Introverts love to be alone. We love our minds, we love our space, we love our own processes. It is tricky to be an introvert and not become an island. It’s OK to be sufficient unto yourself, but maybe, just maybe, you have some moments of loneliness. That’s the island part. The isolation. The reluctance to figure out how to be with others in a nourishing, nurturing way. Have you let your introvert-hood turn you into an island? And how’s that working for you?
How are you isolating yourself?
This exploration was prompted by a friend’s comment on my post on being a rock. He said he was a rock trying not to be an island. I hadn’t thought about that. We do like to be alone, we do love our own company. I have a feeling it will take some focused effort on my part to welcome a few boats to my shores so I am not an isolated island.
Our natural choice is to be alone
It helped me to find out there is a difference between being an introvert and being shy. They are not always nestled together. It helped me when I was told that I would feel better in a social situation if I had a task to perform. I have seen my shy streak keep me from going to a party. I love being alone but I want to figure out how to support myself to that I am able to be with others when I want and need to.
When do you NEED to be with others?
My response to living in a senior community where no one was even vaguely interested in or informed about my area of interests, was to withdraw, to go find another tribe – online communities with shared interests and mutual support. It has been great. Except sometimes it would be nice to have a casual, philosophical chat with someone face to face. I have solved a lot of that by arranging 1:1 Skype conversations with people I have met online. Every time I have that kind of interaction I come away fulfilled and satisfied with the new connection and friendship I made. I wanted more of that. I figured as an introvert with an occasional shy streak and a very definite opinion about the level of interaction I prefer, I would see if I could come up with a plan.
Look closely at the people in your life
I found a most surprising and satisfying new friend when I signed up for a pedicure for the second time in my life. It came at a time when I was feeling the withdrawal from the senior community and was still establishing the connections online. She filled an important scarcity in m life. She is a healer, she knows reflexology, and essential oils, and crystals – all the wonderful energy techniques I learned so long ago. We’re a ramified breed anyway and not as plentiful in the Mid-West as on both coasts where I used to live. I was elated. She has a customer for life for the social interaction alone. I came away filled and satisfied by our exchange.
Another good friend is the Social Services Director here who happens to be a fundamentalist Christian (her definition) and I’ m a metaphysician (my definition) We are both deeply immersed in our spirituality and share that aspect of ourselves with each other even with our different approaches.
I have found one resident with whom I can have some light philosophical discussions. I get to go into observer/counselor mode with her on occasion. There are people around you for those much-needed, much-desired meaningful conversations. You may have to search for them.
Know what you need from people
You will have a friend who loves to play and you will be with that friend when you are in a playful mood. You will have a friend who can talk philosophy until the wee hours and have meaningful conversations with her on occasion. You will have a few friends who are traveling in the same direction you are and in your exchanges, you will learn from them as well as teach them. You may need to gather your own tribe. You do that by putting out your own work as a beacon to those who want to walk with your along the path for awhile. What do you need from others? If you are not to become a lonely island, you have to know what you need and you have to go find the people who can offer than to you.
You may have to practice being with people
The joke is that since introverts like to be alone, we have a hard time finding each other. There are just as many extroverts as introverts in the world, it’s just that the extroverts are much more noticeable. We have to go looking for the nourishment and variety we need in our lives by actively reaching out to others. We must learn to balance our interaction with others so that we stay emotionally healthy.
What to do if you are lonely
It took me awhile to figure out that I was lonely, even in the midst of a population who gathered together on occasion. We did not share the same interests. They were not interested in what I was sharing and it worked the other way too. And that’s why I was lonely – in the midst of a crowd. We need validation from people who are exploring along the same paths we are. We need stimulating interaction for encouragement and inspiration.
When we know what we need and want it often shows up. I had a great conversation about vegan ism with some people who came to teach a cooking clad. I had a lovely conversation with a former minister who is also on our Board of Directors about how tricky it is for smart people in a senior community to find other smart people to interact with. Perhaps, I simply need to notice the conversations that I do have and see that once I open myself up to the desire for them, they do indeed show up.
I don’t mind being a rock, but I don’t really want to be an island. I’m going to keep my eyes open for interesting people in unexpected places. Then I’m going to hang out with then for a bit. How will you keep from being an island?
To Sing a Deeper Song Consider:
If You Are A Rock – Who Supports You?
09–How to Find the Love You Need (Podcast – 20 minutes)
02– The Hole In Our Life Called Loneliness (Podcast – 20 minutes)
We Must Know When To Go It Alone.
Are You a Gift Person
07- How to Find and Express Your Distinctive Voice (Podcast – 20 minutes)
Do You Know How Much You Have Going For You?x
Make Your Own Yellow Brick Road
What is Your Personal Promise?
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