I’ve always been the kind of person who needs solitude. I was raised in a house where there wasn’t much of it — I was forbidden to close my bedroom door, my mother read my mail, etc. The only time I was allowed to be by myself was when I was doing my homework. I went to private school, so I had a fair amount of homework, but I will admit to sneaking a non-assigned book from time to time. When I was studying, I could go into a room, close the door, and tell people to go away with impunity.
That inclination towards solitude has always served me well in academia, and is certainly one of the things that drew me in this direction. I don’t think I’m alone in this; many academics verge on the misanthropic. However, as time goes by, less and less of my career in academia relies upon solitary activities. (Perhaps if I’d wound up in a research institution…) At any rate, I find that I spend a great deal of time teaching or working with colleagues. This weekend involved a lot of schmoozing with students and parents. I don’t dislike the teaching or the colleagues, but sometimes it is hard to find that solitude that drew me into the field in the first place.
(And, yes, I realize the fact that I have been having a running conversation with my son about the location of my scissors the whole time I have been typing this contributes to my sense that solitude is elusive).