I have a confession. This is hard for me to say, but I’m just going to say it. I don’t want to be around you.
Please don’t be offended. It’s not you, it’s me.
I just like to be alone.
I know what you’re thinking. Am I depressed? No, I’m not. I’ve never been happier.
I’m just an introvert, you say? Well, maybe a little, but I don’t think so because when I do choose to be around people, I love it. I’m engaged and game to participate in witty banter, and not shy at all.
I’ve had a lifetime of professional and volunteer positions that have required me to be around people, lead people, and engage with people. I love to make people laugh and I love conversing and getting to know people. I’m not afraid of public speaking and have had many instances where I had to talk in front of large groups.
I have a great time when I choose to be around friends and family in small or large quantities. I guess the operative words here are, “when I choose to”.
The problem is I don’t really choose to be around people very often.
I prefer to be by myself. I like my own company.
Looking at me from the outside, you would never know this about me. I smile at most everyone I pass by. I’m usually the first to engage people in conversation. I’m pleasant and friendly and this is not an act.
And lest you think I live like the Grinch or Ebenezer Scrooge, alone in misery, that’s not true either. I have a husband and two kids. Our house is full of noise and laughter and fun and fighting and chaos just like any family. We do family things on the weekends, and my husband of 22 years and I have frequent date nights.
I’m not a hermit. I have a handful of close girlfriends, but we only see each other a few times a year. When we do, I have an amazing time and so do they.
Also, if you were ever in a crisis, trust me, I’d be the first one there to help you. But I guess what I am trying to say is this: On any normal, mundane day, I want to be by myself. I sometimes worry that something is very wrong with me because I feel that way.
You might think I’m self-absorbed, selfish, or am a narcissist, even.
Maybe that’s true.
I hate that you think that, though, because I care about others very deeply.
Maybe I feel too much and if I’m around too many people for too long, my emotions will implode.
Maybe I am putting up walls to protect myself.
Maybe that’s just an excuse or a rationalization to make me feel better about the way I am.
I honestly don’t know. I just know that if I had to choose anyone to be with besides my husband and kids (and to be honest, sometimes instead of them), I would choose to be with myself.
I don’t want or need tons of friends. I don’t need to be with groups of people all the time or even a little bit of the time. I don’t want a full social calendar.
I look at you and all your friends and your social life and your travels and I admire you so very much. I love that you have these bonds with so many friends and family and colleagues. I love hearing about your running groups and your bowling leagues and your “Girls Nights Out.” It makes me happy to see so much love and happiness out in the world being celebrated with a community. I also am pleased when occasionally you invite me to –and I participate in– that world with you.
But as I said before, please don’t be offended if my participation is fleeting and sparse. It doesn’t mean I don’t care about you. It doesn’t make me lonely. It just makes me alone. There’s a difference.