The year 2020 started like any other year. We welcomed the new year with a celebration of fireworks and family gatherings. However, we did not decipher that our lives would change so drastically, bringing them to a pause. With the spread of the deadly COVID-19, people have suffered financially, emotionally, and physically. Businesses were closed off, and people were locked inside their homes with or without their loved ones. Many people lost their loved ones.
Almost all countries worldwide implemented the rule of a lockdown or a partial curfew to minimize the spread of COVID-19. We asked various people worldwide to anonymously submit their experiences during quarantine and their feelings during self-isolation. We also asked them if they saw any difference in the person they were at the beginning of 2020 and now. For some people, the spread of COVID-19 was merely the spread of a virus. Whereas, for others, it was an occurrence that changed them spiritually and emotionally. Due to spending time with themselves, a lot of people became more spiritually awakened. Different people responded in different ways, and the emotions they felt were all so dissimilar to the other.
Anonymous, Age 20, United States of America
“My experience has been wildly varying. Some moments it was easy for me to handle what was happening and try to stay secluded/distanced, whereas other times, I get in a dark mood because of the parts of my life I had to/have to miss out on. I have learned to become more self-reliant and to do more work online. “
Anonymous, Age 22, United States of America
“It has been hard living at home and seeing how different my parents are from what I thought they were. While I have grown up, they do not seem to have understood that. I have learned to value education in any form since I also finished college during the pandemic. I have also been learning how to give myself more space, be more patient with myself, and be honest about my mental health stability.
Any difference between the person I was at the beginning of 2020 and now? I appreciate what I have a lot more now, but my desire to experience new people, sights and sounds have increased tremendously. I do not seek a crazy, ‘important’ job, but rather the ability to travel the world and engage with people and topics I am truly passionate about. I also have let go of regret. There is no point in regretting something that made me truly happy once. It only serves to hurt me.”
Anonymous, Age 20, United States of America
“I have learned the value of appreciating people: I didn’t realize how the little daily interactions I experienced before COVID-19 were so valuable. I also know the importance of being present and not distracted when spending time with someone, as time is a very precious thing.
Any difference between the person I was at the beginning of 2020 and now? Yes absolutely! With all the social injustice and conflict going on, I was really able to take an introspective look at myself and the overall values in my life. This pandemic has allowed me to find passions I never knew I had and want to do something about them. It has made me appreciate life so much more and not take anything for granted. I have become much more mature and intend to continue growing at this time.”
Anonymous, Age 19, India
“Quarantine was monotonous to an extent, with online classes, assignments, and social media. However, I was able to experience and experiment with a lot of things! It has made me a better person… I just resumed singing, writing, drawing, started a youtube channel, and was able to connect with a lot of people, some of whom I have never even met in real life! It was an exhausting yet inspiring experience for me; well, thanks to my dotted community for helping me find that hidden poet inside!
Any difference between the person I was at the beginning of 2020 and now? Yeah…I had a problem of hesitation in getting introduced to new people and events that have faded to an extent… rediscovered my talents and courage to try out new things, even if I fail to master it! Still, long way to go, but somewhere, deep inside, I have the courage that I can tackle the challenges presented before with a strong will!”
Anonymous, Age 22, India
“I’m a college student. Officially this is the last year of my college life since I’m doing my master’s. When lockdown started, I spent a few days with the hope that it would soon be over. Days passed and then a month; it felt like I’m on a train, and it has stopped somewhere unknown, and we’re now stuck. It was a devastating feeling. And with time, gradually habits changed, lifestyle changed; I’m still waiting for everything to get back on its track for the train to start moving.
Any difference between the person I was at the beginning of 2020 and now? Yeah. I’m more anxious, less tolerant, and probably 3 kgs extra. Also, I’ve now an Instagram page, and I’m a published poet. I’m learning Zumba and yoga in these never-ending six months.”
Anonymous, Age 21, India
“We learn now and then; thus, for me, it was not very eye-opening or influential. Timekeeping, reading, acknowledgment, sound sleeping, and disproportionate living effects are what I’ve learned, which has been a consistent thing.
Any difference between the person I was at the beginning of 2020 and now? I was not into people, social gatherings, and all, and now it’s concrete in many ways. Although I’ve improved on public speaking and interpersonal skills, I still refrain from being regular and open about such things.”
Anonymous, Age 23, India
“I was outraged at the beginning of course I understood why quarantine is necessary and I was in full support of the lockdown. Idk I just felt like blaming somebody/something for this. Slowly, the anger turned numb, and now there’s just an intense yearning for life, for people, for being able to go near people without fear/ anxiety. I guess I spent most of my time re-evaluating my life choices and all the decisions which brought me here. There’s loads of difference between the person I was yesterday and today and probably tomorrow.”
