I only feel normal when I’m alone. I didn’t choose this – it’s who I am. And there’s nothing wrong with that.
I don’t hate people, nor am I a social reject. People are always trying to befriend me, but I keep a distance. Often they take it personally. But I don’t mean to offend.
Society’s opinion is that hermits – usually called loners – are nut cases, and probably violent. When someone shoots up a mall the media typically describe the person as a loner, whether or not that’s true.
The Unibomber is an oft cited example. But people like that are not hermits or loners by nature, but instead wish desperately to be part of social groups that have rejected them for their strangeness (frequently caused by mental illness).
I’m not mentally ill. Nor am I unhappy. In fact, I’m happier when by myself. I have no desire to harm anyone, and have never intentionally hit someone – not even as a child (although as a boy I more than once unintentionally hit friends, and was hit, during games of cops and robbers).
I’ve taken the Myers-Briggs personality test several times, and each time the scorer gives the same reaction when I score at the far end of the introversion scale. I guess you don’t see that all too often.
I can remember as a child being perplexed that solitary confinement is considered a punishment (I decided it was because you’re not allowed to have books). Or that exile was a punishment in ancient times. So you go off and live in the woods. Yay! My teachers were confounded that they had to explain something so obvious to me.
I say I’m a hermit wannabe. Being a hermit isn’t easy. I have a small apartment in the city, not a cabin in the woods. I have a job that requires considerable contact with the public – I have to pay my bills somehow. Casual acquaintances often remark that I’m so quiet, but only those who know me well (family, mostly) are aware that I’m a hermit.
And they think I should change. But my eyes are blue, and I couldn’t make them brown even if I wanted to. And I’m a hermit, and I couldn’t be a social butterfly even if I wanted to.