the fourth question

June 6, 2010

Why do you get peopled out? -- Nicole

People have this annoying habit of sickening me. Of trying my patience, which is easily broken. They drain my energy, and I don’t have a whole lot to begin with. They make demands. They expect things from me. They need.

I need time to recoup. The more people I’ve been hanging out with that day, the more time I need to myself.

This isn’t to say that I hate people or hate spending time with them. I don’t mind them. Sometimes I actually enjoy their presence.

But I am not as sociable a creature as you are. You have your hour of television-in-bed time before you go to sleep each night and the rest of your time awake is spent with twenty-some-odd children each day and your husband and friends each night.

I have spent much of my life feeling alone and lonely. It hasn’t really been all that many years that I’ve been able to say I had a close circle of friends, which includes you and Tammie and Adam. I love each of you equally, for different reasons, of course. Love spending time with you. Look forward to the times I get to do so.

But there is this lingering loner mentality from my childhood, adolescence, and even much of my twenties. There are moments where I feel awkward in the midst of others. There are moments where I feel inadequate. More so when I hang out with groups of people, as opposed to quality time one-on-one.

For example, there are frequent nights where I’ve hung out with all of you in one instance, like going out to dinner or to the movies. There’s you, blonde, beautiful, fun. There’s Tammie, compactly curvaceous, beautiful, bright. There’s Adam, clever, handsome, interesting. There’s Joseph, my dear younger brother — your husband — who is handsome, I suppose, moderately intelligent, occasionally humorous. There’s me, rather ordinary looking, serious-minded, comfortable enough to hide behind the curtains when the four of you much prefer being on stage. When I am with all of you, I am more aware that I prefer being hidden, because I do not shine as brightly as you do.

When I feel so lackluster, I need time to remind myself that I have my own gifts. Maybe they’re not wrapped as well, as beautifully, but they’re as necessary to the world as yours are. Maybe it takes me more than a minute, more than an hour to remember this. Maybe sometimes it takes a day or two of solitude. Maybe this won’t always be the case.

previous essays: the third, the second, the first.


  1. I know what you mean about getting 'peopled out.' I think everyone gets that way at one time or another.

    Myself? Most of the time.

    Good thing students aren't people yet...

  2. That is why I live in the country! I am peopled out!
    I'm your newest follower from the blog hop!

  3. I get peopled out, too. And if you have to explain why... how exhausting. Thanks for your comments on crazybeloved.

  4. i followed you over from the bloghop...I knew I liked you after the first paragraph.

    Looking forward to reading more...

  5. i totally am the same way. i get exhausted just by talking for long periods of time. i can't take people for such a long time and i definitely need a ton of "me" time. but i don't think there's anything wrong with that

  6. Wow, I feel like you were writing for me. It something that seems to have come with age though... maybe the ability to be self aware and take care of myself instead of worrying about what other's think gives the freedom to be okay with needing to be alone sometimes.

    Popping in from SITS.