What’s Wrong With Being a Loner?

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The media equates us with the mentally ill psychotics who go on murderous rampages.  Society follows with resounding cries of:  “no friends, no fun!  No friends no fun!”  And we, the loners, feel an immense pressure to change ourselves.  We want to hide our faces in shame, increasingly rejecting ourselves more and more, and our way of life.  So what’s wrong with being a loner exactly?

1#  The Only Problem With Being A Loner Is Whether You Have A Problem With It.

In the end, you are the one who determines how you feel about yourself and other people.  It’s true that nothing can hurt you unless you let it.  Unfortunately, many loners have a problem with being loners.  These involuntary loners have a problem with themselves firstly because they aren’t accustomed to being alone.

For instance, they may have found that through death, estrangement, poverty, or other misfortunes, that they have lost friends or family.  Consequently, these people may have fallen into depression and distanced themselves from others, becoming loners.  They may have also failed to re-establish connections with people after the shock of their life situation.

Secondly, many involuntary loners look for their self worth externally.   When they observe the ideal of the “social butterfly” in all the magazines, Facebook walls, TV shows, books, movies and other media that floods their existence, they see how far they have fallen short.  As a loner, I used to hate reading the blatherings of Facebook statuses, and how social everyone sounded.  I felt depressed and perpetually like the outsider, the weirdo, and the lonely loner.  This is the perfect example of how low self esteem can lead you to compare yourself with others.  If you aren’t esteemed by other people, then immediately your own self esteem drops.  Loners who fall into this category do not accept themselves because they aren’t accepted by others.

And thirdly, involuntary loners may have previously found their joy and stimulation outside of themselves.  They therefore find it hard to accept and adapt to their situation.  Through one reason or another, these loners may find themselves alone and alienated from other people.  Immediately they find that no friends = no fun, and they wilt and fade by themselves, feeling bored and lonely.

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So Why Are Loners So Disliked?

From school kids ostracizing us as being “weird losers”, to news columns condemning us as being serial rapists, loners have dealt with a lot over the past century.  Take a close look at the following picture I took from searching the word “loner” a couple of months ago:

Notice how the word loner is constantly applied to tragic circumstances and the mentally unstable?  As journalist Anneli Rufus points out in her Loner’s Manifesto, “loner” is a word crime writers love to use.  It is constantly applied to what she calls pseudo-loners who, because of rejection, seek revenge.  “They do not wish to be alone”, she writes, “their dislike of being alone is what drives them to violence.”

Basically, these people rely on others and need others to validate their existence, to build reputations, and to be accepted into social clans.   Not being accepted burns.  Being cheated by people burns even more.

What initiates the majority of violence, as pointed out by Rufus, is not being something – in this case a loner – but feeling something.  “Anger.  Envy.  Desire.  Betrayal.  Resentment.  Rejection.  Love”.  All these emotions are intimately bound up with other people – they are social motives, far removed from the quiet, self-sufficient loner.  However, to make things fair, loners are not exempt from committing crimes.  In the cases where loners truly are responsible for horrible crimes, we must not lose sight of the many social, charmingly gregarious criminals there have been: Capone, Heinrich Himmler, Bernard Madoff, Don Lapre, Ted Bundy.

So why does the media favor the loner-lunatic cliche so much anyway?  I can see two different reasons why.  Firstly, people don’t like what they can’t understand.  It’s very easy to understand the need for social interaction and friendship.  It’s harder to understand why others like solitude however.  Don’t you feel lonely?  No.  Don’t you feel depressed?  No.  Do you hate people?  No.  Then why are you by yourself?  I like it that way.  What??  

If you’ve never tried fried ice cream you won’t like it.  Similarly, if you haven’t experienced the clarity and wholeness found in solitude, you will lack an understanding of those people who do.  This can easily result in rejecting others out of confusion and fear of what we can’t comprehend.  Hence why loners are ostracized and consistently thought of negatively.

The second reason is that since loners are already thought negatively of, the word “loner” is perfect for crime cases which demand a certain air of negativity and mystery.  Labeling killers continually as “loners” is the perfect psychological trick to separate the psychopaths from the ‘normal’ people.  They like being alone?  We don’t understand that!  They must be crazy!

