What do those in their 20s with life starting out in earnest really feel about enforced social distancing? An optimistic streak was an interesting find.
Over the last couple of months, staying home has almost become a global norm. There has been a plethora of interesting videos and live chats on social media where actors, writers, sportsmen, and other celebrities have shared how they have been coping with this sudden change in their lifestyle.
I decided to focus on a section of the community that is not made up of newsmakers but rather encompasses individuals from the common walks of life.
I’m calling them the members of the ‘Cool and Casual Club’. They are the urban youngsters in their twenties, for whom life is always “happening”. They are restless, they love independence, and they are always on the lookout to explore new things. How has this new concept of ‘social distancing’ treated them, and how are they beating the blues? Their studies or jobs might be keeping them busy, but when not working, there is an empty space minus the socializing.
Although some countries have opened up establishments and rules have been relaxed, life is not yet back to 100% normal. It is heartening to know that despite the easing of restrictions, we have responsible young adults who are abiding by the ‘Stay At Home’ etiquette.
Wondering how they were reacting to this change, I reached out to a few youngsters located in different countries. They were to describe the current situation in just 4 words. I asked them what bothered them the most, how they spent their spare time, and the first thing they would like to do when normalcy returns. I also sought their opinion in regards to whether they felt something positive has came out of this pandemic and if they were grateful for anything in their lives. It is heartening to see how eager they were to share their thoughts, with some talking in details.
Radhika got back from Bangalore to her hometown in Guwahati just in the nick of time before the lockdown was announced. With a full-time job offer from Accenture in hand, she is now remotely interning with a Bangalore-based company. “Break from the conventional” is how she describes the current situation.
What is frustrating for her is not being able to step out. She also misses her junk food. She has been spending time after work indulging in photography and strolling on the terrace for a little bit of exercise. The first thing on her wishlist is to go for a “really long walk” once she can go outdoors. The COVID-19 crisis, she says, is a lesson for people to stop taking things for granted. She is grateful for the time she is able to spend with her parents.
Neha is a dentist who lives in Delhi. In her words, the current state is “an unpredictable and trying time”. What bothers her is the turn the global economy is taking. During this worldwide stay-at-home phase, she has rediscovered her childhood love for painting and has taken an interest in cooking too. Neha happily says, “Over the last two months, I have tried out a wide range of cuisines!” Upon being asked what would be the first thing she’d do when she can step out sans restrictions, Neha said that she cannot pinpoint anything in particular right now and that she would do whatever her instinct says then.
The lockdown, according to her, has given a new direction to our thinking process so that we can enjoy our own company. It has paved the way for self-discovery; we have the potential to do so much more than what we think of ourselves. “We can always make ourselves a better version of what we are,” says Neha. She is grateful that mentally and physically, she is in a healthy environment, and her loved ones are staying safe too!
“A tragicomedy of errors,” is Abhiroop‘s definition of the present scenario. A guest researcher at TU Dresden, (Technische Universität) in Germany, he is most frustrated about the sluggishness that he has developed by staying indoors. When he’s not working, he has been experimenting with food and has actually aced many dishes. He has also dedicated some time to improving his writing and music skills.
Once the outdoors are safe, Abhiroop would like to go out and eat junk in his favorite restaurants. He feels that this crisis might teach not only mere individuals but also giant institutions to retrospect and work on collective development. It might decrease the feeling of omnipotence in beings and teach people to be more compassionate. On a lighter note, this indoor experience, according to him, has brought out latent skills about which even he would not have been aware!
Ishan, a software engineer in Atlanta, USA, is every bit of a “people person”, and quite naturally, he titles the lockdown situation as being “introverts’ dream come true”. So naturally, what irks him most is not being able to go out and socialize. However, he feels very blessed to spend more time than ever with his parents and is also grateful for the job he has in such a state of uncertainty.
His free time encompasses exercise, learning Japanese, drawing, and perfecting his skills in data science. The greatest thing that has come out for Ishan is that he has been able to get into a routine. This nightmarish time has paved the way for him to become slightly less extroverted and more focused on goal setting and taking action. Once the stay-at-home period ends, he would love to meet up with friends in an outdoor setting and go to a water park, and he also dreams of attending a music concert if and when circumstances permit.
With a master’s degree in biomedical engineering, Krittika works as an application specialist in a medical research company in Enschede, The Netherlands. Her four-lettered description of the current state goes as: “Stressful is an understatement!”
Used to a lot of traveling, she carefully chose a job that would have allowed her to travel the world. “But now unfortunately, my only adventure trips are to the grocery store,” she sighs. Krittika has started painting canvases with her flatmates over the weekends. She has always read a lot, and now she literally “breathes books”. When life returns to the normal mode, she plans to go out for a dinner with all her friends and dearest ones.
In Krittika’s view, the plus that has come out of the crisis is that we all have remembered to slow down a bit. It’s something the environment around us needed. She is grateful for the company of her flatmates during this never-ending quarantine and the uninterrupted Internet that lets her stay in touch with her family.
Sanjana works as an Advancement Gift Coordinator in the Atlanta Botanical Garden in Atlanta, USA. In her words, the slowdown because of COVID-19 is “a much needed pause”. She is most frustrated about not being able to hang out with her friends. Also, with many of her friends living out of town, she is not able to fly out to see them. Hence, travel is her top priority when it is safe to do so.
While working from home, Sanjana has been painting, exercising, and trying to learn more photography skills. These are new hobbies which she never had the time to explore because of her long commute to work 5 days a week. She feels that the good that has come out of this situation is being able to find a routine that works well for her. Because she’s not having to spend 3 hours on the road while driving back and forth to work, she is a more relaxed person with a better focus. Hence she is grateful for the pause.
It was sheer inquisitiveness that motivated me to have a peek into the world of these youngsters to see how they have handled the sudden quietness that has descended upon them. That each of them is missing the world outside cannot be denied, for they are impatiently eager to see sunnier days when life starts fresh and anew. But they have come up with ways to beat the boredom. It points out how resilient these young minds are. They are trying to make the best out of a situation to channel their creativity.
What gladdens my heart is that most of these young adults have acknowledged the importance of their families with such fondness. And most importantly, in spite of the stress and uncertainty, they have that streak of optimism and a sense of gratitude for what they have.
A few lines from Emily Dickinson beautifully describe hope:
Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune–without the words,
And never stops at all.
Truly so, we want hope and positivity to prevail in our young minds during these turbulent times.
Image source: pixabay
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Born in India, Rashmi Bora Das moved to the United States in the early nineties.
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