One is the Loveliest Number

It takes a certain constitution to work contentedly from home by yourself. You can’t be one of those dreadful social creatures who enjoys “human interaction” and “unstructured conversations” and chit-chat and small talk and all of the other things that make office life soul-crushing but Dilbert hilarious. The dog talks! And wears eyeglasses! In violent defiance of what we know of canine behavior and God’s laws! 

 If you enjoy The Matrix memes y'all are gonna LOVE the direction the site is headed. 

If you enjoy The Matrix memes y'all are gonna LOVE the direction the site is headed. 

Nope, you’ve got to be a real anti-social Anthony, a Larry Loner, a Sidney Debilitating Social Anxiety if you’re going to really pursue a solo work environment hardcore the way I have with Nathan Rabin’s Happy Place. Thankfully, I am exactly that kind of painfully self-conscious, socially awkward misfit who thrives on the kind of solitude that drives other men insane. I’m talking week-in-solitary-confinement solitude. I’m talking other-side-of-the-moon solitude. 

I’m the type of guy who takes the old maxim that no man is an island as a personal challenge. Oh, I can't be an island, huh? Just watch me! 

This aversion to human interaction and human contact originated in my childhood, of course. I grew up alone. I found both a certain strange, sad solace in my independence and felt desperately, hopelessly lonely. I started living in my mind, in my imagination, and never really stopped. 

There is such a thing as being too comfortable being by yourself, however. That’s one of the traps I have found myself in as a freelancer. When you don’t ever really have to interact with people, let alone on a daily basis, the ease and comfort of being by yourself for enormous amounts of time can be incredibly addicting. 

And it’s not like I’m ever really alone when I am working from home. My dog is perpetually by my side. That is an ideal set-up. At forty-one, I now realize that I am one of those people who far prefers the company of animals to other human beings and probably always has. Being a dog owner provides many of the comforts and joys and rewards and pleasures of human contact and interaction with none of the anxiety and self-consciousness and fear that go along with it. 

I did not become a writer because I have any great insight into the world. On the contrary, I am perpetually and deeply confused by people and seek only to make my eternal confusion interesting and relatable. I became a writer because I felt like it was a way to stand forever just outside humanity with the exception of my family. 

I’m like a camel with water when it comes to human interaction A tiny amount can go me a long way and I’ve been spoiled in that I get everything that I need emotionally from my family, from my son and wife and dog, and from my writing and readers. I don’t need a bunch of friends and co-workers and office-mates, or anything even vaguely approaching regular human interaction, really.  

 This is totes me! 

This is totes me! 

But I would like to lead a little less solitary existence, and I fear that because my wife and my son and dog and readers are my world, I put undue pressure on them in a way that I might not if I led a more rounded, balanced existence rooted less obsessively and completely in family and work. 

I like being alone more than is healthy, just as I tend to do everything in extremes. But I do think that the ability to be by yourself for long stretches of time without feeling lonely can be healthy and functional, even essential if you have a certain kind of brain and lead a certain kind of lifestyle. It’s a priceless gift and occasional curse I developed as a deeply awkward child and adolescent that has served me extraordinarily well as an only marginally less awkward and self-conscious adult. 

Support Nathan Rabin’s Happy Place and Nathan Rabin’s healthy isolation from the rest of humanity at https://www.patreon.com/nathanrabinshappyplace