It can happen when you move to a new city, with the onset of age, or after a breakup. Whatever the reason, you’ve traded a social life for seclusion and haven’t left the house since stealing your friend’s HBOgo account four months ago.
Ancient man only left their hovel to hunt. Everyone else would presumably sit by the fire weaving baskets and discuss last week’s episode of Girls. Over the last 2,000-something years, mankind crawled out of the yurt and into cities. People now were expected to go out and hunt not for antelope, but for jobs, lovers, and fun.
But the tides are turning once again. With Seamless, Netflix, Tinder, and the ability to work from home, literally all needs are met without stepping foot into the treacherous outside world. When you can order in food, entertainment, and sex, why ever bother putting on shoes? You start to notice some things happen when you commit to a lifestyle of solitary confinement.
1. You wear the same clothes every day.
You reach for the same pair of spandex yoga pants and sweatshirt every morning because who cares? It’s not like your dog is judging you. Doing laundry is drastically cut down from twice a week to once every two weeks, then maybe once a month. The only articles of clothing you feel compelled to buy are more underwear so that you can further put off a trip down the hall to the washing machine.
2. Your social circle contracts.
Acquaintances wonder what happened to you, and check your Facebook to see if you died or moved to Tibet. Those weren’t real relationships anyway, and you spend your time only on close friends who are willing to come visit you. It takes a lot — like the promise of a free meal, sex, or money — to get you out of the house.
3. Otherwise insignificant interactions become the highlight of your day.
A conversation with the AT&T customer services representative becomes an excuse for socializing. You ask how their day is going, pretend you’re interested in adding a TV package to your internet account, and inquire hypothetically about rates. Have them tell you about the size of the satellite dish, and make jokes about not having any friends who watch sports when they mention the ESPN package.
4. You lose touch with reality.
I had an appointment on Monday and when I left, I wished the person a good weekend, only realizing later that for everyone else in the world, the week had only just begun. You also forget that most of humanity has to contend with rush hour traffic, changes in weather, and brushing their hair.
5. You have more money to spend on home improvement.
What you used to spend on happy hour martinis and tapas you now spend on fabric poufs from Pottery Barn and expensive scented candles. Consequently, you have even less reason to leave your home since it has become a sanctuary of comfort instead of a messy den where you wake up hungover.
6. When you do leave, socializing is jarring.
You forget how to make small talk and get anxious around large groups of people. You wonder if you’re agoraphobic, like Emily Dickinson, and if you’re fated to live a Grey Gardens existence of silk headscarves and dilapidated fur coats. At a party, you hover near your friend and cajole them into leaving before they’ve finished their first cocktail so you can get back to your Netflix queue.
7. Fear of missing out disappears.
Maybe in the early stages of hermitage you felt pangs of jealousy about friends who were cavorting around town posting pictures of their escapades while you watched Season 2 of Sex and the City for the 18th time. This, like Taylor Swift’s popularity and the gluten-free fad, will fade with time and you’ll actually start to pity your friends who need to fill their lives with constant distraction.
8. You think less.
There is overall less stimulation. Whereas you might once have replayed the horrors of public transportation in your head for hours after being assaulted by a roving mariachi band in the subway, you now contemplate the best moisturizing routine for your cuticles and wonder how many episodes constitutes a binge-watching. The mind quiets and you start to delve into your inner self. Or conversely, you have time to obsess about things and weave narratives about a first date turning into a happily ever after marriage proposal in Tahiti.
9. You realize this is part of growing up.
Realize you’re not actually a shut-in, you just prioritize differently. It might feel like you never leave the house if you’re only going out two nights a week instead of six, but rest assured you’re just become a boring adult like everyone else.