My highest aspiration, as an 8-year old, was to become a hermit when I grew up. Preferably on my own private island. My plans were never verbalized, that I remember. I had an image of myself living like Mary the vulture-lady in the Blossom Family books, picking up roadkill for soup and being all solitary out in the middle of nowhere. She was, by far, my favorite person in the book, despite the ableist portrayal of her lifestyle and self.
There are times, more frequently this month to be completely honest, when I wonder whatever happened to that dream. Why did I not do everything in my power to pursue and achieve my 8-year old goal of hermit-hood?
Even as a child, I knew I didn’t fit in and I knew that other people didn’t like me, but I didn’t know why. I had no framework from which to figure out what I was doing that was so wrong all the time.
However, I knew in elementary school that I’d be better off, personally, if I just moved away from everyone.
Once in high school, that feeling grew into the idea that everyone else would be better off if I wasn’t around too.
I didn’t know why I’d be better off or why they’d be better off, just that I was somehow incompatible with being a human living in close proximity to other humans. I was constantly hurting others and myself without intending to. It would’ve been difficult to come to any other conclusion but that I was toxic.
I operated under the “Aria is a toxic person” mindset for many years. I wish I could get that time back somehow.
Yet, when I grew up, I made a good friend to whom I ended up proposing and marrying. For some reason, I wanted children, even though they’re really just tiny humans. Tiny humans have always liked me more than big humans have though. They’re more accepting, at least at first. Before they grow up.
Maybe I would’ve been better off moving to some remote location and never speaking to anyone ever again, but then again, maybe this life I have wasn’t a terrible idea either.
For all the drawbacks, and there are many, there are benefits too. I enjoy many of the things people have created: good food, music, books, art… If I was hiding away in the wilderness – because that was the type of hermit I always wanted to be – I would have access to none of that.
Even if I lived on-grid or in a city, I doubt that I could handle going out of my house much if I didn’t have the love and support of my husband and the love of my children. They support me in successfully experiencing the positive things that humans have to offer.
Maybe the good things are worth the difficulties, misunderstandings, pain, discomfort, and challenges that other people present.
But I will always wonder “what if” about this. What would have happened if I’d chosen differently and achieved a much more solitary existence?
I’d likely never have discovered I was Autistic in that scenario. Maybe I’d always have thought of myself as a mistake. Worthless. Toxic.
Or perhaps I’d have written novels, poetry, music, and invented some lovely cat and gardening-related things.
There’s no way of knowing either way and I’m pretty sure that both options had their pros and cons. I’m fairly content where I am, I’m extremely glad to be aware that I’m Autistic, and that’s pretty good for right now regardless of what my 8-year old self would’ve thought of my current life.
5 thoughts on “Flashback Friday – 8 Year Old Hermit Plans”
If a child has fantasies about being a hermit, that is fine. However, if there are underlying mental health challenges such as depression, anxiety, or trauma from bullying, make sure this idea does not turn into elopement behaviour. Help the child use the special interest in a healthy way. One suggestion could be looking at how to make ones home and lifestyle as environmentally friendly as possible.
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Yes, if it’s known, I absolutely agree with your advice!
In my case I’m not sure how much of an actual interest it was. I definitely fantasized frequently about running away and living in the woods when I was a child and teen. I also read a great many self-reliance books like the Swiss Family Robinson, My Side of the Mountain, etc. So maybe it was an interest. It felt different than my usual interests though. This one was fueled by being misunderstood and frustrated, while most of my interests are fueled by, well, interest.
But the bigger thing is that I never really told anyone. My parents weren’t safe to tell things like that to and I was an outcast at school (I was in public school at that time). I believed at the time that I would’ve been severely punished for having those thoughts and especially since I’d gone so far as to have plans. Looking back, I’m really not sure what my parents’ reaction would’ve been. I still don’t think it would’ve been a positive or helpful one.
I never actually ran away, but I wanted to very often.
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My kids wanted to play sports, so I went out and watched them and sometimes coached them. A child loved laser tag, so we joined a place and did all night lock-ins and regular games. A child loved roller skating so we did that every month for decades. A child wanted me to play WoW and so I did for years and excelled at it with them. A child wanted to go to comics and anime conventions, so we did a lot of that (and still do it). A library convention? We did that too.
The list is endless. Not sure what I’ll do if/when none of them want me to do new things with them. Well, my wife wants to do things, so I’ll keep doing them with her. (We did Disney last spring and Universal Studios with the two “younger” kids this past December.) On my own? Little chance I would have actually done many or any of those things. I remember being fascinated when I was little by Robinson Crusoe and The Mysterious Island. Hermit? Good chance if left to my own devices. I’ve never been left to my own devices and I definitely feel my life has been richer for it.
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This is very true! I definitely share your experience of getting out and doing more things due to having a family. I’ve met most of my best friends who make up my support system by having children. Every other parent I’ve felt a connection with has ended up being either Autistic or ADHD and they have definitely brought wonderful things to my life ❤
That doesn't keep me from wondering sometimes (especially when I'm stressed and overwhelmed, which I imagine would be lessened if I was a hermit), but on the whole I'm pretty content where I am.