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Finding My Inner Hermit

MidRange
Finding My Inner Hermit
By Ernie Smith • Issue #31 • View online
The pandemic taught me something I didn’t think I’d ever say about myself 15 years ago: I make a pretty good indoors person.

(Joshua J. Cotten/Unsplash)
(Joshua J. Cotten/Unsplash)
Maybe it’s the fact that, along with everyone else, I have been living with COVID for a year, but I’m actually finding isolated tasks more enjoyable than usual. The points of stress I usually face seem to go away once I just kind of get in my bubble and do a solitary task.
To give you an idea: Tonight, I decided to spend a couple of hours just tinkering with low-stakes computer stuff; the big challenge I faced: Can I get an old machine working with a new operating system? The answer was … well, kinda. But not really. But it was something I had been wanting to try for a few weeks, so I went ahead and did it.
I think that once we get out of this pandemic, we’re going to find that our personalities are going to be forever changed in some small way. I mean, I can’t wait to get out of my house after I get this shot in two weeks, but at the same time, I find myself actually kind of enjoying having the peace of it all.
My onetime natural habitat. (Jonas Jacobsson/Unsplash)
My onetime natural habitat. (Jonas Jacobsson/Unsplash)
When I was in my 20s, I had convinced myself I had to go somewhere. Every day. Didn’t matter where, but I had to leave my house and do something. Being home was just bad for my psyche. That led me into these daily coffee shop rituals. My jobs tended to start in the afternoon because I worked design gigs at newspapers, so I’d wake up in the morning and find a coffee shop, possibly a friend, and just go for it.
This evolved into my 30s, as I had side gigs that kept me busy and were often conducted within said coffee shops, often late into the evening. Hell, I met my wife at a coffee shop. She was a barista in grad school. And together, we drink a lot of coffee.
(I turn 40 in a little under a month, so I can’t tell you what that’s like yet.)
When I first started working remote about five years ago, nothing changed—I continued to go out to coffee shops on a daily basis. I would often shunt around if I had to do an interview or something, but if I could be outside the house, I would be.
My house isn’t anywhere this cool or organized, but let me have this. (Jonathan Borba/Unsplash)
My house isn’t anywhere this cool or organized, but let me have this. (Jonathan Borba/Unsplash)
But this last year put me in this weird situation where I found myself having to be at home all day, every day, after years of trying to avoid it. And you know what? It wasn’t so bad. When I can put my mind on a task, I can really rock it, or at least find some sort of mental peace with it.
I guess here’s what I wonder. When this moment where I can finally leave the house with some regularity happens in the coming future, will I be the same person, having learned that I can in fact survive if I stay inside most days? Or will I feel the compelling potential of being able to exit my home pushing me forth?
I guess what I’m saying is that this 13-month forced excursion in staying home most of the time taught me something I never thought I’d learn—how to be a little less restless. I’m sure it has led to some similar revelations for other folks as well.
As vaccines finally start to spread, let’s take what we’ve learned with us—no matter if we stay home, or are in a sudden rush to leave.
Time limit given ⏲: 30 minutes
Time left on clock ⏲: 8 minutes, 2 seconds (with some screwing around on the side)
If you like this, be sure to check out more of my writing at Tedium: The Dull Side of the Internet.
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Ernie Smith

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