As a kid, I spent a pretty decent amount of time alone – we lived in the countryside, I was an only child, and my parents weren’t big believers in entertaining me. There were 7 kids living within biking/walking-distance from my home, and only 3 of them were the same age as me (the rest were younger siblings) – and I really only liked one of them.
When I wasn’t in school, I spent most of my time reading books, playing with various toys (barbie, hot wheels, lego), or aimlessly wandering around the fields, orchards, and small forests around my home. I built forts. I dug holes in the potato fields. I climbed trees. I skulked around the sugar shack.
I enjoyed being alone. I still genuinely like it.
There comes a point in most days where I absolutely need some time to myself. I can feel myself getting more and more irritable and short-tempered. I need to not hear anyone else breathing or talking. Ideally, it’s a time when I can let my focus shift and my brain can relax – not driving or working from home, but just slacking. Listening to my own thoughts. God help anyone who interrupts me once my brain has shut down for a spell. My nerves need to regenerate, or something.
I have often wondered how well I would do living alone, without in-person social contact. I don’t mean solitary confinement-style – that sounds awful – but the sort of life where I didn’t see anyone for days, or weeks, or even months on end. A cabin in the woods, say.
I suspect I’d get weirder than I already am; I maintain a pretty loose grasp on social skills at the best of times. But I wonder where my thoughts would go. I wonder how I would fill my days if I wasn’t forced to socialize and then have my ‘alone time’ limited simply by nature of living around other people. Assuming I could get past the weirdness of being fully self-reliant, assuming I didn’t spend my days and nights curled up in a panic-ball waiting for a murderer to come crashing through the forest.. what would happen?
There are plenty of times when I enjoy being around people. I love my husband and I really like seeing his face and snugging up to him. I like my friends. I enjoy my clients’ presence. I like chatting with the grocery store cashier and the random person in line with me for shawarma. I am not averse to human beings, generally.
But would I go back to aimlessly wandering around in the woods? Would I start playing with barbies again and have long, drawn-out conversations at their staged tea parties? Would I devour thousands of books in a year? Or would I just be lonely and weird and eventually become some sort of Unabomber-esque shadow person? How long would it take before I reached my limit of weirdness?