Every single day, I write a gratitude journal. I have been writing one since I was ten years old. In the beginning of the pandemic, I was hopeful. But as people close to me tested positive and one of my best friend's dads succumbed to the deadly virus, the virus was not a cold statistic anymore. My little niece, usually cheerful, wrote a story about how she discovered a magic potion that could combat the virus. For the first time, I knew that I was going to be living through a period in the world that would constitute living history. Indeed, anything we write about this pandemic and our experiences of it, will be used as archival research for years to come. How have I being spending my days, you ask? I have been practising strict social distancing, as several people I am quarantining with are immuno-compromised. In my real life, I live and work as an entrepreneur and a tour guide, so tactile presence is important not just to me as a human being, but also in terms of my career. Of course, my walking tours have dried up, but I have spent my time listening to BTS, a Kpop band that I discovered when I was going through one of the worst phases of my life-getting out of a physical and emotionally abusive relationship. The trauma of that relationship continues to haunt me and sometimes I wake up at night in a pool of tears, frightened and startled too, at the person I became in a relationship with a person determined to impede my growth through their abject apathy and narcissism. It has been three years, and I have emerged out of this terrible equation stronger, wiser and post importantly, much happier. During the pandemic when I have some free time, I watch mukbangs and learn about ASMR, play video games with new friends I have made, the pandemic has really helped me expand my community and appreciate all the creative ways in which food bloggers, sustainable fashion designers are using their platforms. I am also very impressed by the way activists are using the tools available to them to agitate and organize. Writers are writing beautifully. I have been feeling very exhausted of late so I have been snapping at a lot of people who are very close to me. I have built an unflappable social media persona online, but I am still the same quiet, unsure and grouchy person I always was. It is so easy to lose sight of who you fundamentally are when accolades come your way. And contrary to popular belief, success does not always make you confident. It can also make you nervous and insecure. With almost no interactions offline, I find myself comparing my own life to acquaintance's lives. He got an award during quarantine. Her business is thriving. She got a book deal. Once you start looking at other people's curated feeds (and automatically compare your unfiltered life to their curated one), it makes you miserable. Rationally, you know that this is only one part of the story and there is so much more to it, but your insecurity and low self esteem gets the better of you. "I still have not finished the book I promised I'd write," I tell myself. But I have low energy and am mentally too exhausted to actually form characters. "I will be disciplined and create a schedule that works for me." But I fail and I fail every single time. Finally, I decide that it is time for a shift in mindset. I am lucky to be alive and healthy and it is really okay if I don't get much done during the pandemic. I am working on my full-time job, and being productive is not really the prerogative at the moment. Finding a vaccine for COVID-19 is. Surviving is. Staying kind and loving is.


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