RECLUSE MEANING: It Can Be A POSITIVE Personality Trait

by frugalrvers

Recluse meaning in my life is a very positive thing. Being reclusive often conjures up negative stereotypes in our society, but I'm here to show you the benefits of being a loner.

If you asked people to define reclusive, how many positive responses do you think you would hear? The odds are that there would be few if any who defined a recluse as a "good thing." We are a crowded, fast moving planet - for someone to withdraw and say "I don't want any part of this" is quickly categorized into "what is WRONG with this person?"

I consider myself to be a recluse, a loner. I celebrate this quality in myself and am here to share how fitting the reclusive definition can be a good thing, offering boundless tranquility and overall happiness.

Let's First Define Recluse (Loner, Hermit, Whatever You Might Call It)

For the sake of clarity, before going any further, let's define recluse. Many people use various, similar words interchangeably, such as recluse/reclusive, hermit or loner...and that is fine. Whatever term you give it, any or all of these general preferences should be expected:

  • Prefers to be alone
  • Avoids the company of others
  • Leads a solitary or secluded lifestyle

Of course, human beings are unique individuals - so how far one takes their reclusiveness will vary between people. But in general, these are the basic preferences when defining a recluse.

The Lone Wolf

Lone Wolf Brand Cigar Box Label

The Negative Sterotypes Which Define Reclusive As A Problematic Trait

Are all people who live a solitary existence in a cabin off the grid likely to have reclusive personalities? Absolutely! Are all of these people likely to become the Unabomber? Absolutely not. Enter the negative stereotyping society places on those who are very content being in nature, away from the perceived noise and chaos of society as just one example of being a "loner." There are, of course, content loners in urban areas as well as rural.

It is human nature to label a personality trait as broken or in need of repair if it doesn't fit societal norms. But that need of society to categorize those who are different does not mean it is right. The key to remember is that as long as it is a preference that feels healthy and right, it isn't a problem no matter what others might think.

So what words come to mind when you think of the word loner, hermit or recluse? Are there any positive descriptions that come to mind? Here are some off the top of my head: antisocial (disorder), withdrawn, unfriendly, dislikes people, depressed, shy, introvert

But here are words I use to define myself: happy, peaceful, helper, trustworthy, creative, friendly

Am I not reclusive then if I don't fit the negative stereotype?

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How My Personality Traits Meet The Reclusive Definition

I am married to my best friend and we've been together 16 years. I'm friendly to others, I'm a musician who has performed in front of crowds..so am I not a recluse? Ah, but indeed I am...here are just some examples:

CHILDHOOD - Even as a little girl in elementary school, I would go off by myself at recess and work on music. I had many friends, however, because it wasn't a negative trait. Other school children knew I was friendly and funny - but that I had to have time alone and not engage in the typical play games. Today they tell me they aren't surprised that I'm a musician and have disconnected from conventional life by way of living in my rv. They knew I preferred to have time alone so they were intrigued and accepted me for who I was.

BUT I'M MARRIED - This lone wolf found a mate, and that's okay in my definition of recluse. My first marriage failed...but my current husband understands me and feels very similar to the way I do. He also knows that I am a lone wolf by nature and I need time alone to recharge sometimes, he helps settle me during times I am forced into participating in social gatherings that create unease and tension, he is content spending most of his time with just me, in quieter surroundings in our camper.

YOU'RE A MUSICIAN? - I love playing and performing music. The difference is that when I am up on the stage I have all of the privacy in the world. I'm not afraid of people, I just don't know how to interact with most people in an unfamiliar social setting. During break time, while my husband tends to "the crowd" I can usually be found slinking off on my own to once again recharge and stay in my comfort zone.

STILL SEARCHING FOR SOLITUDE - Some may think that leaving conventional life and getting an rv is the true example of solitude - but it isn't. There are still rv parks with neighbors everywhere you look. The only time I feel truly at peace is when we take the 4WD off the beaten path in the mountains of Glacier National Park (our main home base for the rv) where there isn't a soul around. We are working toward buying an additional truck camper so I can get my "fix" in the back country whenever I want - sleeping under the stars with no noise, distraction or hint of modern times to be found.

