The A-Z of 2020

Let’s talk about 2020 today.

I’m just going to say it: 2020 was A LOT. We all had our own issues to get through and had a rough year. With the longest year of all time finally drawing to a close, I thought it would be good to look back at the year and draw closure from it. Then I had the idea of going through the alphabet with one word for each letter to capture what it was like living in 2020 and it was kismet. So, without further ado, I present, the A-Z of 2020; the emotions of living through ‘unprecedented times’!

2020 has been a year of:

Adaptation, to the ‘new normal’, to the complete 180 that life has made, to the many challenges 2020 has thrown at us. Growing under adversity has made us all evolve and get stronger and I am so proud of us.

Being, existing and persisting in such difficult times is a big deal in and of itself. We get points for just making it through and not being ‘productive’ in the middle of a pandemic.

Change, in the way we live, communicate, socialise and celebrate important life events. Zoom has turned out to be the real hero and staying connected while physically apart from a proper skill.

Difficulty, with all of us trying to navigate this never-before-seen situation. Many lost their loved ones and their jobs, many had to make difficult decisions, quite a few let go of their dreams.

Exhaustion, from trying to stay afloat, from being separated from loved ones, from being stuck at home, from not being able to live our regular lives and from living through the longest most never-ending year of all time.

Firsts, be it your first time baking banana bread or your first Christmas alone, there are so many new experiences both good and bad, that we’ve gained this year. We are living through history and these memories build our personal stories of it.

Gratitude, for the ordinary. Personally, this has definitely been my biggest lesson and I leave this year much more thankful for the littlest of things, like being able to hug my friends or just attend a class on campus than I was when I entered it.

Hope, for better times to come, of coming out better, of learning new skills. Our humanity shines in moments like these and our seemingly indomitable hope and spirit is what makes us special.

Ingenuity, shown by everyone everywhere. This year was, unlike something that had happened in most of our lifetimes yet people came up with the most creative solutions to the unique problems they faced.

Juxtaposition, of people discovering their old selves again and people losing their old selves completely because of the hardships they are going through. Of people finding appreciation for the little things while going through a major event. Of so much more.

Kindness, for everyone. People have really come forward with compassion for their fellow beings all over the world and hearing these stories really fills my heart with joy.

Love, of all kinds. Families, relationships, friends and more, everyone understood like never before the kind and depth of love they held for the people in their lives.

Mankind, of all of us. We have gone through a collective experience like no other, and it has been a truly transformative time for all of us.

Nostalgia, for the familiar. Many of us went back to our old hobbies to deal with a difficult situation and I think I speak for all of us when I say we all yearned for aspects of our ‘normal’ life that we didn’t appreciate enough before.

Ordinary. This year is not the year of being extraordinary or doing outlandish feats. It is one where even doing the most regular things is a feat in itself, and something to be proud of.

Patience for the people in our life, for our normal lives and for ourselves too. This year has taught us to slow down and be patient, whether we like it or not and has made us all see the virtues of slow living.

Quiet. If you live in a city like me, do you remember the deafening silence the pandemic brought on initially? That haunting quiet? The silence of the kind that seemed impossible before but has characterised so much of the year. In 2020, no matter where you went, silence was golden.

Reflection, on our past, our present and even our future. Many of us were compelled to think about the kind of lives we were leading, what we envisioned for ourselves and what we had to do to get there. This kind of reflection is very rare, and while forced was something I quite learned to embrace.

Sharing; your emotions to make the load lighter, your resources if you were privileged, your gratitude to the ones really sacrificing it all for our safety and most of all, for many of us, our true selves after a long, long time.

Togetherness. We may be separated physically but every single one of us is united by the experience of living through a pandemic and at some level has been affected by it.

Uncertainty, for the future. 2020 meant a lot of us had to reassess our life goals and were suddenly thrown into a lack of clarity about what the future would bring. The future is looking brighter now, with some vaccines on the horizon but still, hugely uncertain. We can’t know for sure what a post-COVID world will look like.

