I Want to be Alone

Greta Garbo said the above in 1932’s “Grand Hotel” and it became a way of life for her after she retired from making films at a relatively young age. She lived the rest of her life as anonymously as possible in New York City, shunning the attention of the press and public.

I can empathize with Ms. Garbo.

Lately I’ve wondered if my tendency toward introversion makes me a bad person. I’ve wondered if I’m more than introverted…maybe I’m misanthropic and anti-social, too. But no, I think it’s just a classic case of choosing to be alone over being an actively engaged with others.

Questioning whether or not I’m a “bad” person because I’m an introvert is probably an incorrect line of self interrogation. I’m not a bad person at all. I love puppies and old ladies and babies. In general, I like most people. I’m a good spouse and doggy mommy. I volunteer. I try to remember and acknowledge people’s birthdays. I donate time and money to causes I believe in. I stand up for what I think is right and help those that are less fortunate when I can. I could go on, but….

What I’m really asking myself is: Does being an introvert make me a bad friend? And is this something I can change or am I just fighting my core nature?

I’ll be honest, my ideal night is me, my dog, Thai food, and “The Golden Girls”. Every once in a while, I don’t mind going out and being with other folks, but, generally, if given the choice, I’ll be home with Dorothy, Blanche, Sophia, Rose, Bangkok 900 takeout, and my fur baby every time. Every. Single. Time.

I never take the initiative to plan events or get togethers. When I have plans, I sometimes secretly hope they’ll be cancelled. At parties, I’m the chick in the corner talking to the host’s dog or cat or baby. I prefer things that have a set start and end time so I know precisely how long I have to be “on” for. I’m rarely the friend that reaches out to others. I’m not a “just calling to see how you’re doing” person. I’m not a person that enjoys talking on the phone. I’m just not.

I feel a little guilty about this and I feel like a bad friend. This is not true. When I’m needed or invited or reached out to, I’m present and engaged and I often enjoy myself. I’m just introverted. (And to be fair, my dog, the Golden Girls, and the Thai restaurant near my house are really awesome.)

I’ve tried playing against type, but it feels inauthentic to me. I’m not good at faking it ’til I make it at most things. I’m even worse when it come to interpersonal interaction. I’m trying to make peace with this part of myself, but it seems to present itself more and more the older I get. (Maybe a subconscious fear of being alone late in life?) I see it as something that needs to be fixed. But if I’m not broke, I don’t need to fix me, right?

So, for now, I’ll own my introversion and make peace with it. I’ll accept that it doesn’t make me a bad person or even a bad friend. There is nothing wrong with me because I draw energy from solitude instead of a crowded room. I’ll work on releasing the guilt I feel surrounding it and I’ll keep being present and connected when I’m out in the world.

Now, if anyone needs me, I’ll be over here with my Tom Yum Goong and a moderately gassy Boston terrier.