Until recently I’ve been as happy in my own company as I’ve been when with others. Silence and isolation have never bothered me, neither had crowds at concerts or events. I never really paid it any attention, perfectly happy at both ends of the social spectrum.
Then one carefree, pre-pandemic day, I had an immense feeling of panic. I was with some friends grabbing drinks and soaking up the atmosphere as we waited to enter a large event at a stadium. In a sea of around 80 thousand people, I felt overwhelmed, dizzy and couldn’t breathe. Needless to say, my friends helped me pull myself together and I went on to enjoy my evening with them.
Then another odd thing happened. I lost my lust for a shopping trip. Much to my husband’s delight, I no longer had the urge to spend my weekends at large shopping malls, flitting from store to store picking up bargains I never knew I needed. These malls suddenly became places that filled me with horror. The enticing window displays could no longer compete with the dreadful, amplified and echoing sounds of kids crying, adults shouting and dogs yapping. In fact, these days most things that involve mixing with my fellow human beings get on my absolute tits.
I couldn’t put my finger on it at first, but then a friend jokingly called me a grumpy, miserable misanthrope. First reaction? Cheeky, fucking mare! But then I had a think about it … she had a point!
The word “misanthrope” comes from the Greek word meaning “to hate people”, and misanthropes are generally known for avoiding human interaction whenever they can. They aren’t necessarily mean or hateful in general, but certainly enjoy their own company.
Now I used to be a social animal, constantly out and about spending time with other people. But a few years ago I realised that I no longer got pleasure from spending time with other people. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t lock myself away from the human race, but I was often looking for excuses to cancel plans or hoping friends would bail out of any arrangements we had made.
Then along came Covid and lockdowns and my prayers were answered. I no longer had to suffer get togethers or come up with new excuses to avoid going out. I could spend time in my own company completely guilt free. I could avoid drama queens, other people’s children, family get togethers and everything else that exposed me to other people’s nonsense. And before you judge, not all misanthropes are as miserable as Eeyore from the Winnie the Pooh stories, or as grumpy and unkind as Ebenezer Scrooge.
Typically, a misanthrope would rather do anything than be around other people. Not every loner you meet will be a misanthrope, before you start labelling people you know. They won’t necessarily be friendless though, as some will often have a very tight and close-knit circle of people around them that they feel they can trust. Some humans are simply introverts and others may just be a little more socially uncomfortable – maybe that’s me at the moment: socially uncomfortable.
I’m short tempered and have a limited fuck-budget for time wasters, lazy people and drama queens, amongst others. Does that mean I hate everyone? Probably not, even if it does feel that most people I encounter on a daily basis fall into one of my many fuckwit categories.
Am I a misanthrope? Unlikely, but I am perimenopausal and oddly enough, there is a link between the two. During perimenopause and menopause, it is actually quite common to feel as I do – fed up, irritated by humans and a tad anti-social.
Once again, the culprit for this joyous phase (and it is a phase) is our old friend oestrogen. That little hormone was responsible for us liking people … kind of. Our highest levels of it are between puberty and menopause, and it makes us feel happy when we are nurturing. As the levels drop, we feel less nurturing, hence the connection with misanthropic tendencies.
One day, all these symptoms will fade away and I’ll be able to embrace the wiser, older me. Until then, I’ll continue to manage them the way I’m comfortable with, and you’ll find a way to manage them too.
Just remember, if you are a hot, miserable, anti-social mess like me, you are not alone, although you probably would rather be!