Today is a holiday here in the US, specifically for voting. Many people have the day off the work, and the universities are closed. However, there is no such thing as a holiday for a grad student writing a thesis.
Today I walked through a deserted campus with only a nod to the stray fellow grad student on the way to offices inside of locked buildings. I dodged texts from my Japanese friends (all undergrads) who wanted to spend the day hanging out.
I must be strong and I must embrace my new hikikomori lifestyle for the next month.
What is hikikomori? It’s a term for shut-ins, often young Japanese in their 20’s, often men. It’s more than just being lazy and not leaving your house; it’s often accompanied by paralyzing fear of going into public and associating with other people.
The incident that begins the hikikomori lifestyle may be heartbreak, failing grades, or bullying. But once someone begins to withdraw from going outside and interacting with other people, the trauma can be increased and they can become more entrenched in their own withdrawal.
My friends and I use the term hikikomori to jokingly refer to my isolation while writing my thesis, but it’s actually an important psychological problem for many people.