Autistic Confessions – I Just Want to Be Alone – The Stigma of Solitude

I love being alone. In fact, like most introverts, I need to be alone in order to recharge my batteries.

The difference between me and most introverts is that they still “need” or “crave” social activities and being around other people. I simply don’t and never have.

Always alone, when I was young and through my teen years (and even part of my adult-hood) people made me feel like my tendency towards solitude was pathological. I remember my parents and grandparents trying to force me to go out with friends / leave the house.

They forced e so hard, insisting that I make friends or be lonely, but I had almost no friends.

I’ve always had a pattern of only having one friend at a time and hanging out in groups has never been fun for me. Having more than one or two friends is still very difficult for me.

Your whole life people tell you you will be lonely if you don’t have friends but I feel most alone when I am around the wrong people or even worse too many people. I never feel alone when I am on my own working on something I am passionate about.

To be perfectly honest sometimes I feel more affection towards my projects than for most people. I am very task driven and calculated. People often take my seriousness for coldness. The few who know me well know me as funny and warm.

One on one interactions are great if they are with the right person.  I can even do groups of up to three people if I keep the interactions short. More people needs to equal a shorter interaction for me.

Also, I am not opposed to meaningful conversations. The minute people start talking about pop culture and other mindless garbage my mind wanders. I am off in my own head until something brings me back to reality.

Neurotypicals or “normal people” take for granted things that are a LOT of work for me. Simple things, like figuring out when it’s your turn to talk. Despite focusing almost ALL my brain power on timing in conversations STILL I manage to mess this up every time.

Even when I am having a great time being social, my brain wears down fast when I have to focus on conversations. It is real work for me. The more conversations and the more people at a gathering the faster I drain out.

I’ve heard the clever term social hangover. For me this is a very accurate description.

By the time I am done with a 2 hour hangout with 4 people I am feeling dead and drained. It takes me a full day to recover from most social interactions. Add more people or more hours and I need even more time to recharge.

I can only handle one or two of these a month or I start to have an increased frequency of indigestion and meltdowns.

When my job started having one or two social things a month I stopped hanging out with the few friends I had. The truth is now all my social energy is spent on coworkers who I don’t relate to – because I am trying my hardest to “play the game.”

I turn down as many office happy hours as I can, but still feel like I don’t attend as many as they want me to.

Social politics in the work place are hard on us Aspies but we can’t escape them. If we want to succeed in an office we have to learn the patterns and unspoken rules (I hate unspoken rules – I like CLEAR rules).

If we can’t figure out the mysteries of the office we have to make our own way somehow or risk being stuck in a career that doesn’t fulfill. We are often under paid and under appreciated in the work place because we don’t kiss ass and “play the games” that our neurotypical peers do.

Without these skills we are at a disadvantage. There is pressure to fit in.

My hyper-social coworkers who like to go out several nights a week think being out and social is normal but for me a night at home is more acceptable. I am “antisocial” a “recluse” “book worm” and “introvert”. So many titles.

Why does wanting to stay in even need a title? Why does society shun the loner? There is nothing wrong with me wanting to spend most of my time alone. If I am truly happy what is the problem?

Its time we break the stigma on solitude.

 

#ActuallyAutistic #SheCantBeAutistic #AnonymouslyAutistic #InvisibleAutism

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45 thoughts on “Autistic Confessions – I Just Want to Be Alone – The Stigma of Solitude”

    1. so true! for me, being around people i like is a bittersweet “mix” of “i do like these people” and “i will never be like these people.” they do understand me to some degree, but in some ways not so much. its not always a big divide, but there it is.

      i (sort of) “rate” my friends in terms of how much wall there is. if its thin, it means we are getting past our differences and doing more than just “getting along.” it means we are good friends, we know each other better. theres some acceptance. the more they understand, the less of a wall there is. that does go both ways (i try to understand them too) but the easiest way to make the wall very thin is to have someone believe you, and stop telling you they know what its like to be you– sure its possible. more likely theyre conflating.

