“I Restore Myself When I’m Alone”: On Marilyn Monroe and Introversion

Even if introverts are having a wonderful time at a social gathering, we still walk away drained by it, and when we’re suffering through forced socialization it’s even more depleting to our souls. Time alone is key, so we can recharge for another attempt at tackling this extrovert-friendly world we live in. That’s why Marilyn Monroe’s oft-repeated quote, “I restore myself when I’m alone,” has long served as a manifesto to introverts everywhere. For me, personally, she’s like the patron saint of introverts – the introvert goddess.

Studying Marilyn’s life reveals ample evidence of just how much she struggled as an introvert to adapt to the extroverted world around her.* For any introvert, being a contributing member of the rat race we call daily living can be fraught with stress – whether its work and play, we are expected to give our all, at all times, to everyone and everything. The example Marilyn set throughout her life helps us to see how an introvert can not only live within the structure of a world set up by and for extroverts, but also thrive. At times.

Certainly, she didn’t always thrive. It’s likely that depression and anxiety were consistent companions. Many introverts understand that all too well. It’s difficult to psych ourselves up to meet the level of engagement the extroverted world demands – school, work, and personal live are structured to encourage extroversion, not introversion. This can lead to exhaustion and feelings of inadequacy that can send us spiraling down into an endless feedback loop of self-doubt. We live in our heads, we introverts, and by all accounts Marilyn had a rich and fulfilling interior life – look no further than her obsessive love of books. She was a true bibliophile, reading and absorbing words and literature in ways that enriched and inspired her. From what I’ve gathered from my own experiences and from those of other introverts, this sort of obsessive love of words and thoughts and expressions is quite common among us.

These days, as most of us continue to practice all the key buzzwords of our times – social distancing, self-isolation, lockdowns, quarantines, etc. – you’d think introverts would be in nirvana. I’m sure many are. But for some of us sharing a modest (re: small) house with two young kids and a spouse, there’s precious little alone time to be found. Especially with all of the members of my household working, schooling, and playing from home. I’ve had to take walks to clear my head, breathe in some fresh air and allow the spring sunshine rejuvenate me. Then there are people living alone with no human contact on a daily basis, which must also be incredibly difficult on their mental health. It’s just hard right now, for everyone.

The world feels completely out of wack. It’s difficult to find any sort of balance for anyone – introverts, extroverts or even the ambiverts in between. Not coincidentally, I find reading about Marilyn, watching her films, or even just gazing at the plethora of incredible photos taken of her over the years helps to calm my soul. She might’ve felt at out of balance with the world at various times in her life, but she left behind an inspiring example for us to follow. Stay true to your interior path and practice self care by restoring yourself with alone time. Obviously, she found this challenging throughout her life, up until the day she died so young, at just 36. It’s challenging for all of us right now, of course, but hopefully we’re doing a few things every day to keep our emotional well being intact. Or, as relatively intact as it can be during a time like this.

*Further reading for a greater understanding of Marilyn’s introversion: Marilyn: The Passion and the Paradox, by Lois Banner, and Marilyn in Manhattan: Her Year of Joy, by Elizabeth Winder.

One thought on ““I Restore Myself When I’m Alone”: On Marilyn Monroe and Introversion

  1. Times are tough. I’m an introvert, always have been, so I identify with everything you and Marilyn said here. Reading this is easily the most helpful thing that has happened to me today.

    Liked by 1 person

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