Can the INTJ get lonely? You better believe it. That fact may surprise you, as the INTJ is the Presidential figure representing all that is alone time. I am quite capable of feeling lonely, and although I handle it rather well, loneliness can raise what I like to call “a bit of psychosis” within me.
Keep in mind that most people’s “lonely” equals the definition of the INTJ social hour, so let me explain:
I spent a little bit more than a year in the late 1990s completely alone. I worked a graveyard shift, lived in a dark basement apartment and I wasn’t speaking to my family at the time, even though they lived in the same city. I was really poor then and only able to afford a good meal once a week.
I took a couple of other jobs to fill my time, but my home time was spent on my couch, watching television in the dark, completely alone. I only had a couch because of a neighborhood dumpster dive and it was filled with ants. I had a phone, but nobody I could, or was willing to call. I even remember watching Princess Diana’s funeral live (I mean live, at approximately 3am) and watching a full four-hour production of “Faust” on PBS. My insomnia was ridiculous, I slept all of 2 hours a day, weighed under 90 pounds and it was the only time in my life where I had no doubt that I had a strong case of diagnosable depression.
There were events that led to this, events that taught me a lot and forced me to endure. I had a college roommate in my prior apartment, who thought it was cute to just move out all of a sudden to move in with her boyfriend, without notice. My failure to afford to maintain that apartment forced me out on a Thanksgiving day. I dropped out of school, took a different job that would allow more hours and lost my car all within the time I was trying to continue to afford that apartment. Apartments were a little easier to come by back in that time period, therefore my attempt to locate a replacement roommate was futile.
All that, and I lost it anyway. Talk about a lesson. I bottomed out then, put everything I could fit in a crappy borrowed work truck on a snowy Thanksgiving and took the first shitty apartment I could find. My life was completely torn up due to one singular event, and I had to build my way back up, which took the solid year that I described above. Do I regret it? Of course not. This was one of the most valuable lessons of my life, however it led to the realization of what loneliness truly is.
In the following years, I have felt these feelings resurface, albeit not nearly as strong. Even having someone within reach has been a comfort in the event loneliness sets in. Like many freedoms, having the option to combat the loneliness is much easier to endure than not having the option at all. I found that in my times of financial struggle, not having the option to eat made me infinitely more hungry than if I made the conscious choice not to eat due to laziness or lack of time, and it works much the same way with social interaction and loneliness. Sure, I enjoy my alone time, but it is nice to have the option for social interaction nonetheless.
I view my need for the option rather selfish. I don’t want or need social interaction often, but I need to option to partake. I don’t experience the loneliness now, simply because I currently cohabitate, but within the years I lived alone, I only took part in social events when I would start feeling the walls close in.
I found that I rarely made the effort to make arrangements on my own, basing interactions entirely on invitation. A weakness, but one that revolved solely around convenience.
Before I met my boyfriend and made the choice to share my life with him, this weakness was something I was actively working on. I genuinely wanted to be a better friend, a better supporter and have a more active social life. 9 times out of 10, it was forced, but I felt it was something I needed to do to move forward. Why? Loneliness sucks, even for the INTJ, and that is something I did not want to experience again.
I got a very bad taste of what shutting everyone out does to a person, and I refused to allow it, even though it actively fought my nature.
I don’t regret the lesson in loneliness that I learned 20 years ago, and the memory of that still plagues me today, regardless of the value I hold in it. At the time, I didn’t know about things like introversion. I knew I was an INTJ, but I had yet to own access to the Internet and knew very little about what that meant. The Internet makes the loneliness a bit easier these days, but social interaction is still very important, even for the introvert.