Another different day, same old routines. Waking up in the middle of the day after staying up all night contemplating about life and The Universe. Not exactly contemplating. Overthinking would be the more correct term to describe it. Just like typical introverts: overthinking things that are not supposed to be overthought.
I am one of those introverts.
Right now I’m in a perfect mood to talk about the correlation between introverts, solitude, and loneliness. But before we talk further about it I need to make a disclaimer:
The first part of this post is about my day-to-day activities and what I’ve experienced as an Introvert. Some people might find it either boring or interesting. If you want to skip the first part of this post, click here to go to the main topic about solitude and loneliness right away.
The ‘interesting/boring’ life of an introvert
I rarely have interactions with people. Even if I have, most of those interactions are happening online. Thanks to the person who invented the internet and all the ‘magic’ that it has brought with it. Because of them, my friends know that I exist. And that’s a good thing…
But I swear that I also do face-to-face interactions daily; with my cats, Ozzy and Zozo.
A bit about my introverted romantic relationship
I do have a girlfriend even though I rarely go outside. She lives sixteen thousand kilometers away from me. I live in Indonesia and she lives in Brazil. I’ve heard that “Oh, you’re dating your phone” jokes gazillion times already.
I never take those jokes personally, though, because I can really feel a deep bond with her. I believe she also feels the same.
Duh, so cheesy.
But whatever. The best part of this relationship is… that we’re both introverts.
A bit about what I do for a living
I spend roughly 90% of my day in my bedroom, on my bed, with books, and cats. Occasionally video games too. “Get out and get a life, dude” doesn’t sound fun to me.
To keep myself alive and well-fed, I work day-in-day-out writing articles on this website. All the work can be done in my bedroom. Such a perfect job for an introvert like me.
I had several out-of-home jobs back then, but I didn’t really get the feeling. Surrounded by too many co-workers drained my energy too fast. Sometimes torturing too.
What’s the point of working if you’re not enjoying it?
– Me, making an excuse to quit a job
Oh, you’re still reading the story of my interesting life as an introvert? That’s awesome. You’re a champ!
A bit about my MBTI Personality Type
I’ve been taking MBTI Personality Test every year in the last three years. I’m always curious to know everything about me. So I take the test annually.
The results have always been the same: INFP.
INFP stands for (I)ntroverted, I(N)tuitive, (F)eeling, and (P)erceiving. Other fascinating words for INFP is: weirder than a weirdo.
INFPs are idealistic kind of people. We stand for what we believe and it would almost be impossible to change our beliefs. But sometimes, we get too idealistic which — I admit — is not a good thing.
As an INFP, or as an introvert in general, I have a terrible struggle to keep in touch with my friends and colleagues. Merely because of my extremely high-need of alone time; I’m pretty good at disappearing.
My not-so-humble opinion on introversion, solitude, and loneliness
Alone time is essential for introverts. It’s like the air they breathe; they’ll suffer if they don’t get enough of it.
Apparently, many people believe that being alone goes hand in hand with loneliness. While in fact, these two terms are completely different.
Being alone — or is often related to solitude — is a pleasure activity for introverts. Some extroverts might as well find it pleasing as they look for a temporary escape from their stressful day-to-day activities.
Solitude is highly addictive for introverts. In fact, they crave for it when they don’t have it enough. On the contrary, being social is the most energy-draining activity to do for introverts. In my own personal experience, I need roughly a month of solitude in exchange for a week full of social activities.
But every introvert is different; they might need less time than I do to ‘charge the battery’.
Despite all that large amount of time I need to be alone, I rarely feel lonely. But, to be honest, I do feel lonely when I’m not in an intimate emotional relationship for quite a long time.
And when the loneliness strike in, often times it’s accompanied by a high level of depression. Yeah, that kind of depression which has unique features such as suicidal thoughts and self-suffocating anxiety.
With that being said, let’s talk in depth about the difference between loneliness and solitude.
The pleasure of solitude
As we live in an extroverted world, being alone is often misinterpreted as a negative thing to do. Our society has always shown us that the extroverted life is the ideal kind of success.
Having a truckload of friends or having parties every other weekend are not gonna be the dream life for introverts.
For them, having three or four friends who can respect and understand their need for solitude is more than enough.
Being alone gives them time to think, which can help them to improve their concentration and cognitive functions. While being alone, they can also reflect on their experiences and process what’s going on in their life.
Getting a little time to themselves also helps in avoiding overstimulation or stress brought on by too much of a stimulus — in this case, social interactions.
Here are the noticeable signs you actually enjoy being alone:
- You feel a sense of mental and physical freedom by being isolated
- Turning off your phone for a while is not a big deal for you
- You befriend and talk a lot with yourself, without feeling weird about it
- You’re completely comfortable doing things alone, such as watching movies or shopping groceries, without being accompanied by others
- You accept and love yourself
However, being alone isn’t always a good thing. There are also some downsides of it.
Research suggests that a complete isolation from any social interactions can result in a negative impact on our health. No matter whether we feel lonely or not.
It’s important to interact with someone every now and then. In my case, I’m grateful to still have three close friends despite my extreme high need of solitude.
The misery of loneliness
Loneliness is the bad effect of solitude. It is an unpleasant feeling of isolation, disconnectedness, or abandonment.
Like I said earlier, being alone isn’t always a good thing. It can end up in loneliness if you fail to understand your feelings. However, you’re still a human being who needs to have a social interaction.
The feeling of loneliness has often been linked to depression, difficulties to fall asleep (insomnia), and an increased risk of stroke and high blood pressure.
Plus, if you stay in your bedroom all-day all-week, there’s a high probability you don’t exercise enough to keep your body in shape. So, the risk of gaining weight or even obesity is also there.
No wonder why I’m so heavy…
How do I notice loneliness?
Loneliness is a complex emotional response which affects people in many different ways. We feel lonely when we know we need a human-interaction but we can’t communicate or connect with other people.
We can also feel lonely if we’re surrounded by people we don’t feel comfortable being around with.
Humans as a species are very social and many of us feel a need for contact on some level. It’s very common for a person to feel lonely at one point or another during their lifetime. Events such as a breakup or the loss of a loved one can lead to temporary feelings of loneliness. These feelings typically fade as time goes by.
On the other hand, when it comes to cases of being chronically lonely, the dreadful feeling is brought on by the person rather than the environment. This means that the feelings of loneliness cannot be easily relieved and will likely be more permanent.
If you feel you’re suffering from the condition I just mentioned above, you should seek the advice of trained professionals as soon as possible to get treatments. Being alone is okay, but to feel excessive loneliness is extremely harmful to your well-being.
Here are the noticeable signs of loneliness:
- You feel teribble for the isolation that comes with an unmet expectation or unreturned feeling
- When no one is around, you silently cry
- There’s a huge sense of emotional abandonment that burdens you
- You struggle to find things to distract you from what you’re feeling
- You blame yourself for what happens in your life or how you feel about it
Although being lonely and being alone are closely related, they are two entirely different things. Sometimes, being alone can be a good thing, especially if you need to unwind.
Some people feel less impact from being alone than others. This group of individuals prefer being by themselves and don’t feel lonely in the least… even after an extended period of solitude. You can call them introverts.
However, feeling lonely is almost never a positive thing. If you feel like you are lonely, take whatever steps you can to reach out and make a connection with someone. In the end, you’ll be glad you did.
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