This is a subject I have struggled with for most of my life, so it is a challenge to write about it in terms of gratitude. However, I don’t want this exercise to solely be about enumerating all these fantastic things that anyone would be ridiculous not to want.
Over the years, I have sought out solitude, preferring relationships, friendships, careers and hobbies with a high degree of low maintenance. I have thought of myself as a loner and an introvert, and always questioned my ability to be around anyone else for more than short periods at a time. “I never have enough alone time” became my psychological motto and mantra.
Some of this is still true, but some things have changed for me internally, and I owe the change in part to living alone last year. Initially, I was happy to have my own space and my own schedule. I was also so withdrawn from interaction that I would hyperbolize any communication from the outside world. “I don’t want to talk on the phone right now” would turn into “I hate you and never want to speak with you again” and “I miss hanging out with you” would turn into “you’re a bad friend and never there for me when I need you” … you get the idea.
To remain sane, I forced myself to do a lot of recalibration, some of which is still taking place, about belief and trust. I also forced myself to be more social than I had ever been, and discovered that I actually enjoyed it. Old perceptions of myself were sloughed off, and although I still recharge by staying home instead of going out, I go out twice as much.
Nowadays, I get plenty of alone time all day long; despite working in a building full of people, and commuting on a train full of people, I have remarkably few connections in a usual workday. Information is exchanged, but that’s it. By the time I get home from work, my energy is depleted but I usually don’t want to be alone. My next recalibration will be adjusting to more alone time than I need without backsliding into old anti-social habits.
(This entry is part of one month of gratitude.)