This post took me a long time to write but it is something I’ve been wanting to talk about for a long time. Is meant to be serious and a little bit humorous. Most of these tips are not particularly ‘original’ as introverts now have a lot of resources on the web where many of these things and more are discussed/mused upon in much greater detail. But I am in a creative mood tonight, and I think some of these tips will take on new life and meaning when elaborated upon from the stoic, introverted Captain Harlock’s perspective. I am also aware that some these tips will not apply/render help to all introverts, as not all of us are the same in our wants, needs, and tolerance of chatty people. These are things that have helped me, and using Harlock as my avatar, I hope they may help you as well (or at the very least entertain you for a bit). Please also know that I am addressing introverts on the more extreme side of the spectrum as well as Highly Sensitive People, loners who enjoy/want to be loners and possibly even people with low to mild SPD (Schizoid Personality Disorder). Enjoy.
Space Pirate Captain Harlock’s Survival Tips for Introverts and Loners
(written at the request of WolfOfLonliness for her fellow introverted kinsmen; I wish you all well – may your long struggles to maintain your freedom and integrity in a difficult and often hostile world be met with some victory, and those worthy comrades of yours whom you truly treasure and trust profit from your wisdom, courage, aid, friendship and love.)
”He who is unable to live in society, or who has no need because he is sufficient for himself, must be either a beast or a god.”
Tip One: Create (or Maintain) Your Own Privet Personal Space
This is the most important and vital thing any introvert/loner needs to do if he is to survive on Earth – or indeed on any world that might become available to him in the far future. As long as he has some place to retreat/escape to (a ‘bug-out’ spot, if you will), he will be able to endure much of the unpleasant things that weigh-down, drain and complicate his life – examples: having to attend social engagements (mainly noisy, over-populated parties/reunions) that he has no desire to be at, having to endure an endless stream of self-validating chit-chat from certain extroverted individuals that do not know how or when to shut up, having to endure (worst of all to some) the disproving looks of parents/friends/significant others when he leaves them to their drama to seek out his own safe, solitary haven – these are only a few stars in the great sea of the extroverted-oriented society he must learn to navigate. But as long as that precious personal space exists, and he knows that it is waiting for him when the day’s long work is done, he will be able to endure much. I am rather grieved by the fact that in this regard (compared to the rest of you) I am the most fortunate of men. I am not bound to the Earth, nor to any human society that exists upon it. As Captain of the space-battleship Arcadia, I am blessed with a freedom the rest of you can hope to imagine or day-dream about. The Sea of Stars – that endless, dark, cold and silent Sea – is my ultimate place of escape. I am the most wrenched of loners; my nature is such that there is no place on Earth or anywhere in the universe where I can lay my head. The Arcadia is my only true home, and outer space my only true abode. In the sterncastle of my ship is my privet cabin – my haven within my haven, fashioned lovingly for me by my best friend like those of of the grand 19th-century sailing ships of yore. Here I sleep and brood and drink and watch the stars and planets go sailing by. Here I rest and recharge. Here I make important decisions and engage in meaningful conversations. Such a place is more essential to an introvert then anything else, except maybe food. If such a place is denied to him, he will go mad. For most of you, such a place is your bedroom, your most personal living space whose value to most introverts cannot be overstated. Or maybe you do not even have that – maybe you have to share your room with someone: a sibling, wife or roommate. If you cannot rely on your room to be your crash-haven, then go out and find one. Flee to the basement, the bathroom, flee outdoors to the garage or the alley behind your house. Flee to the car, if you must. Do not deny yourself your alone time. You are not being selfish; you are trying to survive. You must relax. It is not a crime. Otherwise you might become a living hell both to yourself and to your loved ones. If others are hurt by your flighty, non-sociable behavior, just remember that it is better for them to be offended for a little while then for them to suffer in the long run because you have denied yourself the time and space required to recharge your energies and disengage from whatever is causing you anxiety and stress thus making you a cold, short-tempered, unapproachable grouch (to put it in mild terms) to those you are in a relationship with.
If your family or comrades do not understand this vital life-need of yours, try to explain it them as graciously as you can. If you are an ass about it or tell them that they are problem, they will get upset/defensive about your accusations (even if they are correct) then you will have the worst form of energy-draining to deal with: the emotional. Tears, fights, yelling, anger, rants, accusations, emoting, etc…often the very things you wish to avoid at all costs. Be firm and clear in your requests for time/space alone, do not beg like a dog. If you can get them to understand, then you are very fortunate. If not, at least get them to understand that this is something that you need, (as apposed to something you want). If this does not work, if your own home is/becomes a hostile, unsafe place for you, go find the city park, the spacious underpass beneath a big bridge, the library, the recreation trails, the beaches, anything in you current living situation that you know of that can provide the level of solitude/silence/peace you need in order to recharge/function. This leads right to the next tip, one that is even more complicated and difficult…
Tip Two: Create (or Maintain) Your Personal Boundaries
Almost everyone, whether they are introverted, extroverted or ambiverted have been taught about the importance of setting boundaries. Whole books have been written about the subject. But setting boundaries can be a daunting and risky task. Especially for (extreme) introverts. Like the king who builds walls about his castle to protect his family or his wealth, the introvert must construct and maintain impressive, well-defined boundaries (to those on the outside) in order to keep his self safe and secure from those things or persons that (for all their ‘good’ intentions) do not truly understand him or have his best interests at heart. There are many people out there who seem to enjoy getting in other people’s personal space and violating their boundaries. You all know the type: the extremely extroverted, touchy-feely, in-your-face vampiric energy-suckers that will make your life utterly unbearable if you let them. And because people nowadays are so easy to offend, the boundaries an introvert erects may cause others, even good friends and family-members, to get angry or frustrated when they realize that your life doesn’t revolve around them all the time (especially if you have made the mistake of setting up your boundaries late in your relationships). Boundaries can actually make people quite mad or upset, either because they don’t understand the concept or because they are emotionally invested in you (whether you want them to be or not) and now think you hate them. People can be hurt, frightened, angered or confused by boundaries. You yourself can be hurt, angered or saddened by the fact that you have to put them up in the first place. But you must establish boundaries if you are to survive as an individual. An introvert without boundaries is like a crippled bird unable to fly – in short, he is prey to be toyed with and eaten by any cruel predator who sees that he can’t or won’t defend himself. Lines must be drawn; the foot must be put down; the introvert must learn to assert himself (especially if he is in a position of power), even if he grieves others by doing so (and he will – I certainly have).
