I can be a bit of a loner. People don't really say "loner" much anymore. I think "introvert" has taken it's place because "introvert" doesn't have as much of a negative connotation. "Introvert" feels innate and un-chosen like hair color or height. "She's really quiet sometimes but she's an introvert. That's just how she is."  The word "loner" paints a different picture of someone who's maybe been hurt by people, leading to a dislike and distrust of others and a preference for black clothing. Personally, I use both terms interchangeably to describe people who are at their most peaceful, focused and natural during times of solitude and I surely identify as one of these people.

It's not that I dislike other humans or find it hard to connect with them. It's almost the exact opposite.

You're all wildly distracting. 

The behavior, opinions and reactions of other people fascinate me. If I am near you, I am concerned with you. The former cannot exist without the latter. But that concern requires energy. When I'm around people, my every word and action have to be sub-consciously processed through a complex "How will THIS make THEM feel?" filtration system. Yes, I know extroverted people have that filter too. What I'm unsure of is whether theirs is more efficient or less sophisticated. Either way, this filter can only be operational for a finite amount of time before I must withdraw. I do this by either leaving the situation to seek isolation or by retreating into my own head. Many of you probably know that charging your phone on airplane mode replenishes the battery twice as fast because staying connected to your network takes energy. Even if you're not engaging with the network, just that passive connection is draining. I'm the same way. Sometimes I just have to put myself on airplane mode. 

I estimate that I've been alone for 90% or more of my own training sessions. Periodically, I've had a few training partners over the years and I can appreciate the upsides to lifting in the presence of supportive peers, but nothing matches the peace and focus of a solo session where it's just me and the weights in an empty gym. Likewise, I'll sometimes work on jokes with other comedians. It's fun and provides insight that might not be found working solo but I never feel tapped into my full creative potential in a group environment like I do when I'm pacing around my empty apartment, thoughts racing inside my head.

I've learned to separate myself from humanity in the same way that a school teacher would separate two talkative friends sitting next to each other. I have to create an environment that allows for focus. If I don't remove myself from the herd, I'll never get anything done. The problem is that I still get lonely. I'm not a sociopath. I need to connect with people to feel fulfilled. I think it's for this reason I've naturally gravitated towards jobs where I'm around other people, but I'm working by myself. I do stand up comedy and coach group fitness classes. Both scenarios involve me developing a plan in my head, that isn't shared with or approved by anyone, and then carrying it out. For me, social interaction is at it's least taxing when it's done on my terms and I'm more or less in control.

One of my biggest fears is that my affinity for autonomy and time to myself leads people to think I don't like them or think I'm better than them. I'm sure there are people out there who don't realize the high regard I hold them in or how much I care. We live in a world of loud voices and big gestures, dominated by reality TV stars and polarized pundits. Those of us who don't wear our feelings and opinions on our sleeves are easily overlooked or misinterpreted. I know to some I can seem uncaring or emotionally distant but, unless I've indicated otherwise please just assume that I absolutely love you.

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