So, you thought you'd graduate this summer.
2020 was supposed to be India’s year. It could have been yours too, what with you graduating college and embarking on your life journey and all that. You even had it planned in your head on how it was all gonna pan out. Looking forward to your lasts - the last time you’d walk on that bridge, the very last meal you’ll eat in the health-code menace Amman mess, the very last tea & egg puffs you’ll have in NMB, and the last time you’ll walk to the Lakshmi Mills dosa kadai. You were on the brink of making your farewell happen and BAM - a pandemic and the subsequent quarantine. All your not-lasts became your lasts.
You were benched for the time being. Nothing to report and nothing to complete. You decided to wait. Here is where it becomes tough. The quarantine might have gone differently for different people. For you, batch of 2020 however, maybe, it happened like this:
For the first time since high school, you were home for the foreseeable future. Everybody made sure that your feet never touched the ground and catered to your every whim. Days went by and BAM. You were now cleaning up after everybody, every time receiving a snide “You are not a guest here” remark. Channeling your inner Rosa Diaz, you smiled through all of it, all the while screaming ‘Highway to Hell’ inside your head.
Or maybe, it went down like this:
By the end of month one, you had run out of series to watch. Not to mention your very last- Money Heist, which had left a bitter taste in your mouth. Taking a deep breath, you went against yourself and everything that you stand for and clicked the first episode of Keeping Up With the Kardashians. What you thought was an alternative to laughter therapy ended up with you chanting ‘Roast her, Tiffany’, not blinking your eyes off the drama. Amidst this, you got a message from your college asking you to get your final year project done. Confident that you can pull off the ‘We were on a break’ card (“It’s not like it didn’t help Ross for what, 7 seasons?”, you reasoned), you said “Meh” and went back to your Neverland.
Or this is what happened:
The cases spike. You grit your teeth. The death toll increases and you take deep breaths. Your modest town reported its very first case. You stumble onto the nearest place to sit. When someone pats your shoulder and asks “Are you okay?”, you lie through your teeth with a fake smile plastered on your lips. They didn’t deserve that, you think, as you lie awake at night, sleep evading you for the millionth time.
Or, it was a mixture of all. Or maybe I’m projecting. But the fact remains: this summer was supposed to be great. The entire future, fresh in front of you. For once in your life, you knew where you were going and you were looking forward to it. No.
But to be honest, it would have been a real surprise if everything had happened the way you imagined. Your past stands as proof: born in the late 90’s made you too young to be a 90’s kid and too old to be a 2k kid. Every semester in college was either botched by nature or by the people operating it. You sigh audibly thinking about this and shake your head. Promptly, you take up your phone and start to look up for memes to fill the day’s quota. Nihilism, am I right?
‘So, okay. You cannot control the pandemic, but the quarantine time? With power outlets literally everywhere and a steady Wi-Fi 24×7? You could’ve easily made use of this.’ This is what your brain would’ve chanted, ‘mine didn’t’- will be something I’d say if I was lying. But, let’s face it, it could be hard being productive when all you can hear is Kourtney saying, “Kim, there’s people that are dying.”
In all honesty, if you had made use of your peak senses and developed an app during this time - kudos, definitely. Or, if you had lost yourself in the 90’s ARR hits while doing mundane things like doing the dishes like the most of us, good for you too buddy. Unlike what the society seems to think, this is not a competition. We’re all just a bunch of people trying to make it to the other side sane.
Let me just say, it’s hard not to overthink with this much down time. For a person who overthinks their every reply in a verbal conversation, this much of alone time is a heaven on earth or a Justin Bieber’s concert, jury’s still out. Hold that thought, hey, have you ever sat on every tile in your home? Like the 7th step of your stairs or the place where you keep your laundry bag? You see? This kind of mental diarrhoea is what I’m talking about. Trying to get it all out of the system only proves that your system is a bottomless pit.
With all this, it’s just easy to think that the universe has it out for you. What you thought was gonna be your year has not been good to anyone. But, please, oh, please- don’t? You know how people having their mid- life crisis end up saying, “In my twenties I had my whole life figured out” - at least in the movies? Maybe a time this long is the universe’s own undoing, for us. You heard your father say that never in his life had he had to remain home for something other than unemployment or recession, noticing that he had laugh lines. You grudgingly watched your Mom destroy you in PUBG, witnessing a side of her that maybe no one ever had seen. You attended a wedding in your sweatpants and smiled at the happy couple on the screen. Never before had you eaten a home cooked meal for this long, especially the one your brother made; if you took seconds and thirds, that was nobody’s business but yours.
And you know what? You cannot have a better coming of age story than this. You might go neck and neck with the arc of Just-a-Brooklyn-kid Steve Rogers to the serum induced Captain America, but that’s a pretty good level to achieve as far as stories go. The best thing here? Just as how Steve Rogers was righteous, brave and kind way before becoming Captain America, the new you is not so different from your past self - more wise, conscious and serene. You now know to sit back and enjoy life when the opportunity presents itself because you never know what life is going to throw at you. If it’s a Nokia flip phone, great! You now have something else to look at when Colors Tamil telecasts KGF for the millionth time. If it is a knife, cool, you wanted to buy one for your updated version of the game of darts anyway; if they’re stones, throw your hands up and walk away because you’re not paid anything to deal with this, um, thing.
I believe it was the great Kelly Clarkson who once said,
What doesn't kill you makes you stronger
Stand a little taller
Doesn't mean I'm lonely when I'm alone
Every word has a literal meaning in this context. Wow, Kelly is a prophet, not as much as Surya though.
Whatever you choose to go for - work, PG, matrimony or a break from all of this - you are going to be just fine. Here is to a great comeback, with a little more zing and a little more pep!