Without revealing his name, the author of a post titled “I’m a shut-in. This is my story” explains his background, childhood, struggles with authority and depression, and the decisions he’s made in his life to bring him to his current state. I spent about an hour reading his story. It’s fascinating. The purpose for his post, as he writes:
Publishing this was hard but it felt like my only option. For years I have not been living my life, I have been delaying it. Five years ago I paused my life and now it’s time to choose between play or stop. I’m pressing play. The world pushed me and instead of pushing back I hid, now I’m pushing back. I’m determined to be myself no matter the consequences.
The beginning is compelling:
There are a lot of names for people like me. We are called shut-ins, hermits, recluses and so on. These words mean different things depending on what media you have been exposed to. To some, a hermit is a monastic human living high in the Himalayas connecting with his inner self through meditation and isolation. Some picture a crazy, bearded, old fellow, cooking up whiskey deep in the Appalachian wilderness. Some picture a Howard Hughes type, they imagine man that harvests his fignernails and wears tinfoil hats to keep the aliens out.
Preconceptions are a difficult thing to overcome. The meanings we assume of words are our biggest obstacle to communication. Instead of fighting an uphill battle against meanings, let us leave the words we know behind and introduce a new one.
Hikikomori is a Japanese word which means “pulling inward”. It has been used as a label to describe an emerging phenomenon in Japan, that of adolescents withdrawing from the world. We aren’t going to stick to any hard definitions ofhikikimori. Instead, we are going to use it only as a convenient placeholder to refer to a spectrum of individuals similar to, but not necessarily, like me.
I particularly enjoyed the author’s comparison of skill level required to master chess vs. checkers:
Chess lacks criticalness, which makes it much easier to play well. In chess you can conduct yourself on general principles and get by quite well. Checkers is a game of calculation and brute pattern recognition, chess is a game of principles. There is a famous chess quote that say “chess is 99% tactics”, this is literally true in checkers. Once you get the hang of learning checkers the learning curve becomes a matter of relentless training.
The footnoting is excellent–you could tell the author put a lot of thought into crafting them (there’s a David Foster Wallace-eque quality to them). A few passages triggered a response of “I’ve behaved similarly in the past; what is wrong with me?”
I sincerely hope K-2052 (the pseudonym of the author of the post) finds what he is looking for in his renewed quest to make his life fulfilling.