The best way for an introvert to establish boundaries is to be clear and precise about what his wants, needs and priorities are. The more clear and steadfast he is in stating what he will nor will or will not accept, what kind of people he will or will not associate with, what gives him pleasure and what does not give him pleasure, what angers him and what makes him glad, the less risk he runs in being misunderstood or invaded by those he is in relationship with. Clarity and steadfastness are very important, yet they are not foolproof. The king of the castle, regardless of how well he has built up his walls, regardless of how visible the flag of his personality and interests is flying, must always be prepared for the ever-present possibility of having those walls breached by an enemy, of having the castle of his heart invaded, stormed, flooded and yes, even plundered. Damage-control plans/survival mechanisms must be already in place to deal with such a scenario. Depending on who is assaulting you and what matter of person it is (is it a loved one or a stranger?) and why they are doing it (do they know they are being invasive or is this a deliberate attack?) an introvert must contend with multiple possible threats from a myriad of different directions – all of which only serve to drain and exhaust him further (hence the need for a ‘bug-out’ place, as defined in Tip One). Boundaries are not easy. Yet they must be established and maintained as soon as possible.
The more self-knowledge one has, the quicker one can get to work constructing them. As for myself, because I am an outlaw and a wanted man, I live in a constant state of having to defend myself from both bodily and mental harm by those who seek to kill me. My ship is almost perpetually under attack and I often must resort to physical violence to protect myself and my friends. I am always armed. My weapons are a part of my boundaries. They show others that I am a man not to be trifled with. Doubtless, most introverts see no need to go about armed unless they have a job where it is required; yet it is something that must be taken into consideration. The world is a dangerous place. Safety and peace should be considered the exception, not the norm. Treasure these times. You never know what is going to happen tomorrow. Yet, even if you are ever in a situation where you are physically helpless before your enemies, your boundaries can still offer you protection. Your mind and your heart and still yours to command. Self awareness and knowledge is everything. Once I was in a situation where I was unarmed and at the mercy of my foes. They wanted me to do things for them I had no intention of doing. I told them no, plainly. I showed no fear. I did not allow them to touch me. They could have killed me easily, yet I still would have been the victor. I remained true to myself. Boundaries can be used to keep others away from you, yet then can also be used to keep you away from them. Yes, you will seem cold and stoic and reserved, and many will not understand your behavior. But this is also you trying to survive in a hostile, overstimulating world. Yet all castles must have drawbridges. If an outsider is found worthy of your trust, friendship or love, invite him into your castle of visions and dreams; share your wonders with him; allow him to do the same. Enrich and build upon each other (more on this later). But no matter how much of a wonderful a time you are having, you must always be on the alert…
Tip Three: Always Be Aware of Your Surroundings
Here is a very sad yet true fact of life that all introverts/loners/highly-sensitive people must resign themselves to: this world – especially today’s world – is a very Loud and Noisy Place filled with Loud and Noisy People. Why it has to be so is still something I have not quite figured out. If Godzilla were to rise from the sea and assault New York City then all the yelling, screaming, running, shooting, helicopters, the army, mass panic, mass-stampeding, looting, crazy driving, traffic jams, and the perpetual emoting/stressing-out of family members would all be entirely justified or at least understandable. But because this is not yet happening, I am at a loss as to why mass society acts like it is. Cities are the worst. No, any place where large amounts of people (the bulk of which are extraverts) have gathered are the worst (except country-fairs; country-fairs can be fun). There are TVs and loudspeakers designed to catch attention, forever running endless ads on what you should be buying next and constantly showing news bits that are almost entirely about negative things. Distractions, overstimulates and bodily hazards come in all shapes and forms: Obama’s ugly face, texting drivers, speeding drives, drunken drivers, angry drivers, little undisciplined children whose parents are not paying attention to them, panicked pedestrians who are late for work, fierce barking dogs, TVs, lights, loudspeakers, cellphones, grating, vulgar music that is an insult to real music, gangsters, feral niggers who like to play the knock-out game, disease-ridden illegal foreigners, sirens, fires, gunshots, most bars, obnoxious drunks, crying babies, stalkers, homicidal-manics, your kids, your girlfriend’s kids, your girlfriend, your ex-girlfriend, your next door neighbor’s yapping poodle, the across-the-street neighbor who can’t get his car started at five in the morning, trains, domestic disputes, domestic disputes that turn violent, the party that is still going strong at three in the morning in the apartment above you, your wife, your ex-wife, the would-be robbers/aliens trying to break into/invade your house/spaceship, etc, to name just a few…
