I’m a major admirer of Stoicism, and I’ve been pondering lately if there’s a link between my interest in ancient philosophy and my introverted/lonely disposition. Being a loner in a culture that emphasizes extroversion isn’t always easy. Our abilities are sometimes disregarded. Seeing the charming chatterboxes rise to the top might make the strong silent types feel frustrated by their lack of recognition. We, on the other hand, excel at spending time alone. And what is, without a doubt, the finest method to make the most of our solitude? We are, after all, immersed in philosophy.
Looking at Stoic exercises, I believe that the majority of them are solitary activities in which we truly separate ourselves from life and its results, whether it’s Marcus Aurelius’ negative vision, writing, or remembering that we’re going to die (Memento Mori). To complete these activities, we require some level of reflection, and most of us who are lone wolves have good introspective talents.
Some Introverts, on the other hand, have a proclivity to live as hermits, separating themselves from a world that can’t seem to keep its mouth quiet. I’ll admit that I’m a victim of this myself. I can go days without speaking to anyone and be absolutely content. Furthermore, I, like many other introverts, require alone time to replenish my battery. I enjoy wandering alone in nature to clear out my thoughts, and the thought of removing myself from civilization — even if only for a short while – often occurs to me. Marcus Aurelius, on the other hand, believes that finding inner calm does not need us to actually go to the hills. Rather than shutting ourselves off from the rest of the world, we could choose to use our ability of quietness to practice in public. Many people talk merely to talk, and they tend to say a lot of no things about subjects they don’t understand. So, is there a stronger power than the capacity to remain silent in a room full of blabbermouths?
While we should not isolate ourselves, Stoic philosophers argue that we should not associate with the wrong people or use vulgar language, such as gossip. This means we should be picky about whom we hang out with and avoid negative individuals that pull us down. So, when there’s no one else to talk to, it’s preferable to be alone. Because there are lots of virtuous things to do while you’re alone, such as working on activities that aim to aid others. Alternatively, you might be less ambitious and avoid hazardous things.
Introverts are the quiet listeners of mankind, and they contemplate and reflect on life experiences a little more than their outgoing counterparts. One risk is that we overthink and, maybe, overanalyze other people’s thoughts to the point that we get anxious. Stoic wisdom may counteract this by turning our uncontrollable sea of ideas into a honed sword of logic, transforming our reflective faculties into an advantage rather than an enemy. In this way, we may cope with problematic individuals in our thoughts without saying anything.