Illustrations by Charlotte Shen
As I stated in Part 1, I consider myself a homebody. I personally prefer to be in my own space, even if I’m “out in the world”. I like the feeling of being an observer, be it of nature or of the heaving masses of around Taipei 101 on the weekend. But there’s always the risk of unpredictable human interaction. Sometimes it goes quite well, but geez, it’s a little scary to contemplate for many of us! Social and other types of anxiety seem to be at all-time highs, at least in part, one assumes, due to the increased isolation we put ourselves under because, well, we can.
From my standpoint, I like to stay at home partially for this perhaps unhealthy urge to avoid social risk, but also because it has everything I need in a small space, and it’s the place I can most be myself. Unbutton the pants and let my belly hang out a little. Put all of the bowls and utensils into the pot I used to cook pasta for my 5 year old son, fill with hot soapy water and, “let it soak”. Because no one will tell me I can’t. I like staying at home because I can eat and drink what I want when I want, watch what shows I want, browse the websites I want, play the games that I want, without risking the dangers of traffic and said dreaded social interaction. Bottom line: at home, I always occupy that private space that is completely my domain.
I’m middle-aged, I need to face it – to call myself a millennial would be disingenuous. Millennials are, however leading the new wave of homebodies, and while some of their motivations overlap with mine, some are distinct. Financial frugality and online dating, for example, are two leading reasons millennials cite for their predilection for staying at home.
As for the dating thing? Well, I’m well beyond being willing to put on my best fake online profile face and make myself seem interesting enough to attract the interest of someone I’ve targeted as an ideal or passable match, only to be disappointed to find upon first meeting that this person is just as fake as me. No thanks. This is one aspect of being young and single that I neither miss nor envy. For millennials, however, who have the benefit a huge pool of similar aged netizens that they can relate to on many things, why not cast your line into the waters from the comfort of home, swaddled in your fave comfy jammies?
And there is the thread that may lead us back to the topical question: what does it mean to be a homebody, and what should it mean? One could argue that for everyone, one fundamental goal in our lives should be to gain the control over self that in turn empowers us to create an environment around us that is ideal for facilitating the kinds of goals we have for ourselves. For many of us homebodies, the positive reasons for choosing to spend more time at home boil down to the fact that, in my home, no one can control me or influence me without my tacit agreement. I can focus on being healthier, less anxious, more organized, and, dare I say it, happier!
Millenials are the first generation predicted to “do worse than their parents”[i], but as the referenced article proposes, maybe it is that they are the first generation to measure “doing well” in a whole new way. Maybe success is the aggregate result of manifesting the kind of lifestyle we want, rather than the pile of expensive cars, toys, designer clothing, real estate and investment accounts that all bring their own psychic baggage. Maybe having the freedom to spend our time as we choose, to forge our own schedules and paths, to connect with only the people we want to connect with, to optimize our health and minimize our stress, maybe these are the things that count these days, and these things can all be started at home.
Let’s start with the premise that, millennial or old fart, we’ve decided that, in general, we favor staying in and working on our own personal projects in our own cave or castle, over going out to bars, restaurants and night clubs, spending frivolously on designer cocktails, or perusing the aisles of Lululemon or TJX. The latter have become special occasions, and compete with more experiential based pursuits like yoga, rock climbing or Pokemon Go (Okay, maybe I’ve been living in Asia too long). When we do choose to engage in these out of home activities, we have no problem spending a few bucks to get the most out of the experience – but the foundation of our lifestyle is more and more generated at home.
So there is the potential for good and bad implicit in one’s choice to be a homebody. We’ve established that. So what is the homebody ideal that we ought to pursue? For everyone the answer will be different, so I’ll start with me. Maybe you’ll find some similarities, or some differences, that you’ll want to share along the way. To employ the good, the potential for empowering myself to be better, healthier, more organized and thus productive and fulfilled, and to avoid some of the pitfalls - unhealthy foods, crowds, the precious time lost commuting in heavy traffic - is the task I set for my homebody. Specifically, I am setting some goals for this year that center around controlling myself and my environment to manifest a lifestyle of healthy eating and weight loss (and let’s keep it off this time!), exercise, and creating an organized home environment that can give me peace of mind and help me be more productive.
In the next post, I’ll lay out the scope and parameters of my endeavor and outline a rough path to getting there. I’ll also be asking for your input! Let’s get started!