AVOID COMPANY OF OTHERS - Avoiding the company of others doesn't mean that I don't like people. I think most people would say I am actually quite friendly. But you have to understand that when you feel you don't fit in (not in a negative way, just don't share much in common with others) and you feel energized and alive in your solitude, then social gatherings are incredibly difficult and not something to look forward to. For the record, if I won a cruise I would give it away - that would not be a vacation to me, it would be hell.

THE REACTION TO INVASION OF SPACE - Whether it is another rv pulling up in the site next to me, an unexpected and unannounced knock at the door or a phone call/text when I'm busy (which will go unanswered until I'm ready/free to respond), forced socialization or invasion of space is something that kills my spirit. I will be friendly or polite always, but inside I am taking a beating. I am happiest where there is no noise, no people, no cell signal...and that is what has drawn me to the mountains since I was a little girl.

If I'd never met my amazing husband, I have little doubt I would be even more reclusive. We compliment each other and compromise our lifestyles, so if the noise ever gets too strong we just turn on our stereo, close the door, dance or play a game and shut the rest of the world out for awhile.

 

If Someone PREFERS To Be Reclusive, Is There Something Wrong With Him/Her?

UTOPIA

Jackson Hole Homestead and Grand Teton Range, Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming, USA

Famous Reclusive People Show The Benefits To Being A Recluse

Being a recluse in today's networked, connected, social-media obsessed world is difficult for most of us to understand. Our culture tends to frown on those who like to be secluded as if there was something inherently wrong with them. On the other hand, we have all heard of famous reclusive geniuses, people who shun the social company of others to concentrate on their art. They are the ones who demonstrate that there is a benefit to shutting yourself away, that there are opportunities for creativity, learning and growth that might not happen otherwise. Here are just a few on the list:

 

EMILY DICKINSON

Emily Dickinson is a famous American poet who lived in New England from 1830 to 1886. Born and raised in the small town of Amherst, Massachusetts, she began being a serious recluse just after her adolescent years, when she journeyed away from her home only briefly. While she reportedly enjoyed her school years and had many friends in her social circle, as she matured and started writing poetry she made a decision to stay in her family home and rarely ventured off the property. She famously received visitors by having them sit in the parlor while she conversed with them from another room, mysterious and unseen. Those who did catch a glimpse of her noticed that she wore all white clothing, no makeup or jewelry, and kept her chestnut brown hair in a plain bun. This reclusive life suited her, and she wrote all of her 2000 poems (only a handful were published in her lifetime), baked, gardened, and kept up correspondence with several friends and relatives until passing away in the home where she was born.

 

GLENN GOULD

Canadian classical pianist Glenn Gould lived from 1932 to 1982, and began his seclusion after giving up on public performances at the age of 31. His eccentric habits were evident from an early age, however, and along with being germ phobic and disliking being around people, he probably suffered from obsessive-compulsive disorder. His distaste for performing led to a prolific career in the recording studio, and most of his famous Bach interpretations were done after he retreated from the world. But as much as he needed to be alone, he was an ardent follower of technology, and outside of the studio was famous for keeping in touch with a small circle of friends by telephone. He wrote, composed, and created and produced several cutting-edge radio programs while continuing to record his piano performances until his death from a stroke at 50.

 

J.D. SALINGER

Many of us know the name J.D. Salinger from high school, when his most famous book is assigned routinely as a must-read in English classes. But the author of Catcher in the Rye is also well-known for being a recluse. He lived a long life, from 1919 to 2010, but there are few photographs of him and he stopped granting interviews in 1980. He lived an apparently normal life until the huge success of the novel in 1951, and the public spotlight was too much for him to bear. He secluded himself in his home in New Hampshire and became a practicing Vedantic Hindu. While his reclusive nature was chosen, not there from birth, he is an example of creativity blossoming, as he continued writing for some time before quitting entirely in his later years.

