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Lone Wolf Writer

April 3, 2010

The introverted type, the sensitive sort, the creative kind. The personality type who would rather be walking alone somewhere or working in a back room by themselves, than hanging out or dealing with other people. The solitary soul. The retiring recharger. The non-conformist. The eccentric.

Decades ago, in the public school office of a guidance counselor, I took an aptitude test. There was a question: ‘Do you like to work with people?’ I instantly knew the answer for me was a resounding, ‘NO!’ The counselor was taken aback a bit. She wanted to know why I didn’t like people. I explained that I liked nice people, and I was fine with people who were behaving properly, but I didn’t want to work somewhere that meant I would have to deal with people who might choose to be mean or overbearing or rude. I didn’t want to have to deal with bad customers or manipulating coworkers. I had been in plays and on teams. I was a team player. I had many friends. But I knew that I liked to work alone. I loved to run alone. I needed time alone. I had no patience for people who didn’t play fair. I didn’t want to waste my time dealing with manipulative games.

Years ago, when I was taking a certain personality test, the question of introvert versus extrovert was basically put like this, ‘do you recharge from or get drained by parties/people?’ I realized right off that I am drained by being around people or more especially by hosting parties. If you recharge by retreating from people and taking time by yourself, then you tend towards being an introvert. If you love to be around and draw energy from people and are recharged by parties, friends and company, then you are likely an extroverted person. I can be or seem temporarily extroverted on the outside, but deep down, I am an introvert.

Why do some people seem to think that being introverted or shy is a bad thing? Many people who know me, and even those who know me well, are surprised when I claim to be introverted. Few people I know buy that I am shy, and they don’t seem to like the idea that I might be. Some even argue the point. It’s not that I can’t turn on the social self when the occasion calls for it, but I recharge off by myself. I end up feeling drained after visiting with people, even people I like and enjoy talking to. Sometimes I enjoy a party or a visit, but, I end up feeling tired or drained afterwards and I must retreat to recharge. I need a vacation from interaction.

I understand that introverts are best at solitary tasks. Introverts make good artists, writers, musicians, scientists and other careers that demand time alone practicing a craft or studying. That is not to say that a gregarious person could not have artistic talent or wind up in a solitary sort of job, but solitary work is comfortable for people inclined to be solitary. I don’t know, but there might be challenges for the extroverted artist. And every time I think I’ve met an extroverted artist, it seems I begin to discover solitary tendencies in their personality the more I get to know them.

The ‘lone wolf’ is inclined to work alone. A lone wolf with talent can more easily focus on honing that talent. A social butterfly might be too busy flitting about with friends to take time to create. Of course, there is the committee art, writing, and etcetera. There are team efforts. And I suppose that many great things can be accomplished when many heads get together. But, think of the great classic artistic works over time. Are they not all lone wolf creations? The great classic paintings, sculptures, music and literature: all great works I can think of were born of the solitary artist. That doesn’t mean the lone wolf didn’t belong to a pack and didn’t interact and glean some ideas from the group, but oftentimes, cooks need the kitchen to themselves.

And so, if you are an artist type or lean to writing, don’t fear the lone wolf in you. There’s no shame in being shy nor should there be a stigma about being introverted. That solitary tendency can be your ally in your work. The lone wolf can get things done, all alone.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. April 3, 2010 7:03 am

    I never thought of it as being introverted but more like being unafraid to be alone with your thoughts. Some people can’t do it.

    • April 4, 2010 1:36 am

      Good comment. Thanks. Yes, I’d forgotten that concept of late (but have heard of it). I suppose there are certain melancholy times that I probably shouldn’t be left alone with my thoughts. Smile. Much of my life has been busy with and surrounded by people (albeit mostly by beloved family members) and so solitude can be a rare thing. I can still be alone with my thoughts in a way even with action and chatter all around me, though it can be more difficult to ponder the eternal verities and to be entirely open to creative thoughts than when I find a little time alone.

  2. April 19, 2010 10:40 am

    This description rings so true to me, I’ve got to say, it’s eerie.
    I come from a whole family of introverts, and you’d better believe, folks think we’re pretty strange.
    One thing extroverts love doing is trying to convert you. Come on, let’s go out on the dance floor, loosen up! As if secretly, we are sitting there wishing we were extroverts.
    I’m married to an extrovert and Fridays are always strange. To her, being exhausted means, let’s go out and socialize as much as possible. To me it means, let’s close the door and watch Doctor Who in the dark.
    Nice article Kerri; I followed a random link from my own blog to get here, and had never read your stuff before.

    • April 19, 2010 10:58 pm

      Thanks for your interesting comment. Funny but true that extroverts think they need to convert introverts, like an interventive healing deal. No, we are not broken or wrong, just different at recharging our energies. Since opposites attract, I suppose it’s no surprise when an extrovert and an introvert get together! Though opposite in many respects, my hubby and I are both a bit eccentric and introverted in our differing ways, though we both have occasional gregarious sides. It seems funny that he thought I was the outgoing one, while I thought him more socially fit than me. We’ve spent years jokingly debating about who is more introverted. I’ve read that shyness is proven through studies as at least a genetic trait, and, we two here have ended up with offspring who are at least more introverted than not. I do come from a long line of hermit types, not to mention the artists and musicians as well as eccentrics.

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