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alone time

36 Human Interaction Optional – Some Nerd Girl Original Webcomic

Sometimes you just want to savor those days of solitude….

Check out all the SNGCs here and join us every week for a new original SNG Webcomic!


AlexAlex is our resident Webcomic creator. He grew up in Puerto Rico, but didn’t reach true Nerdom until he came state side when he was in middle school. He’s been drawing since he was five, but has only started posting Webcomics in the past year. You can check out his amazing and original work at tapastic.com/gomezalexj.

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When Sweet Solitude Becomes Unhealthy

When I quit full-time work to become a freelance writer, I revelled in the joy of leaving office life behind. I could work my own hours, wear what I liked, and never again have to deal with congealed kitchen encounters or un-flushed toilet surprises (seriously, why do people do this?).

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But after just a few weeks of solitude, I started experiencing peculiar mood swings. By the end of each week, I’d pace about my study room, anxious and a little manic. All this in the midst of enjoying my own company. What was going on?

Wanting to be alone

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Extroversion score from my personality test results (2006)

I like spending time by myself. Ever since I got online in my teens, I enjoyed friendships the most when they’re over text. In my 20’s, I had a face-to-face social life so active that I burnt myself out on human contact. (Yes, it can happen; read Eve’s post on introversion to learn more!) So, in rebounding, I took every opportunity for solitude and never questioned my preference for being alone.

You can see where this is going. And you don’t have to look far to learn what science has to say about it. Loneliness affects our sleep, our stress levels, our understanding of our surroundings; it can trigger changes in our bodies that leave us prone to illness. Funnily enough, being lonely can also make you stay lonely, as you develop self-esteem and perception habits that make it hard to feel comfortable connecting with people.

It was difficult to fathom, and even harder to admit. After all, I talked to people every day over the internet, sometimes sharing the kinds of conversations we had when we still saw each other face to face. I love my solitude and quiet. And most importantly, I didn’t feel lonely.

But – HAHA, GUESS WHAT…

You don’t have to feel lonely to be isolated

According to a 2015 study, published Perspectives on Psychological Science, you can still be socially isolated even if you don’t feel lonely. And the ensuing risk of mortality is up there with alcoholism and smoking 15 cigarettes a day.

Seems ridiculous, doesn’t it? Especially when it’s easier than ever to stay in touch with technology, and remain constantly tuned into what our friends are doing. To be honest, sometimes I find it overwhelming and actually crave that peaceful isolation.

This, suggests cultural analyst Sherry Turkle, is exactly the problem.

In her TED talk, Turkle explains that all these ‘sips’ of communication, even in the quantities we consume, still don’t add up to a big gulp of real conversation. Our technologically enhanced connectivity is a poor substitute for a real human connection, yet we consistently turn to it out of habit or desire for entertainment and distraction, leaving us isolated even as we continue to stay in touch.

It’s not that we intend to become withdrawn; that’s just a natural byproduct of overdoing the solitude, and falling back on digital products to replace analog contact.

A bit of this, a bit of that

Let’s balance things out a bit, shall we? Solitude isn’t bad. Making an effort to spend time with yourself and enjoy your own company can offer a world of benefits, especially if you’re naturally predisposed to needing lots of time alone.

The internet isn’t bad either. And nor is social media. Where people already suffer from social isolation and loneliness, maintaining contact online can go a long way in reducing the probability of depression, to the point where it’s now deemed healthy for the elderly.

But you know what else isn’t bad? Seeing people. Hanging out. Lessons from Rat Park suggest that not even chemical coercion can defeat genuine social bonds and healthy emotional support. Well, in rats, anyway.

So, if you’re like me and have a penchant for solitude; if you’re generally low on extroversion and default away from social gatherings; if you’re prone to information overload and feed a mild obsession with switching off, remember to take a break from soloing every now and then. And contact someone for real.

I have a part-time job now. Spending two days a week with creative, nerdy people has done wonders for my well-being. It’s a big enough window to have real, healthy human contact. And a small enough portion of my week to give me the right amount of solitude.

This aside, my study room is comfortable. Some days, I still can’t bear to leave it. My books are there; my craft supplies, games, endless access to social media and Slack channels – almost everything I need.

But only almost.


SandySandy is a writer and maker from Perth, Western Australia. She keeps busy with homesteading, horticulture, football, martial arts, games, code, tinkering, DIY, fussing the cats, and drinking tea. She blogs long things at sanlive.com and tweets short things at @sandysandy.

The (Literal) Pain of Being an Introvert

Obligatory disclaimer: I enjoy being an introvert. I am not lonely, I am not a victim of circumstance, nor malcontent with my social life.

When I am not spending my time nerding out, writing, surfing the internet or binging NetFlix, I work as an analyst. It’s one of those things popularly referred to as a ‘day job.’

