy the library during regular periods.
The school's resident radio DJ-hopeful (and a swell guy) would hop up on the table in a reclined pose, head-on-hand, and ask me why I was sad.
Not sad, just reading. It was surprisingly hard to communicate that to some people. And I was one of the AV/creative guys producing the in-school TV show!
I wanted to just use this article (without reading it) to explain to my wife and kids why I need a few hours of alone time on Saturday.
I am pretty sure other kids have done this as well in at least the recent human history.
On one gifted list years ago, someone anecdotally reported being very extroverted and becoming introverted over the course of a year of severe bullying during middle school.
One of my sons is borderline between introversion and extroversion. He was an attention monger as a toddler, but became more introverted after starting school. He didn't like the weird, problematic attention he was getting at school for being more sociable and intentionally chose to disengage.
I'm highly social in nature, but my values are the opposite of what people think that means. So I never taught my kids they were required to be crowd pleasers. So he felt quite free to choose.
He is very talkative with me and his brother in private and I get reports that he is pretty popular in forums where he participates, which I have seen firsthand in the past. But most mere acquaintances describe him as quiet and shy and are quick to conclude he is ASD, which is probably true, though he has no formal diagnosis. But he turns it on and off at will according to what makes sense to him.
I am quite skeptical that introversion and extroversion are something you are simply born with.
If I don't want to meet with someone, there's often a very distinct draggy feeling as if meeting them is associated with something unpleasant.
I was the lead moderator and I think I ultimately led by example because this was a support group. So I just leaned heavily on "We all have terrible baggage over this and we all have our war stories." and I think I got people talking about that stuff and people eventually opened up.
But I never had to work so very hard at getting people to talk. I am just a magnet for total strangers wanting to overshare like I am their new BFF and I actually have worked at trying to tone it down and discourage such. So it really stood out to me as a stark contrast to my usual experiences. I have moderated lists where people became so chatty that people complained of the excess chatter because just getting people to spill the beans by existing seems to be my peculiarity.*
Instead, I think what this article is getting at is simply setting time aside in your agenda for yourself. That's it. Whether it be to hone some skills, relax, meditate, plan your future, whatever. It's super helpful. I live in a small village and commute every day by train or car. Sometimes I take one hour walks with my dog and talk with myself. I look forward to it sometimes. It's like catching up with a friend after a busy week.
Tiny definitions like these can really make a difference. I wish we were more careful, specially in an era where people only read headlines and feel they gained knowledge.
I think this analogy works for introverts vs extroverts.
Introverts take attrition damage dealing with others - especially extroverts.
Extroverts take attrition damage when alone or on slow paced periods.
My decisions are all my own.
I used to live with roommates, and it was too mentally exhausting. Once I was able to afford my own 1-bedroom apartment, I moved out. And I found serenity.
No more mess to deal with that wasn't my own. No more roommates bailing on me, causing unnecessary drama. You now have better control of your life and destiny.
When I traveled for work, I had to travel alone. I found the best place to sit was at the bar. The sports game on TV provides distraction. And sometimes, you get to strike a conversation with another fellow traveler.
That's the thing I dislike, along with needy people.
Furthermore, what about isolation while learning/homework? NCSU requires introductory CS students to work in groups for lab assignments. Research my lab currently is doing shows collaborative students can have good learning gains, as well as a person who "does all the work". How does this article's points align with these types of findings?
I don't avoid lack of certainty... I've just found that article titles that conform to "Why X may be Y" are what I consider clickbait enough of the time that I only read them occasionally.
I did and do pride myself for being able to be on my own but over time, I have come to see what my family adds to my existence. What I don't realize and appreciate when they are around, I completely feel it when they aren't. The social part of me is like a cat I guess: when others are watching, it just wants to hide under a counter, goes for snuggles once in a while.
As in all things, it is good to keep a moderate involvement. You can't expect them snuggles without giving something in return to family/society/country/whatever.
Time for another one of my dumb theories: The system has enabled us to be alone more and more without actually putting ourselves in the path of physical labor/danger - but I believe it is also fraying at the seams exactly because of the same. It is hard to care for your fellow man / schools / community etc. when you hardly participate and if you only react when personally impacted. Social contracts need social involvement.
To be fair, these things are fun but as you get older the opportunity cost is way too high for them to be worthwhile at the expense of self improvement.
Instead I work for 3 months at a time everyday in almost total solitude on an online business then spend two weeks travelling Asia or on a roadtrip. Those two weeks make up for whatever mediocre activities I missed the last 12 weekends. (The goal is not solitude, it's freedom. Solitude is simply what's required to get there).
In today's always connected world, being alone is a gift. Your time is your most valuable asset and most commitments are not value-adding so filter accordingly.
One important point: Don't use solitude as an excuse to neglect oneself. Time spent alone should be a space to grow not atrophy.
It isn't a thorn in my side; it just would've been nice.
1. How do do social skills influence happiness?
Answer: The potential to influence could be mathematically described as 1 + 1 = 2. Happiness, on the other hand, adds up to a single solitary state of mind: 1 + 0 = 1. Potential relies on variables.
Not everything needs to be "researched". Can we redirect some "research" money of this nature to things like cold fusion and curing cancer?
Do you think money just gets allocated to these projects by some black box of a process?
Do you think there are things that humanity should just flat-out not know?
I've been working in offices again for the past, I don't know, 7-8 years now which initially gave me some whiplash as an introvert finding himself working in a position where extroversion tends to rule the day. Nowadays, however, I have a little electronics workshop in my basement where I can scurry off to and think with clarity all to myself after the day is done. It's rejuvenating and gives me a stronger sense of worth and balance in my overall mental health.
I was thinking exactly this when I saw parent's comment. Has anyone attempted to describe this theory scientifically? Is it equivalent to the "bell curve"?
Headline today: "Study shows X causes cancer!"
Headline tomorrow: "Study shows X can prevent cancer!"
Key point: A loner wouldn't get lonely, they'd be perfectly content to be alone.
Person A, for whatever reason can't sit still and won't feel right unless they spend most of their time with other people.
Person Z, for whatever reason is drained through interacting with others.
Example: I can't read unless it's quiet or a familiar music is playing. People moving about also distracts me.
On the other hand, I know a few people who'll fall asleep reading in a library but not in a noisy area. Jazz, classical and soul music causes itching sensations in these persons.
Heck, the article could talk about Jazz lovers and pass the same message.
> It's more about one's natural base or comfort level.
I mean, no, I don't really agree. Negative feelings about oneself are extremely dependent on your society, I would say more so than your personal preferences (i.e., behaving per your personal preferences when it generates negative social attention is MORE damaging than behaving per social preferences when it generates negative effects due to ignoring personal preferences). Most people can adapt. Personal baselines basically only kick in at far extremes and most people are neither.
What introverts generally hit isn't that, it's that introverts may be very different from the rest of the folk (since they're the non-default) and stand out as a sore thumb, anyway.
> Heck, the article could talk about Jazz lovers and pass the same message.
Again, what? Jazz is not a universal trait (introversion/extroversion affects everyone). Being super into Jazz or super not into Jazz is not really going to modify your life much. How is this similar at all?
... says loner.