- Not Every Recluse Suffers From Social Anxiety Disorder
- Why I being a Recluse
- Ever since civilization exists, people want to get away from it
- As years were added to my age, I started to appreciate the time alone over the time spent with people
- My score was 98 100! And I barely finished high school
- There are more reasons why I love being a recluse
- There are 2 types of solo travelers:
- All information on this website is for free
- Al information on this website is for free
- Book your Hotel in Riviera Maya
- 15 Indisputable Signs You’re Becoming A Hermit
- This reclusive life: what I learned about solitude from my time with hermits
Not Every Recluse Suffers From Social Anxiety Disorder
Not every reclusive person suffers from social anxiety disorder. Some people just don’t to mingle. Some people find themselves uncomfortable in social situations and avoid them not so much fear, but preference .
Personally, I love being home alone. I love not having to explain myself, to persuade others to accommodate my needs, to wonder how I’m judged and not having to figure out my place and my position in unfamiliar surroundings. I’m King in my home and “It’s Good to Be the King”.
Okay, I can see in the preceding paragraph, that these preferences can be limiting. I can see symptoms which are also present in those who do in fact suffer from social anxiety disorder, but I do not regard a preference for solitude necessarily as a disorder.
“I’ve deliberately created a business which enables me to work from my home and avoid interacting with too many people, however as the economy continues to slide and my business model is forced to adapt, I am having some difficulty adjusting to having to interact with other people and my finances are suffering as a consequence.” Should this person be unable to adjust, I believe you would cross the boundary from preference to disorder.
I, many, really don’t people as a whole. I find little value in trite everyday conversation. In my youth I had a rich social life. My hormones overcame my discomfort. But as those needs diminished over time, so did my willingness to pay social dues. I would resent having to pay those dues again for the sake of a few dollars, but I could and would do it. I just wouldn’t be happy about it.
I understand extreme social anxiety, but I assert strongly that not everyone who’s chosen to sequestered themselves, suffers from a disorder anymore than those of us who prefer to eat vanilla ice cream suffer from a chocolate anxiety disorder. I personally would just prefer to be alone… most of the time. And I favor Cherry Garcia.
I’m encountering more and more people who have chosen the path of semi-isolation, of adapting their careers and lifestyles to their personal preference of avoiding anxiety producing situations. Perhaps the very fact that social situations produce anxiety, is a manifestation of a disorder, but I don’t think so.
We see enough television (news) and have enough negative memories to believe rightly that social interaction has risks. It can lead to conflicts, it can lead to friendships that invade boundaries, obligations which cause resentment and waste a lot of time that can be used for productivity and creativity.
Only the individual can decide whether any gain from interacting is worth the price.
As long as it does not limit the quality of one’s life; as long as it does not prevent self actualization and the fulfillment of needs; and as long as it continues to feel a choice rather than a phobia, creating a lifestyle of semi-solitude is just fine.
Why I being a Recluse
Many studies state that human beings need contact with other human beings. We need both the intellectual, social and sexual interactions with other human beings in order to blossom and grow.
As a reclusive, I can say: I’m only human. Occasionally I do need contact with human beings, as only to prove that I love my reclusive lifestyle.
It is also said that people who live as recluses are those who are wounded, emotionally immature or suffer from some kind of social disorder. Maybe for some people living a solo life is not merely by choice but by a (mal)function in the brain. But it is always a choice to give in to it. Especially when it has to do with past experiences.
When on an occasional lonely night I search the internet for fellow hermits and how they balance their human needs for contact, I learn that many modern hermits were once very sociable people, but dropped society for a brief moment. To recuperate from a phase, to heal and to get away from ‘it all’ for a while. Only to discover how peaceful a reclusive life is and to never return fully to that social amiable life they used to live.
There are several stages of how reclusive you want to live. Some end up in a log cabin in the woods without electricity, internet or phone.
This article gives you 2 examples of the extreme of modern-day hermits.
Ever since civilization exists, people want to get away from it
Escaping the 9-5 society, escaping family gatherings, escaping it all. Some of us do not function well in a world full of rules, noise, and obligations. Becoming a recluse is not something that comes upon you, it is a choice and it grows on you.
