The world has treated some people well: They’re successful, liked, and rarely been burned. Not surprisingly, those people seek more contact with people.
Alas, the world hasn’t been as kind to other people. They’ve been hurt, unsuccessful, and badly burned. As one client said, “When you’ve gotten knocked out each of the first nine rounds, it’s hard to make yourself come out for the tenth.”
So it’s not surprising that many such people encase themselves in an ever smaller world: seeing ever fewer people, going out less. One client deliberately wore dull clothes, all the way down to a matching dull-colored pen in her pocket so she’d be as invisible as possible.
That’s especially true of older people who feel themselves less prepossessing and efficacious than they once were. They think, “I didn’t do that well when I was more energetic and on-the ball. Now, they’ll really chew me up.”
- Embrace solitude. While the social norm is to denigrate people who prefer solitude, it can be a reasonable option. Indeed, for some people, the advantage of a solitary life goes beyond self-protection. It can feel good to not have to compromise: work when you want, play when you want, at whatever you want.
I’m dubious of the argument that being social leads to long life. Yes, socializing and long life are correlated but I believe that’s because if you’re healthy, you’re more likely to want to be social, not the other way around. So if you’re tempted toward more solitude, I believe health fears shouldn’t deter you.