Although experiences with the pandemic vary, they all stem from the same root circumstances: fear, distortion, paranoia generated worldwide and isolation.
I completed both the final year of my high school and first semester of my college during COVID-19. The lockdown robbed me of the chance to create many pleasant memories with friends, but it also opened a whole new avenue of online resources and possibilities I never knew existed. Sticking to a single hardback source of information was never my style to begin with, so when documentaries, TED talks and assignments typed in Microsoft Word became the new norm for learning, it was a welcome change for me. But little did I know that my relief was short-lived.
While I was coping just fine with being holed up inside the house the whole day, not everyone in my family shared the same sentiments. Before I get into this, I would like to clarify that my folks are very peaceful and loving. But this new way of life was making them agitated and restless, especially the elders, who were not used to such forceful restrictions on their freedom. There were conflicts, fights and disagreements over the most trivial things blown out of proportion, and soon enough it created a very gloomy and unpleasant environment in the house. Countless days passed when I only came out of my room to eat and shower, too afraid to even look at someone in fear of starting a verbal skirmish I did not want to go through in the slightest. All that tension was making me feel low and uneasy, keeping me on edge every time I talked to someone else. I don’t blame them; if I wasn’t as into studying and reading books as I am right now, I would be at my wits’ end too if I was practically locked up.
Next came the “drifting apart from my social circle” phase. I did not have any social media handles, so I was already a little out of the loop with my friends. But after we stopped seeing each other regularly in school, we started talking less and less. To the point when phone and FaceTime calls were long, awkward silences. It made me really upset; was this all our friendship was?
Now that the internet was my whole life, coming across disturbing things and overthinking about stuff was slowly becoming an impossible rut to break. Eco-anxiety, paranoia about the future of humanity, uncertainty about the future; you name it, I’ve been through it. It felt worse than depression. It wasn’t a loss of motivation; it was an overwhelming feeling of helplessness that hit me at the most unpredictable of times.
While many might be inclined to believe that such things are “first-world problems,” I believe they are still real struggles. Only the wearer knows where the shoe pinches. Yes, many have been through worse, but that doesn’t mean I get to downplay the pain of others.