All of the above serve to illustrate the fundamental truth behind this tip: you have little or no control over your environment or what is going on around you; therefore, what say or control you DO HAVE must be zealously maintained and defended at nearly all costs. Because most introverts live almost entirely inside their heads (hence the accusations of being ‘spaced-out’, ‘dumb and silent’, ‘aloof’, ‘withdrawn’, ‘cold’, ‘distant’, etc…), we must train ourselves to be more focused on the outside world (as unpleasant as it may be) and what is happening around us. Any form of social contact/engagement must be cautiously appraised before entering, as you must be careful of your energy-levels and your ability to draw any meaningful, edifying encounters from the event. Parties are the ultimate trail-by-fire for most introverts. Just as much time needs to be spent planning on how to escape/withdraw from them as is needed to mentally prepare oneself to go to them in the first place. If you decide to do the party thing, you must take full responsibility for your decision since you are voluntarily engaging in a social activity (as opposed to an obligatory one, such as your job), and as such you are the author of your own success or downfall. The happy, chatty extraverts you are willfully mixing with must not be blamed. If you are there of your own free will, you must conduct yourself accordingly. Seek out, note, and remember the exits (if there are any; if there are no exits, you are going to be in serious trouble). Have friends to meet and/or back you up. Do not drink too much. Actually, try to avoid drinking at all. Drinking may help you appear more extroverted and mentally loosen you up, but you are then at the mercy of your environment and the people around you, and if anything unpleasant happens, you could be in deep shit (I have my own drinking methods that I will shortly share in another tip). Remember to always scope-out and asses any kind of social gathering before entering. Note the people, the music, what is going on and what is being eaten/drunk. Why are these people gathered and what is their objective? What do you have to do with it? How important is it? How crowded is it? Can you escape if you need to? Where can you escape to? Is it whole damn thing ultimately worth it? Ask all these questions and more. Large groups of people who are partying and drinking should never be underestimated. Remember this always and plan accordingly. Speaking of planning…
Tip Four: Try to Become as Self-Sufficient as Possible
This tip is a touch-and-go one, owing to the fact that self-sufficiency depends greatly on one’s environment and financial resources. Because I live in a near-indestructible space-battleship in complete independence of any one and thing, self-sufficiency is not a problem for me. For the rest of you Earth-bound unfortunates, learning to be self-sufficient can be both time-consuming and expensive. If you are wealthy enough to afford an underground bunker (ah, what a nice escape haven that would be!), lots of wilderness-survival classes/seminars, a safe full of nice guns, land, livestock, stockpiled food and your choice of any habitat to flee to when the shit hits the fan (and it will one day, believe me), you are one of the lucky few. Chances are good that you cannot afford all this, and will have to make do with what is available. People who live in rural places or in the country are naturally more self-sufficient out of necessity then urban and city folks, but this is no excuse for a city-dwelling introvert not to acquire a bit of useful knowledge about how to stay alive when civilization collapses, buy a few weapons, learn how to use them, stockpile a little food and water, learn how to ride devices/animals that don’t require gasoline and greatly expand his book and alcohol collection. I have a feeling that there are a fair number of introverts and loners who probably wouldn’t mind very much if current human civilization did collapse, and that there are some who are even looking forward to it. Because self-sufficiency and survival are in the cross-hairs goal-wise for many people, there are a billion websites and forums online where one can get all the info and advice he needs about what to do when it all goes to hell. Thus this tip will be short. I need say no more. Go forth and learn. There is always something more to find out and discover; and while we’re on the subject of discovery…
Tip Five: Find the Perfect Solo Hobby
If the survivalist/self-sufficiency thing is not the glass of wine for you, or if you have become too jaded and cynical (or just plain tired) to care much whether you live or die after the collapse of society (I’ve been there), there are still plenty of wonderful things for an introvert to do while civilization is still on its feet. Being introverted means that most of us are the masters of our own happiness; we do not need to rely on others or on what the latest social fad is to dictate what we are going to do and what we are to enjoy. Time is a precious resource that we cannot afford to waste and we must fill it with worthy and meaningful occupations. Our own solitary pursuits keep us sane and add meaning and depth to our lives, even if they appear to others to be boring and/or pointless. Here is where we are actually at an advantage. There are tons of things we can devote our time to, some of them lofty and expensive, others humble and simple. Flying about and waging war are the main occupations of my family. My own great ancestor, Phantom F. Harlock the First, spent almost his entire life flying his trusty little biplane solo all over the world as an aerial explorer. His son, Phantom F. Harlock II, was also a pilot and when WWII rolled over Europe he kept himself busy blowing the hell out of Allied aircraft in his Messerschmitt fighter plane. If solo-flying is not something you enjoy or can attain to, there is horseback riding (WolfOfLonliness’s favorite hobby), fishing, motorcycle riding, hiking, rock-climbing, off-the-road cycling, hunting, wildlife/bird-watching, star-gazing, growing a garden, training/walking a dog, collecting rocks and seashells, people-watching or just taking a long, leisurely walk through your neighborhood at night or dawn. Nature is an introvert’s best friend because he can get away from other people and their noise-driven society and recharge in a beautiful, enriching environment. I envy all your choice-options; I myself can only rarely enjoy such pleasures as these, owing to the fact Earth is not my home anymore and human society has become (as it is also true for you, to one degree or another) a place where I am either forever out of place or downright unwelcome.
