I’m exhausted all over but particularly the face

Letters of Solitude

Today’s newsletter is dedicated to those among us who are filling with dread as lockdown slowly lifts, armpits already damp at the thought of a fidgety mass of humans getting their mingle on after months of forced isolation. It’s an epistolary fist-bump to all the loners1, introverts, and reclusive souls who would much rather relax in their own company than mentally exhaust themselves in an effort to enjoy the company of others. You are not alone2.

(See also: The art of saying no.)


After being so social... I don’t feel like myself at all. I’m exhausted all over but particularly the face, which I suppose comes from wearing a horrible fixed grin for so long.

Elizabeth Bishop to Carley Dawson, 10 Nov 1948 | One Art: Letters


Tomorrow I shall go back to London, and there already awaits me a string of inevitable experiences—what is called “seeing people.” You don’t know what that means—it means one can’t get out of it.

Virginia Woolf to Gerald Brenan, 4 Oct 1929 | The Complete Collection


I am one of these strange fuckers who finds great pleasure in being alone.

Charles Bukowski to Gerald Locklin, 8 Aug 1981 | Reach for the Sun: Vol.3


Being under my own roof, and my personality not invaded by others makes a lot of difference in my outlook on life and everything. Oh, to be once more alone in a house!

Zora Neale Hurston to Jean Waterbury, 6 Mar 1951 | A Life in Letters


I by no means need or want daily contact; perhaps it takes as much out of me as it gives, perhaps takes more. And when writing then I have nearly nothing to give.

Martha Gellhorn to Betsy Drake, 8 May 1974 | Selected Letters of Martha Gellhorn


I go scarcely anywhere. Everything seems tiresome.

Fyodor Dostoevsky to Maria Issayev, 4 Jun 1855 | The Complete Works


I have reverted to solitude. I live in a house too large for me, with three cats; and when the telephone rings and it is a wrong number I feel a rush of thankfulness.

Sylvia Townsend Warner to David Garnett, 2 Sep 1970 | Letters of Sylvia Townsend Warner


I don’t like being surrounded by bastards, and am not in fact surrounded by them... I do like being alone a lot just now, and taking care of myself.

Kurt Vonnegut to Jane Vonnegut, 7 Mar 1971 | Kurt Vonnegut: Letters


My real problem is a more personal one—the need of being alone. I am not anti-social; I have a deep affection for my friends and family, feel deeply for suffering humanity (also for suffering animals!) but at times I have a desperate need to be absolutely alone.

Edward Weston to Ansel Adams, 3 Dec 1934 | Ansel Adams: Letters


Solitude is Heaven.

May Sarton to Bryher, 31 Jul 1942 | May Sarton: Selected Letters


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1

I don’t mean this disparagingly. Absolutely nothing wrong with being a loner.

2

This is actually quite funny but to be perfectly honest it was an accident and I need to come clean.