Updated: Jun 18, 2020
What do you do when you are all alone in a world gone still? A 21 year old Indian student, originally from Delhi and currently in lockdown alone at Austin, Texas, USA, talks about their experience of the pandemic and its aftermath with us.
Who are you and where are you right now?
A. I’m 21 years old currently living in Austin and originally belong to New Delhi, where my family is. I’m living here in Austin right now all by myself.
How was your experience of studying/working there before the pandemic?
A. Before the pandemic started, everything was pretty normal. I was having a lot of fun with my friends going to classes. I was on a dance team so I was traveling to a lot to different cities for dance competitions. I was having a lot of fun being independent and this experience here in the United States of being by myself was helping me grow as an individual
How was the atmosphere around you as COVID-19 became an increasing concern? What made you stay back as the global travel restrictions were imposed?
A. So I remember it was second week of March when our university shut down due you to COVID-19. Everyone was told not to come back to the university campus after spring break. There were not actually any cases yet at that time in Austin but just to be safe or university shut down its operations and moved everything to online. People were hopeful that this is temporary and everyone could return back to campus maybe in a few week, however, as we all know now, that was not going to happen. When [the campus shut] happened all my friends moved back to live with their families and some of them went back to India. I was however unable to do that because since I am in my final year and going back to India would be risky for my prospect of coming back for a job here, so I decided to stay.
What was your initial reaction to the situation you found yourself in? How have your feelings changed from then till now?
A. My initial reaction was one of the spare sadness and hatred for the situation I was in. I had a job offer from one of my dream companies which was unfortunately rescinded due to the company not being able to keep up in this pandemic. I was devastated going to the lockdown. Since I lost my job offer and all my friends had gone back home to their families and I was here in Austin living alone for an indefinite time in the future. My initial feelings of despair and hopelessness slowly turned into optimism and peace.
What did you find the hardest about your situation? What has been helping you cope?
A. The hardest part of my situation was definitely just staying alone and having zero human interaction. To cope with the situation I’ve been FaceTimeing a lot of my friends and family every day. Instead of texting there has been a gradual inclination towards straight up calling who ever I want to talk to. I also started picking up new hobbies such as cooking and reading. I also started meditating every day and trying to explore my spiritual inner self. I also am a huge fitness fan and I have set up my home gym where I work out every day. In particular meditating and reading good books has just helped me get in touch with my inner self and that has kept me at peace.
I have had time for introspection. I just observe who I am as a person in all my activities throughout the day, just observing why I do certain things has helped me remain at peace and has lit up a sense of inner happiness which was missing even before this pandemic started. I’ve become more grateful for the small things that I ignored earlier.
Would you like to give some advice to those in positions similar to yours?
A. To everyone who is in a similar situation as I am to them I want to say be grateful for this opportunity. This time of lockdown would probably never come again in our lifetime. Take this experience as some thing life is offering to you. Use this time to grow as an individual nurture your hobbies and come out of this pandemic a better version of yourself. We have so much time on our hands now that we can pursue any activity we want to.
Moreover, be grateful for just the fact that you can live in lockdown and still do whatever you want to do without worrying about basic necessities like internet, electricity, or food. There are people who are fighting for all these things every day now so if you find yourself in a situation where you are not then I would say you are one of the luckiest ones.
What keeps you hopeful for your future?
A. Nothing keeps me hopeful for the future.
Let me explain.
We as humans are always caught up in our past and our future. People get sad thinking about the events that happened in the past or they get worried about things they think might happen in the future. However the truth is that both the past and the future do not exist anywhere but only inside our mind. The past and the future are constructs of our mind they do not exist in reality. The only thing that is reality is the present, the here and now. Therefore we must learn to live in the moment. Incidents from the past should not define your happiness in the present moment since they are not real and only in your mind. Similarly making assumptions or worrying about the future is not going to help you since that’s also just in your mind. Instead be grateful for the present do what you want to do whatever that comes to your mind. When you are able to do this that is disconnect yourself from the constructs of past and future and just be present in this moment you were truly be happy and worry free.
We thank A for providing us with this insight into their life and experience in this pandemic. Despite the situation and the initial feelings of despair, A has found peace and happiness in social connections, reading, and meditation. We hope that A, and all other people like A who are currently separated from their friends and family, soon find their way to their homes.
Interviewed By – Niharika Rawal
Have a pandemic experience you want to share with us? Reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org, and inspire and enlighten others with your experience.