If you are an introvert that is not quite so inclined toward exercise and nature-based excursions, have no fear: your house, your apartment and above all, your bedroom, can be just as wonderful as the great outdoors (something you are probably delightfully aware of already). Within the privet safety of four simple walls the introvert can accomplish much. A true introvert is never bored in his bedroom: it is a place where wonders happen. In the bedroom one can nap – sleep, unconsciousness, is a beautiful thing: it is like being dead to the overstimulating world without actually having to be dead. Here you can write and paint and draw and blog and troll and design things. If you have a computer, or multiple computers, you can engage in all sorts of interesting socializing methods without actually having to be with anyone. There is the couch, popcorn, and a billion movies and shows streaming on Netflix. Then there is music – blessed, sweet music that is the second-best relaxation drug man has ever come up with. The perfect piece of music can put most introverts into rapture. One can learn how to play a musical instrument – the piano, the violin, the harp, the flute, etc (I enjoy playing the ocarina). If you don’t have the time or skill to play an instrument then you can spend hours just listening to music with your stereo or iPod. Music and songs have never been so available to man in such diverse quantities in history; we introverts are very lucky. Take an MP3 player with you to social functions you don’t really want to be at as well as a really big pair of head-phones. Once you feel too overstimulated, find a room with few or no people in it, plop yourself down on a comfy sitting-surface, put those babies on and totally disengage. Anyone with half a brain looking at you should realize that you do not wish to be disturbed. And do not forget to bring The Book…
Tip Five: Always have Your most Favorite Book with You at All Times
If there is one thing almost all introverts everywhere love to do it is reading. Book are just plain awesome. Books are the main reason we do not go on homicidal rampages when pushed past our limit. Books allow us to explore strange new worlds, travel back in time, envision the future, and circle the globe all without leaving the house, talking to anyone, or changing out of our pajamas. Books are likely to make up the bulk of an introvert’s material possessions, and are the things he is most likely to draw his main source of solace from when the world becomes too much to much for him to handle. Books are an introvert’s true world. If the bulk of us could get away with spending the rest of our lives just reading, a good number of us would probably do so. But there are books and then there are books…then there is The Book, the Book of books, the Book above all other books…the Book that, no matter how many times it is read, will forever and always be a inexhaustible source of delight, wonder and awe to the one who holds it as his chosen favorite. The Book is ‘The Book’ because it allows the introvert to completely bypass all the things discussed in Tip Three. Yes, this book, when opened, has such a hold over the individual that he completely immerses himself in it and everything around him ceases to exist. Which is the whole point. The Book is your ‘bug-out’ book. If an introvert is away from (on a vacation, let’s say) his bug-out place(s) or if he is trapped/confined in a crowded, noisy place (train, bus, airport, airplane, DMV waiting-room, party, car full of talking/squabbling friends/family members, etc) and he cannot get away from or do anything about his overstimulating/unhealthy environment, then, as a last resort, before he looses his mind, he whips out The Book and completely disengages from everything that is going on around him. The Book becomes, for a time, his only reality. All else ceases to be of importance. Anything could be happening and it will not affect him. Not that The Book should be used only during unpleasant situations, no: The Book is to be read and enjoyed at any time or place regardless of the outside circumstances. Take it with you everywhere. Have multiple copies at your disposal. Never allow it to be far from you. And yes, people will give you grief about it…
People (most likely family-members) will give you grief about your spontaneous, lengthy reading habits usually in the four following ways or for the four following reasons : One: Your loved ones have not seen you in three days and your room is starting to smell. Two: You have not moved from that chair for three hours and your mother’s/wife’s request that you should take out the garbage has been met with no vocal response, or if it has, it has not been followed up upon. Three: Even though you have deliberately gone off by yourself in a school/collage setting to read in privet, some jocks/bullies/bored people have found you and have taken it upon themselves to mock you, tease you, spread rumors about you, beat you up, or, worst of all, to try to steal or damage your book(s). Four: You have – intentionally or not – chosen the wrong time to whip out The Book, breaching some unwritten social rule and now everyone thinks you are a jackass or that you are just plain inconsiderate and rude. Whether this (number Four) is actually true or not is beside the point. This point is that you were just quietly reading and because of that other people are worried or offended. Explanations are in order. Tell them the truth. Again, be clear and gracious in your defense; explain the value of reading in your life and what it does for you. Tell them you are not going to change. Keep calm and read on. Regardless of what you do, someone will be on your case from time to time about your vast amount of literary consumption. I myself was once mocked about it by my enemies after my defeat in a war against a very ruthless alien race. I was informed by one of the aliens that if I had spent the same amount of time devising a means to attain victory as I did reading my favorite book, Arcadia of My Youth (which chronicles my great ancestors’ legendary aerial exploits), I would not have been defeated in battle. ”You cannot defeat us with books,” they told me. I kept my silence. What do aliens know about the inner workings of man, especially a man such as myself? All introverts are like great seas that on the surface appear to be empty and dull but contain within them innumerable, uncountable things that only a carefully chosen and select few will ever be allowed to plunge within and see. Mockery and scorn will get the Loud People nowhere. Too bad it takes them forever to realize this.