Overall working as an analyst is a good fit for me. I get to dig into details, solution, improve and innovate on a regular basis – checking a lot of boxes on the things-I-need-to-enjoy-my-job list. There are times, however, where collaboration is an all day activity. These sessions are immensely productive and results driven, which means my satisfaction level with them is high.

However.

Of course there is an however.

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Click image for source

The more I experience day-long collaborative events, the more I realize how painful it can be to be an introvert. For no other reason other than being totally and completely drained by constant discussion and proximity to other people. Keep in mind; I am engaged in these sessions, talk frequently, problem solve, plan, etc. etc. – these are all things I enjoy doing. And yet, as the hours drag on, I am in physical pain.

We’re talking neck/shoulder strain, headaches, body stiffness, fatigue and even the occasional nausea.

How do I know this is the product of being an introvert?

I spent 10 minutes afterwards in a room all by myself and felt almost entirely better, or more ‘myself’. There is a lot of conventional wisdom that acknowledges the need for introverts to recharge, but I’m not sure extroverts fully understand what that means. It means recovering from some level of discomfort, and if we don’t get it… well, ‘cranky’ might be an understated descriptor of what may occur.

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AAAAHHHH PEOPLE!

As an introvert, all this physical discomfort seems like a signal from my brain telling me to GTFO of wherever I am and sit quietly alone with my own thoughts. And I can tell you from my hangry episodes alone, my brain can be VERY insistent. It turns out that there is some science behind this – and it makes sense. The way our brains react to the chemicals produced during times of high interaction with others is absolutely bound to have a physical effect on us introverts.

But like many things happening in our brains, it can be nearly impossible to communicate these concepts in ways others – who don’t experience the same – will understand. It’d be like someone trying to explain their bipolar disorder to me. Or even a need to be around people all the time. It genuinely baffles me and while I understand on an intellectual level, I’m not sure I’ll ever ‘get it’.

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Click image for source

So I don’t blame people for not understanding the introversion that is a huge part of my life. I have a very supportive group of friends and coworkers who don’t make concessions, but accept me for who I am, and that’s pretty cool.

I do appreciate the effort others go to in order to understand weirdos like me – which is the whole reason I’m crafting this article. I’m fortunate in that I don’t often have day-long collaborative obligations where I work, but I used to work front-line customer service. And oh boy, was that not the job for me.

It started at a small bar and sandwich shop. That was okay and manageable. I knew most people, they knew me, and I got what they needed quickly and efficiently.

Then I moved onto a national chain sandwich shop, which will not be named. This job involved high-volume interactions with different people every day. Different, demanding and unforgiving people. It was genuinely terrible for me, and I spent every day working there depressed and hopeless.

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Click image for source

(I took a lot of naps during my time working at the sandwich chain that shall not be named)

From there, I ‘upgraded’ to a call center job where I only had to talk to strangers over the phone instead of face-to-face. This was helpful at first, but as the volume picked up and spending a solid 8 hours of doing nothing but talking to other people turned into a painful and stress-filled experience. Seriously; just the memory of it can make me break into a cold sweat.

And it’s not because I hated my job, or the company, or the customers. It was simply an over-exposure to interaction with others and very little time to myself during my work day. And ‘to myself’ doesn’t mean goofing off with non-work related activities. It just meant my entire job was to interact with other people and let me tell you… this is not the best fit for any introvert. I was good at my job, like I’m good at my job now… but it was slowly killing me inside. 🙂

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Aah, not another soul in sight. Perfect!

Shout-out to all my introvert hommies: if you’re in a depressed, discontent place in your life and you work at a job that requires constant interaction with other people, that’s probably the reason. Figure out how you can work without all the… you know… people stuff. Again, this advice does not come from a place of disliking others on an arbitrary level. Introverts just have needs that, when not met, genuinely impact the quality of our lives. Admitting it is the first step to recovery!

So there you have it, ladies and gentlemen. Introverts – or at least this one – can be in physical pain if we don’t get our alone time. Please keep this in mind when interacting with your friendly neighborhood introvert. Spend time with us, just not TOO much time. We will love you forever for it!


Eve2Eve is the founder of Some Nerd Girl and the author of urban fantasy novels Children of the Fallen and Unforgettable as well as science fiction novel Colony One. She has been writing since the age of 13 and has been flying her nerd flag for the past 16 years. Fandoms include Star Wars, Star Trek and Battlestar Galactica. Basically if it has ‘star’ in it, she’ll give it a shot.

 

24 Miscommunication- Some Nerd Girl Original Webcomic

Introverted subtext: “I am enjoying this movie alone!”

Check out all the SNGCs here and join us every Monday for a new original SNG Webcomic!


AlexAlex is our resident Webcomic creator. He grew up in Puerto Rico, but didn’t reach true Nerdom until he came state side when he was in middle school. He’s been drawing since he was five, but has only started posting Webcomics in the past year. You can check out his amazing and original work at tapastic.com/gomezalexj.

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