By every metric possible, 2020 has been a terrible year. A raging pandemic? Check. Thousands of deaths? Check. Job losses and pay cuts? Check and check.
The usual distractions didn’t work either. Films didn’t release in theatres. Sports have been sporadic. And, everyone going to party for an Instagram story is being shamed by friends and family. Now, there is a new strain of COVID-19, which might be more virulent than the one which shut the world down.
2020 is the year that keeps on giving.
As I sat down at the end of the year and rummaged through resolutions and tried to make a list of songs I liked this year (Ruleta, btw, is the only song that matters), I realized that 2020 has been worse than I’d even imagined.
Somewhere in-between having to fend for myself at the beginning of lockdown, to returning home to New Delhi for safety, and trying to hold onto a job, like most humans, I didn’t really meet that many people, and worse, with time, didn’t feel like it. Friends, family, romantic connections have all become almost needless distractions while I get smacked in the face by the latest curveball COVID-19 throws at me.
When I do speak with friends, conversations oscillate between feeling nostalgia and talking about which new ‘life skill’ they have picked up. All of them are now gourmet chefs. I miss them, but almost like I miss doing shots once every three months — it’s fun, but not necessary, especially when I can watch something on Netflix to distract myself.
One study from Argentina found that while depression increased during COVID-19, anxiety and its effects reduced for people locked at home. I wondered if it’s because they don’t have to keep plans with their friends all the time. Maybe more people have social anxiety than they realized.
In 2020, existential dread is readily available at a timeline near you.
The rise in depression has a simpler explanation: despite most of us falling in love with our families now, it still feels off. My colleague did a story on young Indians returning home for lack of money, and then missing their privacy and grieving over life plans. Others who held onto jobs moved back home to save rent. Essentially when COVID-19 hit, many like me decided our mum’s kitchen was cheaper than Zomato, so why not?
It’s an unnerving feeling, mulling over if parents are the best resource in the world, or you know, other humans we love. Would I do as much for them as they do for me? Does even thinking about this question make evil? Maybe. I don’t know.
Thanks to COVID-19, though, I’ve had lots of time to go over such darkness. In 2020, existential dread is readily available at a timeline near you. And for the first time in my life when I felt I would really, truly die, my fight or flight response kicked in, and the result was absolute selfishness.
I could look at my chemical self, and think that the emotional fatigue from being in this constant state of stress is why I’ve acted selfishly. Or that I’m working from home (which is incredibly lucky), so I tire more easily.
These are reasonable excuses, though a more reasonable theory to posit would be of increased cynicism, over how governments have mishandled the pandemic, or how all the shmancy talk about economics is a mirage and people at the bottom of the human fiscal pyramid were always going to get shafted.
Maybe, I’m acting selfishly because 2020 has scarred me into thinking it truly is every person for themselves. Yes. I’m just a good person just having a bad year.