The (Mostly) Lone Ranger

I don’t want to be alone; I want to be left alone. ~Audrey Hepburn


I have very few friends.

Well, a lot of that is how I define the word “friend.” There are 100 or so folks I keep up with on Facebook, everyone from casual acquaintances to former co-workers and family members who live across the country. I define the word “friend” as someone to whom I can tell absolutely anything. And if we’re going by this definition, my number of “friends” suddenly dips to perhaps six or eight. Maybe I should consider myself lucky. Most people go through life with perhaps one or two good friends….if that many.

That being said, given a choice, I will usually opt to be alone. Part of it is my strange Aspie wiring. Part of it is sensory exhaustion following my daily work. And part of it, even weirder in our ultra-outgoing, everyone-is-connected culture, is a natural inclination to be alone. We loners are demonized, catcalled, and smeared (when was the last time some mass-murdering psychopath was labeled, say a “gregarious extravert?”) If you don’t believe me, read Anneli Rufus’ excellent book on the subject, Party of One: The Loners’ Manifesto.

I like my solitary pursuits such as reading, hiking through the woods, and visiting museums. I also enjoy the company of others. Let’s be clear on one thing: I am solitary by nature, but I am not Ted Kaczynski. Or J.D. Salinger. Or Bill Watterson. A lot of people, my own family included, don’t understand this. They see things strictly in all-or-nothing terms. An introvert like me does not live purely in isolation, just as I don’t assume extraverts are constantly drinking and throwing parties. I socialize just as they do. I just don’t do it in such great quantities, and I’m a lot pickier about whom I socialize with. Many of my friends have met a stranger. I assume everyone is a stranger until he or she proves me wrong.

One of the great blessings for me, and, I assume, most of those on the autism spectrum, has been the rise of the Internet era. Cyberspace gives me a safe happy medium to meet like-minded souls. There are people who are very near and dear to me whom I’ve never met in person, but whose voices have made me laugh and cry via Skype. People for whom I’ve written stories and sent care packages thousands of miles. Likewise, in the blogosphere, I’ve gotten to know so many of my fellow readers and writers. I’d have never met any of these wonderful folks if it weren’t for the digital revolution. Had it not been for my autism diagnosis and ongoing work, I doubt I’d have had the courage to talk to them.

Of course I must have some level of social skills. How else would I have acquired, and kept, my friends? How would I hold a job and not be waiting for the producers of Hoarders to discover me? That’s encouraging. It’s also, I think, a sign that I’ve moved out of the most difficult time in my life. (Yes, there was a time when I would have been a candidate for some strange reality show, but I try not to think about that.)

Still, I’m comfortable with being mostly solitary. It’s soothing and comforting. I’m also not afraid to go to restaurants by myself. If the server asks, I can always say I have Harvey with me. I make time for all my friends, visible and otherwise.

Do you consider yourself more of an extravert or an introvert? Have you gone places by yourself?


Coming soon (hopefully), another exciting edition of “Your Burning Questions, Answered!”

~ by Howlin' Mad Heather on May 7, 2013.

4 Responses to “The (Mostly) Lone Ranger”

  1. Introvert. Have you heard Susan Cain talk about introverts, she’s great?

  2. Apparently I’m an ambivert, but I consider myself an introvert who can become an extrovert for special occasions. But by the definition of which saps energy and which energises, definitely introvert. I agree about the internet being a place I feel quite at home, socialising but at a distance. Yet it is a strange thing with blogs how some people open up and share way more than they ever would in person. Most bloggers I read who have mentioned what vert they are are introvert or at best ambivert. I suppose extroverts are too busy socialising in real life…

    I lived in Norway for 6 months by myself, I took a train to Trondheim and stayed in a hotel by myself, I go for walks by myself. But I haven’t been to the cinema alone, I’d prefer to wait and watch at home.

    I’m glad to be British though as we don’t have a problem with introverts here. The Norwegians are even more introverted if you were ever looking to emigrate 🙂

    My husband is more extrovert than me. I am a bit reclusive, when we drive through the village and he recognises random people I feel a bit odd as I lived the area for a couple of years before he moved up and he knows far more people than me.

  3. I would say I am an introvert, but I have been told the opposite by others. I don’t think I have problem making friends, I just don’t allow myself to used as a means to make friends (if that makes any sense).

  4. I think I am kind of in the middle…..what I like is to be one-on-one with someone, or at the most, to have a very small group to do things with, rather than being in large groups. I can talk and talk one-on-one or in small groups, though!

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abandonen toda esperanza aquellos que entren aqui


You - philosophical, thoughtful, witty. Me - still thinks fart jokes are funny. We should DEFINITELY get together!

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