      Liked by 3 people

  1. ive been practicing for years, and im still exactly like this (except less so.) i do a great impression of (almost) normal, i can tune people out (provided the right kind of noise is / isnt around– that matters) and sort of be in social “sleep mode” until someone wakes me by paying direct attention to me.

    and the best thing is, im not all-or-nothing when it comes to relating. yes, i can be social, but im not right there with everybody in terms of relating perfectly. im still off a little, but im not spending energy on trying to be as “there” as an nt.

    its all about compromise. and yes, its still draining. its just slower draining. it conserves batteries.

    and the timing, no– you can almost (almost) rate how sensitive (or domineering) people are, by how personally they take that sort of thing. you do avoid the least reasonable people, and figure out who they are, and to not talk to them.

    in short, you do all the things you have to to be you and comfortable, but you do them less. (and its less comfortable than being alone.) but you do all the things you have to “pass”, but you do them less (and its more draining/effort than being alone. but its less draining than trying to fully pass.)

    after you get to know people (youre putting in incredible effort to get to know them) you can decide which ones are worth the huge amount of effort.

    a lot of people i know who are nt, do not have tons of close friends (or tons of friends.) theyre too busy, or too smart, or too individualistic to have too many (close) friends. but they have a few. so that works.

    ive desensitized myself to a number of things over the years. i can still relate (first hand, and not just in the past tense) to everything youre saying, but i know its worse for you. i can tell just based on what adjectives and words you use, that its at least slightly worse for you– likely more than slightly.

    i dont presume youd have the same luck i did learning to deal with it. i presume (if anything) that our strengths are not exactly the same. boy are you a kick-ass writer though.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. I can so relate. People always describe me as bubbly but that’s overstimulation. I’m actually a really shy awkward person but it comes out as bubbly because I’m working my brain over time. Also because I am experiencing sensory overload I become louder and more frantic with my gestures because I’m trying to output some of the stimulation that’s being imputed into me. Then I get home and I’m like well I don’t want to go out for at least a week because I’m so tired!
    Being alone at the right time is the best feeling!

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Quality over quantity. Fewer, more meaningful relationships. Smaller & quieter places to engage-when I actually want to engage. I need to have my own designated space in order to be completely alone. I need to stim and cry in private as well as relax and sleep. I thank God I have my own space in which to do so.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Wow. Can I reblog this? I could not have summed up how I feel better myself than what you have written. Focusing so hard on timings, finally summing up enough courage to take part in a group conversation and it goes wrong, I usually get ignored or looked at like I’m an alien.
    Small talk!! Drives me mad, even as a male I cannot stand the shit men talk about. If I’m bored I switch off.
    I love staying up late at night when the world is asleep, it’s about the only time I can relax and let go of my anxieties, my house bunnies are very therapeutic and can usually calm me down as when I see them I have to stop and spend time with them, talk to them. Of course they cannot talk back and are purely innocent and adorable.

    Liked by 5 people

  5. Reblogged this on ARC Books and commented:

    I can relate to this article so very much, I have never had more than 1 or maybe 2 friends at a time, and most often none, because I simply can’t deal with/don’t understand what is considered normal social behaviour. Small talk is a mystery to me, I just don’t know how people can converse about meaningless things for hours on end.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. I have had to reblog this, it is an almost perfect description of me and my relationship with other people. Wherever possible, I avoid them, I just don’t think I understand people, and small talk shakes head no thanks, I don’t see the point of it; if I’m not talking about something worthwhile (something I consider worthwhile at any rate, which I realise other people may not think the same of) I’d rather have silence.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Howdy Anna!

    I’ve always found it is easier to be alone. I also function much more effectively, efficiently, and smoothly when I’m alone. Around others, I turn into second guessing idiot and do nothing right. Alone, I don’t have to worry about what others might want or expect.

    Higher end autism seems to me is a disorder of prediction. I can’t predict social situations like when to take a turn talking. I can’t predict how others will react. The more people involved or the more sensory stimulus involved, the more thinly stretched my cognitive skills are to keep up with it all.

    To me, it is just easier to be alone.

    Huzzah!
    Jack

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I completely agree. If someone is introverted, they should be allowed to have their alone time. Extroverts are not forced to sit alone for hours until they are missable. Also, one isn’t any better than the other. It’s just different.

    Liked by 3 people

  9. As an introvert I resonate to what you are describing. Yes, social occasions are draining. As a psychologist I have come to dislike diagnoses because we are all combined factors. I can identify people in my family who contribute various facets to our collective difficulties living in an extraverted society.
    Also the tribalism of humanity contributes. We cleave to our own group and that includes people who are like us in other characteristics.Unfortunately tribalism breeds prejudice of all kinds. Yes, we have to make efforts at the office and elsewhere but being disparaged for who and how we are is truly unfortunate.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. I totally agree with this and could have written that, and most of the comments. I get tired thinking about plans I’ve made or things I have to do, I need days to recharge after a social thing. Some people don’t get it, thinking that you can’t be busy if you’re not doing anything, but it’s important to look after yourself.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. So much of what you write helps me make sense of my life. I’ve always dealt with what you wrote today by putting on a persona — acting — playing the “hail fellow well met” role. That’s how I always got through the BS small talk, the groups of people, the partying. Which was so bloody confusing — I didn’t know who I was or how to “be.”

