At the beginning of 2013, in a job which was not for me, for the first time in my life, I was described as an introvert. Initially, I was very taken aback as I had never considered myself to be an introvert. I thought that either this person does not understand the definition of an introvert or that I have changed so considerably that I am unrecognisable even to myself. I knew that I had changed but I did not believe that one could change from being an extrovert to being an introvert.
I have been proven wrong. I now have the proof that I am an introvert by choice. I consider myself to be a natural extrovert but as my latest Myers Briggs Type Indicator says I have moved from being a strong extrovert to an introvert (just) on the spectrum. I say ‘by choice’ quite deliberately. I make many different choices now than what I would have once done.
But having said that, even as an extrovert I have often been a hermit, withdrawing from society. It’s my natural impulse. I was far more social in my 20s and early 30s but even then I would choose not to socialise and to spend time alone. I do not attend Christmas parties and have not done for more than 12 years – my lack of attendance has nothing to do with the loss of my daughter. I rarely attend work functions and will use any excuse not to attend team building or planning days or leadership courses. These are my choices.
Even as a child I chose solitude over socialising. I lived on a farm and I can remember spending the entire six weeks of one Christmas holidays on the farm. I did not go to town when my mother went to do the shopping and I had no desire to see my friends from school. I would tell my friends that I could not attend a school function because my mother would not let me (even though my more social older sister would be attending). My husband and I went to live on that farm for 12 months once and if it wasn’t for the fact that we had to drive to town to buy food, we would have hardly spoken to anyone during those 12 months. We were content with our hermit-like existence.
I am one of those people who crave solitude but I am rarely lonely. I was a solitary child (amongst four other siblings) but I was not a lonely child. I must admit that I found it very difficult to find time alone when I had three small children and that caused me some angst. I have worked around that desire for solitude.
For me, solitude is a choice as is being introverted. I think that people misunderstand my extrovert choices – I tell people how I fell, I choose not to become involved in inane conversation at work, I choose not to socialise over a cup of coffee or attend social functions at work. These are all deliberate choices. I deliberately write how I feel on my blog. I deliberately discuss my daughter.
Solitude is peaceful, quiet contentment; whereas, loneliness is singular, bare and sad. Many people confuse the two, thinking that solitude is being lonely. They do seem to go together – loneliness and solitude. The words sound like partners, lovers or maybe friends or acquaintances.
I have no fear of solitude or loneliness. I am lonely for my daughter. I feel enormous emptiness and loneliness without her. Loneliness in this case is not a choice and it is a very introverted sense of being alone.
PS. Soledad is Spanish for solitude and is Clea’s middle name.