Opinion – The everyday life of your average hermit


Annamarie Parker/NW

MEMORY BOX — For the chances I did not take, the people I did not meet and the places I did not go. A little fear meant nothing in comparison to that regret. Life is short, but man is it full when you look back at all the things you were too scared to do, but did it anyways.

Annamarie Parker

Dealing with social anxiety as an overly friendly person who loves meeting people means talking to them even though they terrify me. It is pushing myself to do what I feel I should be able to do, despite the dread and fears that come with it.

This being said, I am a hermit, and I wear that title with honor.

When I reflect on my college years thus far, there are a lot of emotions. For me, one of the most notable is anxiety.

That feeling of a pit in your stomach can be normal when it comes to presenting in class, applying for a job you are unsure you can do, turning in a late assignment or maybe even just walking into class on the first day and not knowing where to sit or who you will meet. It is almost natural to feel unsettled.

But to me, that feeling is gut-wrenching.

Anxiety looks different for everybody. My anxiety, however, did not stop there. It was in every social interaction I had, even with the kindest people, and it leaked into the way I could function at times. It was feeling claustrophobic in a room of four people and avoiding messages for days because there was this underlying fear that they did not actually want to talk to me – even when they approached me first.

It is the anxiety of not knowing where to look when I am talking, fidgeting with anything that can make me feel more present than being within my gallivanting mind, stuttering out half sentences, trying to make myself smaller in crowded rooms, being so painfully conscious of others and overthinking everything I said or did.

It was postponing emails and text messages until my inbox was flooded, and pushing everybody away because the only thing that did not make me feel that way was myself.

My social anxiety ruled me to the point of being reclusive.

It was hard and unhealthy. For a while, I did not even know I did it. I just knew I was alone a lot, and that I did not really enjoy going out. All I wanted was to talk to people, go on spontaneous adventures and talk for hours about the smallest things, but I physically could not.

I passed on every opportunity that I now know would have been good for me, great even, because I was terrified. I was equivocally unhappy and too in my head to change anything. 

Change did not seem feasible until the need for social interaction outweighed my overwhelming fear.

Do not get me wrong, I am more of an introvert than anything. However, there is a part of me that adores meeting and learning about new people that I cannot suppress. I have a box of memories from every person who has ever meant anything to me, with pictures, cards and notes lining my walls. I get so excited about the smallest things, so awkward and shy that I am nearly bursting with visible butterflies. But it is the most genuine and heart-warming feeling.

Say, somebody gets excited when they see you. They notice small things that you do, remember something you said or find any kind of comfort in your presence – a familiarity. 

It is in noting that every relationship you have with every person you meet is different, and it caters to just you two. Maybe it is like bickering siblings or an artistic aunt who always gives questionable advice, or even just the annoying kid down the street who you will secretly always want to protect.

We all live in our own worlds, playing small roles in one another’s, but the impact and impression we leave stays.

Not all of humanity is bad, and I think sometimes we need to be reminded of that. Sometimes it is good, it is wholesome and it is enough to make you want to change your hermit ways and live the tale of an extrovert.


Social anxiety with somebody who loves people is never really knowing where you stand in anything, and it is a constant stream of highs and lows. It is like reminding yourself how to be a human – to talk, to breathe, to swallow and to focus in on someone’s voice.

You are so aware and out of tune at the same time.

My friends like to tell me I live under a rock, and it is a disconnectedness that has grown on me. I love the warmth of my room and the gentle hum of whatever movie is on in the background while I paint. I love the smell of cinnamon, the taste of coffee and the feeling of lazy clothes.

And people provide me that same comfort, just with an invigorating dash of fear.

Editor’s Note: The North Wind is committed to offering a free and open public forum of ideas, publishing a wide range of viewpoints to accurately represent the NMU student body. This is a staff column, written by an employee of the North Wind. As such, it expresses the personal opinions of the individual writer, and does not necessarily reflect the position of the North Wind Editorial Board.