Vulnerability, of opening ourselves up, of emotionally exposing ourselves and of sharing the hidden aspects of our personality with people close as well as distant.

Weirdness. Truly. It has been such an absurd year; so much has happened and all of it is so different and unrelated from each other. It has been a truly wild year.

Xenia. Yes, I had to get a little creative and look a word up for ‘X’. I found this wonderfully apt though. ‘Xenia’ is the ancient Greek custom of generosity and friendship shown to those far from home. Through blogging and my blog Instagram, I have truly felt the gift of ‘Xenia’ manifold.

Yearning, hankering, hoping, wishing for better more comfortable times, for experiences of an age past, for people that are far.

Zen. I think 2020 really bought the importance of self-care forth and I’m really hoping we take this focus on maintaining our mental peace with us into the new year.

And that’s all, everyone! The best thing is that as hard as it was, 2020 is finally ending. So, pat yourself on the back for having survived through a very gruelling year and let’s bid adieu to never having to hear the phrase, ‘New normal’, Happy new year!

THIS POST’S QUESTION: What is one word to describe your emotional journey in 2020? Comment below with what you think about it, I’d love to hear from you!

 

 

I’ve got ‘COVID FOMO’. Have you?

Let’s talk about COVID-19 induced FOMO today.

FOMO or the Fear of Missing Out is defined as social anxiety stemmed from the belief that others might be having fun while you are not present. It is usually attributed to social media, and in better, less stressful times has to do with wanting to live a life as happening as everyone else’s seems.

In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic though, what I am talking about is very different but is still, per se, fear of missing out. Take University for example. I am in the final year of my undergraduate degree, which is fully online, as of now. This unprecedented circumstance has brought with itself a myriad of fears and anxieties that all sit and chitchat under the “FOMO” umbrella.

Half the time, I am convinced there is a class or an assignment that I forgot or am missing out on. I also feel very out of the loop with things that I take for granted, like knowing about how the placement season is going, when events are scheduled or even just gossip you can’t help but overhear like who is friends/not friends with who, who is going to whose party, you know, very pointless things that I used to usually scoff at. This anxiety of just missing out on the most mundane idiosyncrasies of my regular life has been a hard adjustment that 6 months hence, I am yet to fully adapt to.

I don’t, however, think, it’s just an issue those who are “Back to (online) School/College” are facing. I can imagine that it probably extends to those who are working from home as well. Maybe they are afraid of missing out on deadlines, meetings or just regular water-cooler talk. Maybe it isn’t such a widespread issue, feel free to correct me, I swear, I won’t mind.

You always hear, “Man is a social animal”, but nothing quite drives the idea home-like difficult times like these. Our innate need to have connections is so strong and so fundamental, that take them away and we feel unsettled and try to reach out to even those who we haven’t spoken to in many years. (Yes, here’s looking at you, having family reunions or childhood friend catch-ups on Zoom all of a sudden, I love it, keep ’em going.)

For me personally, as someone who is going through placements in the middle of a pandemic and will most probably be graduating in one too, this fear also extends to my future. All my future plans have been thrown for a lurch, and I’m living suspended in uncertainty. I have anxieties about how I might be missing on options or paths because of the current situation and how this pandemic might end up being why I miss out on a future I wanted and have worked towards.

I understand quite well that for me, this is not an earth-shattering problem. I am privileged enough to come out at the other end of this just fine and I fully acknowledge that. It is just that I am sitting at the cusp of growing up, of being independent, of building the life of my dreams, ready to spread my wings and soar, and the sky that seemed so clear before is now foggy and ridden with obstacles.

I am a dreamer, to a fault. I had and still continue to have, against hope, so many dreams and ambitions for what I want to do, where I want to go. With each passing day spent watching the Coronavirus case count rise, those dreams seem to go further away from me and it becomes hard to not feel afraid that I would never be able to achieve any of them.

