They say that “no man is an island,” but I disagree. I think we are all capable of being islands, but because humans seem to mostly be social creatures, they seem to think that we should not be islands. According to them, it is healthiest to be part of a big land mass teeming with herd animals. But being remote and inaccessible definitely has its perks. Take it from me, a devotee to the School of Aloofness, located on Emotional Isolation Island.
The benefits of being a reticent character might not be obvious to the uninitiated, so allow me to explain a bit before I give you some hot tips on how to improve your life. We all love attention, don’t we? When you are a mysterious figure, you become extremely intriguing. Other people won’t stop talking about you, and you don’t even have to do a thing! Just evade a series of personal questions, and you’ll be a delicious source of speculation. Appear as though a normal social interaction is as invasive as unrelenting scrutiny, and the contrary folks around you can’t help but wonder why. Let them wonder. Let them TALK.
That satisfaction of feeling like a strangely compelling character is the #1 draw, but if I have to have MORE reasons, I guess another one is that it cuts down on having to keep any stories straight, or accidentally revealing something told to you in confidence. If you are the sort of person who feels a little stressed over such possibilities, then just become mysterious. It’s easy once you get the hang of it! Let me tell you how.
Be Vague, Always
I am not advocating that you should become a recluse, or even an introvert. You can go ahead and be Seen in public and at social events. What I am advocating is that you should be there just to engage in banter. Delight one and all with your pithy comments and incisive observations. However, there will be times when the funniest thing you can offer to the group will depend upon their knowing something personal about your history. When this happens, concisely reference this extremely relevant and totally unavoidable snippet of the real you. They will thrill with the realization that they have learned something about you. A piece of the puzzle!
Exhibit Extreme Personal Modesty
Whenever you do mention something that has happened to you, for real, in your actual past — give the bare minimum of details. Of course, being the most interesting person possible, you have had a lot of adventures, been in a lot of fascinating scenarios, met a lot of amazing people. It is your job to deliver any information of this nature in the most blasé tone imaginable. This is not artifice! After all, if it has happened to you, it can happen to anyone. Be genuinely surprised if anyone remarks that they are impressed, and feel a sincere trace of pity for them if they have not had similar experiences. You are not there to make them feel bad about themselves (that would not be very charming of you), you are there to be a living legend in their bright and shining eyes. Continue to downplay any anecdote you have; never turn into a braggart.
Appear and Disappear at Will
This suggestion may be somewhat controversial. Normally, I will tell each and every person I meet that they should be almost excessively polite in every possible way they can. But this bit of advice in this section treads the line, so be warned: this behavior might rub some people the wrong way. But it is a fact. If you consistently show up at functions and just seamlessly join in a group without announcing yourself, and similarly exit by a side door at an odd hour without saying goodbye to anyone, you will become an icon of secrecy. Consistency is key, however. That way, it becomes part of your identity, and won’t be mistaken as an insult when you seem to selectively be courteous to certain people. Make it so that if you ARE selectively courteous, that it is obvious that you are doing so because if you fail to, it could have social or financial repercussions. It is perfectly fine if you don’t feel confident enough to follow this part of my course. We can’t all be as strong as Garbo.
Romance? Maybe. Love? Never.
As far as anyone is concerned, you are alone on your island. You don’t want anyone, and you don’t need anyone. However, you will obviously be living a life full of charms, seductions, and scandals. Therefore, as with anything that involves more people than just yourself, actual facts might leak into the straining, eager ears of those around you. This is fine. The people will froth and slobber over these raw details told to them by others, never by you. Neither contradict nor confirm anything, unless the vilest lies are being told. In which case, make sure your statement is brief and caustic while still being delivered in an even, calm tone. Also, it should be noted that you can and will fall in love, maybe dozens of times a year! This is acceptable, and congratulations to you. But there is no reason for you to tell this to the world. Just let them wonder, and to be surprised whenever you make your wedding announcement. Happily ever after!
No Hopes, No Fears
While you’re busy not telling anyone about your sordid affairs, go on ahead and don’t tell them about any of your dreams, ambitions, or concerns either. Your life is your own and it is not their business what you may be planning, ever. If your empire is successful, they’ll figure it out. If you get a house in another city, people will realize you’re no longer at your old place. Maybe you spend long hours weeping on the bathroom floor every week, but they don’t need to know. If you need to unload your sorrows on anyone, you probably have one or two Actual Friends you can turn to. Ones perfectly selected, who have passed all of the tests you’ve set for them over the decades, ones who will never betray you. That is all you need to keep from sinking into the abyss. Everyone else thinks you are elegantly composed, and only see hints of your vulnerability when you briefly mention them during moments of dark humor.
Appear to Not Even Be Human
This one almost goes without saying, or should. But I’ve been out there in the world, I have seen evidence on television and the internet: average people seem to be fairly uncouth. Some people believe it is a triumph that society is becoming more permissive about human bodies doing bodily functions loud and proud right there in front of everyone. Horrifying. You should not be driven to suicide if something fails inside of you, physically, and a disgraceful moment slips out, but you certainly don’t need to feel proud that you can belch like the call of an elephant seal. A full rant on this matter may be an article in the future, though, so I will stop there. Suffice it to say that an admirable, mysterious person will not be speaking of doctor visits, private noises, or the goings-on of their own innards to good friends, acquaintances, or dear god please not strangers. Present yourself as an otherworldly creature that is not made of animal parts, be appropriately but gracefully contrite if something awful occurs in front of anyone, and let us never speak of this again.