Addictive Solitude

Tomorrow is the last guaranteed alone day I’ll have for some months because this weekend, my brother is moving in with me.

Now, I like my brother. He’s a pain in the arse at times but we’re on good terms, we look out for each other, and as much as he likes to pretend otherwise, he’s just as shy and socially-awkward as I am. We all are. It’s genetic, I’m sure. I can’t pretend that this change isn’t going to be incredibly weird for me, having spent most of the last five years living alone with only short stretches of staying in the same house as other people.

I’m an introvert by nature, and I absolutely detested living with (loud) strangers as an undergraduate. Naturally then, given a stipend and a new city to locate myself in, I chose to have a space that was entirely my own. Then I moved and did it again, with a bigger space. Then one more time: entire house that isn’t mine but I have to myself unless/until any siblings show up.

A battle I often have with myself is whether I choose to have an extensive amount of alone time because I enjoy it in some way…or whether I have an extensive amount of alone time because I get too anxious to sustain regular outside-the-house/social activities. I’m surprised I’ve sustained a relationship for a year – but then my girlfriend is of similar temperament and our ‘together time’ is often almost as relaxed as ‘alone time’ and we don’t put pressure on each other to go out and/or be energetic all the time.

Either way though, my brain seems to experience reward in response to solitude – whether directly, or through the abatement of anxiety, who knows. So it’s difficult to break the pattern. Yes, I do sometimes wish for something different to happen…but I don’t want to lose my rewarding solitary time. As horrible as it sounds, especially now that I ‘lose’ such time every week to spend with my partner. (What a horrible thing to even think, I chastise myself, especially having ‘wasted’ many, many hours even just today not enjoying the alone time I’ve had).

Somehow additional tasks sometimes weigh heavily on the alone time that I have…for example, an overnight trip (lasting less than 24 hours) is in my head for over a week before it happens. I sometimes resent teaching, the source of income that allows me flexible time, for chipping into an otherwise ‘free’ day.

I look forward to my next ‘free’ alone time…but am rarely satisfied. How long is long enough? And how come I still feel sad when it ends?

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