Solitude (or, Leave Me Alone!)

I’ve always possessed a rather high tolerance for solitude. And often, I’ve been mislabeled as “antisocial” as a result. But time gives one opportunity to self-reflect, and I have since concluded that this accusation is unfair. I’m not antisocial. Rather, I possess a lack of tolerance to associate with people who don’t contribute to my happiness, well-being, or personal/professional goals. It’s not being self-centered, it’s being pragmatic; and it’s a natural progression into the latter stages of life (I’m middle-aged now I hear!)

It’s probably a very late realization, for I was raised to be the people-pleaser. Parental upbringing, an oppressive educational system, a social system that rewarded agreeableness, and the supremely draconian punishments for upsetting customers in service jobs (the only jobs available to a 16-30 year old) – all contributed to the “be nice and indulge everyone” philosophy that dictated my social interactions throughout my formative years. As a result, this “antisocialness” was instead a tendency to avoid all people, because I was conditioned to have to like all people, and lacked the backbone to be more selective.

Now I’ve realized that I don’t have to do that. And it started with this:

If people obey the fuzzy ropes at public venues, then a chain should accomplish the same. My apologies to USPS and any package couriers. I try to remember to take this down if one of you is coming that day.

Granted solicitors are the most aggravating of the lot. When I checked back on surveillance footage and saw the same guy from 2018 who comes back every year to try to sell me a bug-spraying service, my patience hit an end.

Add to that a stereotype Republican boomer neighbor with a litany of conspiracy theories (government is spraying the atmosphere with COVID vaccines, Michelle Obama has a penis…you get the idea), street missionaries trying to get me to join their church, and political activists asking how I plan to vote; and while not true “solicitors”, I’m hoping the chain will send a message.

So far so good, though I haven’t captured anyone on camera yet to draw a correlation.

More importantly, the symbolic gesture has finally emboldened me to become more self-serving! I view this as a good thing. Being a doormat only leads to a life of quiet desperation. That was the lesson that George Bailey should have learned.

Here’s some examples:

  • I hung up on someone! I had to disable blocking unknown callers for a time during that HVAC adventure, and I got another call asking for Dustin Werner. When I said they had the wrong number they proceeded to ask if I knew him, and I just hung up and blocked the number instead. Damn was that liberating!
  • I send my new doctor a letter outlining his incompetent staff (4 weeks and I still don’t have my medical records available). I never “broke up” with a physician before.
  • I stopped engaging with my sister over pointless and hostile “discussions”. Actually, I do feel a little bad about this one, but it’s the similarly politically-charged points as the aforementioned neighbor, albeit not totally unhinged and far left instead of right and dripping with pseudo-intellectualism (the world’s entering environmental collapse, you planted the wrong tree, you interpreted that book/movie wrong, The Patriarchy and men are all overly-confident know-it-alls (why would you even have this as a conversational point when calling your own brother?) I still talk to her in chats though.

This almost sounds like a bad motivational speech, but if you don’t add any value to my life then I’m not going to talk to you!

I mean, within reason of course. I’m not a psychopath. I’ll still help people and do nice things for family, but I won’t tolerate them thinking I owe them my time.


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