The Pandemic: A Timeline of Delayed Gratification

Most people I know have dealt with the fallout of the pandemic to the best of their ability. Some have been lucky to not contract the virus at all or recover quickly if they have and thankfully not too many have faced any irreplaceable losses. But we’ve ALL been touched by the effects of it fairly deeply in our psyche.

My erstwhile largely happy and manageable child gets down in the dumps at the slightest hint of any change. It might not even be a significant event but just the prospect of having to do without something gets him reacting like never before.

The concept of delayed gratification whether it’s being able to step outside the house, socialise, go to the grocery store, run an errand at the mall, attend in-person school, travel on a whim or not be able to play because it’s raining outside; leads to so much mental preparation needed to adjust and adapt these days just to weather the disappointment of yet another compromise being made.

When I think of how this phase has impacted me, I can honestly say I’ve become more withdrawn. Ask Red and he mayn’t agree since he thinks I’m still the loudest person in the house but given an option I’d rather not do anything but just read a book and possibly stay bundled up somewhere cozy. Call it a start of a myopic personality trait or just a reaction to the times we live it.

I do my daily calls to the bestie, often twice a day- no mean feat given that we factor in time differences of 12+ hours and the interruptions that come in when you have kids hovering around. I speak to both my folks often, separately, their schedules and the frequency of our need to communicate with each other being dictated by daily occurrences as well as things happening in the family.

However, till the end of last year I was all about embracing being around people, having someone to hang out with, talk, have a meal with or just interface with; for the most part of 2021, I’ve been craving the quiet.

I haven’t become unsocial per se but a strong thread of being asocial has come in. It may be a coping mechanism or even a sign of something a bit more worrying but am not looking at it under a microscope because despite everything I’m feeling, I haven’t become dysfunctional due to these new tendencies. I do find myself leaning more towards solitary activities and wanting to linger there more than ever before though.

Lest this become a solely whinge-post let me say this: I have a lot to be grateful for. Coming from a country that has well over a billion people, I still got my opportunity to be vaccinated relatively quickly once the vaccines were available on the market. The people closest to me are as safe as I can hope they are from the disease and otherwise of fairly good health given their ages. We as a family are still able to make and utilise many opportunities to laugh, enjoy ourselves in each other’s company and not constantly have to worry about tomorrow.

The biggest change that’s crept in is that I’m unable to plan. And I used to plan things out to the hilt! Not necessarily down to every single brass tack, but planning and the anticipation of something coming about was part of the high.

When I was in college, the university or living away from my folks; going home used to be a cause for a celebration. I’d have my bags packed a month in advance. Any trip that we planned on as a family (Red&I) would have me looking forward to the minute we’d lock the door and step out; weeks in advance! The last international trip I took had an epic amount of planning and preparing going into it and that’s always been part of the overall experience for me in the past. Not so much now.

And while I do miss that overly-enthusiastic part of me who used to want to and couldn’t help but plan for things; it’s been a very solid learning to focus on the here and now and leave the future to unfold as it may happen.

I still can’t entirely let go of the tendency to plan to be honest. For instance, a part of me wants to bookmark this post and look back at it a year from now to see how things are. They may not be much better, it could even be worse than before; but for now the unfailing warmth and comfort from a cup of coffee+a few pages of a British mystery will have to suffice. 2022 will be upon us soon enough.

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