Journalists like separating the murderous lunatics from the pack.  No one wants to think that any normal citizen would commit such atrocious crimes.  It’s a self denial and self defense, on that says “no one like me could do that”.  So the loner is further ostracized, even to the point of losing their own humanity.


I have known, been friends with, and read the stories of many loners. Charity working loners, thumb-sucking loners, book-reading loners, all perfectly content in their quiet world – not hateful towards humanity, or vengeful, or disturbed.

When you ask yourself what’s wrong with being a loner, keep in mind that the very people who make you ask that question are fundamentally ignorant, confused and many times afraid of the unknown world of loners.  All it takes to understand something is to ask questions and go exploring.  If this is not even attempted blind prejudice – like that towards loners, can easily occur.


If you have any opinions, feel free to add them to this discussion below.  Also, feel free to take our Loner Test.

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  • Teresa

    At the age of 1 1/2 I was placed back into my biological families home. I do not know my mom, stepdad or siblings. It was frightening. I have memories of that fear. I was just a baby. My mom did not want me nor have loving feelings for me, I did not get hugged or kissed, no bedtime stories, no idle talking or anything like it. My siblings were not too keen on me either, I know it’s because mom didn’t like me. I played alone. I went to bed quietly. I did my best to stay low key, the attention I did get was always negative. . Always, it was best to go unnoticed. I slept alone, cryed myself to sleep literally for years, I was always sad, felt alone, unloved. But, being alone was safe. No one to mock me or scold me when I was alone. I grew up cherishing my time alone. I was a very poor student, teachers didn’t care for me. I failed first grade one because of being hard to teach and second, I didn’t and wouldn’t sleek to my teacher. She scared me, wasn’t nice, so I simply would not reply or ask a word. Sure she thought I was mentally challenged. Part of that is true. Little vocal interaction with babies will ultimately lead to a low iq in a person. That’s me. Today I am a restaurant manager in a 5 .5 million dollar a year company. I am consistent and thoughtful in my work. I am mostly, liked. I am 42. Certain tasks are very difficult to me but I find ways to figure it out and succeed. Being a loner is only obvious to the two most social people that work with me, the general manager and assistant gm. Those are the two people that don’t like me. Popular people. I feel and see in their eyes that they think I am a freak. They have no respect for me or my incredibly hard work. But, this year, I don’t care. My oldest son and boyfriend constantly tell me the negative about myself. They tell me I am selfish and self centered. I just love being alone. I am nice to people, I just don’t spend a lot of time outside of work with people. I have to spare my energy by being alone. It’s a recharge thing. But they refuse to understand. They won’t listen to me, they just tell me to change. I hate it. I have to analyze myself every single day. Again, alone means quiet, no voices, safety in several ways. I sleep alone. In darkness
    and silence. It is safe. I listen to. . Silence. . It’s so soothing. Unfortunately, those closest to me think I am pathetic. I don’t know how to be anymore. I try to be more social but then I feel fake, I hate fake. I don’t know how to be. The violence that comes from my lack of change and my son and boyfriend is killing my sole. Good thing I have my baby, Vance. He is 16. The best teen I have ever known. He is so loving and non judging. He mends my broken heart.
    My truth,

    Teresa Ann

    • http://lonerwolf.com/luna/ Aletheia Luna

      Teresa, it can be a heartbreaking experience to have those closest to you criticize you and bring you down. Although it is comforting to hear that you have a source of comfort in your life – your son Vance. Your other son and boyfriend sound emotionally abusive, something that you might like to read more about: http://lonerwolf.com/emotional-abuse/ When that happened in my life, I cut off and broke away from my family members who were bringing me down and polluting my life with their negativity. This was the best decision I ever made.
      Thank you for opening yourself up to share here, and I truly wish you strength and healing.

  • Living My Life

    As a kid, I never got into the age-specific fads (in my day they included carrying around a Walkman to listen to the World Series–6th-7th grade; getting all hyped up about the latest hot cars–Jr. High and High School; etc.). Later, of course, the other kids moved past those fads (ones that I had moved past before I even go into!), but I was by then branded as the geek who didn’t fit in. And new fads took over, and the same thing happened. So I moved on, and moved away, and made many friends of various kinds over the years.

