There’s a famous quote in Marathi which literally translates as “If you want to follow the path of the self, you have to stop caring about the opinions of others.” The most significant obstacle that we might encounter while following our true calling is the society that we are a part of. Even though our society might make doing what we really want very difficult for us, our ultimate objective is usually to impress and to be admired by the same society. It is a Catch – 22 situation that is very hard to escape as for the most part, the world offers us jobs according to its own needs and not according to our talents.
Doing what you want really in life vs. doing what the world wants you to do
Self-help books and mainstream movies might portray otherwise but there is no dearth of people who are doing what they really want in life, but at the same time are totally unrecognized by the society. On the other hand, there are also many of those who are revered as successful by almost everyone around them, but who feel a deep sense of dissatisfaction for not discovering their true calling. These are the two poles, and in between them are the lucky few who feel blessed to be doing what they are doing, and who are also admired for the same by the society.
Hikikomori– The Japanese reaction to the unrealistic demands of the society
When most of us look at the Japanese, we see their supernatural creativity, their extraordinary discipline, and their high personal and professional values. This, however, is just one face of the country. The other face is Hikikomori. There are millions of individuals in Japan, who, for one reason or the other, cannot cope up with the high level of competence there. Amongst people who work as efficiently and tirelessly as robots, these individuals find themselves alienated. They lock themselves in a room for multiple years completely unable to face their highly competitive society.
This situation might seem unreal to some, but according to a survey done in 2010 there are about 700,000 Hikikomoris living in Japan, 31% of which have been Hikiomoris for more than 7 years. And that’s not all. Since having a Hikikomori in family is considered as a shame in Japanese society, most of the families tend to keep it a secret. So the actual count might turn out to be a lot more than this estimate.
Are we heading towards the same direction?
Right now Hikikomori problem is said to be particular to only Japan and other East Asian countries, but could it be that it is a premonition of something that might soon become a global problem? There are some signs which indicate that we might be heading towards the same direction. Thanks to technology and social media, there are more people on the success and happiness bandwagon than ever before.
In many developed countries, if you are poor or if you are not smart enough, they don’t just call you poor or dumb, they call you a failure on top of it. According to such people, the only reason you might be working as a waiter at McDonalds or a receptionist at some small office is because you didn’t try hard enough. Here they fail to understand that every individual has different capabilities and that luck too plays a very vital role in everyone’s life.
If you look at the lives of celebrities and the people who are famous, you’d find that most of them got their first break just by chance. They were talented of course but even having some particular talent is a matter of luck. We can work on our body, voice, or intelligence to some extent, but it is impossible to completely alter them. We inherit most of our physical and mental qualities from our parents and in that too luck plays an immensely important role. If one of our parents has some great quality, we cannot be 100% certain that we too would also inherit it. There’s always a chance that we won’t inherit it all.
Blaming is of no help
When things are as uncertain as that, is it right to blame someone who cannot cope up with the pressure? Should we also denounce such people as failures? If we do that, they too might disappear like Hikikomoris and might never want to face the society ever again. Blaming people or discriminating them is the root of the problem. It won’t bring us any closer to the solution.
What we as individuals can do?
If you don’t fit in, don’t worry, there are lot of people who don’t, and if you know someone who doesn’t fit in, maybe it is time you try to help them out of the situation. The easiest solution to this would be to change your environment. Find some job or internship away from your hometown, or just look for some study opportunity somewhere else. This might be too big a decision for some, but these would make sure that you don’t waste your time. Apart from that, these would also help you stay away from the people who might cause you anxiety.
If, however, you or someone you know has been in seclusion for a very long period, and this is too difficult for you, you should try contacting some agency that helps social recluses. If even contacting them causes you too much of anxiety, maybe you should ask someone to contact them for you. Believe it or not, such organisations might know what exactly the problem with you might be and they could prove to be of great help in finding your place in the society.
Because of its effect on one’s mental health and life span, many call loneliness a disease in itself. But, in our modern society, it has become inevitable for many. Ignoring it or suppressing it is no solution. We ought to acknowledge it and try to discover as many workable solutions for the same as we can. It is an alarming situation and if we don’t take any actions right now we might lose some of our most beautiful, creative and talented people.