It’s safe to say our lives have taken a 360-degree turn in the last 6 months. We’ve heard and talked so much about the unprecedented backlash our economy is currently facing, and will likely to continue to face in the near future. The plummeting GDP and increasing job losses are very much real. Everything is out of our control, right? That’s what I thought too, but a recent interaction with a group of friends made me realise otherwise.
I’m not an active positive thinker. When faced with a difficult situation, my first response will not be to take on the challenge and give it my best. Yes, this will be the eventual approach. But initially, I will worry and take on the stress. Maybe even have a few drinks and vent it out to my close people. So obviously, when this pandemic hit, it felt as if the world had fallen down. I moaned and complained, and I was not ready to come to terms with the fact that our travel and weekend plans have been put on hold. However, it was easy to understand the concept of lockdown and quarantine because every one was part of it. Collectively, 7.8 billion people were expected to change their lifestyle and adopt to the new normal. It wasn’t just me.
Remember how in the first month of the pandemic we were all glued to the news? Everyone was talking about mental health, domestic abuse, symptoms and precautions for Covid-19. We all felt it was our duty to forward these news tidbits to our friends and families. To make sure they were OK and to ensure they were coping well with this new way of living. We were all then the best versions of ourselves; patient with each other, kind, empathetic and understanding. It took a global pandemic to bring us together.
Fast forward a few months
In our own ways, we have all found our new normal. A daily routine has been established. Lockdown has eased up. And even though the numbers are increasing and many countries are reporting a 2nd wave of cases , we are throwing caution to the wind as we move around to visit close friends and family (taking all precautions of course). In short, what felt like the collapse of the world a few months ago, is now considered normal. On the face of it, we have adapted.
For me personally, last 6 months have been a period of wait and watch. Finding a suitable job in a struggling economy is hard as hell. In March, I left a toxic job environment, just few days before the company scaled down operations due to the pandemic. So I am one of the many qualified professionals who is facing unemployment because of Covid-19. Thankfully, I have a huge support system in my husband, but waking daily with nothing to do chips on your confidence a little everyday. My brain was on an overdrive with all the complaining and moaning with a constant whirring in the background: “All our friends still have their jobs – yes with percentage cuts but at least they have work. I am the only one who is unemployed. I lack direction and I don’t know what to do next. Oh God, this sucks. Everyone else must be so happy, what do they have to stress about.”
Some much needed perspective
A couple of weeks ago we met some friends for a night of poker and drinks. Pre-covid we used to meet every week, so all of us were excited to see each other after a hiatus of almost 6 months. As the night progressed and drinks took over our senses, our conversations turned slightly intense. The gap of 6-months had given us too much time – to mull over things said and unsaid, and to decode behaviours. Without realising, I was holding a grudge against a friend for over a month. His crime? He ditched my birthday dinner and sent a wish too late in the night. When I brought it up, he was surprised at my little outburst.
I am not proud of that moment, because of what happened next.
He broke down.
He had tears in his eyes. And why? Because he genuinely didn’t think that what he did was wrong. And in hindsight, it wasn’t wrong. This friend of ours has a full-time restaurant. He has been extending his hours to cover up for the losses during the lockdown. Owning a small business in these times is tough – you still have to bear the brunt of the expenses, but with zero income.
I was shocked. How did I let this happen? I was wallowing in self-pity so much that I stopped paying attention to what others might be feeling.
I realise that the need of the hour is to pay extra attention to everyone’s feelings. Physically we have moved on. But emotionally and mentally are bodies have not comprehended this huge shift in the lifestyle. Covid or no Covid, all of us are battling our own demons, so can we please be a little kind to each other? I did not even consider that there might be other issues ailing my friends and family.
The guy who has managed to retain his full-time job might be facing performance pressure from his manager, or the couple who don’t have to worry about paying the house rent are stuck with their parents for 6 months and no privacy, or a young girl who was eagerly waiting to transition from high school to college is stuck at home, taking classes over a screen.
We don’t know when a vaccine will be out. Or when travel will resume. We have no control over the crashing economy and the fastest rate of unemployment the world has ever seen. Turns out, there is one thing that we do have control over and that is our ability to extend empathy and kindness to others around us. I am making a conscious effort to be kinder to others. And on a parting note, leaving a beautiful song by Ryan Adams.
“Kindness don’t ask for much, but an open heart. Kindness can cure a broken heart, honey are you feeling kind?”– Ryan Adams