I always had the feeling I was a misfit when it came to society. I did never fit in. And although I was the fun girl at parties once, I now hate it when I have to go to one.For a while, I made up every excuse I could think of to get the invitation without losing face or hurting the other person’s feelings.
In the end, I just ended up saying I was not into parties anymore.
I guess for me the venom lies in the “ not wanting to hurt anybody’s feelings”, That is where it usually goes wrong between me and society (read people): I avoided confrontations to the max, and by doing so I got hurt a lot.
I’m HSP (Highly Sensitive Personality) and I need a certain amount of ‘me-time’ to recuperate from daily life.
As years were added to my age, I started to appreciate the time alone over the time spent with people
My way of thinking is totally different from others. And I always felt that but never knew why. I have a different way of observing the world and capturing thoughts. Maybe because I started traveling at the age of 17 when I rounded the entire South American continent?
Anyway, it took a while to discover what ‘is wrong with me’. But now I know: my thoughts go with the speed of light. And here is how I discovered that:
I once attended a seminar where we had to do a test. The room was filled with academics and they took their time filling out the test form. I kind of worried that I finished mine so fast. It was not that difficult? Was it?
Did I miss the point maybe?
The spokesman saw me and came up to me and said: Don’t worry, finished is finished. Can I have a look?
And when he looked over my form he smiled and said: Just be honest during the evaluation. You will surprise yourself.
It was one of those agonizing hand-raising evaluation things…how many of you answered….and than raise your hand.
My hand went up a lot while others did not raise theirs. I felt awkward. Red face, all sweaty in the armpits I can tell you that.
I was the sole person with an exceptionally high score, and I finished the test in only a few minutes.
My score was 98 100! And I barely finished high school
Later, during lunch, the trainer stood next to me, we were at a race track overlooking the cars speeding away from the pit stop and he said: that is you….
you go from 0-200 miles per hour in a split second. Your brain is different from the multitudes. Do not compare yourself to them or be belittled by them. They will never understand.
And because they do not understand they will judge you and scorn you.
That was the wisest, and probably the nicest thing a person ever said to me. He almost made me cry that day. And he probably doesn’t know how much his words meant to me. He repaired my battered soul more than time or solitude could. He explained ME to me.
I became a lover of solitude. Not because I’m different and I wish to set myself apart. But because in solitude I can hear myself think, I can be creative, I can produce.I am not a team player.
And I have come to accept that.
There are more reasons why I love being a recluse
- waking up in my own routine, having a coffee before anything else, write my morning pages without interruption
- spending money the way I see fit, without consulting my other half
- deciding what to do with my day all by myself, no obligations
- training my self-discipline to be productive all by myself
- it makes me more resourceful, before asking anybody for help, I try to solve my own problems and I can do so much more than I think I can
- it gives me strength for those days I do have to face the world, it rebuilds my energy level
- I follow my own course and I can be authentic without constraints
- I decide when I let the world in when I want to socialize
As you can see, I do use the internet, so I’m not as reclusive as many hermits that retrieve in a log cabin in the woods. I live in busy places mostly, filled with tourists and noise. But I can get away from it all whenever I want.
And yes, sometimes I do get lonely, as a matter of fact, loneliness was the underlying reason for writing this article. I made a list (I love lists) with the benefits of being single again (I just broke up with my 1-year boyfriend accepting that is did not work (again)) and living my life a little outside society. And that is how this article came about.
There are 2 types of solo travelers:
Those that thrive in hostels rather than hotels, for hostels help them to connect to others and fill the emptiness of solo travel.
And there are those that truly travel alone, with their own thoughts and on their own trips, carrying their own luggage.
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When the Mexican Embassy in The Hague Netherlands handed me over my passport with my brand new visa I felt so proud. Finally, I was going to travel through the country of Mexico.
It gave my life that exciting buzz I need so much. Exploring is in my blood.
The lady told me it was valid for 6 months, and within one month after arrival, I had to apply for my resident card.
Canjé, Tramite, it would take no more than a few weeks, she told me.