    Now that I’m retired I don’t need to do that so much, and I find my willingness and ability to put up with the acting is diminishing. And I do start to feel like I more and more need a period of recovery when I’m forced into it, such as when I’m performing at public events that go on for several days. Of course as a performer, that is an act by definition, but inevitably there’s lots of small talk when you’re stuck at the event not performing. It’s not relaxing really, it’s just another (less intense) act. I can’t wait to get home with my one best friend, my wife, and my studio and be myself (and mostly alone) again.

    I’m nearly 70 now, and what you write (and the great folks who join in the conversation here) has been such a help for me. None of this was talked about or understood until very recently. I wonder how my life might have been less confusing and stressful, if…

    Liked by 3 people

  12. I understand the eternal search for significance in relationships. Acquaintances seems like a word to dress up “stranger”, at best, and “irrelevant” when feeling less generous. The loneliness of crowds is something I’ve experienced often.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. “I never said, ‘I want to be alone.’ I only said, ‘I want to be left alone.’ There is all the difference.” Greta Garbo

    People come in all shapes, colors, sizes and interests. The diversity is what makes the world fun. Unfortunately, some people need to validate their feelings by coercing others to feel or behave as they do. That’s what makes the world ugly.

    That aside, apparently there are health issues associated with living a solitary life. The causes of these issues don’t appear to be well understood and they appear to affect 20-somethings more than they do the elderly.
    https://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/03/16/the-toll-of-a-solitary-life/

    Arguably, Aristotle is correct (again). The Golden Mean is a balanced life that includes some time with others and some time alone.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. “Social hangover” is new to me, but it sure explains how I feel. Saturday evening I had dinner with three friends (which was pretty much pushing it to the limit for me!), and it was a fun time because the food was good and we played interesting games, but so much of the time I was wondering, “Is this the right thing to say?” and “Did I just say something that I shouldn’t have?” I really appreciate your writing here because it makes me and others too, I’m sure, realize that others feel the same way too sometimes. Thanks!

    Liked by 2 people

  15. Like you, I despise the unwritten coworker rules — don’t talk to this person about this, when approaching this person about an order you have to say it this way or they take it wrong, don’t ask questions this way or it will make so-in-so feel like you are condescending, and on and on. I’m just matter of fact about everything and evidently because I’m not passive aggressive or underhanded or overly sensitive I’m an anathema to work culture.

    And as an introvert, as well, I just don’t need all that conversation. It is draining. And coworker get togethers are the worst — you have to make conversation about not work, but you don’t want to let them know your business so you have to smile and make mindless chatter about nothing and it feels wasteful, at least to me.

    Social hangover is definitely a thing — my remedy is a showerbeer when I get home and snuggling with my cats.

    Great post! Hope you have a good week!

    Liked by 2 people

  16. Hi Anne,

    Thank you for sharing. Isn’t it true that people have introvert and extravert tendencies. Some people need to recharge by being alone. It is funny, but I am very social. However, I am working on being a writer and I need more time to write. I often feel guilty because of the time I make or take to get projects done, like today. I struggle with this because I don’t want to become anti-social. I think you are right that God wired us personally and for certain tasks to do. I think when we get it balanced it works. That is an on-going prayer for us both, right? Thanks for sharing,

    Gary

    On Mon, Feb 13, 2017 at 1:39 AM, Anonymously Autistic wrote:

    > anonymouslyautistic posted: “I love being alone. In fact, like most > introverts, I need to be alone in order to recharge my batteries. The > difference between me and most introverts is that they still “need” or > “crave” social activities and being around other people. I simply don’t an” >

    Liked by 2 people

  17. monkey once hear Man say he very very tired of hearing over & over how having active social life help somebody live longer & with more health. this 100 % contradict what Man know about himself. Man not asocial or antisocial. he just not need or want what other people think he need or want.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. I was never social and whenever I do go out I find it awkward as I don’t drink alcohol. There are those I can have a conversation with, but usually I’m lost in transit with others’ chats.

