“WHY aren’t you with people right now?”
I was having a typical conversation with myself as I wandered the streets alone. Yesterday was the first night of CPAC, and instead of being at one of the many events that come with a giant conservative conference or going out on the town with friends, I was by myself, enjoying the night but feeling guilty for not being more outgoing.
“You’re at CPAC,” my brain told me. “You can be by yourself any time, but right now you should be with some of the hundreds of conservative Millennials that are here for the weekend.”
You see, I am a hardcore introvert. This may seem odd, especially considering the fact that I love public speaking; give me a topic I’m passionate about and a large crowd or an interview and I’m going to have fun. Yet, get me one on one in a group I don’t know really well, or put me in a situation where I feel like an outsider and I freeze. I get extremely awkward, I have a hard time talking with people, and I just generally feel the need to run to the closest door.
Thus, whether by choice when I truly want to, or by default, I find myself spending time alone quite frequently.
Frankly, I enjoy it. I can think, I don’t have to have awkward conversation, and it’s usually fun. Yet in situations like CPAC, I usually feel guilty about the time I spend alone. It’s as if the fact that I’m at such an important event means that I must fill my free time with socializing and networking.
As I wandered yesterday, I found myself walking out to the docks. National Harbor, where CPAC is held, boasts a giant ferris wheel situated out on a dock that is lit up at night. I walked out onto this dock, finding myself among countless other people enjoying the lights, the night, and the open harbor. Turning back to look at the lit up and busy streets behind me, something struck me.
By feeling so guilty about spending time by myself, not only was I fighting against how I was wired, but I was ignoring the fact that God created my personality uniquely; he didn’t create me with the knack for easy conversation all the time, and that was okay.
I was missing beauty around me by thinking about whether or not I needed to go find something to do than wander, drink coffee, and write. As these thoughts passed through my brain, I looked back around the dock, and began to appreciate things. The night was beautiful, people were happy, and the lights were stunning. In my frustration, I had missed all of those things instead of drinking them in.
Should I spend all my time by myself? No. There are certainly times where I don’t just hang out with people I already know, but push myself out of my comfort zone. It’s important that I spend time with people consistently, especially as a Christian in need of fellowship.
Yet, I’m wired to be a loner. I’m wired as one who likes to wander and process and enjoy the company of my thoughts. That’s not something to feel guilty about, and it’s certainly not something to try to change.
I’m certain that I’ll have many more tales of times being a loner as I grow older. I’ll enjoy company when I can, but all the while realize that I am content with being alone as well.