    A few years ago, I retired moved back to my hometown. I looked forward to getting back with my old high school and college friends. But it didn’t take long to realize that although I had changed (i.e., grown up) they hadn’t. I cut off most of the connections by choice. Most people just keep playing the same little games they played in school (from grade school on) and never really grow up. I can’t see much reason to want to hang around people like that.

    There’s a great line in the classic Italian movie, “Cinema Paradiso.” A guy who doesn’t talk much says, “I found out that it doesn’t really make much difference if you talk or you don’t.”

    The same thing often applies to hanging out with other people. So much of group life is posing, jockeying for position in the pecking order, and so on. (When I taught at a Japanese junior college, I had my students write an essay on stress. The majority said the most stressful thing was the daily struggle to fit into the group.) There are better ways to spend one’s time.

    • http://lonerwolf.com/luna/ Aletheia Luna

      “So much of group life is posing, jockeying for position in the pecking order, and so on” – such an astute observation. Watching nature documentaries about animals is a good way of learning about mankind, stripping it down to the essentials: social hierarchy, alpha and beta males and females, desires to attract the most attractive mate, and all the games that comes with that. It is true that most people don’t grow up, but seem to remain stuck at the mental age of about 18, even well into their forties and fifties. Mostly, it’s not worth getting wound up in social life as it causes too much drama, and takes you away from doing what fulfills you the most. This is what I’ve learnt anyway.

      Thank you for leaving a comment here. :)

  • Rubaya Binte Siraj

    Being one helps me a lot. Previously I was approached by people with ulterior motives and I was always worried about what others thought about me. Yes they used to like my new extroverted attitude but I didn’t find any people I can trust around me. This is maybe because once I was an introvert and people didn’t feel like approaching me much. When I opened up it was nice to have fun with people, tell them about myself, etc. But I have seen some taking this as an opportunity to help them in things they can easily manage, and as for the opposite sex testing the waters about how I feel about them and then become aloof (sounds exaggerated but its true). Anyway back to my shell again.

    • http://lonerwolf.com/luna/ Aletheia Luna

      Rubaya, I think you confuse being a loner with a fearful avoidance of people. People serve as mirrors: they reveal our imperfections and insecurities, which is why many of us hide from people. For example, if we don’t have much faith or trust in ourselves, we likewise don’t have much faith or trust in other people. If we have low self-esteem, we perceive others as always “out to get us”, and we are shattered by their negative comments (which are always a reflection of THEM rather than US).

  • Binyaminb

    It’s sad that the term loner is given such a bad wrap. I love being alone and I truly treasure the moments when it’s just me with my books, or my games, or my tv shows and nobody else. I hate that some ppl can never take the time to understand that perhaps a person enjoys being by themselves more than going out to a crowded, noisy place listening to a bunch of ppl talk stuff.
    I’ve always preferred my own company. And i’m actually perfectly capable in social situations in fact i’m so easy to talk to that after ppl spend some time chatting to me they invite me out thinking ‘this is a guy I want around in social situations.’ And while I am good at talking to ppl, the truth is, I only talk to you b/c my job permits that I be around ppl 8 hours a day so if i’m at work and you’re there i’ll talk to you b/c i’m there for my job to earn an income. But if given a choice at the end of my shift on whether I want to go home and spend a night to myself or whether I want to go hang out at some pub or whatever and continue engaging in social interaction when i’ve already JUST spent 8 hours of my day surrounded by ppl… Thank you very much but i’ll go home.

    But it really is the worst when they don’t understand your temperament and automatically associate being alone to being sad, lonely or depressed. And unfortunately this is even true among friends who are supposed to have clue of the person you are but yet when the conversation dies down, the ice breaking line is always “so how’s your love life?” or “seeing anyone special?” with a twinkle in the eye and a coy smile. And then you tell them ‘nah’ and you get that look of pity in their eyes as if to say “don’t worry you’ll find someone soon”. ARGH it’s that look of pity that is just so infuriating! Whose to say I even WANT to find someone? A relationship to me is just a hassle. If I don’t have enough time throughout the day to do everything I want to achieve, how much less time would I have if I were committed to somebody? And so what if you’re in a relationship? Spending all those hours and hours and hours getting to “know” someone when 3 years down the track their personality might change. Or worse, 20 years down the track you’re acclimated to having being with them even tho you don’t “love” them anymore and all you do is argue and compromise about how you live your life when in reality you would rather sit at home and watch that game of football instead of go out to spend the day with your partner’s family. In fact I actually pity those who are in relationships or need to go out every week. Why? B/c these ppl NEED to be around others to be happy and content. They rely on other ppl to make them happy whereas a loner such as myself never needs to rely on anyone to enjoy my life.
    I’m not afraid of dying alone, i’m not afraid of having no children to comfort me on my deathbed and i’m sure as hell not afraid of becoming attached to a person and having them leave me. Or going even further, being married to them for 50 years and then watching them die before you do and then being FORCED into a life of alone-ness after you spend the majority of your life never being alone.

