Anonymous COVID Story 1
Adulthood is very scary to be waking up to and realising no one sees me as a child anymore.
If I could go back in time, I’d change my social life. I’d definitely interact more. I think the lockdown is when people really began to feel lonely because they were at home. I’d try to interact more and keep the bonds really tight. I’d try to be more social on social media. I took a long break from Instagram, and while I needed it, I think I maybe overdid it. I think I pushed away too many people, or I was too reserved. I should have been more open to people and connections. It really messed me up in 2021. I felt as though I pushed away a lot of people that I wanted to keep close to me.
I have been able to recover some of those friendships but with most of them, I just had to move on. I met many new people during lockdown but a lot of those older bonds have faded. It’s not that we’re on bad terms; it’s just that we’re not close. Or at least I’m aware that I’m no longer in your life like that.
One thing I wouldn’t change is how careful I was. To date, I still haven’t caught COVID. I was called paranoid by many but I was still the one who’d sanitize my hands all the time, I’d always mask up, and I didn’t leave the house for events. I was so careful and if I could go back in time I’d definitely stay as careful.
My mum caught COVID, and somehow I didn’t. Immediately I found a vaccine I was pushing to get it. My parents are religious, so they were sceptical, but they’re both over 50. So immediately there was a chance we got them vaccinated, we were like, “We know you guys will not do it yourself, but as a family, we’ve decided we’ll just get you vaccinated.” And they did. I was expecting my dad to catch it, not my mum. He’s like a pastor, and you know how people can be. Like, “God will protect me.” I thought he would catch it, but it’s my mum who did, yet she was taking it more seriously.
I’d say starting uni during this period was really bad. I think it’s not just me, but everyone who’s had to do uni during this period is missing out on so much. I haven’t been able to socialise or be as friendly. Online classes are definitely not the best way to get to know someone, especially because as I’m growing older, the problems which can happen are much bigger now. Uni has a lot of bad stuff happening and I feel like if I had just met these people in person on day one, I’d have known them. I’d have known who not to trust. I go to a very small school, so when something happens word spreads almost immediately. It’s not tight-knit, but it’s a very small space.
I feel like going from online classes to physical ones and then suddenly being crammed in with people was very stressful for me. I was like, “Oh. Now I’m stuck here, and there’s nowhere to go.” I always go home immediately after my classes. I feel like COVID has made it so difficult to interact, so much more difficult to get to know people. It feels really shallow because when you come back, you end up being friendly with people you didn’t even talk to over the holiday. It’s made it difficult for people to connect in that way because we couldn’t meet up because of the risk of COVID, we were only seeing each other’s usernames.
I feel like doing uni during this period has been very stressful. When you add COVID on top of usual life problems, it makes it tough for you to focus. There were semesters, especially at the beginning of the year where it was very difficult for me to balance my studies and other life because I was thinking to myself, “I’m dealing with all this. Am I really stressed about an assignment? Life is calling! I need to do this and this. Am I really going to stress?”
At the beginning of last year, my two-year-old nephew caught COVID. So we had to take care of his brother, who was three at the time, for a month. The semester had just started, and I was babysitting with my siblings for a whole month. It was really intensive labour and it was really tough for me. I don’t blame myself for not necessarily having close friends in uni because there was just so much more. No offence but there were bigger things on my plate. I wanted to let people in my life, but there was just too much. My family is important to me so I had to really prioritize that. I remember being asked, “You always go home.” And I was like, “Yes, because there’s stuff that needs to be done at home. I need to be in the house and help.”
I feel like COVID has really put a lot of stress on me and my family and it’s really affected my school life as well. I sometimes wish I could redo my first and second year without COVID because I feel like my grades could be higher and I’d be a lot more social, but you know… hopefully, next semester is nice. I’m a bit worried that we’re going to be doing physical classes now and I’m gonna be in an environment where I feel like I’m new. It’s the weird feeling where everyone knows you but they don’t really know you. They’ve seen you enough times that it’s really strange you don’t know them well, but I also don’t feel ashamed because I was dealing with my stuff. I shouldn’t have to apologize. I was dealing with so much. I did not have room for new people in my life and all this new stuff.
I have made new friends, though not from uni. They’re the ones I picked up in other situations, like people’s birthdays. A lot of the connections I’ve made are from people I’ve known for a long time. So the friends I had in high school, I’ve become really close with their friends. Uni as an environment is not really a social place you just show up for class. I really wanted to focus on my grades and that’s what I came for. I come, I participate and I go home. So I have made a lot of close connections, I do have a lot of friends my age, it’s just that I don’t have those connections when I go to class. Most of the time, when I’m hanging out with someone, it’s someone I met outside school. It’s just that I’ve not been able to balance going to school for studies and then having time to interact, because there’s always something I should head back home to do. Or, no offence, better use of my time. Most of my friends have also expressed the same – that it’s a bit difficult to make friends in uni, and most of their friendships have come from outside it, and I’m not the only one who’s chosen to prioritise my grades.