So happily I went to Cancun Immigration office and processed the whole thing. Two months maximum they told me there at the desk.
And now I am 4 months further in time, almost 5, and nothing has happened. O well, something has happened. As soon as I left the office I got an email, with a website, login verification and a number to check my status.
And every time I check nothing has changed. I have contacted lawyers, they all promise heaven until you say the paperwork is in process, then they gro very silent. Only one lawyer told me that he had a client also waiting from February 2019 for his card.
So I am not the only one. Very comforting.
The wildest stories are told: lack of plastic cards, the officer has left the building with a pile of files and ours is in it and lost, and INM in Mexico city told me that there is nothing I can do to speed up the process, just wait, they try to calm me down on . Sit and wait. I should have been in Puerto Vallarta by now, owning a motorbike and maybe even a bank account, getting ready for my first road trip. Setting up a home base, get a cat, you know, stuff you have a life.
But not me, I am stuck here in the Riviera Maya where the beaches and the sea are totally unswimmable due to sargassum and I cannot do anything! For any day now I can get called in to either be fingerprinted or not since that was done in the Netherlands, so maybe to just pick up my card. There also multiple stories about that part of the process. But the truth is: nobody knows anything, my file might be lost and nobody knows about it. Not even the immigration officers themselves.
And in the meanwhile, I am sitting here in a studio, which is quite nice, but I am still living a suitcase, for I am not supposed to live here, I want to move.
If they do not hurry I might as well stay here, for the longer, it takes the narrower the timeframe to apply for the other 3 years.
For I first have to process me moving house and state, and then I can apply for a new visa, which has to be done 30 days prior to the expiration date.
I am frustrated, even when I want to leave the country I have to pay money, and I can only stay away a few days otherwise they will cancel my visa. I feel captivated. Imprisoned and I dis it. I dis it so much that at the moment I seriously doubt if I want to stay in this taco country.
When you are caught in the middle of a process this and your own future plans you cannot do anything but wait.
But with no beaches to entertain me, there is little to do, since I do not free tequila shots, and I do not to blow or get stoned, drunk or fuck around, other people my skin colour to do here.
They set the tone for how people see me here and how they treat me. And I dis it. I dis it so much…..well there is the circle I dis it so much that I wonder if I came to the right country.
But that is a bit harsh to judge for I am in an American subdivision here, this has nothing to do with Mexico and Mexican culture. So I know nothing yet. I want to go up those dirt roads, to small villages and meet locals, eat in small eateries and get to know the real Mexico.But I can’t, I am stuck.
Waiting for my paperwork that is still “sin resolucion”
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15 Indisputable Signs You’re Becoming A Hermit
1. People slowly stop inviting you to social gatherings and you start feeling a little insulted. Why the change?! You’re fun! You’re cute! You’re a goddamn HOOT! Maybe you wanted to stand in line for an hour freezing your ass off waiting to get into an exclusive rooftop club.
2. You’ll see a photo of your friends on Instagram looking adorable interacting with each other and other humans outside, and you comment the heart eyes emoji. You may or may not be hoping this sweet gesture will actually remind them that you, oh I don’t know, EXIST. “I’m still here, thank you!!” Introverts can have FOMO too, ya know.
3. A friend will shoot you a text, “Hey, we’re at this really chill party downtown, I would have invited you, but figured you didn’t want to come.” How dare she?! Ugh, you can’t even form the words to properly explain your hurt ego, but in the time you take thinking of what to say, she has texted again, “Come meet us?!”
4. You are instantly overcome with anxiety and are 95% sure tiny little men have found a way inside your stomach, and have now taken to punching your different vital organs. Boom. Spleen. Boom. Liver. Boom. Now you’re having heart palpitations. A stroke. An aneurism. Sudden onset of full body paralysis. This is the end as you know it. You’re toast.
5. You muster enough strength to respond, “Ah, I actually can’t. I should turn in early tonight.” And the pain and torment immediately subsides. Of course you weren’t going to go, but at least extend an invitation you can reject. Common courtesy, ladies and gents.
