My fellow introverts, we all need to remember something:
Too much alone time is just as bad as too little. It’s just a different kind of bad.
I, for one, have to watch it sometimes. As an introvert — and as the author of a book called The Introvert Manifesto, for crying out loud, which devotes many of its pages to the introvert’s dire need for some solitude in life — I protect and defend the concept of alone time, vigorously. As I write in the book:
I plan for my alone time. I plot for my alone time. I finagle and juggle for my alone time, the same way extraverts look for activity and social interaction. I all but put alone time on my calendar — because if it’s not a part of my life, well, then I don’t have much of a life.
I stand by these words, and will til the day I die. I really do need my alone time; all introverts do.
But today I’m reminding myself — and all of you reading this — that there was a reason I included the phrase “a part of” in that book passage I quoted, just as there was a reason I included the word “some” when I talked about “some solitude in life” in the third paragraph above:
Introverts need people too.
I know this — actually, it’s more accurate to say that I’m being reminded of this — because I’m really feeling it right now. It’s almost embarrassing to say it, like I’m violating some sort of fictional introvert code or dishonoring the introvert brand or something (which is ridiculous, by the way). But I’m lonely today. And I’ll be even more honest: I’ve been lonely a lot lately during the workday. Because for me, “going to work” means walking to the kitchen table, opening my laptop, and starting to do my research and writing. The kids are all at school. My wife is at school too, teaching kindergartners in an environment that is the polar opposite of mine.
I’m here, all by myself. Alone. No colleagues. No office banter. No interaction. A few days ago when I was really pushing it on a writing project, I went an entire workday without talking to a soul — and thus, without even hearing my own voice, let alone someone else’s.
Not good. Not good at all. It’s no wonder I’m feeling the way I’m feeling. We humans really are social animals, after all.
And so while I often do have to plan for my alone time and plot for my alone time and finagle and juggle for my alone time as an introvert — especially when I haven’t been getting it, or when I really do need to actively pursue it because I’ve actually had a day full of interaction — sometimes, like today, I have to plan and plot for and finagle and juggle for a little people time.
So I’m getting out of here, out of this house, just as soon as I post this. Not because I’m rejecting the concept of alone time, but because I’m accepting the concept of people time — and reaffirming that there can and must be a balanced mixture of both in my life. In every introvert’s life. In everyone’s life.