The Book (and all his other books) allow the introvert to escape for a while from the pressures and demands of a Busy and Noisy society or the cock-tail party. By reading books he can safety allow himself to be in different relationships (connecting with the characters) and living a different life (involving himself in the plot), something he most likely finds hard to do in ‘real’ life, where real people with the real power to either hurt or grieve him abide, and where he runs the content risk of being misunderstood or rejected by anyone anywhere. This is why most introverts are so cautious and careful about who they invest their emotional time on, who they allow themselves to be intimate with; and who shall be their friends. There is very little room for (much less the energy to deal with) failure; the process by which an introvert selects and maintains his small social group of comrades is often a slow and fine-combed one that can take years to perfect and refine. But once the friendships are established, they will last a life-time. But one must always be so careful…
Tip Six: Only Let the Right Ones In
Whether one likes it or not, whether one understands it or not, life as humans have always known it revolves around relationships. There is the relationship between husband and wife that, taken to its fullest extent, produces children that will carry on and further one’s bloodline and one’s race. There is the relationship of comrades (or coworkers) sticking it together through thick and thin so certain vital things necessary to society get done so that the collective group will suffer as little as possible. There is the unnecessary yet profound relationship of friends that exits only for the mutual sake of the other, with no strings or obligations attached. There is the great and terrible God-like love-relationship where one is ready to kill, ready to die, for the sake of the chosen beloved. And it only gets bigger and more complicated. There are the relationships of different races and groups of people, either in unity or discord with each other; the relationships of nations and the social, political and economical ramifications that accompany them. The whole world turns on human relationships: for good or ill that is the chosen method of God in regards to how creation is managed and driven. We introverts and loners may seem to have little purpose in the great, interconnected, globalized and extroverted world that makes up current modern society. Just being born into such a society puts us in a defensive state of being; damage-control is something we are always having to preform day by day as we struggle to comply with the demands/expectations of society and the people we are in relationship with, both voluntary and involuntary. This is why most introverts are very picky and sensitive about who they allow to become close to them. We might be seen as snobs by outsiders, but this is also another attempt to survive: to be sociable and form attachments in a world that where such things must take place without overdoing it and draining ourselves (and thus rendering ourselves useless to everyone). Hell might not be ‘other people’ as some tend to think introverts must see it, but Hell can easily be the wrong people at the wrong time and in the wrong amounts. When an introvert, especially an introvert on the extreme side of the spectrum, is placed in a situation where people are coming at him from every direction and who have nothing really important or edifying to tell/offer him, he will either shut down or detonate – a very unpleasant experience for all involved. This is why introverts are always dashing off by themselves: it is so that they can replenish their energy so they can successfully deal with problematic issues and be more emotionally and mentally available to those who genuinely need them.
But, as odd as it sounds, it is the actual people themselves who the introvert is most eager to learn about and relate to. Introverts are actually more desirous for companionship and relationships then outsiders would think; it is the type and quality of said companionship and relationships that sets a wide gape between introverts and extraverts in both their desires and their methods of approach. Most introverts can count their friends on one hand, and there is a good reason for this: the introvert desires substance over form, depth of spirit and personality over outward beauty and social status, intellectual/spiritual intimacy over physical/bodily intimacy; he wants to find someone with a joint love for same ideas and things that will make them one in heart rather then body. He craves beauty, wisdom and meaning and a companion with whom to share his inner world. But finding that special person can take a long time, and the introvert is slow and careful in his selection of the person (or persons) that he will bare his heart and soul to. But once he is found, this person (be he himself introverted or extroverted) becomes the most valued and loved thing the introvert possesses. Nothing can compare to his beloved friend. Even if they are separated by time or distance, his worth remains unchanged. Just the memories of their shared experiences together are a delight to the introvert. His friend is like a well that the often energy-starved introvert can drink from again and again without ever draining him; a person who he can share things with that he may never share with any another person that comes after. A person painstakingly drawn (or given) from the great sea of humanity that makes everything else so worth it: a genuine true friend; a ‘bug-out’ buddie who is above all value and price. What indeed, of all the pleasures of the world, can truly be more wonderful and glorious then a companion such as that?
Introverts are often accused of being cold, withdrawn, stoic, aloof and snobbish -and, depending on the introvert, many of these things can be true – but once an introvert finds someone who can can truly share himself with, he will indeed open up and give, and he will give abundantly, with both the right hand and the left – mind, heart and all his innermost treasures. But only to the right ones, only to the worthy ones – not because he hates others or sees himself as better then them (though this can be the case sometimes), but because he cannot afford to do nothing less. Anything less is a violation of his very nature. Mistakes will cost him dearly; failure is hardly better then a knife in the heart. In my mind is better for me to die ‘alone’ with only one friend at my side (and this possibility has indeed befallen me) than to have surrendered my integrity and whored my self out to a million causal ‘acquaintances’ whom I barley know. But my friend I do know – as do you – and, no matter the distances of time or space, this is the person who will be there for you when you need him, even if he himself has a dozen other friends. And you will be there for him, for he is the sharer of your secret hopes and dreams, the keeper of your heart, your other half, your soul-mate, your bosom-brother, both now and possibly forever…
”Beloved friend, my boon companion, my fair boyhood comrade, start now to sing with me…now that we have come together…seldom do we come together, [and] meet one another…let us clasp hand in hand, fingers in fingers, so that we may sing fine things, [and] give voice to the finest things.”
