I am an extrovert and also an only child. I am not always the best judge of what's good for me, and nowhere in my life is it more evident than in my socialization patterns.
Few people under the age of fifty spend time completely unplugged from others; for a significant number of us, being truly "away" could lead quickly to unemployment. Many people don't get outside for any real amount of time each week, and most spend free moments with family or taking care of errands. All the advice for balance and calm tell us that we should carve quiet alone time--reading, being outside, praying or meditating--in order to hold onto ourselves in the storm of modern life.
This has never been a problem for me, until it creeps up on me. The selfishness charge frequently levelled at only children (second only to the near-universal notion of our spoiled rotten existence) hits the nail on my head, as I guard my rituals jealously. No matter how kids and work keep me buzzing, each week I find time to read for pleasure, walk or run outside, and take hot baths. At the office, I can go for long hours and not stop to talk to co-workers, as the vast majority of my work involves electronic correspondence.
And then I get lonely. I've spent so much time inside my own head that I don't know the way out. I don't feel comfortable calling up friends, knowing they have husbands/boyfriends/family taking up their time, and it's just easier to be by myself. After all, it's a skill I learned early, and it's a part of the self-reliance I am so proud of. So much less emotional work is involved in staying home by myself and taking care of the many chores that need doing. And then I need to tackle the pile of reading I've left because work is so crazy. As for why there is no significant other in my world, there are advice columnists who say only children stay single because they just don't get miserable enough when they are alone, as many, mostly married people, call single life.
Once a friend calls--and I am thankful, if strangely reluctant, when one does, provided they give me a day or two for my only child brain to consider it--and I have an invitation, I know from experience that once I push myself to get there, I will have a grand time. I adore a good party, and once there I immediately remember that talking to people is tremendous fun. So I spend several happy hours and come home with ten times the energy I had when I left. But as a body in motion in solitude, I find it hard to move out of my state without an outside mover. And unless I know the people there will be interesting to me, I find it a difficult force to overcome.
Do others experience it the same way, or do they long for time alone and can't get it? I suspect my time (the dirty little secret of divorce is that mothers can take a bath without someone pounding on the door) spent in solitude is a luxury many wish they had but can never have. It's just that sometimes the quiet gets so terribly loud. Tell me about your time alone and what it feels like.