I’ve worn many hats in my life. Some of those hats fit my personality very well. Doing research in an office as a long-term student, Professor, and research scientist fits me well. Also, one of my first jobs as a janitor for Ford Motor Company when I worked nights often alone or with companions but still working alone. I was a security guard for a while during my undergrad years. I spent most of my hours through the night never seeing a soul. I was a loader for UPS where, although I worked with lots of people in the same place, I was usually in a trailer loading boxes from a conveyor belt as I built beautiful walls of boxes—alone! And, despite the Army being about teams, life in the Signal Corps is often a lonely experience. You sit in a communications rig in the woods for long shifts without much interaction.
I’ve gone on backpacking and adventure trips with my buddies. I’ve run trail races with lots of people. While these are all solo adventures, there’s lots of people around. When I’ve really gotten to know nature is when I’m by myself. Once me and buddies were hiking across Isle Royale National Park. We had set-up camp for our last night and I wandered off by myself. I was barefoot on the trails and I just wandered. It was the best part of my week-long trip. I could hear the wildlife around me more clearly. The only noise I made was my breath and the pitter patter of my bare feet. When I’ve paddle long distances by kayak, the aloneness is the best part. When I trained for 6 hours a day for ultramarathons, it was always a solo experience. Its when I feel at my best.
Yet, I have also worn hats in my life that seem totally extroverted. However, if you talk with a good number of performance artists, they are alone on stage despite being in front of lots of people. I’ve been an Army Drill Instructor. I managed a platoon of 50 soldiers and often took a senior role as first sergeant over an entire company. That’s 200-250 soldiers. But I never had any trouble with that role. I’ve taught university classes in front of lot of kids. I’ve given research presentations in huge conference halls. I’ve spoken at conventions. And I teach yoga to lots of yogis. So I’m in front of people a lot. But I’m still an introvert. Some say its lonely at the top. Positions of authority are often lonely. My bosses don’t go out with the little people. Fraternization is a weird thing. So being in front of people is still lonely.
Aloneness and introversion are not necessarily the same. Yet, they are Venn diagrams with a lot of overlap. With technology, I’d rather if I never had to call anyone for the rest of my life. I’m quite alright with a text or an email. I’ve gravitated toward a massage therapist who uses an online app for scheduling. Then, I don’t even have to communicate with anyone to schedule my appointment. I can pre-pay and I could easily walk in and out without saying a word. That’s my perfect interaction. I’m not a worldly guy and drive my own car. So I’ve never used Uber until recently. Actually, my companion used it. I love it! Its perfect for introverts. Plug in pickup and drop-off locations and you don’t ever have to say a word.
I’m not sure that most businesses think about this introvert angle. But I think technology in itself is very introvert friendly. I’m supposed to go and pick out a new recliner for myself. But that means I actually have to go to a store, hear the spiel from the salesperson, and then wrangle a price out of them. I hate wrangling. I hate interacting. Its something I totally despise. I’d much rather go to Amazon, read the reviews and pick out something that way.
Don’t get me wrong. I love being at home with my family. Its easy there even if I still need some alone time now and then. I love interacting with my yogis. I have very few friends, but I enjoy those who I see now and then. I don’t mind a little idle chatter at work sometimes. Just as long as about 90+% of my day is alone, then I’m good.