Disclaimer: In Real Life is a platform for everyday people to share their experiences and voices. All articles are personal stories and do not necessarily echo In Real Life\u2019s sentiments. \u201cHikikomori\u201d is a Japanese word for an extreme shut-in. In Japan, this phenomenon is widespread. As much as 5% of the population are hikikomori.\u00a0 In Malaysia, with the advent of quarantine measures, people are forced to adopt a lifestyle that's very similar to the hikikomori \u2014 so I decided to ask one such hikikomori what it\u2019s like. I was put in touch with a self-professed hikikomori by a friend, called Juno* (*Not her real name).\u00a0 I am a Malaysian Hikikomori, and this is my story.\u00a0 I call myself an extreme shut-in.\u00a0 I started living this lifestyle about 4 years ago, when I left the corporate life to go freelance. As a hikikomori, I avoid going out of my house and meeting as few people as possible. I dislike crowds and I can\u2019t take bright light.\u00a0 I only go out for like a doctor's appointment, or if I can\u2019t get something online, like food.\u00a0 I would consider myself extremely introverted. It\u2019s like I have a very short mood bar. When that gets filled up, I get upset and moody, and I must go home and unwind. It can be months before I actually meet people other than my roommates. When I used to work in an office, it was your typical day-to-day life. But I did not hang out with my co-workers, who wanted to go drinking, and hit the clubs. I went straight home. My experience in corporate Malaysia made me shun human connections. In a social setting, I don\u2019t do conversations. I hate small talk, and I don\u2019t like hinting and suggestive things. I prefer to get straight to the point.\u00a0 When people ask me out after work, I don't make all the usual excuses. Straight up, I just say, \u201cNo thanks.\u201d\u00a0 It wasn\u2019t that I disliked them. I just didn\u2019t like going out. Yet they would try to force me to go out, saying, \u201cOh, don\u2019t be a mood-killer. Just come out for once.\u201d\u00a0 Each time, I said a flat \u201cNo.\u201d Because I refused to go out drinking and clubbing with my co-workers, I was called stuck up, proud, and unsociable.\u00a0 They would badmouth me behind my back and judge my clothes, the food I ate, and just find something, anything, related to me to complain about.\u00a0 When things went wrong with a multimillion dollar project, because I didn\u2019t have any office allies, I was made an easy target to blame things on.\u00a0 I was assigned the project on Monday, and unbeknownst to me, the plug was pulled on Tuesday. By Wednesday, the office was filled with whispers that it was my fault. On Thursday, I was fighting to keep my job. And on Friday, I quit and left.\u00a0 Because I had kept copies of the emails, files and everything, it was easy for me to put together a case proving that I had been deliberately set up to fail and take the blame. My former employer quickly agreed to settle things with me, before the Labor Tribunal could get a hold of it.\u00a0 Around that time, my mental health took a dive. Out of 5, it was maybe 1-2 because of the stress, the legal proceedings, and trying to find a new job. Now that I\u2019m working from home, it\u2019s gotten better. It\u2019s now a 4 out of 5. The internet makes being a hikikomori is easy.\u00a0 I do all my shopping online. I can order food, clothes, and household supplies online. Everything can be done from home.\u00a0 When Covid-19 hit, and the first MCO arrived, nothing really changed for me. While everyone was queuing in stores to stockpile and buy, I hit the mouse half a dozen times, and paid a little extra for delivery. Life carried on pretty much the same as before.\u00a0\u00a0 I found it amusing how people struggled to cope for just that first two weeks at home. I had to hold back my laughter as I watched people complain about being home with nothing to do. I just kept working, kept living my life.\u00a0 To relax, I listen to rock and classical music, I read mostly fantasy or mystery novels, and I play games like Black Desert Online, Minecraft, and Monster Hunter. If I ever get round to it, I might finish writing my novel or perhaps start another fanfiction project. I have 4 cats. My oldest cat is about 10 years. I have had him since he was a kitten. The youngest is about 3 years old.\u00a0 Just being at home alone with my cats and my books and music makes me happy. I love cats because cats don\u2019t judge. They just love me unconditionally. There are no bullsh*t standards to follow. Cats also don\u2019t need walks outside.\u00a0 People follow society\u2019s made-up standards where you have to act a certain way to be accepted. They judge you unfairly if you don\u2019t. So that\u2019s why I don\u2019t like people. It\u2019s about how much money you wake, how you spend it, what you wear, what you eat, where you shop. All these so-called standards and labels. What good does any of it do? Saying that, it\u2019s mostly the egotistical and entitled people who are the worst to try to get along with. It\u2019s also these kinds of people that kiss enough a$$ to get ahead without doing anything.\u00a0 Nothing in society can change or makes me want to interact with people. If you\u2019re scared that you\u2019re turning into a hikikomori like me, you have nothing to be worried about. The hikikomori life isn\u2019t for everyone.\u00a0\u00a0 Other people would find it hard because they have a more sociable lifestyle and they need human interaction. They value having a large circle of friends. They believe it's important that they are liked by their coworkers. In fact, thanks to Covid-19, people are noticing how important it is to spend time with the people they love most. People are now more connected than ever before. Even grandmas and grandpas have learned how to video call and use WhatsApp group calls.\u00a0 To be honest, there\u2019s nothing wrong with being a hikikomori. It\u2019s just my preferred lifestyle. Could I go back to living a \u201cnormal\u201d lifestyle? I suppose so, but why would I? I have been living the so-called \u201cnew normal\u201d for a long time. I work. I pay my bills and taxes. I don't have debt. My cats are healthy and get their check ups on time. I take care of myself. I\u2019m doing alright.\u00a0 As long as you aren\u2019t harming yourself or others, why should it be looked down on? For more stories like this, read: Alone But Not Lonely \u2013 The Trend of Single Young Adults\u00a0and Introverts Aren\u2019t Antisocial: 5 Things People Get Wrong About Us If you liked what you read, follow us on Facebook & Instagram.