    I’m reassured when I go online and see these kinds of articles that are trying to educate the ignorant on understanding ppl’s different personalities. I never tell an extrovert how to live their life, they sure as hell shouldn’t tell me how to live mine.

    • http://lonerwolf.com/luna/ Aletheia Luna

      Binyaminb, it’s admirable how confident and firm you are in preferring to be alone. Just as it is hard for you to understand what exactly is the attraction extroverted people feel towards talking and constantly socializing, so too is it hard for them to understand life through our eyes. It’s true that many of the greatest, most accomplished and skilled people in life have been loners – and why? Because most of their lives weren’t wasted in trivial social duties or pursuits, but were spent dedicated to cultivating skills, talents, or simply enjoying what life has to offer, alone.
      At the end of the day there is no point getting frustrated (it’s wasted energy). We can’t change people and their perspectives, but hopefully articles such as this can reach such people and educate them better.

  • Arcane

    Perfect. Not all loners are misanthropic.

    • http://lonerwolf.com/luna/ Aletheia Luna

      No. They aren’t. :)

  • jrex

    I used to be a very talkative person; but then I moved to school in different area and my life completely changed; people were so hostile to me when I talked; im a talkative person and I enjoy talking, but …. I don’t know… when I talked I faced so much hostility; I remember I was doing some training and I was on a post with two other guys; the wholllleee time they were insulting me and degrading me; It was mind boggling to me at the time and I had sooo many things running through my head; why are they treating me like this? what did I do to deserve this? why are they being so hostile to me? is it because I refused to do what they told me to do a couple weeks ago during training? why? eventually I moved on and went to a different location for school; I was still recovering from the hostility I faced at my previous school but I still had a desire to talk.
    the next school sealed the deal; I used to live in a common room with 5 other people; I remember one day, like 2 or 3 of them ganged up on me and told me they didn’t like me and they wanted to switch to another room because they didn’t like me; im not sure why they didn’t like me; I don’t remember instigating anything hostile to them so I couldn’t understand why they didn’t like me; the next day those 2 or 3 guys left the room and moved somewhere else and I felt soooo bad because I felt like they left cause of me. I never had so many people gang up on me and tell me they disliked me at the same time. and why? because I talked to them? what did I do to deserve this? I also had another guy randomly walk up to me and say he wanted to kick my ass.
    after that, the deal was sealed. I stopped talking to people, I didn’t associate with others, and I was quiet and alone. life still went on; I met other people throughout my life and became friends with them but I was soooo much more quiet; there would be days where I would just keep to myself and talk to absolutely no one. everyone would be in their groups, talking to each other, and I would be the only one alone. after my past experiences, I just didn’t want that any more; I would rather be alone than face that hostile behavior again.
    to this day im still scarred, and ive been reading loner posts if to see if others felt the same way I did.
    also, people just got nothing interesting to say, so I have no reason to talk lol

    • http://lonerwolf.com/luna/ Aletheia Luna

      There could be a variety of reasons why people acted the way they did Jrex. The obvious answer is that they are jerks, stuck-up, nasty, insecure even. Another less-obvious answer could lie in your own approach to them, which perhaps you weren’t aware of at the time. That is the thing with a lack of self-awareness: we never realize that to a point, we are responsible as well. It’s uncommon for people to be hostile without a reason, it is illogical, unless of course they are jealous, or want to show off. But this is not always the case. Take a look at this article, which lists ways you could be self-sabotaging without knowing it: http://lonerwolf.com/ugly-dislikeable-person/
      I hope it helps, and opens new doors of insight.

