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How my little world is dealing with the pandemic

The privilege to sit at home Photo by Anshu A on Unsplash

It’s a beautiful opportunity to sit here in front of the dim computer screen, settle down comfortably and hear the click-clack of the laptop keyboard as I try to pen down my thoughts. I’m on day 60 of quarantine. As a person who gains validation mostly from people and not the internet, the lockdown seems to be affecting more than I had previously imagined.

Stage 0: I’m Fine, this is great!

When it had all started, I did not imagine that sitting here in the comfort of my room would be difficult. I encouraged the thought of having the opportunity to work from home. I had imagined that the comfort of my warm bed and soft blanket while taking calls and working my way through numerous work calls and meetings would be straightforward.

Let’s cut straight to the chase, the pandemic has us on a crutch.

Photo by Aimee Vogelsang on Unsplash

The world sought out on a productivity fest. Multiple companies pulled down their paywalls to open up their online courses to the general public, people started working out at home, getting fitter, happier — focusing more on life! This seemed like a much-needed break for the world as a whole if we ignore the world being consumed by a pandemic.

Stage 1: Realization

I was doing alright. Waking up at 11 am, opening my laptop to start attending calls by 1 pm, working myself to the ground up until about 1 am, after which I would order some dinner online and fall asleep by 4 am. This was me-time after all. The boundaries between life, work and sleep were getting blurred. The weekends are for you after all, right? No. I am pursuing my MS in Data Science, so I spend about 9–12 hours studying on the weekend as well. After this went on for a couple of weeks, I realized I was burning out.

The only feelings I had felt in weeks were sleepy or moody.

The ping from the Microsoft Teams app had me constantly anxious and my health was deteriorating. Every morsel of food that went into my body was junk. The only adrenaline rush I got from the day was from the sips of coffee or thinking about life. Not a good place to be in.

Photo by Wei Ding on Unsplash

I live in a serviced apartment. I share a 10 x 10 room with a roommate. We have the police drive-by slowly to ensure that we are following the enforced lockdown. I have to stand in a line, sometimes for an hour to be able to get basic supplies. Things that were once considered basic are now a luxury. My SIM got damaged and I felt more vulnerable than I have felt in a long time; with no access to the call and message facility, I had no way of using apps on my phone, internet banking or even the luxury of calling my mother amidst the pandemic.

I realized I was in a hell of my own creation.

That’s not possible, everyone is going through this, right? Right?
Yes, that is true. Everyone is going through this, albeit, being miserable is a choice.

Stage 2: Ignorance is bliss

Let’s talk about fat people.

Photo by Valentin Petkov on Unsplash

That’s a terrible way of saying it. Am I saying it wrong or are you processing it negatively? That’s for you to think, I am, however, going to continue.

I was 95 kilos (210 pounds) three months ago. When I tried to understand how I was able to gain 15 kilos (33 pounds) in six months, it was quite logical really. I just got a little fatter every day, ignored it for months on end until I was at the tipping point and I had no choice but to come to the realization that I was where I was.

Big changes do not happen overnight.

When we think about health, the only tangible thing that comes to mind is our body (The irony). We eat right, exercise and feed our body to be healthy. Yet, you are unhealthy. The reason is that health consists of two things that have equal importance — the vessel that carries us and the mind itself.

Photo by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash

Let me elaborate. Health consists of physical health and mental health. The next time you talk or even think about health, make sure you are specific which aspect of it you are thinking about.

Stage 3: The Pandemic License

At this point, where everybody in the world (Instagram) was doing so well, I was at the point where I had given myself the freedom to well, be free! I decided not to overburden myself and do whatever I felt like. It’s so weird that when we decide to give ourselves freedom how fast we become dumb and lazy (Remember how you spend your weekends and end up feeling disgusted with yourself every Monday, even though you had such great plans beginning Friday evening?).

Photo by Edwin Hooper on Unsplash

Well, now I was eating more junk at will, had a mangled biological clock due to my sleeping habits and was consistently on edge, but, by choice? I was a confused idiot trying to find his way. Uhmm.. what?

That’s a start too. This is where it begins. I had a consciousness that suggested I’m lost. Remember, big changes do not happen overnight. I let myself be for a couple of days, just observing what I had become and dreaming of what I wanted to be.

Stage 4: I’m trying to be better, let me try

I am that guy. I am that guy who makes an excel sheet to make life better. My parents have been in IT for over 50 years — I had to pick up something. The difference is that this is what has historically worked for me and this is how I motivate myself.

My Home Screen

Do you see the little white icon in the middle of the screen? No, not the camera, above that! I open it about once an hour to be conscious of the choices I am making.

Make your own happiness tracker

Happiness Tracker

This helps me be to be happier. Don’t feel forced to hit as many greens as possible. Instead, take your time, as you are only accountable to yourself. First, understand where you are and dream of where you want to be. You can leisurely take a few weeks to understand and optimize the things that make you happy in life.

The aim of life is to be happy and have fun.

For instance, I find chopping veggies and cooking to be therapeutic, so I went ahead and added it to my happiness tracker. Here are some of my little creations I’m proud of.

Three boiled eggs, boiled broccoli, carrots and sautéd mushrooms, sprinkled with oregano
Rice with freshly chopped and sautéd beans, carrots and tomatoes. Also, two lovely boiled eggs.

This is the point where I would like to stress on the fact that I do not have a kitchen. I boil these in my trusted four-year-old kettle and sauté the vegetables in there as well.

Your greatness is only limited by your mind.

The Last Stage: Acceptance

I learnt to find peace in the little things and the only way to be happy was to help myself. I now do menial chores with much more interest and spend the rest of my hours being productive. If this is the new normal, just like every other stage in my life, let me define life and live on my terms.

I have found peace in the chaos of life and now I am a happy person waking up in my little 10 x 10 room.

We are very adjusting as human beings. We have been through numerous suffering in our history of existence. It’s just that the new generation has had a great or rather, extremely long lucky run.

The past couple of decades have been an absolutely golden time to be alive.

There is to be a balance of life. I am not comparing sorrows and trying to measure happiness, I am saying that things will come to a balance.

You will be more satisfied if you are able to accept and learn from the lows as much as you celebrate your highs.

The best moments come right after the worst ones. Accepting this has made my life much more blissful, as I am no longer irritated about my lows, but, rather welcoming. This means I might have rough days or nights, but when I open my eyes the next morning, I am excited and ready to get the opportunity to live my life to the fullest again.

After all, no pain no gain right? :)

Hey, thank you so much for reading this! A little about me — I’m a Data Scientist at a top Data Science firm, currently pursuing my MS in Data Science. I spend a lot of time studying and working. Show me some love if you enjoyed this! 😄 I also write about the millennial lifestyle, consulting, chatbots and finance! If you have any questions or recommendations, please feel free to reach out to me on LinkedIn or follow me here, I’d love to hear your thoughts!

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Anish Mahapatra

Anish Mahapatra

Data Scientist | Machine Learning | Fortune 500 Consultant | Senior Technical Writer - Google me. Anish Mahapatra | https://www.linkedin.com/in/anishmahapatra/