– from the The Kalevala or Poems from the Kalevala District, translated by Francis Peabody Magoun
Tip Seven: Learn How to Be a Good Listener
Because casual chit-chat is to introverts what stakes and crosses are to vampires, genuine, heart-felt, edifying conversations with others (preferably one-on-one) are craved by all introverts to one degree or another. Many a time an introvert will risk the energy-drainage and over-linger at a party of chipper, chatty, possibly drunken extraverts in the hopes of scoring a meaningful conversation or encounter with someone. However, this will not work out in most cases, and the poor results may start to get to you after a while. But I have found that there is another road: one that does not really involve chit-chat or deep conversation – to simply be someone who is willing to listen to others for a while. Everybody carries inside them many things that they would like to talk about or at least get off their chests via a good rant, but they often don’t have the time to do so or people who they can (safely) expresses themselves to. This is where you might come in. The perks of being a listener is that you do not have to drain yourself holding up your end of the conversation (because its not really a conversation). Often you do not have to speak at all. The other person does all the hard work, which he does not view as hard because it is something he wants to do. Once this extroverted person is isolated from his [in your view] overstimulating environment, and you have made yourself available as someone who will listen to him for a while, all kinds of interesting ideas and information can come out. You may or may not agree with or understand everything that he is talking about, but that is not the point. The point is that you are listening to them when no-one else will. Internal burdens are unloaded, the air gets cleared, rants are unleashed, etc…Anyone can come to you with this need: friends, acquaintances, coworkers, loved ones, family members and possibly even complete strangers at a party who have had a little too much to drink. In my case, it is my enemies who often do this.
Of course, as with all things in life, being a listener does have its perils and drawbacks. The main problem that can arise is that, if you are just a causal acquaintance, coworker or a stranger, you can wind up being privy to a lot of confidential and/or personal information about someone that you otherwise have no business or desire to know. Self-validation is very important to most extraverts, and sometimes they can go overboard in giving way info about themselves or others that they really shouldn’t be. In addition to this, once an extravert has offloaded on you, he may think that, just because you now know everything about him, that you and he (or she) are now best buds and that the time has come to move your relationship to the next level – possibly to a physical one – if the encounter is taking place between two members of the opposite sex (especially if you both are at a party where the alcohol is flowing freely). Or he now expects you to give up information about yourself in like manner – which, of course, you probably have no intention of doing. This is where Tip Two and Tip Three must be utilized. You have allowed this person to talk or rant to you, but that is as far as you are willing to go. Unless you desire it, the relationship must not be allowed to preceded further. Make sure of your escape routs and avoid giving out your phone number. If all works out in your favor, the other person will have satisfied himself by just talking and he will leave you to go about his other business. If what he has talked about was interesting or edifying, then you have gained something without exhausting yourself. If not, it is like water off a duck’s back: you are not obligated to do anything about the information and can just forget about it. If you are one of those introverts who feels guilty about your introversion (which you shouldn’t be), and feeling that you are taking more from society and others then you are giving back, being a good listener to others can be a good way to alleviate your guilty feelings. Just remember not to get too involved if you can help it.
Tip Eight: Learn to Love the Night
For many introverts (including WolfOfLoneliness) night is the best time of day. Because I live in outer space I am surrounded by nightness almost 24/7. Adrift amid the Sea of Stars, I am completely disconnected from human society and all its drama. I am free to wander as I will, and I am safe to enjoy my solitude and my glass of wine as I see fit. Why is the night so wonderful? Because the night is quiet, the night is silent and the night is dark. Unless an introvert is living in a collage town full of partying extraverts or in a crowded city that never sleeps, the night can be a wonderful time for an introvert go take a nice, long walk and see what his environment is like when all the Loud and Noisy People finally crash for the day. At night, the whole world takes on new and different modes and forms. Even cities are beautiful at night (at least from a distance). One can spend hours walking or biking through their neighborhood at night and experience it in a completely different way then how they did during the day. And if one lives in the country, why, just look at all those stars! Star-gazing from Earth is one of the most amazing things an introvert (or anyone really) can do. And all those empty fields just waiting to be strolled through without another person around for miles: pure paradise! Learn to love the night, my friends (equally important is learning when to finally go to bed). The night is your safe haven, a mysterious world for you to explore and roam in, away from the noise and the attention and the prying eyes of others. Now that winter is coming the Sun is setting sooner and sooner and the night is claiming her appointed half of the year. Soon there will be snow. The Earth will be veiled in layers of virgin white, silent and waitful. And when the moonlight shines down the ground will glow and glimmer with a fairy-tale brilliance. The air will be cold and crisp and clear. Darkness and silence will reign supreme. The Noise-World sleeps, but you do not. Go out, the night awaits you. She can only be loved by one such as you. She is yours – yours to preside over, to wander in; to hide yourself in: the Loner-King of a cold and quiet world. I know it well. I always have.
