In most cultures, people tend to group together and feel lonely if left on their own. Not everyone follows this gregarious way of life, though. Throughout the years, famous artists like Monet, Gaugin and others have found peace and success in going out on their own and doing things their own way, in the solitude of their studios. Writers too have their needs to be alone as they come up with ideas and content for their literary masterpieces. Being an introvert isn’t a curse but a gift in the art world. As an artist, time on my own allows me to breathe, to really concentrate on what I’m doing and come up with some of my best work. Then, when I’m finished and want company, I go out and rejoin the rest of the world. There’s a method to my so-called artistic madness.
In the corporate world, we are taught to be “team players”, and work well with others. This isn’t natural for everyone, though we may put on a “work” face and do it. It pays to know ourselves, and what kind of environment works best for us. As a younger woman, I spent time supplementing my artist’s lifestyle with temporary office work. It wasn’t my calling in life, but paid the bills and allowed me to live a better lifestyle than a young freelancer’s unpredictable income alone. Though I craved time to myself, it was mandatory to work in sometimes highly competitive groups, and do jobs that weren’t really my area of expertise. It was all free education in using the other half of my creative brain, and taught me valuable skills in computing, accounting and business management. After years of hard work and getting to know myself better, though, I gave it up and struck out on my own fully.
Being your own boss can be intimidating. All it took for me to stop my fear was to think of the alternative, which was going back to the lifestyle of daily commutes to work and cubicle life. I walked the walk and talked the talk, wore suitable business attire and did what I was told to do back then. Now, though, I’d come to realize that this kind of life was too limiting for me. Years and life experience sure do teach us who we are and what we need. I realized that I cherished my freedom, march to a different drummer in many ways, and was never one to follow rules. I was always the one who had cups of coffee hidden behind my computer monitor, when beverages weren’t allowed during worktime. The quiet rebel, I kept my rebellious streak on the down-low, not to make waves, but to make my life more tolerable during office hours. Spending forty hours in one space every week is a tremendous chunk of my life, so it was important to make it as bearable as possible.
Now, as an established freelance illustrator, my Starbucks coffee pot has its place on my desk. A big desk, with a cat sleeping on it, the tv going in the background and a seemingly endless flow of work to do, at my own pace. No more conforming, except to needs of clients, since they are my bosses now. The dynamic is different, though. Now, I can pick and choose work, and if I want to be around other people. As an introverted person, I’ve learned that solitude works best for me. It allows me to focus on my work and concentrate for hours without needing or wanting to stop. And, the satisfaction of doing a good job is my reward. If I mess up, nobody sees it. Life is good.
If you’re an introvert, don’t feel down on yourself about it. Allow yourself to accept who you are, and watch life improve as you stop fighting your natural ways. Giving yourself the time to regroup, relax and concentrate is a gift of sorts. You will be more refreshed and a happier person when dealing with others if you allow yourself to step back and be alone. Extroverts may not understand this, but it’s ok. It’s hard to understand them from our perspective, as well. Creativity flows freely when the artist is relaxed. For me, relaxing means time alone. I’m happier and healthier for it. Viva la difference.