  • Kelsey Norris

    Hi Aletheia. I just wanted to say I enjoyed reading your article. I just started going to college, and I have been feeling confused because the person whose company I enjoy the most is me. I’ve always been an introvert, but it has been difficult to explain to new people I meet that I just like having my alone time. I’m the most content when I’m studying or reading by myself. Don’t get me wrong – I enjoy meeting to and talking to new people. However, I don’t think I should be shamed when I say I need some alone time. Thank you for making me feel like it’s okay.

    • http://lonerwolf.com/luna/ Aletheia Luna

      You’re most welcome Kelsey, and it’s wonderful to feel that we are right in wanting what we want in life. There is nothing wrong with wanting to spend time alone, and in fact, solitude has been proven to be essential for the development of mental and emotional balance. Thank you for reading!

  • TheLoneWolfBlog

    I can’t believe that I found this article just now. I could write a book on the ostracizing that I went through throughout grade and high school. Not to bring race into it (I’m only using this as an example), but if you think being a Caucasian male/female loner is hard? How about a primarily African-American male who doesn’t speak slang or prefers university, books and computer games over sex?

    I’ve had a Christian upbringing, and wasn’t truly exposed to pop culture and other things until high school, and I’ve been labeled as the dreaded Class Fall Guy from minute one. Back then (and this still rings true today) African-American children in Philadelphia and possibly everywhere else weren’t exactly known for making bi-weekly trips to several libraries, going on walks through Center City, researching public transportation history (I loved public transit history and networks as a hobby) and other things; the latest things at time were sports, girls, Married With Children, West Coast hip-hop, rap and New Jack Swing. Back then, as an African-American male, if you didn’t speak a certain way, act a certain way or follow everyone’s perceived stereotypes of what you were “supposed” to be, you were a “faggot” or “gay” even though one’s behavior had nothing to do with sexual orientation. As you can guess, I was doomed the minute I opened my mouth, because the words “ah-ight”, “nigger” and “yo dawg” just WEREN’T in my vocabulary. You can imagine the fights I was forced to defend myself in back then, including an ice ball fight that sent me to the hospital. Everyone just hated me because to them, I wasn’t anywhere close to what their view of an African-American is; instead I was a quiet, black nerd who didn’t want to be with others (gee, I wonder why)?

    High school wasn’t the first time that I acted preferably as a “lone wolf”; in middle school I also got into fights simply because my peers found me as easier prey. Back then I responded with violent verbal outbursts and the school district ordered my single mother to take me to psychoanalysts. They found that my desires to be left alone “not reasonable”. I eventually lied to them just to get it over with, stating that I needed more time with my mother (boy, city school district employees were inept), and I was eventually left alone by the teachers, but not with the kids.

    My adult life as a lone wolf has NOT helped in the real world, at least not with my peers. As a former Accounts Payable Team Lead for a large medical university in Philadelphia, I was given a middle-management position but was absolutely abhorred by my peers because of it. The women of the office would joke constantly about my sexual orientation and about how ugly I was (we’re talking about DANGEROUS, foul-mouthed Amazons, here); meanwhile I’d be slaving away on tasks that no one else wanted to do. Mandatory office parties were the bane of my existence, especially since people would watch and comment on what food I was eating (once I actually brought something in as a social gesture but when people found out that I had baked it [a Vegan Chocolate Cake] they backed away from it).

    I kept asking to be transferred to other departments but the director of operations knew that once I left, he’d have no “office wallflower” to heap the unwanted tasks on, so they kept adjusting my pay when all I wanted to be given another position and to be left alone. My only breaks from the back-stabbing, ladder-climbing HELL that was the office were my four hours of commuting each day to and from work and my out-of-pocket Paralegal Studies classes at night. They were the only times that I could truly be left alone to think, enjoy the music that I liked and (in class) intelligently express myself.

    The more I avoided office politics (at one point I openly stated that I simply wanted to be left alone and even demanded a demotion that would remove me from any office politics or social interaction altogether). Right after my request was granted, an employee left the department and the director stated that I had no choice but to accept the position. When the others found out, even the ACCOUNTANTS joined in on the comments and jokes. After I finally lost it and shouted one swear word towards an employee that had been insulting me to my face for seven years (I just took it because I had been enduring stuff lie that all my life), the director ordered me to see the company therapist, stating that there was something wrong with ME and my anti-social behavior. Five months later, after that same woman and two of her friends launched false allegations against me (they claimed that I stated that guns should be allowed in the office…!?) I finally got up and walked out without a single word after meeting with the department heads, thinking that (it was 2010 and the economic downturn and unemployment rates were in full swing) I would rather be unemployed than take the abuse, simply because I refused to follow the herd and put on a false face like everyone else.