6. You feel tingly down south when Netflix announces new shows will be streaming.
7. The news of Friends coming to Netflix actually caused a full-blown orgasm. You can practically hear Monica whispering into your ear, “seven.” SEVEN!
8. Safeway delivering groceries straight to your door is a thing of true beauty, and you want to kiss the feet of whoever enabled you the glory of waiting in your underwear for a box of Cheerios and almond milk.
9. Ditto for any restaurants that have an online ordering system. Any possible way to streamline (read: eliminate) communication with other people is your favorite.
10. You swipe a maniac on Tinder with no real intention of ever meeting someone outside your comfy internet home.
11. The Forever Alone meme is your secret life goal. Y ppl think it so negative?!
12. The rare occasions you decide to #rage (you also probably never actually use the word “rage”), you need a minimum of three to four days after for recovery. And it’s not from alcohol or other substances, but simply the exhaustion from being around so many people for extended periods of time.
13. You’re afraid you might love your laptop more than you’ve ever loved a significant other. I take you, MacBook, to be my lawfully wedded source of happiness and entertainment for as long as we both shall live. Seriously, never die on me.
14. You are blinded if you ever leave your cave during the daytime. WHAT IS THAT ORANGE THING IN THE SKY?!? SO. BRIGHT. OUTSIDE. MY EYES, THEY BUUUURN.
15. The few people you’ve managed to keep around, despite your antisocial behavior, are incredibly important to you and you would do anything for them. Yes, even if that means fighting against your hermit- nature every once and a while to see them IRL.
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This reclusive life: what I learned about solitude from my time with hermits
A few years ago, beset by the same malaise that I suppose afflicts everyone who spends too much time in the bustle and chaos of a big city, I wondered if solitude might be the answer. I began to read about hermits and became obsessed with the idea of meeting one.
As you might imagine, hermits are a difficult sub-group to track down. But I found out about a newsletter run by a couple in the Carolinas aimed at solitaries and, after posting an ad there, began writing to a few.
The correspondences never led anywhere. The closest I got to an actual encounter was with a woman in rural Oregon called Maryann. We planned to meet but at the last minute she got cold feet, writing to say she could not risk letting a stranger visit her “in this crazy age of violence”.
It was winter by then. Desperate to flee the city, I flew to Vegas with a vague plan to hitchhike in to the high deserts of Arizona and New Mexico, which I had heard were good hermit hunting grounds.
In the canyons of central Arizona, in Cleator, an inglorious little town of tin-roofed cabins an hour’s meandering drive west of the interstate, I heard about a man who had lived alone for 20 years guarding a disused silver mine. The next day I walked up the mountain to find him, watching the ground for rattlesnakes as I went.
I had high hopes; I had read accounts of those who had gone alone into the wild and come back laden with deep personal insights. I wasn’t exactly expecting the Buddha, but a minor-league Thoreau would have been nice.
As it was, I met Virgil Snyder. The first thing he asked was if I had brought beers. I had, and for the rest of the day I watched him down them, one after the other at his cabin, a ramshackle place cluttered with old birds’ nests and the bleached skulls of pack rats he had found on the trail.
Virgil’s home in central Arizona. Photograph: Paul Willis
He didn’t understand why I had come. When I told him I was interested in learning about solitude, he looked at me I had just flown in from Planet Stupid.
“I didn’t come here to prove a point,” he said. “I don’t do this to be unique.”
I wrote down everything he said, poring over my notes at night, searching for some searing insight among his professed hatred of, well, everything, and the litany of insults he had thrown my way. (I was at different times called “a faggot”, “a motherfucker” and, more bizarrely, “a Tootsie Roll”.)
After several visits, I was forced to admit that he was not the mountain sage I had been looking for. He was an angry drunk.
• • •
The idea that those who withdraw from the world accrue great wisdom is an old and powerful one. In Hindu philosophy, all humans ideally mature into hermits. As the Indian guru Sri Ramakrishna put it: “The last part of life’s road has to be walked in single file.”
In the west, the idea has had a profound cultural impact. Peter France explores this in his book Hermits, attributing the creation of monasticism to the example set by the earliest Christian hermits, the Desert Fathers of Egypt.
