I am a loner.
This is not news to anyone who knows me. I can, during the best of times, lock myself in my apartment, turn on my Kindle, and forget about the rest of the world.
I thought, for a long time, that my reclusiveness was just a function of my character. After all, both writing and reading--my two primary sources of escape--are solitary activities. (Especially since my brand of writing involves talking to myself and pacing. Lots and lots of pacing.)
But I'm beginning to wonder how much of it is driven by my character, and how much of it is self-preservation.
Sometimes I think it would be easier to live a life where I cut myself off from people altogether. Sometimes I think it would even be better.
When you start to care about other people, they frequently disappoint you. That's a lesson I have learned over and over again throughout my life. It's not that most people are inherently bad, it's that they're selfish. When you need to depend on them, selfish impulses will often override whatever care they have for you. I have a theory, that the selfishness of people can be measured on a bell curve. 66% of people fall within one standard deviation of the midpoint--i.e. true neutrality, neither selfish nor selfless. They're not going to kick your puppy or burn your house down, but they're not going to give up their seat on the bus when you're carrying heavy packages or give you change for the pay phone if you've lost your cell.
Even the people you think you're supposed to be able to rely on, the ones who will have your back no matter what, aren't immune. In my life, family members have frequently been the worst offenders.
When you open yourself up to people, when you allow yourself to care about them, you're opening yourself up to get hurt. I've been hurt enough to hesitate to take the risk.
A life of solitude might get lonely, but you'll never get hurt, either. You'll never trust someone who betrays you. You'll never love someone who abandons you. You'll never grieve for someone who dies on you.
So you have to decide: what's the more worthwhile option? Do you risk yourself and allow other people into your heart, or do you protect yourself and keep others out?
Right now, I'm honestly not sure.