The everlasting darkness of space is my abode; for space is also dark and silent and cold. Here I am King. Here I rule. Do not morn me, you contented citizens of the corrupt and wasted Earth; do not pity me, do not scorn me. I have escaped you; I am free from you; I do not need you. The time of night is for you, my fellow loners. Love her. Treasure her. One day the Seas of Space may be for you as well. We must never stop dreaming. But now I am tired, and there is another kind of darkness waiting for me, the darkness of sleep, which we all must surrender to, willingly or not…but first, a glass of wine is in order…
Tip Nine: Learn to Enjoy Drinking Alone
I would like to start this tip with a disclaimer: this tip should not be followed by any introvert/loner who is trying to climb onto the wagon, is riding high on the wagon or is looking for a half-decent excuse to fall off the wagon. This tip is only for those who are well-versed and fully aware of their need for alcohol and know their limits and can exercise self-control. You have been warned. Alcohol, in all its delightful forms, is a man-made drug that has been highjacked and is utilized by mass extroverted society as a means to make an already morally-loose, attention-seeking, self-escaping bulk of the extroverted population even more so. Most extraverts like to drink to together in large groups or in the presence of many others – the more people that are gathered at the party the better. What would be unthinkable to do or say in the company of a few close friends over a drink or two becomes more and more permissible when one is quaffing drinks at a giant party or festival where one hardly knows anybody at all. If enough alcohol is consumed and the party reaches critical mass, anything can become possible or permissible. All one’s self-control, self-preservation and self-respect can be thrown out the window along with one’s clothing. And extraverts (as far as I can tell) seem to want this. They want to loose control, they want to be seen behaving in a insane and shameful and self-degrading manner. Why else would they deliberately drink in crowded noisy places with lots of strangers? I do not understand it. They hardly seem to care about what they drink as long as it loosens them up sufficiently to act out in ways that they normally cannot do so when sober or in the company of the sober. For them, alcohol is a getaway drug that with the right people and in the right environment allows them to become animals; it is a means to an end. Being human is difficult; being an actual individual is even more difficult – that I understand. Living is difficult; relationships can be difficult – that I also understand. But I am at a loss as to why these difficulties must be amended by partying and drinking until one is so wasted that when the next morning dawns they can barely even remember what they where doing the night before. They could have done or said anything (and anything could have been done or said to them) yet they cannot recall it. They shake off their hangovers and go on with their day until their drinking and/or partying leads to something that greatly interferes with the sober part of their social lives – usually something unpleasant.
So what is the (non-alcoholic) introvert to do with regards to his drinking habits? How should he proceed in his quest to enjoy the pleasures of drinking? By drinking alone. Yet just by doing this the introvert is inviting all kinds of misconceptions and judgments upon himself by greater society. Only drunks drink alone, they say. Only drunks drink for the sake of drinking. The introvert and the alcoholic walk a very fine line together and it is often understandable that they are often confused with one another – especially if one is both introverted and an alcoholic. To the extravert, alcohol is a tool: it is a means of being able to integrate himself more fully into a social setting of one form or another; to impress his friends or coworkers, to score a one-night stand, or to enable him to do and say things in a public setting he is normally unable or not allowed to. Or he takes advantage of a social/relationship situation and uses alcohol to manipulate and control others for his own devious ends. The introvert however, similar to his alcoholic counterpart, sees alcohol exactly for what it is: a mind-altering drug. Thus, a true introvert will drink in order that his mind might be altered. He will therefor drink alone, having no reason whatsoever to involve others in his solitary mind-altering experience. He will be choosey and selective of his beverage of choice. He will not drink just anything – it must be the right thing, the right form of alcohol for the right occasion. Both myself and the WolfOfLoneliness have stockpiled various, expensive bottles of hard liquor that can last us for years to this effect (see Tip Four). And if an introvert does desire the company of others while indulging himself, he will only drink in the presence of his closest friends and companions: with those who truly know and respect him.
Safe and secure in the fellowship of his friends, an introvert can share with them whatever marvels and wonders his mind brings forth under the influence of this beautiful mind-altering drug known as alcohol (his friends can also do likewise). And he can stop drinking the minute he achieves the desired peak of his mentally-altered state, being under no outside/social pressure to keep on drinking and drinking long after his limit has been reached. Unfortunately, many introverts tend to drink for the same reasons extraverts do – they use alcohol as a tool to free themselves from their introversion so that they can become one with the happy, good-time-scoring extraverts partying around them. Or they are trying to mentally escape form the overstimulating insanity of the party and the endless stream of chit-chat and are using alcohol as a buffer to that effect, thus placing themselves in danger of being taken advantage of by any party-predator who sees them as prime targets for a myriad of forms of exploitation. This is why I do not advise drinking at parties unless you have multiple close friends to aid and support you (if they themselves are not drinking as well). Drinking alone or with a chosen few is the best way for an introvert to enjoy the wonders of spirits. Drinking alone may carry its own stigmas, but at least there is no hypocrisy or pretending involved. Your individually and personality remains intact and safe. An introvert named Martin has this to say concerning introversion, drinking, and mass society:
”Society has a schizoid relationship with alcohol because it is a dangerous intoxicant that is also part of established custom [of current social society]. If you drink at all you have no choice but to accept these terms. Remember, you are allowed to drink, but only if you follow custom [i. e. the rules]. It is a mistake to imagine that, because alcohol is legal, the taboo against altering your consciousness [alone] has been lifted. You are not allowed. Indeed, you are not allowed even to have a personality until and unless you have won enough status — power and money — upon which you can then purchase your right to be a character. Drinking alone is an insolent act of rebellion: how dare you suppose that alcohol is available to you for the pursuit of solitary rewards? All other chemical means to enlightenment are banned, and alcohol would be too were it not for the fact that it can easily be made in a bathtub. That, and the fact that it is useful to our rulers as a safety valve, served to you with a wink and a leer. Look at us drinking! Let’s get into a huddle and delight in our freedom to pursue this guilty pleasure, this vice. The strictures are onerous, the taxes levied on each barrel more onerous still. But if you drink at home on your own you are straying into dangerous territory. You will be seen to have usurped to yourself the limited freedom grudgingly dispensed as a means of social control, and will be dealt with accordingly.”
