Are we Wasting the Best Years of our Lives?

I went home to Dubbo a few weeks back, just for a few days. See my family, check out the new bubble tea place, see if the new car makes the trip there and back without blowing up or getting hit by a truck. But I had to come back here for the uni holidays, to work.

The day I was travelling back to Wollongong, we caught news of a COVID case in Fairy Meadow. Fairy Meadow is the next suburb over from where I live, but I wasn’t too concerned. I thought, it’s okay…it’s just one case, and we have the month-long uni break to wait for it to clear up. Flash forward, I am currently enduring my fourth week of lockdown, and classes start back next week.

I was really looking forward to this semester being in person. Many of my classmates have said that they’re glad it’s online again; they save fuel. I, however, would pay any amount of fuel money to go back to on-campus learning. So far, they’re saying that classes will only be online for the first four weeks, depending on the lockdown situation.

Full disclosure, this post will be me winging, for the most part. Still, I’m trying to be helpful and empathetic because spreading empty negativity is not productive right now. Those of you who are also stuck in lockdown, feel free to interact if you need a chat because suddenly, I have a lot of time on my hands to talk.

Usually, my tweets get like one or two likes; this one ended up with like 18 likes and a few retweets. So, unfortunately, I guess it’s relatable.

Twitter: Wasting away my 20s

I don’t really feel like I’m wasting my 20’s in my room. It’s not that dramatic. But I think that my peers and I probably went down the same lockdown rabbit hole. It can feel like wasted time. Social media and movies fed us this idealised version of what our youth is supposed to look like. Even before the pandemic, it was prevalent for young adults to wind up feeling dysphoric and insecure about it. The pandemic just makes it a tad scarier.

Coronavirus didn’t ruin my life; it just meant that things didn’t go to plan. It probably wouldn’t have gone according to plan anyway, but it wouldn’t have been a global disease crisis that crashed my party. It’s hard at this point to think that life is all sunshine and rainbows, so I’m not going to pretend that there’s some higher purpose to all of this. Maybe things happen for a reason; perhaps they don’t. But when bad things happen, it is a great reminder to take space and get perspective and practice gratitude and positivity. This time can be useful, even if it’s hard.

I think it’s harder for some than it is for others, but at the end of the day, it’s not a competition, and we’re all living through this together. We’re going to grow in ways that we didn’t expect to grow because we’ve been put in a situation that we weren’t expecting to be put in.

I think the most frustrating part of this lockdown is that, on some level, we felt that the whole COVID fiasco was over. Obviously, we all heard murmurs of second and third waves…but you’d be crazy not to hope for the best regardless. It sucks that we’re back here again. However, there are certain differences between last year and this year.

Don’t get me wrong, this sucks. However, there’s definitely an upside to all of this. At least we’re somewhat used to lock down now. The pandemic isn’t fresh, new and unprecedented anymore. Musicians are making music a lot more than they were this time last year, and entertainers are still creating content. So we’re not having to rewatch Tiger King.

We’re also seeing some really interesting cultural aftershocks from 2020. Most notably, Bo Burnham’s ‘Inside’. It’s on Netflix in all its glory. If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend you do. Prepare to feel both underwhelmed and overwhelmed by it. It speaks on a range of cultural phenomena, both in terms of more significant issues of social inequality and more personal issues to do with mental health and productivity. He did a great job conveying the weird blurry emotion of doing ordinary things in a non-normal time. Plus, some of the songs are really catchy.

I have a legal excuse to get out of the house. I work in the online department at Woolworths a few suburbs over. Obviously, people have started doing online grocery shopping in this time to avoid going out. The increase of workload has been phenomenal, and the effort from the team has had to triple to get them done. I’ve done countless 5am starts for 9 or 10 hour-long shifts in the past few weeks. I get up, go to work, go home, and my phone has this health app that tells me how many steps I’ve done for the day. Most days average around 10km worth of walking circles around Woolies.

The rest of my time has gone towards repetitively cleaning my room, painting a set of drawers that I found on the side of the road, trying to make un-boring meals and (finally) building my photography website. If you feel up to it, this is a great time to do random little tasks. Rewatch your favourite show, take the time to plan the upcoming semester, sort out your wardrobe, sort through your computer files, do a face mask, do some art, go to work and make heaps of dough if you can.

However, if you want to take this time to slow down and relax, that’s okay too, so long as it’s not destructive. Please feel absolutely no pressure to ‘use this time productively. Our fixation on productivity is capitalist nonsense anyway. Spend your time how you want and need. Take your third nap! Why not!

That said, make sure to take care of yourself. The suicide hotlines are backed up and have been for months. There’s not much to be done, but where you can, make sure to check in on people when and where you can. I’m sure we are all sick of talking about this stuff. It’s been over a year, but in some ways and for some people, it didn’t get easier. Not everyone has been able to adjust easily, so just be kind to people.

This isn’t as bad as we sometimes feel it is. It’s not as unprecedented as we are told. We are always going to be living through major historical events. If it wasn’t COVID, it would have been World War Three, and that could still happen, but we can only do so much. Try not to stress about the small things in the meantime.