A few weeks ago my daughter and I were sitting in the living room. I was writing in my planner, she was watching an episode of “The Office”. She paused the show and began a conversation:

Daughter- Is it odd that I like being by myself as much as I like being with my friends?”

Me (to myself)  Gee- You’re asking ME if it’s odd to want alone time?

Me (out loud this time)  No. Not at all. We’re introverts. We need solo time to recharge our batteries.

Daughter- But why does it seem like everyone else always want people around? I mean, I was studying, but now I’m not, and instead of reaching out to someone, I decided to watch TV.

Me- Everyone is different. Some people feed off the energy of others. Some get zapped by too much external energy. Sometimes your brain needs a rest.

Daughter- But is it normal?

Why do introverts always feel like they are odd?

For some reason, society has decided that being surrounded by people at all times is superior to being by yourself. If you see a someone dining alone, most people feel bad. They think- oh- that poor person has no friends. It’s so sad that they are by themselves. We assume they are upset. But we don’t know this. We automatically thing: they’re alone. They’re losers.

We judge.

My daughter has a lot of friends, including the same best friend since second grade. She doesn’t get into catty dramatic situations. She is a good friend and can be trusted, and has sought out friends who do the same. She is going on Spring Break (woo hoo) with them beginning tomorrow.

She is not a loner.

In elementary school she was the girl who hosted sleepovers with ten girls. Just imagine a room littered with sleeping bags and giggles. And middle school saw her Friday afternoon pizza parties where eight kids would be around the TV playing video games. And high school saw Sunday brunches with friends and mega Instagram events featuring six duck faced girls.

She likes people and is a good friend.

But she also likes to study. And she likes to read. And she likes to binge watch TV shows. All by herself.

So why does she wonder if she’s normal?

What is normal anyway?

And why does society think wanting to stay home alone on a Saturday night and study is weird?

People also have weird responses to her habits. She doesn’t have a boyfriend and has never harbored a desire. There have been no crushes in her teen years. There’s just been a lot of tennis and law team and drama club and newspaper. There’s been a lot of writing and reading. Yet…people have told us that she Definitely has a secret boyfriend. She’s just not telling us. Because it’s more normal to think a teen is lying than just not interested enough in dating. Dating is normal. Not dating is……weird

And then the same for parties. My daughter has never attended a traditional high school party. She doesn’t like the idea of them. And they tend to get raided by the police and there was no way she was screwing up her record and ruin her chances of a good college. Yet people insist she sneaks out to parties- that she just doesn’t tell us she’s going. Why? Because it’s normal for a teen to attend parties. If you don’t, it’s weird…

So why do we judge kids who aren’t the loudest in the room?

Why do we judge those who don’t like a heavy social scene?

Why do we judge those who like to spend time alone?

 

 

72 thoughts on “Is There Something Wrong With Me

  1. As someone who spends a good deal of time alone (quite happily, I might add), I want to know the answer to that, too. I think I’ve mostly gotten past feeling like everyone is looking at me when I walk into a restaurant or theater alone, but I still feel like I “should” be out doing something on a Saturday night instead of heading home and settling down with a good book.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Your daughter sounds pretty well adjusted. Many people are well-meaning in looking for “normal” in a day of social media excess and fear of undiagnosed depression. I’ve given up on defining ‘normal’ and ‘weird’. We are all just different and have different needs.

    Liked by 5 people

  3. Society judges because we welcome sameness, order, little ducks all alike all in a row. Difference makes us uncomfortable and leads to dysfunction, or worse-chaos. We’ve been taught to behave in ways that make variation from “normal” a thing to ridicule or fear, and certainly not something to accept without a lot of push back.
    We can’t control those who don’t follow the basic social patterns… and it is how societies evolve unfortunately.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I think being able to amuse yourself and be comfortable with yourself is a great thing. I know adults who are not and it almost seems like they need a babysitter to keep them happy. They can’t be alone for any period of time or just sit in front of a TV all day with no motivation at all. That’s the sad thing in my opinion. I will say that I was very much “out of the scene” in high school as I worked a part time job after school all four years and in retrospect I see that I missed out on some fun times because I made no effort to join in. As long as she is happy with her choices and not feeling left out, there’s nothing wrong with that.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. She has never expressed feeling left out, because her friends are somewhat similar to her and they are really conscious of including everyone, almost obsessively so. And he4 idea of fun is somewhat different than some kidsp

      Liked by 1 person

  5. As an introvert, I completely relate? Sometimes I question if my desire for solitude is “normal” because I desire it more than being with people. Like you said, what is normal anyway??? Great conversation with your daughter 💕

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Your daughter sounds a lot like my niece, who is a freshman in college this year. Quiet, good student, great personality, but a bit of a homebody when she wants to be. I worried about her going to college and being homesick, but she’s adjusted quite well and has lots of friends. It’s all good.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My daughter and I have a nice relationship and she didn’t go to “school” til she was 3 1/2. My in laws insisted she was going to cry the whole time she was away. Meanwhile, I had the kid who happily skipped into the classroom and never once cried being away from me….

      Liked by 1 person

  7. If you buy into the extrovert paradigm, then judging us introverts is a given. If you say *whatever* to extroverts, you don’t judge… cause you know there’s nothing wrong with introverts. 😍

    Liked by 1 person

  8. It sounds to me as if your daughter has the best thing going. Enough mental resources to be alone, enough friends to have a good time with! All the best to her for a happy life ahead.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. LA another fabulous post with lots of questions to ponder over, human beings are social mammals just like Gorillas and Chimps our closest genetic species and I’d guess we’re pre programmed to crave and be around other human mammals! Btw I hate eating alone in restaurants…………. it’s truly horrible 😦 .