Because I live in freedom in my spaceship Arcadia, I do not have to concern myself with the ins and outs of drinking according to the customs and rules of mass society. Whether it is in the privacy of my personal cabin or in public on the battle-bridge, there is nothing to prevent me from drinking when and where I choose – except myself. Self-control is everything: the more self-control one has, the more power he possesses over himself, the stronger he actually is. For most introverts, the careful care and feeding of self takes up most their time and energy if they are to survive in this current type of world. Sometimes we need a break. Wait til sundown, pour yourself a glass, then sit outside and watch the stars come out. Enjoy life. Enjoy the quiet. And please don’t forget to drink responsibly. Cheers.
Tip Ten: Do Try to Socialize Once and a While – It Probably Won’t Kill You
This will – I think – will be the final tip I will share – and it is the hardest one to to write about because socializing, for most introverts, is…well…hard. Just writing about it is draining me, therefor I will keep this short and sweet. First, there are three types of socializing an introvert can experience: The first is obligatory socializing, where an introvert must interact with others because his job requires it or because his family members insist upon it. If he were not under obligation (or did not posses an honorable sense of duty), he would have no desire to attend these family/job-orientated social obligations and would most likely opt-out of them. The second is forced socializing (a cruel fate that usually befalls introverted children) where the introvert is forced, against his own explicit wishes, either by threats of abandonment, disapproval, rejection or mockery, to attend a social function that he is dead-set against attending or participating in. All his protests or excuses are in vain; if he does not comply, the consequences will be dire. Then finally there is voluntary socializing where an introvert or a loner, of his own accord, will deliberately seek out the company of others for his own personal reasons. This is the type of socializing I want to discuss. Tips One, Two, Three, Six and Nine lay the groundwork on how to be successful (or at least survive) these types of socializing. Depending on the introvert, the amount of socializing desired/needed varies from individual to individual. What might be acceptable or more tolerable to one introvert may be unacceptable or intolerable to another. As I have already noted: self-knowledge and awareness are the key elements in assessing what one wants and needs with regards to other people and the good or bad drama that accompanies them. It is up to the individual to decide in the end just how much or how little time and energy he uses in perusing social activities and with what kind of people he decides to pursue them with. The choice still lies with him – unless others force him to play the part out of obligation or from the mistaken view that they need to ‘fix’ him – and him alone; therefor, being the independent, self-sufficient, outside-the-herd person he is, he must take responsibility for his choices and actions. This is something everyone must learn.
And finally, if socializing has any benefits at all to people such as us, it is that during our struggles to navigate the extroverted world and connect with the society around us we introverts might be blessed to find those few special people that truly enrich, edify and and bring meaning and happiness into our lives. Even introverts get lonely sometimes, and we can’t always alleviate our yearnings for the companionship of others by reading a book or talking long night-walks alone. Of course if we can find someone who enjoys reading the same kind of books we do or who also likes taking walks at night then we are very fortunate – but such people don’t always drop into our laps, we must go out into the world in search of them. You never know who is out there or where they might be found. The person who might become the love of your life or your best friend just might be at that big party you are dreading to go to, or stuck at the terminal of that over-crowded, noisy airport that you can’t wait to leave. One never knows. The questions introverts and loners need to ask themselves is whether or not they are willing to take the risks and the heart-breaks involved when looking for and bonding with that special someone that they want share their dreams and lives with. The choice, as always, is up to each of you. Choose wisely. If freedom and independence are the chief driving forces of your life (as they are for me), then find others that equally desire the same things. Build up your inner-circle, your family of friends, your crew, with those who share the same desires and dreams. But if, in the end, you find yourself alone once more – either by circumstance or by choice – there is always Arcadia: the inner paradise of the heart, the last un-breached retreat that all introverts are forever creating and maintaining – a place built entirely for them and all their hopes and dreams and loves. If there are others out there whom we can welcome into our Arcadia, then we must strive to find them. But if not, there is no-one to stop us from setting sail alone, for we are blessed (or cursed) with the power to hold our own in a deadly and hostile universe that may want nothing to do with us – nor we it. If that is the case, let us remain true to ourselves and maintain our integrity and honor; let us never surrender to anyone or anything who seeks to defile or destroy our innermost Arcadia – for it is the only thing we have; the only thing we can truly call our own; our one true home.
Stay free, my friends; and never stop flying!
Yours Truly: Captain Harlock, Space-Pirate