Life on Autopilot

  Athiya Mahapatra |     July 1, 2021

Attend classes, study, eat, sleep, then rinse and repeat. Sounds peaceful, doesn’t it? It sure did to me, at least in the first few weeks of lockdown.

Though now, instead of the noisy interruptions by many loud students, my classes are punctuated by silence. Instead of hugging my friends, I just video-call them once in a blue moon. Instead of seamlessly solving doubts with my teachers face-to-face, I wait to interact with them online. For the first time in my life, I can’t meet my friends at school or in the park.

As a person who feels very anxious in large social gatherings and who can’t express herself properly without being misunderstood, I felt relieved at the declining social interaction. It gave me time to recharge as I did not need to talk unnecessarily anymore and could choose who to talk to. Hence, I didn’t miss anyone or feel sad in this crisis. Though, this wasn’t so because I am ‘strong’ or ‘resilient’. It was simply because I don’t feel strong emotions anymore.

I preferred to bottle them up so that no one else in my close proximity has to worry. But, this caused them to burst out on occasions as if they were a bottle of champagne. Irritation, relief, anger, delight, resentment, satisfaction, desperation, joy, and a mix of bittersweet feelings are still festering inside me.

The lingering issues of my ‘carelessness’ added further fuel to fire. My grades dropped significantly in class 8 for which I am still suffering. I am the only one to blame for failing to reach my expectations as well as those of others. But, I feel that if the pandemic hadn’t occurred, I wouldn’t have done so terribly.

Now, in the 9th class, I am facing an immense pressure. Pressure to do exceptionally well, pressure to reach my ‘complete’ potential, pressure to be perfect! Some argue that pressure and stress are necessary for success. However, this mantra cannot be applied to everyone. I am trying my best to improve but I am unable to find any positive validation from anyone, which might have kept me going on this path of overachievement and excellence.

I know I don’t deserve any encouragement. It is selfish of me to ask so much. But, in a time like this, it would have definitely made me feel better. In this pandemic, a students’ feelings, emotions, hardships and mental state are going highly unacknowledged.

As for me, people complain about how I remain guarded as a fortress but, when I do express, they rain arrows into the fortress’s vulnerable innards. So, instead of having just a moat of indifference protecting me, I subconsciously developed a wall of numbness too. As a result, I have dried up most of my reserves of passion, which are further destroyed by the stark and desolate prospects of my future. These days, due to my supposed devotion to studies, I barely take part in any activity unrelated to academics.

I conclude that no matter how I feel or refuse to feel, the pandemic has affected our lives adversely. From the mental and physical health to the academic and social life—every aspect has been interfered with. I feel like I don’t even have my hands on the steering wheel of my life. This time the vehicle is on autopilot and it is blindly heading towards a cliff side, doomed to plummet, yet again.

About the Author

She is a student of class IX, ITL Public School, Delhi.

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