Adjusting to life in a pandemic

September 6, 2020

When the pandemic hit global news, everyone (I presume) and especially on Twitter were sharing their predictions about the future.

Apart from the range of predictions from dark and gloomy to “it’s going to be alright soon” optimism, there was intense collective thought being shared on how to adjust to the new life. 

A dangerous outside world with a potentially lethal virus, getting stuck indoors and hence being wrenched out of every routine and social habits, general anxiety and fear for yourself and your loved ones - didn’t stop people from sharing “if you don’t build your business ideas while you’re stuck indoors, you’ll never do it”. Or “this is the best time to become fit and the best version of yourself.” 

You know, non-empathetic BS that treats human beings like a robot following a set of instructions.

I spent month 1 in anxiety and fear desperately trying to adjust to the situation. 

By month 2, I’d figured out that to not go insane, I will have to block news, browsing Twitter, and any websites tracking the pandemic 12 times a day. And so I did. My mind felt wrinkled until I let go, and it felt like I could relax and breathe  again.

In the same month, I thought I would adjust and “become the best version of myself” or whatever hustle porn phrase was trending that week. I failed at adjusting and living a “normal” life for several months. I stopped trying so hard.

It also dawned on me that while my problems are real, the people really facing a hard time are those from the lower economic strata. They don't just have an option to live indoors and "WFH". They can't quit their jobs and go home. I became grateful about my position and privilege in life and internally I stopped complaining to myself about how difficult life is during a pandemic. I became calm.

It’s month 7 and I think I finally got a grip on my life.

You see, building new routines and adjusting to new social normals is a long process. Sure, you can write it down on a piece of paper and try to follow it, but your body and mind aren’t fully aligned and adjusted.

In particular, I found being stuck within 4 walls and not talking to anyone other than my family members for months wasn't going to help me adjust to the new normal.

In June, I started writing. This was the first step towards normalcy as I finally got in touch with my thoughts again and found an outlet to express them.

And only in the last month, I created a routine around going downstairs for a long 45-min brisk walk (while wearing a mask and avoiding people like the plague). I also started scheduling a lot of calls whenever someone from my life reached out, just to catch up with them and behave like we would had we bumped into each other at a coffee shop.

Human beings are incredible at adapting to a situation and normalising it. Life is finally starting to feel normal again. It just takes time, in this case 7  months.

I can see this in other people too - their behaviours, their mood, what they are saying when you talk to them and what you see people talk about on Twitter and other social platforms. 

Yesterday, I played Puerto Rico with Sankalp and Akash in the afternoon. In the evening. I walked while listening and occasionally babbling with a group of people on Leher (Clubhouse for India). It felt like a fun conversation we would have otherwise had over a beer had we met physically. At night, I joked and laughed around with college friends over a Zoom call.

Life felt normal.

While the pandemic is bigger than ever and it’s imperative that we continue following all safety guidelines, having a routine you follow everyday, going outdoors regularly, socialising with people on video or phone calls - helps me adjust to this life in a pandemic.

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