One of the historical ironies France notes is the way hermits have been sought out for their advice on how to live in society.
The Desert Fathers’ thoughts were considered so valuable that a collection of their sayings – known as the Apophthegmata – were written down in the late fourth century.
In Russia, 19th-century hermit Startsy Ambrose’s fame drew illustrious visitors Dostoyevsky, who consulted the hermit several times following the death of his son; their encounters were immortalised in The Brothers Karamazov.
The trend continues today, most notably in the case of the so-called North Pond Hermit. A Maine native, Christopher Knight lived alone in the woods without human contact for 27 years; his story came to light only after he was arrested for a spate of robberies in 2013.
Michael Finkel, the author of the GQ article that brought Knight to wider prominence, was similarly obsessed by the idea that the hermit had some “grand insight” to share from his time in the wilderness. In the piece – reportedly the most-read GQ article ever – Finkel keeps pushing Knight on the subject and at one point it seems he is about to spill the beans.
“I felt some great mystic was about to reveal the Meaning of Life,” Finkel writes. Except all Knight has to offer is, “Get enough sleep.”
• • •
The same afternoon that I left Virgil, a Catholic monk I had been corresponding with left a message on my phone to tell me about Doug Monroe, a religious solitary who had been living alone for a decade in New Mexico’s vast Gila Wilderness.
The monk described Doug as an “exceptional soul” and his hermitage as “the real thing”. There was no road or habitation within 10 miles of him and apart from a trip to Albuquerque once a year to restock his supplies, the monk said that he never left the cabin.
Buoyed by the serendipity of the timing I decided to go find him. The route to Doug’s place switched back and forth across a stream gushing with snowmelt.
Doug at home. Photograph: Paul Willis
I was greeted a long-lost friend. “Boy, it’s such a treat to have ya here,” Doug said in a homely southern accent, fussing over me, feeding me rice and tea.
Un Virgil, he understood my interest and tried to convey what the solitary life was . He described moments when the silence around him was so profound it left him frozen to the spot, afraid that the noise of even one footstep would be deafening.
The desire to be a hermit had first come to him in his mid-20s, he said, but it was not until his late 40s that he finally plucked up the courage.
When he first came here he had just $150 in cash and an 80lb pack on his back and trekked out into the forest determined to “entrust my survival to God”.
For the first year, he lived in a metre-wide shelter he built below an exposed rock face using slabs of stone and fallen trees.
He eventually built himself a one-room cabin. Compared with the melancholic decay of Virgil’s home, there was a calm order here: all his supplies were arranged neatly around the room. On the shelves were boxes of crackers, bucket-sized tubs of peanut butter, dried milk and grains, tins of tuna and Spam, cocoa and powdered mash.
On the wall were photos of the family of his benefactor – a businessman and devout Catholic – in Albuquerque. On Doug’s annual excursion in town, the benefactor takes him to a wholesaler and buys him yearly supplies with change from $1,000.
Next, Doug took me outside to show me the 6ft-deep well he had built in a small creek. Piping ran from the well to the water tank that sat on raised ground behind the cabin and he had a small generator to power the pump.
As I followed him around, I thought about how Doug’s experience with solitude was nothing Virgil’s. While Doug’s faith gave his life in the wilderness a structure and a purpose, that was completely absent with Virgil.
Apart from a rudimentary contraption for trapping rainwater, I had seen few clues about how Virgil survived in Arizona. He had hinted at well-wishers bringing him supplies, though when I pried further he refused to be drawn. Perhaps it would have undermined his hermit status, which I think he secretly enjoyed, despite claiming he didn’t care what folk called him.
Doug’s one-room cabin. Photograph: Paul Willis
I had the sense that Doug was genuinely content with the path he had chosen, but there was an eccentricity I saw in him too.
He talked non-stop, jumping from one subject to the next without any clear connection. At first I thought he was just excited by my presence but he admitted that it was the same when he was alone.
He held imaginary conversations with absent friends, with dead saints, even with the Virgin Mary.
