Weekend Assignment: Lone Wolf, Pack Animal

The latest Weekend Assignment poses an interesting question:

Some people are happiest when they’re part of a group. They may be leader of the pack, or actively contribute to the group’s efforts, or simply hang out with the others for companionship, and any scraps they may get. Other people are more the lone wolf type: the explorers, the loners, given to solitary effort and independent thought. Where do you prefer to function in human society: as part of a group, or your own, or in some combination of the two?

Extra Credit: Is there a group with which you’re currently affiliated that is especially important to you? What is your relationship with that group?

Growing up, I was often the odd man out.  I had few close friends.  I was always the last picked for any sports team.  I was relatively unpopular, because the things I was good at – studying and doing well in school and trying to expand my knowledge of the world – were not things that made the list on “how to win friends and influence people“.  Add to that a relatively uneven self-image (I was a scrawny kid, lacking in physical prowess, and I wasn’t what I would consider photogenic; albeit, I didn’t really care about those things, either).  Consequently, I was frequently a loner.  I’d spend time in books, or making up my own stories, or drawing, or otherwise engaging my imagination.

But secretly, through it all, I always craved the attention and friendship of my peers.  I just didn’t have, or didn’t believe I had, the skills and gifts necessary to do so.

Personality tests were an inconstant source of insight on the issue as well.  They often indicated that I was an Introvert – but not always.  There were times when the results were a little more inconclusive.  I accepted that I was, but at times I didn’t really feel like I was.  I wanted to be a part of the pack.  It was when I took the Birkman test at the start of my Master’s degree that I came to better understand my relationship with the group.

That said, there have been times in my adult life when I really have been a part of the group.  There were days when I was a regular participant in an on-going game of D&D.  Man… good times, good times.  Likewise, there was a time when I was in charge of my church’s Young Single Adult program, helping to plan and execute activities and social events for other young people to come to.  In those days, I often felt like I had a good, solid group of friends – people I would hang out with on a regular basis.  It felt good to be in the center of it all, to be where things were happening and where the people were.

But good times like that don’t last forever – you move on with life.  I haven’t had time to participate in a solid D&D game in years, and if I did have time, I’d rather spend it writing.  And I’m not single anymore.  With marriage comes an end to the lifestyle of a single: hanging out with friends whenever you want, parties, road trips, and so on.  I still have a few good friends, but the number of people that I could honestly say I’d be comfortable just hanging out with I can now count on one hand.  My only real, close, constant friend and companion is Dear Wife (and, of course, B.T. and Shasta).  I still like all my old friends from the old days.  But, if I’m honest with myself, things are different now.  You can’t go back, you can only go forward.

At times, yes, I still think fondly back to those days when I was one of the guys, when I was part of the pack, when I was surrounded by friends – whether we were playing some games, going to a dance, out on a road trip, or just relaxing together and shooting the breeze.  But now there are responsibilities.  There’s school, there’s a baby, there’s a need to justify my existence to the universe.  Someday, maybe there will be a chance to sit back and relax with friends.  I sincerely hope so.

As for the extra credit: well, I’m religious.  So, my relationship with my church, on a general scale, is important to me.  Even so, I have relatively few real friends in my current congregation – and because this congregation serves a region that covers several large schools, it’s a congregation that’s often in transition as new people move in and old people move out.  So some of those friends have already or soon will be moving away.  For myself, I often feel like an itinerant there, like an interloper.  It’s an oddly uncomfortable feeling.

8 thoughts on “Weekend Assignment: Lone Wolf, Pack Animal

  1. For some reason, I really liked this post.

    I see myself as a pack wolf who doesn’t mind being alone. I don’t go crazy if I’m by myself, but most of the time, I’d rather be with people. Some people enjoy social interaction but don’t live for it. I live for it. And you’re right, marriage changes people tremendously. It ties them down…but in a good way.

    Thanks for sharing. 🙂

    • I’m glad you liked it, and you’re welcome. For us writers, I think this is a funny topic, because writing is by its nature often a solitary activity. So we’re often pegged as loners just because we work alone – but that isn’t necessarily so.

  2. I’m happy to do things on my own, and being around a lot of people drains my energy. But… I don’t like being completely alone and shut away. I like being out in the crowded streets, having people around, being surrounded by the hustle and bustle of city life. Also, oddly I’ve always thought of myself as a lone wolf, always felt a bit of an outsider, but I’ve never lacked for friends. I don’t make them quickly, but when I do they’re usually for life.

    • I used to feel that way about my friends – that when I do make friends, they’re fast and for life. But then they all moved away, or I moved away, or life otherwise intervened, and we’ve lost touch. Facebook and other social networks makes it easier to “keep in touch” these days… but still, there’s a clear difference between “facebook friends” that you only interact with once in a blue moon on a social network and friends that you actively interact with in your daily life. It’s the latter category that I’m short on, these days, and I miss that interaction. I find that either social interaction or alone time can both be mentally draining for me, and both can be invigorating. It just depends on the nature of it. I love writing – and that invigorates me. Hanging with a small group of close friends can be invigorating, too. Performing on stage or giving a speech can fill me with both fear and excitement. Schmoozing at a big party with a large number of acquaintances and only a few actual friends: that drains me right out, and I find myself mentally disconnecting…

      • Yeah, I know what you mean. I think I’ve just been fortunate that most of my friends have not moved away, and I have moved back to my home town. It’s odd that balance of what gives you energy and what’s draining!

  3. Oh, D&D! I remember lots of all-nighters in my college days, happily playing D&D or AD&D with friends. Great times indeed, but long past for me as well.

    I’m glad to read that church is important to you too, but I hope it becomes more of a home for you, or else that you find a parish you can really feel part of.

    • It’s unusual for me to feel so out of place in my church. Over the past ten years, I’ve found that I’m generally very comfortable in my church of choice – but I’ve been a member of this congregation for the past couple years (when Dear Wife and I married, we moved together to a new area and joined a new congregation that was geographically closer to our new home), and I’ve never quite felt like I fit in here. I think it’s largely because over this same period of time I’ve had to spend so much time in school, which means I’ve had very little time to spend making friends at church. My hope is that when I get out of school, at last, I’ll be able to start making more of those friends.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s