    I’ve had hard times since then as well. One temporary assignment was about to hire me as a permanent staff member but the employees of the company hated the parent company of which one of the supervisors there was one of my superiors. The office people hated ME as a result because I wouldn’t join in on their child-like protests against the parent company. I eventually told my supervisor that I didn’t want the job.

    In another temporary job, the office women were calling me “gay” and stating that “well, from the way he talks and the way he acts, at least he won’t be picking any of us up”. WHAT!? I was simply doing what my temporary supervisor was asked and was following orders; I didn’t have time to trash-talk or use “pick up lines; I WAS A TEMPORARY EMPLOYEE! I immediately called the temp agency and in less than than five weeks they found something else for me.

    Today, African-American males at age 36 aren’t exactly known for STILL preferring to visit libraries, having large book collections, using Macintoshes, fixing PCs and slaving at coursework (maintaining a 3.8 GPA) over drinking, sports, having sex with everything in a skirt (or with ANYONE, I just think that the actual act of sex is just…). Anyway, even as an adult student at a Midwestern liberal arts university (I gladly left Philadelphia and will never see it’s dirty, gritty streets or it’s dirty, gritty, racist people again) I still face animosity because I just can’t stand the idea of working or socializing in a group, though when I work alone, my grades tend to be higher. Even as I type, I’m struggling with the notion of joining a club which will guarantee a internship to fulfill graduation requirements even though I can’t stand groups.

    I’ve been ostracized by groups, called names by groups, been singled out in mandatory social group settings…I just can’t stand groups. But when I’m alone, I have inner peace. 80s music sounds better, term projects gain more satisfaction, and my hobbies are more satisfying when it’s me and me alone working on and completing them. Yet the world hates me because of it.

    Am I selfish? Perhaps. But it’s not selfish when people refuse you for YOU, so instead of changing to suit THEM, you keep YOU to YOURSELF.

    A great blog and once I’m free from the stress of courses I intend to subscribe and follow it.

    James M. Wallace
    The Lone Wolf
    Springfield, OH

    • http://lonerwolf.com/luna/ Aletheia Luna

      Wow James, what unfortunate social experiences you’ve had! I really appreciate you sharing them with me, and I’m sure that all loners who visit this page will sympathize (perhaps empathize) with what you’ve had to deal with. Gee. Amazing isn’t it? All we want to be is left alone! Yet the current social climate of the world seems to scream “if you’re not like us, you’re against us. If you don’t think, and talk, and act the way we do, there must be something damn wrong with you.”

      Racism has obviously played a big role in your bad experiences with other people, and this really makes me rile. Offices are notorious for being terribly social places, with unnecessary pressures both socially and work-wise. I wrote an article a while ago on jobs that suit introverts and loners which you may like to have a look at when you get the time: http://lonerwolf.com/jobs-for-introverts/ I would much prefer to be a janitor than a high end CEO, that’s for sure!

      It’s a relief to hear that you left Philadelphia, and my hope is that you manage to find a much more accepting and open-minded place to live your life!

      Thank you for sharing here once again.

  • Turtles4days

    Thank you for writing this article! I myself can be a very social person in the presence of certain people but find it much more relaxing to be alone. It gives me time to reflect on myself and the world around me without the opinions of others. There has been quite a bit of rejection in the sense of relationships on my end but I always come out feeling more relieved that it didn’t work out than depressed. Everything happens for a reason, if I go throughout my life as a lone wolf I can go my own pace, climb mountains that appeal to me and not have to worry about being swayed to take a path I don’t want.

    • http://lonerwolf.com/luna/ Aletheia Luna

      Yes, there is a lot more freedom, certainly! If you observe the people in our society, most of their stress and frustration stems from the obligations and demands from other people. When you commit to lots of people, you commit to lots of duties and requirements, and that can be a freedom sucker.

      Thank you for reading and sharing here!