As a teen, I didn’t have many friends.
I was different from everyone else in my school and that often led to feeling lonely, watching others socialize from the sidelines.
I used to feel bad that that was my experience while everyone else seemed to love high school.
But as an adult, I can see how it shaped me into the resilient, independent person I am now.
So, if someone you know has these 9 personality traits in adulthood, there’s a good chance they were a loner as a teen.
Understanding where these characteristics come from can help you connect with such people on a deeper level, so let’s dive in:
People who show tendencies of introversion may have been loners during their teen years.
And it makes sense – if they had limited friends while they were young, they’re likely to carry this on into adulthood.
I was never one to be invited to lots of parties, so I got used to hanging out with just a select few people.
Now, as an adult, I notice how awkward I feel in large groups of people or loud, chaotic parties. I struggle to keep up with everything going on and when I get home, I need at least a day or two to recharge my batteries.
Yet, if you put me with my closest friends, I can yap on for hours. It’s my comfort zone, and this probably applies to others who were loners during adolescence too.
Look, when you don’t have tons of friends to rely on, you get good at counting on yourself.
So if someone you know is extremely self-reliant, look to their teen years to understand why.
Rather than call upon others to help them deal with life’s ups and downs, they simply had to get on with it by themselves.
And as adults, this behavior continues. They don’t intentionally avoid asking others for help, it’s just natural to rely only on themselves.
I remember craving friends to do stuff with – go to the cinema, hang out in the park, you name it.
Until one day a neighbor who sympathized with me said, “If you want to do something, don’t wait for other people, do it yourself and you’ll still have a blast.”
I took that advice to heart, and as soon as I hit 18, I started solo traveling.
Now, as an adult, I’ve traveled with friends but still continue solo traveling since I genuinely enjoy my own company.
I don’t fear sitting in a restaurant alone, living alone, or making my own decisions.
So if you notice other people in your life who are fiercely independent, it might come from the fact that they simply didn’t have many people to hang out with when they were younger.
They have a strong sense of personal autonomy and don’t need the company of others to enjoy certain things in life.
4) Observational skills
People with fantastic observational skills usually spent a lot of time in the past listening rather than speaking.
I, for example, tend to pick up on a lot because I’m used to observing situations from a distance rather than being in the thick of them.
I remember sitting with classmates, never really part of the conversation, but somewhere on the sidelines.
For many hours over many years, I watched people’s body language. Listened to the words they said and read in between the lines. Saw how people reacted subconsciously.
So while people who were loners as teens may regret their adolescent years, as adults, they’re probably way better at observing and picking up on different behaviors than those who were popular and at the center of attention.
5) Deep thinkers
As a teen, most of us would much rather be out at parties, making mistakes we’ll regret in our 20s, and flirting with whoever takes our fancy.
That’s what I wanted to do, anyway.
Instead, those of us who were loners tend to be left to our own devices. A lot.
While everyone else is out partying hard, we’re at home, thinking about life. And that doesn’t stop as we progress into adulthood.
You see, all that free time as a teen taught us to think deeply about things, reflect on ourselves, and also on the behavior of others.
We learn to think more critically too.
Something that I used to see as sad and depressing is now one of my strongest traits, and I hope other former loners feel the same way.
Following on from the previous point, if someone was a loner as a teen, they had time on their hands.
And potentially, a need to outlet their frustration about not being accepted into the wider social circles around them.
What’s the best way to deal with that?
Whether it’s playing music or creating art, some loners may find comfort and a sense of release when expressing themselves through creative mediums.
I have a cousin who was a loner like me growing up. She loved to draw and she was pretty good at it too.
When she got married young (at 22 years old) she suddenly found herself in a big social circle, out every weekend and busy every evening. She changed as a person, and I’m not sure it was for the better.
Long story short, after a few years her marriage broke down. And unsurprisingly, she found herself alone again.
It was during this time that she started drawing again, something she stopped the moment she got married. She said she’d missed it so much and that it finally felt like she was back to being herself.
I guess living the loner life never really leaves us as we carry our habits and passions forward into adulthood.
Another personality trait an adult might have from being a loner as a teen is resilience.
I’m not going to beat around the bush – being a loner isn’t fun. Perhaps if you’re extremely introverted it is, but for most of us, it’s, well, lonely.
But it’s also a great life lesson in building a thicker skin and learning to deal with setbacks by yourself.
Since people like this didn’t necessarily have many others to lean on growing up, they learned to find strength within themselves.
Perhaps no one was there to reassure them when they were down, so they had to reassure themselves when going through hardship.
When they hit hurdles as adults, they’re able to pick themselves back up, just as they did as teens.
8) Emotional intelligence
When I say emotional intelligence, I’m referring to knowing one’s own emotions.
After all, if someone was a loner growing up, they probably had a lot of time to spend reflecting on their feelings and reactions.
They had time to get in tune with their inner rhythm.
But their emotional intelligence doesn’t necessarily extend to others.
Those who are great at reading the emotions of others tend to have spent a lot of time around many different people. Something loners, sadly, miss out on.
But that isn’t to say they can’t learn along the way. I certainly have progressed in this department a lot since hitting my mid-20s, so this really depends on each individual.
9) Preference for meaningful relationships
And finally, once someone has lived through being a loner in their teens, (arguably the toughest time to experience this), they tend to be pickier about their relationships.
I know that’s true for me – as an adult, I’d much rather be alone than be in bad company, or even just shallow company.
We tend to go for people who have depth.
People we can create meaningful interactions with. You see when you’ve tasted loneliness and are no longer afraid of it, you won’t give it up just for the sake of having friends.
So if a former loner chooses to keep you in their life, take it as a compliment.
They don’t need you. They’re self-reliant and independent enough. But they must really like and value you to want you around.