As depressing as this has been, I am also an unflinching optimist at my very core. (Verrrrry deep inside.) I always believe that at the end of the day, I will be okay. Things will be okay. I will be happy. And it is with this belief I forge ahead, in the face of my FOMO, which is still very present but I am getting better at handling with each passing day. I don’t expect it to be gone but I do hope that we can come to a peacefully coexistent negotiation, mostly for my sake. Wish me luck.

THIS POST’S QUESTION: Have you faced or are facing ‘COVID FOMO’?How are you dealing with it? Comment below with what you think about it,I’d love to hear from you!

Why Were We Obsessed With Dystopias in the 2010s?

Let’s talk about the wave of dystopian fiction in the 2010s today.

“Dystopia /dɪsˈtəʊpɪə/
An imagined state or society in which there is great suffering or injustice, typically one that is totalitarian or post-apocalyptic.”

When I was a teenager, which is basically, the majority of the 2010s, I and everyone around me was obsessed with consuming books, movies and tv shows set in dystopias. Think Panem from The Hunger Games, the post-World War 3 Illéa in the Selection, the alternate universe ‘Chicago’ in Divergent, the post solar flare world of The Maze Runner, or the setting of countless Zombie movies. What was with that? Why was everyone in the 2010s into reading about a world that was ending? Why was every girl I know having a zombie apocalypse phase? Why were we, as a generation so interested in consuming fiction set in a world in chaos?

Cut to 2020, where we have pretty much been living in the plot of a poorly written dystopia ourselves, and it has not been half as fun or exciting or as high stakes as the movies or the books made it seem. That was how I started thinking about this particular interest of mine in the first place and how my genre of interest as a teenager was Dystopia or Young Adult, which also indirectly meant dystopia in the 2010s. It wasn’t even just me. It was a hugely successful trope; hence the mass production in it, right? That explains the wide variety in it. But, the question still remains: why would we ever buy into all this apocalyptic tragedy, pain and suffering?

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Some of it definitely had to do with the “escape” factor associated with reading or even watching movies. Most people, myself included, enjoying consuming fiction that is set in a different world altogether so that you can escape into it. This is the entire allure of the fantasy genre, and I might even argue, period genre if you go back far enough. Maybe, dystopia can be thought of as a chaotic, apocalyptic sub-genre of fantasy with vestiges of its escapism, and hence people like me, who had grown up on Harry Potter and other fantasy books were only happy to get an escape again, even if it was to a world that was absolutely messed up.

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There is also the fact that while Dystopia as a genre might appear to be very superficial and simple, many of its classic examples are quite deep. I recently reread The Hunger Games, and I was quite surprised by the fact that the book is a great commentary on society, on politics, on war and on trauma as a whole. I was quite young when I first read it and thus, those subtleties were lost on me. As an adult, however, the more I read into it, the more I realise, that many of these were actually brilliantly written tales of caution, of what could happen and thinly veiled depictions of what already is happening in the world. Looking back, reading these books and watching these movies, intentionally or unintentionally made me more open-minded, brought to the fore the importance of equality and ended up making me quite sensitive to prejudice and discrimination. Helping me develop a strong moral compass was also, due in some part, to the fiction I consumed and for that, I am extremely thankful.mr-top-143407-1280x0

As far as the fascination for zombie apocalypses is concerned, I don’t think that its just a 2010’s exclusive thing. Since time immemorial, humans believe in the idea that we as a race are our own worst enemy and that humankind would be the one to end humankind, and zombies seem to be one of the ways we externalise that idea. Even books like A Song of Ice and Fire, or as it was popularly known, The Game of Thrones toyed with the zombie idea. This can be a separate post altogether and I can go on for ages so I’ll try to keep it short. I too had a zombie apocalypse phase, and as someone who has been through it, I can tell you how I think this surge in the popularity of the undead happened. The late 2000s brought us the cultural phenomenon that was Twilight with all its vampires, werewolves and whatnot. This increased interest in young adult fiction set around similar mythical creatures and I think the zombie fiction just rode in on the heels of that Twilight wave until it became a phenomenon itself.

