Being a hermit during COVID-19


Isaiah Perry

untitled painting, Isaiah Perry, 2020

In the year of 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic, millions of Americans are feeling stir crazy in their homes. For somebody like me, this is an interesting time. I am a self proclaimed hermit. I love to stay indoors, and will cancel plans or events in order to be by myself.

I have been hearing stories of people going mad in their homes. My friend David Stern has expressed on multiple occasions how this quarantine has worsened his depression. “You know this whole COVID thing has taught me I’m more of an extrovert. I always thought that I liked being inside and shit, but I really miss being able to see my friends and go places. This whole thing has just really sucked for me mentally,” Stern said.

The quarantine America is facing right now has led to countless stories of frustration and loneliness, but there are some stories you do not hear often, like the stories about people who don’t hate being stuck in their homes. Isolation can be just as part of our nature as being social is.  We can spend hours on Twitter or in front of a television and not realize twelve hours have gone by.

I have found myself waking up at noon every day, then doing some homework for an hour or two. Then I fall into YouTube, only to find that the rest of the day has passed and that it is time for me to sleep. This has been my routine every day of this quarantine, and I really don’t mind it.

The worst part about this time for me, however, is feeling too scared to see my friends. Despite enjoying the indoors I still need to socialize, except I can go for longer periods without doing so. I miss being able to see friends for a day and getting that dopamine boost when I get to come back home and unwind. Instead, I never get that feeling, because I always have to stay indoors.

By no means do I enjoy being on my own all of the time, but I do feel as if I were built for this kind of situation. My mom has repeatedly made the joke that I have been training for this my whole life. As a child, my punishment was often going outside, as I saw being grounded as more of a reward.

I think that is this reason why I hate this quarantine. Most, if not all, college and school campuses in the United States have been closed. It was here at NVU that I started to break my introverted ways and develop into a normal functioning member of society. I would see friends daily and would be forced to leave my room for classes. It was a step in the right direction for me, but due to this quarantine, I have reverted to my old ways. But why do I feel bad about that?

Often, the argument being made is that it’s unhealthy to be alone, and while that is true, the same can be said for socializing too much. I know that if I spend several days with a friend and do not get a few hours alone, I become incredibly exhausted. I feel like this is why I get that dopamine rush when I get back home and relax.

Modern society seems to look at introverted behavior cynically. These societal norms are embedded into our heads telling us that it is wrong to be a hermit.

One could make the argument that it’s just laziness and lack of ambition, but it is typically the contrary. Being an introvert does not have to mean that you do nothing. It typically means someone who is shy around others or just enjoys their own company, so why does society tell us this behavior is wrong?

Throughout the life of an American citizen we often hear about “the white picket fence,” consisting of a middle-class suburban lifestyle with two kids and a spouse. Our society tells us that this lifestyle is what all Americans should strive for, but if we stray from that path we are, in a way, shunned by our fellow Americans. While this idealistic 1950s view of the country has since changed, albeit slightly, being a recluse still seems looked down upon.

I feel as if I have this pressure put on me by society telling me I have to go out, that I’m not allowed to not enjoy leaving my room. While it is good for me personally to leave the house every now and then, with school forcing me to socialize, I feel a lot of stress from that pressure.

We as a society should not shame or look down on people who are more reclusive.  Some people are filled with anxieties and do not have the capacity for socialization. If I am in a situation where I have to socialize and I know no one, I shut down. I’m thinking in that moment about how I wish I had stayed at home and sat on my bed watching something on Netflix, knowing I would have been far happier there than in this moment.

Whether you chalk it down to laziness or being an introvert, I’m really not sure. The social pressures of school helped me break some of the unhealthy habits of my own reclusive tendencies. This quarantine has affected me in a different way than other people. While some are going crazy because they cannot socialize, I have been forced to go back into my solitude. I don’t hate being inside, but it has caused me to take a deep look into myself and discover why I’m like this, and why I often prefer that solitude. It is likely due to this simple fact: I don’t care for people.