During the COVID period, I’ve gotten so close to my cats. When lockdown began, I had one cat; now, I have seven. I got a second cat during COVID and that was after high school. Having a pet makes you feel like you’re healing somehow. So the cat gave birth twice, I’ve given some cats away and now there are seven. The lockdown really let me become a good pet owner and connect with my pets more than ever. Before, I felt kind of bad because the cats wouldn’t really stay in the compound because I wasn’t offering them much. But the ones I’ve raised from birth actually really like me and they’re always around. They’re actually right outside the window right now. I feel like a proper pet owner now. Being able to manage seven cats on top of everything makes me feel very accomplished.
I think the protection of your own home is a very nice environment. As much as it’s intense to have to stay home, being at home has let people really be themselves all day long. Before, you’d have to be like this in the office and like this in school, so being at home has offered me so much freedom. It’s not the best all the time but I feel that being at home has let me be in my own element in a way I’ve never really experienced and in a way that I don’t think much can replicate. I’ve been cooking my own stuff. It’s fun, especially as the pandemic is clearing up because right now I’m home alone. I get to decide what I make for lunch, I get to decide how my day goes, and it’s very freeing to have the home be a place that you can decide to work from. Because yeah, this is my element. I should be able to thrive in this environment.
It’s also given me time to focus on my hobbies. I’ve never been able to just draw as much as I want to and not have to worry. I’ve been able to engage in my hobbies without having things coming up. I didn’t have to leave the house for this or that. It was nice to be able to spend time at home doing what I love and taking care of my cats. It’s a very nice existence and I
think plenty of people have never experienced that. The older generation especially is about work, work, work. I remember my mum having a really hard time during COVID just relaxing and I was like, “Just relax. Just relax for a few days. Just rest. Do what you want to do.” I think the pandemic has given so many people a chance to think about how they live – who they are and what they want. When you don’t have demands, you can finally do what you want to do. You don’t have to think about what you need to be for someone else or who you need to be in a certain situation. You can just do exactly what you want to do with your time. It’s very freeing.
I worry that now that the pandemic is ending, I won’t have so much of the same unstructured time, and I’ll be expected to take on more responsibilities. It’s very strange to go from someone leaving high school to an adult-adult in a time like this. To me it doesn’t seem like time has passed; it’s all been the same lockdown. So for me, it feels like waking up and realising you’re an adult. It’s very scary because last I checked, I was just leaving high school, and now there’s so much to do. I had a job at some point, but because I was busy with a lot of stuff, I kinda lowkey got fired in the most polite way possible. They were like, “Management has decided to choose someone else for this task. Just send us what you’ve done, and we’ll pay you.” I tried to brush it off like, “Eh. It wasn’t a real job.” It was a very casual thing, but it felt bad because it was like I was failing at adulthood. I don’t have a [driver’s] licence, I don’t know how to do a lot of things.
The clearest example that I was now an adult was when I was walking in town, and this really old lady called me ‘sir’ and I was like, “What? Me? The baby? I’m a sir?” I think now everyone treats me like an adult and I haven’t grown into that yet. It feels like I have such big shoes to fill, and I don’t understand how I’m supposed to do that. It’s very scary to have the pandemic be ending because once it’s over, there are not many excuses. It’s like: you’re an adult; how do you not know this? But we’ve been dealing with so many other things, of course I don’t know how to do anything!
Thinking about money has also been scary because as you grow older, you start to realise how much importance money carries. It becomes stressful because you start to understand what your parents have been through and appreciate them more. I went to shagz for a few days last week with my cousins and we spoke to our grandma about the MauMau and all that stuff, and my mum told us how they grew up. I think hearing how both my parents were born around independence and were very affected by the conflict, I’ve come to realise that part of the reason why they seem so unphased is that they’ve been through so much that to them, COVID was not a challenge. They’ve lived in hard times before. It made me appreciate them more and gave me more resilience because I thought to myself, “I will make it somehow.” It’s just scary that now I understand why they don’t get how adulthood is hard for me because, for them, even childhood and growing up were hard. I can see how, even though it’s not right, they don’t understand how I can say that my life is difficult.
Adulthood is very scary to be waking up to and realising no one sees me as a child anymore. No one sees me as a teen. They see me and see a young adult. I always thought that adults are these people who can just do things. But now that I’m an adult, I realise you can’t just do what you want. It’s very surprising because I realise I know less than nothing about being an adult. And the funny thing is no one knows the right thing to say and I can’t even blame them because even I don’t know what to say. There have been many problems I’ve faced personally where I think honestly no one’s advice could have helped me. What else could I have done but just go through them? It’s very scary because adulthood is so vague, and you realise no one knows what to say or do. No one can tell you what you need.