Anonymous, Age 20, Kuwait
“This quarantine helped me a lot to polish my skills and develop my interests. I developed some new habits, and I’m glad that they helped me, and I have found a new version of myself. I see it on a positive side, and in this whole time of quarantine, it made me realize that we should spend some quality time with each other and always cherish our loved ones because due to busy life and hustling around, we always neglect that. If I compare the person I was at the beginning of 2020, and now, I’d say that I am more realistic than before. I see good in all things because everything happens for a reason.”
Anonymous, Age 20, United States
“I was sent home from college, so I stayed between my two parents’ houses for five months. I couldn’t find any remote job opportunities due to being a psych & anthro major, and I was afraid to work in person because one of my parents is 79. I stayed away from others most of the time. I learned that I like being with myself, but I’m afraid that I’ll be too okay with being with myself, which will prevent me from doing things with other people in the future. I don’t think I’ve had enough time to reflect on what changes occurred in me during the entire year of 2020. I’m sure there are differences, but since I am still affected by the pandemic, I’m not sure I can see them clearly.”
Anonymous, Age 20, India
“The quarantine has taught me one important lesson, to make peace with what you have and where you are at this point. It has made me appreciate myself and those around me better. I used to be impatient, short-tempered, and sometimes took things for granted. This also made me realize who’s real and who’s fake. We always think they’ll be there for you and help you but never realize that people change their priorities as they change. It has made me and still is teaching me a lot about life.
Any difference between the person I was at the beginning of 2020 and now? At the beginning of 2020, I did make many resolutions even though I wasn’t that serious about attaining it. As the pandemic situation came, I became more and more aware of the time going by and started getting really serious about what I want to do. I used to be a heavy procrastinator and anxiety-ridden person. But I feel I am more strong now and can adjust in any circumstances. My mind has become strong-willed. I believe I can pass through any problematic times.”
Anonymous, Age 18, India
“The best six months of my life cause’ I got time to explore myself and learned new things about me, and because of this pandemic, I gotta know who my real friends are. This pandemic taught me many things that I’m not going to forget in my lifetime.
Any difference between the person I was at the beginning of 2020 and now? At first, I thought everyone is my friend, and I didn’t know that I have very high potential, but because of this pandemic, I discovered new boundaries, new things about me, and my circle got smaller and some mental peace now.”
Anonymous, Age 17, India
This year, I learned numerous things, I found a new ‘me’ and all of the above, I learned one thing: Karma prevails. This COVID-19 made everyone sit at their home, on an extended vacation; this word vacation is something that everyone, before 2020, wanted so eagerly. Still, now vacation is the highest most unwanted material. In my personal experience, I got a lot of time to improve my skills, such as singing, dancing, painting, and attending my school online. I got a lot of time for self-love.
Any difference between the person I was at the beginning of 2020 and now? Yes, a huge difference I saw in myself, and am thankful for this disaster for that. Earlier, I was a girl ranting on everything, complaining about each and everything I was having but now is a person who is happy with what I have. I was very careless initially, but being at home with your parents continuously for 24-hours, you can’t afford to be reckless, which changed me. I was a sluggish person when it came to doing home chores, but now I am a pro in this field. All over, I am sad for this pandemic to hit us, but from my personal view, I loved these long 9-months of self-quarantine.
Anonymous, Age 35, Kuwait
I’m more appreciative of the people I have in life, more appreciative of the health I have as well. I’m also more health-conscious nowadays. In the beginning, it was really hard getting used to the quarantine; I felt confined in my own house and somehow robbed of my freedom to move about. But I learned to appreciate my health, my family, and to put my time to better use.
The global pandemic and the consequent lockdown has brought about a drastic change in our lives. From the spread of Australia’s forest fires to the fight for justice for #BlackLivesMatter, 2020 will forever be known as the year of change, a year when we changed spiritually, mentally, and physically. Some of us had to go away from our loved ones, while others discovered a part of our parents or siblings we never knew existed. Some discovered a spark of talent that they were unaware of, while others started working on their childhood dreams. Some people wrote books, while others drew pictures they would see ten years from now and reminisce about the moments that have passed away.
If you’re reading this, you’re alive, be grateful, you survived a pandemic. When all of this will be over, you will contemplate this period and smile at the bittersweet memories. You will be grateful for the hardships because they will shape you into the person you were meant to be.