The onset of the pandemic forced the world into isolation. The almost two years of quarantine were hard on everyone. A lot of people have come forward about the hardships they faced while being physically away from everyone they knew and alone all the time. At the same time though, some people have adapted to this constraining situation better than others.
There are many people who preferred to be alone most of the time well before the pandemic required self-isolation. Many of these individuals, feel content even when by themselves. Spending time alone is not a burden to them. If you are one of these people, you’re probably familiar with this feeling.
Moreover, if you enjoy being alone, you may have experienced the stigma surrounding it. After all, being social and spending time with others is a more readily accepted disposition in society. People often assume that those who prefer solitude are lonely, without any friends or family, depressed, or simply not normal. However, that isn’t necessarily the case.
Wanting to be alone is perfectly normal. It’s OK to feel this way. There are many different reasons why people would choose to be alone and not interact with others — and contrary to what some may think, many of these reasons are natural or positive.
Many people who prefer solitude over social interaction do so because they are introverted individuals. Rather than enjoying large group gatherings, such as parties and events, introverts prefer subdued and solitary experiences. This is because they react to different stimuli compared to extroverts or people who are more social. Studies suggest that if you are an introvert, your brain does not react strongly or positively when looking at others.
During social situations, an introvert’s brain is seen to produce less dopamine, the so-called “feel good” chemical in our brain. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter linked to reward and motivation. As a result, you find social interaction less rewarding and fulfilling. This is why you feel happier and at your best when alone or interacting with one person at a time.
If you have low energy, you are more susceptible to getting tired when socializing with others. Socializing is naturally tiring. It takes its toll on everyone. People who don’t want to be around anyone at the moment are often those who feel drained by social interactions faster. They naturally have a lower energy supply to draw from when they are in group settings.
However, having low energy doesn’t necessarily mean you aren’t healthy or fit. You can be at the peak of physical health and still experience low energy when interacting with other people.
Dopamine actually plays a role in this, as well. A more active dopamine production helps people overcome social fatigue or tiredness because they have a more active reward system. More dopamine helps lower your “cost of effort” — it helps you notice or associate “rewards” when spending time with others, thus giving you more energy to continue doing so.
Another reason why you might not want to be around anyone is due to stress. Being around other people can also take its toll on your mental and emotional health.
Similar to how different people consider different things rewarding, there are also various situations or events that other people may consider as stressors. People with an introverted personality may find speaking with many people, meeting new acquaintances, or simply being in large groups stressful. This can also be part of the reason why your energy for socialization can get exhausted more easily.
Similar to stress, social anxiety is one of the major reasons why some people refuse to socialize more or say they don’t want to be around anyone. Anxiety is more persistent than stress. Even when you aren’t confronted by stressors like attending social gatherings, just the thought of it fills you with dread and makes your body react.
Signs of social anxiety may include sweaty palms, constant fidgeting, dry throat, and fast heartbeat. In extreme situations, you may even experience or start to feel a panic attack coming. These are all biological responses to social anxiety. In such cases, it is understandable and natural to want to avoid other people as much as you can to avoid such distress.
You might not want to interact much with others simply to avoid drama. An underlying reason behind this can be past trauma but it can also be a low tolerance for other people’s two-facedness or toxicity.
For some people, their decision to avoid drama and trouble may be due to their empathic or sympathetic nature. If you empathize with people easily, you may want to avoid spending too much time around people who may unload their problems on you. You feel exhausted not only because of the socialization but more so because you try to find ways to help them work through their issues — leading you to internalize other people’s negative feelings or situations.
Many people with an introverted nature like yours are often much happier when surrounded by peace and quiet. It helps them feel calm and allows them to recharge their energy. Adding other people to the mix can shatter your inner peace and the sanctuary you’ve built for yourself.
If you prefer peace and quiet, you likely use the time to reflect on the things that are happening to them or around them. It gives you not only a sense of peace and calm but also provides you with time for introspection to help you grow as a person.
Introverts are not loners. You probably have your own circle of friends and loved ones that you feel comfortable enough to spend time with. However, you don’t feel a great need to expand your circle or grow your network — you’re content with what you have.
More than that, you are content with only occasional talks or face-to-face meetups with your group of friends. Although part of this can purely be personal preference, part of it is also feeling secure in the bonds you’ve made. You don’t need to constantly be around other people to feel appreciated or connected. You are emotionally independent and don’t seek other people for validation and improve your mental health or emotional well-being.
There is nothing inherently wrong with you if you don’t want to be around anyone. Solitude doesn’t have to mean loneliness. In fact, being alone can be beneficial for your emotional and mental health. Quality time alone is also one way you can practice self-care. For many, it is an enjoyable time that helps them replenish their energy and allows for more introspection and meditation.
However, it is important to distinguish good and bad times alone. If you prefer to be alone all the time — literally instead of figuratively — then you run the risk of weakening the bonds you’ve formed with your friends and family. It is possible to spend most of your time being alone while still taking time out of your week to go out or spend time with one or a few people.
You surely have your favorite people — those that do not deplete or exhaust your energy reserves and mental capacity as much as others do. If you take the time to think deeply about it, you might even see that you get along well with other people. Stepping out of your comfort zone for a couple of hours at a time for these people will allow you to still protect your solitude while keeping in touch with loved ones and society in general.