    I’m in the zone when I’m using a computer/phone. But I was able to pass time once on a bus to Dublin talking to the driver for about two hours; different culture here.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. I also don’t know why solitude is seen with such a negative lens. If I know I have a big social event coming up this weekend (which I do), I will spend the previous weekend at home, alone (which I did). This is me charging my batteries in anticipation. I will also curtail outings during the week leading up to the busy weekend. My friends have learned that this is my standard operating procedure, so to speak, and they accept it. Acquaintances are always confused by it.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Wow! Yes, yes, and more yes! Wonderful post, Anna! I can relate to this very strongly. I haven’t gotten the third degree from the people around me about making more friends vs spending time alone, but I can still feel it from society at large. I “should” do “this”, or I “should” do “that” in order to be considered cool. To live up to some stranger’s ideal or to blaze a trail or something. Whatever that is.

    I’m quite content being alone, too 😊 My best ideas come to me when I sit by myself. I have to be completely alone when I sit down to write a blog post. I prefer to stay in on weekends.

    And I find it really challenging to keep up with more than a few friends at one time. I feel like I spread myself too thin if I have more than about 3 people on my primary radar in my offline life. (Online life is much easier for me; I can stay in touch with a few dozen people at once. But sadly, in both online and offline life, if I meet a new friend or I suddenly have more contact than usual with an acquaintance, someone who had been in my inner circle drops off my radar, at least temporarily.)

    And I am SO with you on projects, too. My projects can be very consuming of my time and energy. I love them, so it’s worth it. They’re truly a labor of love. I’m so proud of what I’ve done when I finish something. I feel a kinship with it. And sometimes it’s easier to develop that bond with a project or an idea than it is to maintain contact with people. Projects, ideas, interests, and quests for information don’t need to be impressed. They don’t have feelings to watch out for. They don’t misunderstand you and get hurt, which is agonizing for me (to think or to know that I’ve hurt someone or come across the wrong way). Projects and interests don’t come with that kind of fine print 😊

    I just wanted you to know that I loved reading this and also that you’re totally not alone ❤️

    And you know what? There’s something to be said for people like us. We’re not out there, clogging up the freeways and the world with our chatter and traffic. We’re not making noise or bothering anyone. We’re quietly contemplating, creating, producing, peering into the world through a different filter. And it’s perfectly ok 💪🏼❤️

    I’ll sign off now before I really start rambling lol 😉

    Cheers!!
    ~The Silent Wave Blog writer/Laina 🌟

    Liked by 2 people

  21. I love being alone so much. Sadly, it’s just like you said, there’s a stigma on being alone, especially in business. For the more extroverted companies, you’re expected to go have a drink every so often. Even my current boss was surprised I didn’t do much over the weekend except be alone.

    Though, mom tells me I can start to talk about random things in conversation so I don’t have to let a conversation die at, “I stayed home, and it was great.” For example, I walk at this lake and there are these diving birds I love to watch. Apparently this is something you could talk about if the opportunity presented itself. I guess mom’s point was that, we may not socialize as much, but in our solitude we sure notice a lot of things that are definitely worth sharing. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Here in Ireland, men do more talking than women; and the women love to natter. It’s not even about sport, or anything like that. It’s usually just about nights out or ‘Mad Sessions’ in places like Liverpool or somewhere in Australia.

      This is why I consider Uni a waste of time. We end up in debt trying to forge a career path in a field with precious-little job security. Once I found a job after I graduated I was a fish out of water and couldn’t hack the change of environment. Plus, I didn’t declare my Autism in my application form as I didn’t think it would affect my performance. But it was a Civil Service job in a controversial department of the UK Government, so that dismissal on reflection was a blessing in disguise.

      Liked by 1 person

  22. I see no problem with being alone. I’ve never been diagnosed with anything but I’ve always had trouble with social interactions, most are a complete mystery to me. I’m fine with watching the world from afar buy I unfortunately have a very social husband, daughter and even my autistic son is more social than me. Makes it hard to relate or give advice to my growing kiddos when I don’t understand the problem. LOL

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Exactly the same as you children and all. Except I’m the male. It is tough to encourage my son to be more sociable and come out more, when I cannot even face it myself. I guess I feel I need to give him a better chance at achieving that than I have. Does not stop me being and feeling like a hypocrite though.

      Liked by 2 people

        1. Yes & even from professionals advice is conflicting. Need to try and make him do this or that. Or no leave him in front of tv or PlayStation so he can have his own time & when he is ready will socialise in family more etc. When you have fought these problems your whole life 30 odd years how do I help a young child. I want to but I also want to respect boundaries & appreciate that I have never taken well to being pushed myself.

          Liked by 2 people

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