 

What the world has gained from reclusive artists like these and many others is impossible to put a value on. Whether their lifestyles were chosen or part of their nature from birth, these creative artists found inspiration, joy and happiness in their seclusion, and the world is a much richer place for their actions.

Benefits Of Being A Loner - I'm OK, You're OK

There are benefits to being a loner, and I wouldn't want to be anyone else. I am kind to humans, honest and trustworthy. If in a social setting, I engage in a friendly manner (even if I don't want to be there!). It's just that...I prefer being alone. I am an advocate for quieting the mind...I also believe human beings have lost so much because they rarely find quiet anymore. By being the reclusive person I am, I am staying true to who I was supposed to be. I listen to my inner self and follow cues (comfort vs discomfort) that keep my mind, body and spirit healthy. I know my creativity flows in a setting of peace and serenity. I know my spirituality soars when I am away from conventional life and society, in the moment, soaking in the beauty. How can that be anything but beneficial to my physical and mental health?

There are, however, those who aren't reclusive by choice. From agoraphobia to social anxiety and depression, some people are prisoners to their reclusive existence. THAT IS DIFFERENT. Anytime you are uncomfortable in your existence and it impacts your life negatively, there is change needing to be made.

But those who prefer to be reclusive - those who shine and grow in solitude - should be celebrated, not shunned. I may not be the majority, but this isn't a contest to see who is "right." I'm comfortable in my own skin, I have no unfinished business when I leave this world someday...I'm walking the path I was meant to...and I hope this world of my brothers and sisters can find that joy in their paths, too.

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Updated: on 05/08/2013, frugalrvers
 
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Meaning Of Reclusive Comments - Share Your Thoughts!


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frugalrvers on 05/27/2013

Poutine, thanks for commenting! I'm glad our article struck a chord in your own life! Thank you for the positive feedback as well...

poutine on 05/27/2013

You describe my husband and myself to a T.

Excellent article.

Poutine

katiem2 on 05/27/2013

What an interesting conversation, It has me coming back to see how it develops.

BrendaReeves on 05/24/2013

You are so right. Every once in a while, things become totally quite in my house. It seems unnatural to me. Humans have all of this noise in their lives now, and they don't even realize it. They can't stand the silence when it happens.

frugalrvers on 05/24/2013

Thanks, Brenda!

I mentioned the comment an urbanite said to me "isn't the silence deafening?" What do they think the world was like even 100 years ago? Not even 140 years ago was Custer's Last Stand! Did Custer get overcome, distracted by the freeway noise, planes overhead...oh wait, did his CELL PHONE RING? hahaha Honestly people, what we are experiencing right now has NEVER been the norm. Quiet, peace, recharging of batteries, reclusiveness...THAT is what is "normal." Society looks at US as pathological? Ummm...ok folks.

Exhibit A: Too funny, but at this rv site we are at we've been in their Dollar General store twice, one week apart. BOTH TIMES they had a radio blaring but it wasn't tuned in...terrible, loud static with choppy pieces of music...and no one complains or tunes the damn thing! It is sad, but really funny, too. All I could say to Jim is "I rest my case." People are so used to loud noise they don't even notice it anymore.

BrendaReeves on 05/24/2013

Robin, I think most of us writers are reclusive introverts. I got divorced after a 26 year marriage to an extrovert. He had to be around people 24/7. I love living alone. American society looks down on us as something pathological. What they don't realize is that every tangible in this world was invented by a recluse. Only an introvert could spend hours on end in the lab, art studio or over a computer. We'll really contribute a lot to the world. And most of us aren't serial killers. lol!

frugalrvers on 05/24/2013

Thank you teddletonmr! Sweet of you to comment...

teddletonmr on 05/24/2013

nice conversation

katiem2 on 05/23/2013

Thanks, it's better to soar high above like an eagle being true to your instincts than head down pecking around like a chicken regardless of whether you are one or not.

frugalrvers on 05/23/2013

AnomalousArtist.....No such thing as coincidence! ;)

Thanks so much for your comment...if you feel up to sharing, let us know what you were discussing and add to the conversation!




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