iStock / Special to The Forum

At the end, where it came from, where it went, we can only guess. All that I am sure of is that for the greater part of a decade, young adult fiction was ruled by stories of the world ending, and it developed values and moral systems in the adults of today. I don’t see it coming back soon, you know, what with all of us pretty much living through our own apocalypse plot in 2020(I’m pretty sure anyone who has ever wished to be able to live in one of these books, no judgment, has some regrets now) but I think we should prepare ourselves for there being future apocalypse fiction inspired from 2020. I’ve always wondered, and I’m sure more people have, what I’d do if there was an apocalypse and the answer is unsurprising as well as humbling: nothing, just sit at home and live life as normally as I possibly could. Oh well. Not all of us can be 16-year-olds navigating romance and saving the world from doom at the same time.

THIS POST’S QUESTION: What was your favorite Dystopian fiction from the 2010s? Comment below with what you think about it,I’d love to hear from you!

 

 

 

 

A Changing Sense of Time During Lockdown.

Let’s talk about the concept of time during the COVID19 pandemic today.

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.”

The opening lines of Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities really capture how I feel about the lockdown during the current coronavirus pandemic. The reasons to dislike it are obvious and many; I can’t go outside, can’t meet my friends, can’t go to college, the economy is being ruined, so many livelihoods are affected and obviously, so many people are getting ill and dying, the aforementioned worst of times. I have been privileged enough to, however, find some nice things about it too; a whole lot of gratitude for what I had taken for granted before, all this time to spend doing things I love, how I have been able to work on my blog and have a transformed outlook on living every day to the fullest, not the best but very special times. (As of today, I am still very much in the thick of the pandemic, so the day I get back out there is a bit far for now)

I have talked about the coronavirus pandemic, its impact on the world and most majorly, its impact on my world in two of my posts before, which you can find here and here. In both of these posts, I talked more of the immediate reaction to suddenly finding myself in the middle of this pandemic and stuck at home, than the effects of being on lockdown for what is now the majority of 2020 and the contemplations that come with it. In this post, I’m getting into that aspect of life through a pandemic. (And I admit that this is through my undoubtedly privileged lens)

One thing I have noticed and have actually discussed with a few people is that time seems to be standing still and whizzing ahead at the same time. Like, how I for one feel like I have just been living the same day over and over and have not registered the passing of the months after March. (How is it literally almost August?) But also, there is the fact is that somehow 4 almost 5 months have passed and my 21st-year in life and 4th(and last) year in University are just passing me by, without me having registered it.

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This realisation that time stops for no one, not even a crippling,world-stopping pandemic, is not a new one. We choose not to think of it but even so, we do sometimes realise this in regular life too, as we look back and think, “Oh, I was just in school!”, “I just became a teenager!”, “Didn’t I just get my driver’s license?” and many more such quips, but never as acutely as now. This has been bothering me since at least May when I realised my third year of college was effectively over, abrupt as it was. This worry has only grown since and thus, obviously, I have done a lot of (over)thinking about it.

All this thinking has brought me to conclude that we, as a society, as human beings, measure the passage of time through milestones, through events, through watching the world around us change. Being stuck at home means that the big occasions; the birthdays, weddings, graduations look quite different or are cancelled. Not getting to go outside means that we don’t get to watch the seasons change, through the trees and the sky, not properly, so we miss out on nature’s signs that time has passed. We tend to make plans for the next few months and countdown to them and in such uncertainty, all plans have been thrown for a wrench. We can no longer plan vacations, parties or even, going to college far from home. With nothing to look forward to, we don’t quite feel the months as they pass us by.

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As depressing as that sounds, I also came to realise that the best way to handle lockdown is to live one day at a time, even if it is the same day over and over, try to find something new to do every day, to do things that make you happy, to socially distance but not emotionally distance and to use this crazy time to come out better at the end of it. With that thought, before I go, I’d love to wish you good luck for the rest of the year and take this opportunity to say that I really hope you and your loved ones stay healthy and safe. Please take care!

THIS POST’S QUESTION: Have you felt like time is going by too fast during the lockdown or do you think it is going too slow? Comment below with what you think about it,I’d love to hear from you!