It is true that the world has been going through a pandemic together, but our experiences are different. People are locked down in their homes either with unbroken solitude or with their families, but no escape. While most people find the situation exasperating, to some it is an opportunity to slow down, relax and spend quality time with themselves or their loved ones.
No matter what experiences we are gathering, the abnormal change facing everyone with disrupted daily schedules and living arrangements has been almost universal. It is said that experience and social interactions are what shape our personalities. Hence, being isolated for more than a year has surely altered them.While my entire family tested positive for the deadly virus six months ago, I was lucky enough not to have Covid-19 albeit living in the same house. The situation was as if we are in an isolation ward at a hospital. We lived in the same home but alone: different meals, schedules, symptoms and, most importantly, all different experiences and after-effects. Being deprived of physical touch, I could not offer my mother the comfort of a hug and helplessly watch her crying from 6-feet away. I could not celebrate the joy of my nephew taking his first steps, being in the next room. Still, I would say our experience of the pandemic was better than many others. Video calling each other from different rooms for almost a month is something I am grateful for when I think of the trauma others might have faced.
Looking at my family, I can already see the changes these moments have created in us – the fear and anxiety levels have unquestionably gone up, even about the little things. The fear of separation and death are triggered over silly matter. “What will I do with clothes once I’m gone?”, for example, has been a question my mother asked a multitude of times about buying new clothes for Eid-ul-Fitr since she had corona.
If I reflect on myself, the truth is that I have changed as well. Being a quiet person, I have had to work hard to get out of my comfort zone while studying abroad. Being confined in my room for the past year has caused me to go back to my old ways— introverted and withdrawn.
Come to think about it, if as adults we are facing problems with social interactions, the effects on teens and children are likely to be greater. With classes being conducted online, children get almost no in-person interactions. The New Yorker reported, “Children might find difficulties in regulating themselves because of the pandemic, whether it’s sleep or a bigger emotional response. This may lead to irritability or anger, but also somatic symptoms around eating and sleeping.”
“It’s a range of symptoms, but broadly in more extreme versions what we think about as anxiety, depression, lack of motivation for school, or lack of desire to connect with other people. In younger kids that might be less willingness to play, or their emotional regulation is going to look different, so more crying, more irritability.”
However, for many, the lockdown might have changed people into being more reflective. BBC wrote that many mental health professionals believe that the pandemic has triggered “The Michelangelo Effect”. It suggests that people are likely to develop into the person they want to be with their partners or family. Constantly being in close proximity with our romantic partners and family, we are influencing and shaping each other over time. The Michelangelo Effect essentially is causing individuals to develop into what they consider their ideal selves.Perhaps we cannot fully comprehend the magnitude in which our personalities are changing. We do not know what long time effects this situation is causing in our personalities. Nevertheless, there is no denying that change is happening, whether it be anxiety, fear, depression or self-acceptance, clarity and ambition, perhaps even a combination of it all – time will say. All we can do is hope for the ‘new normal’ to be over and help and support one another.
The writer is an intern at the Daily Sun