The word recluse usually brings to mind visions of a man wondering inside his mountain dwelling alongside his pet goat, or a batty old woman residing in a rundown shack (who is probably an actual witch). I never really identified with this label, until I started working primarily from home and began to take notice of what made me happy. The cat is out of the bag, and it could multiply, depending on how much I want to commit to crazy hermit lady status. I’ve discovered I thoroughly enjoy my own company and spending my days with only an assortment of animal companions. It’s a Shrek life for me, and here is why.
Shrek Advantage One: You don’t have to give a rat’s ass how you look.
When pajamas are on the list for daytime wardrobe options, you know you are onto a winner. I used to feel guilty looking down at my fluffy pink robe at 2 pm, until I came to the conclusion that getting dressed was simply stalling me from being productive, and it was much smarter to begin my day without removing my slippers. Days between hair washing get stretched out to the absolute maximum, makeup does not exist, and shaving my legs? Haha. Hahahahahaha. Of course, there is the odd time when someone will show up, unannounced, causing me to dive to the ground and hunker down as if I’m hiding from border control, but my “no one is home” ruse is now pretty sleek. There is something beautiful about looking like a monster while the rest of the world is none the wiser, because when I do occasionally emerge from my lair, I have actually enjoyed applying my face and doing my hair and I swan back into society as though I always exist this way. Mwhahaha…. they will never know….
Shrek Advantage Two: You learn about your true priorities.
Having financial support without leaving the house is a must for anyone looking to convert to Hermitism. Aside from the few nights a week I teach yoga classes, making and selling clothes and accessories from home enables me to sustain myself without actually dealing with society. Being a hermit means leaving the house for only the important things in life (like food). This gives you the space to reflect on what you value the most, from which friendships you foster to the opportunities you take. You start to prioritize your life and save time by cutting back on unnecessary outings. If you’re single, this can be a surprising benefit to your dating life, because you don’t waste your energy on duds and consider more carefully whom you should share your time with. My priorities have dwindled to a few golden reasons it’s acceptable to leave the house: gatherings that include Mexican food, thrift store shopping, tacos, the opportunity to pet other people’s animals, and margaritas. Simple. Effective. Efficient.
Shrek Advantage Three: Self-consciousness goes out the window.
Dance like no one’s watching. Hermits can do this, because there literally is no one watching. Many a loner day has been spent trying to replicate Britney Spears’ body rippling circa 2004 (with minimal success), dramatically miming to Christina Aguilera ballads as though performing to a stadium of adoring fans, and practicing my best Scottish accent a la Mel Gibson in Braveheart. Being a recluse means not giving a single shit about what you look like because the only one judging you is your dog (who has risen an eyebrow the time or two I shamelessly practiced my opera singing). But unlike people, the love of pets can be bought back with a quick belly rub and a biscuit (although I suspect this may suffice for some of my friends, too). Yes, my weird friendships with animals are all the company I need in my alone time. Only the other day, amongst the rabbits, birds and chickens, a deer came wandering out of the trees, and I am 99% certain he was summoned by my “singing,” Snow White style. I am one stop away from tiny birds helping me get ready in the morning and hitting Disney Princess status, a lifelong dream. None of this I could have achieved while considering “self-awareness” or “things that are embarrassing for a grown adult to do.”
Shrek Advantage Four: You don’t have to share.
Nobody likes that kid in the sandbox who refuses to share his or her toys, but being a hermit allows you to think only of yourself without looking like an asshole. The second you step out the front door you’re confronted with the civil duty to consider other people, from rush hour traffic to store hours to public transport timetables. When you’re home alone, everything is on your schedule. You want to eat pancakes at 7 pm? Go for it. You want to read uninterrupted for six hours straight? Here, let me fluff your pillow. Being a loner means you have to share your attention with nobody, along with your time, money and food (three of my favorite things). It may seem selfish, but who’s there to judge? If a tree falls in an empty forest, does it make a sound? I rest my case.
If you’re not sold on being a hermit yet, then maybe the Shrek life isn’t for you. If, however, you enjoy doing your work in your underwear and the feeling of flannel against your unshaven legs, then activate your Netflix account, adopt a fur baby and give the Shrek lifestyle a try.
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