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I do have to agree with that. That is the ONLY thing I don’t particularly enjoy doing alone. I love my alone time but when it comes to eating I’ll often do take out and bring it home rather than eating by myself. Not sure why that makes me uncomfortable. I think it stems back from the days in the mid 1970’s when I was a divorced mom and got rude stares from people because I was alone in a restaurant or alone with my child. Who knows. So I’ll go anywhere and do anything alone but to this day I don’t particularly like to go to in door sit down restaurants alone. A cafe or out door casual eating is perfectly fine by myself. Weird that that one thing I still don’t like to do.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I admit I don’t love fine dining alone, but for me, it’s more that I like to try different things at a high end restaurant and you can’t do splits on things when you have no one to split with!!

        Like

  10. LA – Did you ever read the book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. Susan Cain is the author, a lawyer turned author. It’s from 2013, but an amazing read for all introverts.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Very good blog. My 21-yr-old has tons of friends, but I don’t think he’s ever been on a date besides prom. He works full time & is very responsible, but I’m a little concerned about his lack of dates. Your daughter sounds completely healthy, though. She likes herself. That’s so important! Good job, Mom & Dad. 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  12. My daughter sounds a bit like your daughter. I think my daughter as a bit of an old soul….even though she looks much younger than 20 if she takes her glasses off. My daughter has shown little desire to date…or engage in the college party scene where she might meet some boys. She’ll do life on her own timetable. My daughter is definitely someone who wants to avoid any mischief or getting anything on her permanent record.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I agree, the whole underage drinking at friends parties is over rated and yes (ILLEGAL) drunken behaviour, ‘soft drugs’ HAS resulted in employment futures being ruined……. sometimes. My brother wasn’t a party animal and when he got to Uni he worked VERY hard and now has a great job, adorable wife and lovely kids……….. a fun life. There’s plenty of time for parties alcohol and dating in the meantime let children be children.

      Liked by 2 people

  13. I’m an extravert and I love and cherish my alone time. I call it my “me “ time. I enjoy others and I’m always out going and bubbly. But , I get tired of always being “on”. Always expected to be the life of the party or the one others look to to make the first friendly gesture. I’m naturally very out going. But I’m always shocked how or why some people can’t be alone with themselves. I like my “me” time. I don’t think it has anything to do with being introverted. It’s about being able to appreciate life and enjoying it all by yourself. Making every moment count. People who enjoy alone time can enjoy their their own company with or without others. There’s a time and place for either. I’ve never been introverted. My imagination let me play by myself as a child. I was never bored. I think it’s more about being self sufficient than about introverted or extroverted.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think it comes down to how you thrive as an individual. Some people feed off the energy of others, some don’t….but people that tend to prefer solo stuff are seen as odd. It’s just how it is

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hmmm. I never thought like that. I’ve always enjoyed alone time. So I thought people who didn’t were the odd ones. I still think that. I have a friend (my age) who visits Florida every year and maps out an itinerary for every second. She can’t stand that there might be a day when she has no one to be with. Now I find that odd. I asked my old college pal, “Why can’t you just enjoy your time away from the cold. Why do you have to be with someone every second?” She couldn’t answer that question. I can enjoy things by myself. I don’t need to have someone ‘s company ALL the time. I guess I think people like that are the odd ones not me. I never looked at it the other way around. I don’t think we are odd at all. I assumed it was because I always had to work, was a young mom and my alone time was rare so I cherished it. But, I think I was like that as a child too. I love people. But not 24/7.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. More people think it’s odd that someone might want to be alone. I think people rush into relationships because they fear being alone. But there’s nothing wrong with either way…they’re just different

        Like

  14. Buy your daughter the book ‘Quiet’ by Susan Cain. Both read it. Then you’ll never worry again about what’s ‘normal’ or whether it’s important to be an Introvert and honour that.
    With soft respect from a fellow Introvert xx G

    Liked by 1 person

  15. I am an introvert. Being around a ton of people is anxiety producing. But being around a few good friends is ok. For a limited time. But one of the hardest things I had to learn in treatment is how to be comfortable being with myself without using drugs or alcohol. Now I’m quite ok sitting at home by myself.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. I went out to meet a friend for lunch today at a diner. I arrived early and didn’t see her car, so I entered feeling very self-conscious realizing it has been awhile since I dined alone. I used to often in New York City and also while working overseas. Soon afterwards, a woman came in and asked for a table for one with a flounce to her step and a confident stride. Her husband joined her soon after my friend joined me. Not used to feeling queasy dining alone or at least being seated alone.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I look at the menu, go to the restroom, observe the customers, fiddle with my phone. I used to go to lunch alone often and enjoy it. Maybe that is good practice. You do see many solo diners in Manhattan.

        Liked by 1 person

  17. I so relate to this post. As an introvert, I love my alone time when I can get it. Society does judge when I don’t go out every Saturday night, and preferring to spend my days off work at home reading and writing. Quiet time is the time to thrive for introverts. It is energising. Reading through the comments was interesting. As Sheri said, no need to define weird and normal. We’re all weird in our own ways and nothing wrong with that 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Kudos to your daughter. She sounds very level headed and smart. She knows how to balance together and alone time. If only everyone (including me, also an introvert) could do that. And she is “normal” in the most important way — healthy normal. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  19. I am totally with you on this. ‘Society’ is not a good judge of character. I’ve had similar experiences as well. People telling me my kids are lying and so on. I just always figure they are jealous. Jealousy makes people say and do stupid things. Thanks for sharing! I’m sure there are lots of us who can relate.

    Liked by 1 person

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