There are countless negative stereotypes about loners. Often words like recluse, hermit, eccentric, and weird are used. I reject all of them.
It’s like saying being an introvert is abnormal. Or, for that matter, it’s like saying being an extrovert is abnormal. Both of these personality types are just the person’s makeup.
I acknowledge that there are extreme cases where a person who happens to be a loner goes crazy, but that can be true of any personality type. I’ve seen extroverts descend into madness like behavior.
There needs to be a new definition for what a loner is. There also needs to be a new social awareness of the difference between a loner and the negative stereotype.
I believe the field of psychology has played a central role in creating the negative stereotype for loners. Psychologists have continuously taken it upon themselves to define what is normal. They have also taken it upon themselves to define what ideal behavior is.
I understand the reason for defining personalities and abnormalities in order to establish standards and guidelines. They are there to legitimize the profession and to establish licensing standards. Unfortunately, political and religious groups often manipulate these standards or they are outdated.
Let me emphasize that most psychologists mean well. The problem is that many of them are as or more screwed up than everybody else. In other words, they are normal people trying to be superhumans. Psychologists often see anyone who doesn’t fit their ideal psychological profile as an abnormal person. Then they go on to label them with one or more of the thousands of so-called disorders as described in their bible – the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM).
There’s nothing abnormal about being a loner, just as there is nothing abnormal about being an introvert or an extrovert. The same is true if you’re geeky but not artistic or athletic but not creative. Each of these personality types has its own set of unique strengths. And loners are no exception.
Introverts may be better listeners, learners, and designers. Extroverts may be better talkers, doers, and builders. And loners may be better writers, thinkers, and inventors.
But loners have a quality that none of the others have. They have a refined ability to enjoy being alone. They have no fear of being alone. And they have an advanced ability for independent thinking and original ideas.
Some of the most creative, talented, and gifted people are loners. You’ll find them in the arts, sciences, philosophy, entertainment, and sports. Here are a few examples.
- Isaac Newton
- Nikola Tesla
- Joe DiMaggio
- J.D. Salinger
- Emily Dickinson
- Anthony Hopkins
Probably millions of people are afraid to be open about being a loner due to negative stereotyping. If you are one of them, it’s time to break through the barriers, stand tall, and be proud.
You’re probably wondering if I’m a loner. Yes, I am. In my youth, it caused me considerable pain because according to stereotyping and psychological “standards,” I was weird.
I didn’t spend too much time seeing it that way. I usually saw my loner behavior as being an advantage that would bring me uncommon insights and strengths. I’d say today that in several significant ways these predictions have come true.
Like many loners though, I’ve had many close friendships over the years. I make friends easily. I’m usually somewhat socially involved. I’ve become skilled at mingling at social functions. And I would even classify myself as being fairly popular at different points in my life. I just prefer a great deal of alone time.
I struggled to accept my inclination to enjoy being alone for many years. I was continually pushed by stepfather to join sports teams and clubs as he did. I tried doing this, but I didn’t enjoy having to commit so much of my time to group activities that were controlled by others. I felt bad about myself for not liking these things, as if something was wrong with me.
It wasn’t until I was well into adulthood that I realized that I wasn’t strange but just unique. I also learned that there were many other people like me including my father. He taught me how to appreciate this quality.
I discovered that I did not like team sports, but I loved individual sports like tennis. I found that I did not like being a part of a club whose goals were controlled by others, but I loved creating and leading one of my own as I did with my singles organization. I also learned that several famous people who I greatly admired had the same lifestyle preferences as me. Some of them are included in the above list. These realizations were the turning point for me.
I was going close by saying, “Loners Unite!” Then I saw the humor in what I was suggesting since loners don’t like being tied to groups. They love their independence and freedom.
Let me say it this way instead. Let’s be united in spirit and support loner transparency and self-confidence.