Hiber Nation


I have friends who wants me to be more social. They want me to go out more. I want to say to them: thank you, dearest ones. It’s just that sometimes I need to be alone. With kids, I am so rarely alone, and that’s pretty difficult with a brain like mine. Sometimes I need to go sit in the woods by myself. Sometimes I don’t want to talk. I can’t do this culture of go-go-go, talk-talk-talk. I feel empty when I follow that trail. I feel fuller when I sit down and breathe, feel what’s really going on in my heart. It’s like a filling up of my soul, and if I don’t do it on a regular basis, I’m a wispy shell with a fake smile.

But the problem I’ve found is that if I divulge to a friend that I suffer from depression, my well-meaning friend assumes that my absence means I’m on a dark bender. Perhaps that is just her caring nature. Or maybe she’s making an unfair judgement. Nothing is better than a friend who, when I haven’t seen her in a while, says a happy hello, catches up, then we make a plan for a get together with no guilt trips, no “Where have you been?! Are you OKAY?” The friend who keeps tabs on how often we hang out makes me feel like I’m a bad friend. Am I? Do I need a disclaimer? “Should you decide to befriend: be aware that she periodically hibernates.”

Are there more people like me out there? If so, let’s unite and just say, when we need that regrouping time, that we’re going hiber. The word “hiber” is Latin for a lack of activity. Doesn’t that sound nice?  Peaceful? Going hiber means that we expect no judgement from outside parties when we are absent from the latest social gathering. We send love, and RSVP that we’ll pass. Then we will remain unfazed by the social butterfly’s guilt trip. It’s our right to take a little time alone to assess, adjust and just plain be.

8 thoughts on “Hiber Nation

  1. It’s called introversion. Half of us need to be without people to recharge. (The other half of us need to be in the company of people to recharge). It’s a version of absolutely normal, uncorrelated with depression or social skills or not wanting relationships. Since the world is run by extraverts, we introverts often feel we are somehow wrong or missing some vital piece of personhood because we enjoy- need- solitude. But to be quiet opens you up to the melodic hum of the universe, and the rhythm of your own soul.

  2. Hi Julie,

    This is a major reason I love living in my little house in this little village in Tanzania. I don’t feel guilty living here. This is my place to regenerate myself and weekends are my time to be alone. I love visiting family and friends in Minnesota, but I also get overloaded while I’m there. I freak out. I need my time to sit and watch the clouds and listen to the birds and feel the breeze. I know some see me as a weirdo hermit, but that doesn’t really bother me. I only hope they know I love them. If they can’t understand, that’s not my problem. I need time (a lot of time) to be by myself. I am thankful that I do not let myself feel pressured into being social. I go out from time to time. But I feel best when I move less.

    I often think of what life would be like if I were living in the US and for some reason a big part of me says it would be very difficult. I think of all the busyness I experience while I’m visiting and there is simply no way I would be able to handle that on a regular basis. It is so nice to hear from people living there who feel the same and find ways to make time to be alone. Reflection is important.

    Love your writing.


  3. This message reflects my purpose in walking my dog often each day. Sometimes it is around the block but two miles a day is common. AND, most importantly, when I walk I take no phone, no earbuds with music in my ears. I only take my brain and my dog as I enjoy the sound of the wind, birds, rustling leaves, and an occasional SUV. My brain enjoys the lack of assaulting activity, and instead reaches into the creative crevices as I plan my day…or my life. Love, Mom

  4. I’m with you, Julie. In order to be with people, I need to be without people, before and after. It doesn’t mean that I love anyone any less because I sometimes need to be alone. It is simply a truth about my soul. I worry that people consider me a bad friend because I have to withdraw in order to be able to breathe. But I can’t help that. I need to be able to breathe.

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