Rediscovering My Own Social Needs
June 26th, 2020
I’ve lived my whole 23 years of life in the crowded city of Jakarta, Indonesia. There are about 10 million people living in this 1,700 square miles city, so it is sufficed to say that I’m with people almost at all times. I live with my mother in a housing complex with neighbors surrounding my house. I go to work by train everyday where I’d be very lucky if I could get a seat for myself. And I go home everyday at the busiest time of the day.
Yet, it is always and always the time that I step foot out of my home, I feel lonelier than ever.
To give a bit of context, I am an introvert. I’m considerably a quiet person. I only talk when I need to and only to people that I need to talk to. It is always obvious that communication skill has never been a big part of my resume.
To top it all off, I’m usually with the same people everyday that I’ve known between 2–5 years. I chat and laugh with them about things I actually don’t care about, but make myself more relevant to them. I have dinner outside work at least once a week with my closest friends to discuss, again, things I actually don’t care about, but make myself more relevant to them. I can only maintain friendship with 5–8 people from my past because the rest just becomes irrelevant by time.
I’ve never minded any of this. I’ve always known that I’m not a people person. I’m not talkative and I’ve never had a lot of friends.
The only thing that makes a difference now is that I feel loneliest when I’m surrounded by people and I wonder why.
I started this journey in November 2018, right after I got over my quarter life crisis. I was determined to be a better person and not to waste away my life. One of the tasks that I have to do is reading books. It becomes a huge part in my self discovery and my day-to-day activity.
In the beginning, I only read one book a month. Then, it became more and more addictive and now, I can read 5–7 books a month. Books have become my company, my closest friend, and my confidant. It might sound weird, but I’ve always found that by reading books, I finally found another person who understands what I’m feeling all along, understands my thoughts, and why I have the perspective that I have.
Following up to that, I feel like people around me become obsolete. I start to realize that my interests and passion are so different from people around me. They can’t understand my thoughts and my feelings the same way books can. I start to think of the people around me as irrelevant and hanging out with them becomes a waste of time.
Moment of Inspiration
At first, I saw this as a big issue because I am fully aware that humans are social being. We can’t live without each other and there’s always that instinct of tendency to be with each other in our ups and downs, to share our feelings and thoughts. It did have a bad impact on me. I started to come to work way less than usual. I didn’t go out as much. I canceled appointments. I stayed at home as much as I could.
It turned out that I have confused my own social needs with the needs of human interaction. Yes, all humans absolutely have social needs, but those don’t necessarily have to come in form of human interaction. Hanging out with pets, watching netflix, listening to music as well as reading books can also fulfill social needs. Human interaction is just the most obvious and common way to fulfill it.
Since then, I feel more positively about reading books even though it can impact my own social capacity to hang out with people. Yes, of course, human interaction is still necessary from time to time, but it’s not like our daily food and water consumption that has to be fulfilled everday. My social needs is filled with reading books, writing on medium, casual chat on Whatsapp, watching youtube, and watching tv series. I’ll need human interaction once in a while, but it’s more of my secondary needs. I still feel lonely at times, but I am optimistic now. I believe that I’ve done the best effort to fulfill my social needs and my feeling will follow along as time goes by.