Let’s talk about the long term impact of living in a pandemic as a young adult today.
With the onset of March, we are officially moving towards year 3 of the pandemic and the third anniversary of what we thought would be a 2-week break from everyday life. It is also my birthday month, so we are also moving towards year 23 of my existence(Oof.) That means that I turned 21 right before the pandemic exploded, making this my third pandemic birthday. It also means that I have lived almost all of my 20s entirely in the pandemic.
Your 20s are a monumental time of your life, the one many people refer to as the “best years” of their lives; when you’re at your prime and thriving and just living life to the fullest. Obviously, that has not been the case for me and the people of my generation, with most of our 20s spent dealing with a once-in-a-lifetime disaster. I don’t doubt that the loss of these pandemic years is felt by everyone across ages, I am however choosing to just ‘me, me, me’ this conversation today and focusing on what this means for me and my generation, which is something I have been ruminating on for quite a while. (It is my birthday, after all)
There are a lot of milestones in your early 20s that people my age have absolutely missed out on the ‘real’ experience of. I never had a final year of college in person. I graduated online. I did my first internships at home. I started my first job a year ago while working from home and I have not seen my actual office to date. This is just my experience and just trivial little things, but it is a loss I feel quite acutely. You can’t exactly compensate for life experiences in any way, all you can do is experience them.
I have realised that there is a sort of contradicting maturity and immaturity in the generation coming of age in these times. The maturity of course comes from having seen and lived through rough times, understanding the value of what everyone took for granted before, realising what really matters at the end of the day. The immaturity, in contrast, is a natural consequence of missing out on essential social interaction within the last 2 years and ‘proper’ experiences: graduation, first jobs, first homes and more.
The longer the pandemic has been dragging on, I have been more and more worried about this: Are we wasting our youth away in the pandemic? The best years of our lives and their ‘prime’ are just passing us by. I have not mentally processed even being 21, yet I turn 23 in a couple of days. While I was speaking about this with a friend, she said something and it quite stuck with me because it was brilliant. She said- “This is not how we were supposed to grow up.” Supposed is the keyword here. Things were supposed to be different, our lives were supposed to look different right now.
But the fact remains, that this is how we are growing up. This is our reality, and likely will be for a while now. This is our generation-defining experience, as many have had before us and will have after us. I wonder what moniker they will come up with to refer to our generation. What books and media will come out of this. Living through history is a truly bizarre experience and one that I hope to do less of going forward. (Please)
Acceptance of the situation is clearly Step 0 here, so as I turn a year older that is what I am hoping to take forward with me. Acceptance for what things are like, drive to take my life from here to where I want it to be and gratitude for all the good in my life at the present moment. So on that note, here’s me signing off as a nearly 23(but if you adjust for the pandemic, actually 21) year old. Have a good day. (Final hot take: The whole age adjusting thing should really become a common practice, socially.)
THIS POST’S QUESTION: Do you feel like you are losing years because of the pandemic? Comment below with what you think about it, I’d love to hear from you!