He said his inability to stop talking went back to childhood – he estimated he could have filled an encyclopaedia with all the lines he wrote for talking in class – but it crossed my mind that the solitude might be exaggerating the trait.
Solitude, after all, is known to do strange things to the mind.
• • •
In 1993 the sociologist and caver Maurizio Montalbini broke the record for the longest time spent underground, during a spell in a cavern near Pesaro, Italy. During his isolation, Montalbini began experiencing a slowing down of time. His sleep-wake cycles nearly doubled in length so that when he finally emerged he was convinced only 219 days had passed whereas in fact a year had elapsed.
While there are numerous studies showing the harmful effects of solitary confinement on prisoners, studies of the general public are rarer because of the ethical concerns around subjecting someone to prolonged isolation for the purpose of a clinical trial.
Back in the 1950s, however, Donald O Hebb, a professor of psychology at Montreal’s McGill University, did just this. Hebb had his volunteers spend days, or even weeks, in sound-proof cubicles, deprived of human contact.
After a few hours, the subjects became restless, talking to themselves to break the monotony.
Later they grew anxious, highly emotional and their cognitive abilities began to wane as they struggled to complete arithmetic and word association tests. At some point many began having hallucinations, both visual and auditory.
One man even hallucinated being shot in the arm and felt the sensation of pain. The subjects became so disturbed that the trial was cut short.
The most notorious example of the mind-distorting effects of solitude is the case of Donald Crowhurst, who took part in a 1968 race to become the first solo sailor to go non-stop around the world.
From the race’s outset, Crowhurst ran into problems with his boat and, faced with the prospect of returning home a failure, he sailed aimlessly around the Atlantic while sending back false reports of his position.
Fearing financial ruin and overwhelmed by the scale of the subterfuge, he cut radio contact. His boat was discovered floating in the Sargasso Sea months later. Crowhurst was nowhere to be found, but a 25,000-word diary discovered on board detailed the Englishman’s descent into madness.
During one visit to Virgil, I found the door to his cabin open and Virgil passed out at the table, an empty liquor bottle beside him. Afraid of his reaction if he suddenly came to and found me there, I went outside and knocked hard till he stirred. When he finally emerged he stared at me I was a ghost.
On Virgil’s property grounds. Photograph: Paul Willis
It was a tense encounter, his mood volatile. One minute he erupted in anger, upsetting beer cans and thrusting a finger in my face, and the next he was crying uncontrollably. At one point he blurted out about a wife and two kids he had been estranged from for nearly 30 years.
When his marriage broke down he lived destitute on the streets in Phoenix, he said. His father, who was caretaking another silver mine further down the mountain at the time, found him and brought him back in his pickup. After a few years the old man drank himself to death.
“Big fucking deal!” he said at the story’s close. “What do you care!”
• • •
Among the Apophthegmata is a saying by an unknown hermit: “It is better to live among the crowd and keep a solitary life in your spirit than to live alone with your heart in the crowd.”
In other words, if you go into solitude to get away from something, your troubles will probably follow you. This, I suspect, was Virgil’s story. It was probably my own, too, and I returned to the city unhappy that my hermit encounters had not yielded more. To my disappointment, Virgil and Doug had proved all too human.
There was one aspect of the experience that had surpassed my inflated expectations: the environment where the two men lived. And as I became entrenched once again in city life, it was to the stark beauty of the high desert in winter that my mind kept returning, to the saguaros, dwarf junipers, pinyon pines and magical starlit nights.
In the 1968 race that cost Donald Crowhurst his sanity, another competitor had a very different experience.
French sailor Bernard Moitessier fell utterly in love with life alone at sea. So much so that instead of turning north towards the finishing line in England and possible victory, he dropped the race and sailed on to Tahiti.
In his book The Long Way, Moitessier describes sailing one night by a headland with the Milky Way overhead. It occurs to him that were this view only visible once a century, the headland would be thronged with people. But since it can be seen many times a year the inhabitants overlook it.
“And because they could see it almost any night, perhaps they never will,” he writes.
It was a direct encounter with the quiet magnificence of nature that was the real gold I brought back from my wanderings in Arizona and New Mexico. It was probably what I had been looking for all along.
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