A few terms ago I was taking an Interpersonal Communications class at my college (because I’m required to take a Communications class and there’s no way I’m taking Speech) and I’d read two pages of the 400+ page book, but already I thought about stuff. And yes, I was actually paying attention to what I was reading. (Shocker!)
The section was called “Why We Communicate,” and it gives examples of when people voluntarily secluded themselves and what it did to them. The first example was when five people were paid to remain alone in a locked room. One lasted only two hours. Three lasted two days, and the last one survived in solitude for only eight days.
W. Carl Jackson, an adventurer who sailed across the Atlantic by himself in fifty-one days, said this: “I found the loneliness of the second month almost excruciating. I always thought of myself as self-sufficient, but I found life without people had no meaning. I had a definite need for somebody to talk to, someone real, alive, and breathing.”
The final paragraph of the section said this:
“You might claim that solitude would be a welcome relief from the irritations of everyday life. It’s true that all of us need time by ourselves, often more than we get. On the other hand, each of us has a point beyond which we do not want to be alone. Beyond this point, solitude changes from a pleasurable to a painful condition. In other words, we all need people. We all need to communicate.”
I was homeschooled all four years of high school. The first three years were pretty easy. I shunned all forms of socialization, and it worked for me. I had a friend who came over almost every Wednesday for a few hours, and that seemed like plenty of “people time” for me. I went to church on Sundays but as soon as the service was over I’d take the keys and go straight to the car without talking to anyone. It was easy for me to avoid talking to people because talking to people had always been one of the hardest things for me. What can I say, I’m an awful conversationalist.
But the last year got difficult. I’m not sure what happened, but kind of all of a sudden I started feeling the loneliness, though I don’t think I knew I was lonely at the time. I’ve always convinced myself that I don’t need people, that I can manage just fine on my own. I don’t need them. I don’t need anybody.
But that last year was painful…even excruciating at times. I still didn’t go to the available youth group or make any real changes in my lifestyle. But I did start obsessing over something living and breathing (though not in my area) and I launched all my feelings and energies in that direction.
Then I was convinced to go to my twin sister’s youth group’s Winter Retreat, and as soon as I got back I felt completely different. Immediately I got myself a Facebook (I had avoided Facebook at all costs beforehand because, like I said, I had shunned everyone living near me) and started going to youth group. It changed my entire lifestyle. I started going to every social event I could find, yet I still felt like I needed more. My socializing skills still suck and I hate that, but they’re gradually improving. And I have an all-new desire to live for God instead of shooting all my energy off in the direction it had been going before.
This almost definitely won’t be the end of my people talk. But isn’t it interesting? I went four years with my only real communication being with my family and that one friend who came over every Wednesday.