Not waving, but drowning

by Husnaa Bux

The amalgamation of twenty-twenty and twenty-twenty-one can only be separated by levels of
lockdown, like waves of an unexpected tsunami – isolated, estranged, remote, and restrained.
Entering twenty-twenty-two, the anchors were loosened, masks were lifted, and we were able
to come up for air. Life returned, or rather resumed, to (a new) normal – yet I still feel
restrained. Waking up for eight am lectures seems almost impossible. I struggle to comprehend
the ease with which I sailed through twenty-nineteen’s daily eight am to five pm. After a single
hour in a lecture this year, I almost feel as if I deserve to take the rest of the day off. The beach
always looks inviting, but I cannot find the will to go as the afternoon traffic tests my patience.
Even the simplest activities, like standing in an elevator with another person, seem suffocating;
it’s almost as ridiculous as staying out later than midnight and not sleeping for at least eight
hours. Suffice to say, being locked up has had a lasting effect.

Although I was present on campus last year, crowds were sparse. Now, the newly fallen
regulations have created upheavals, with everyone wanting to be above board, leaving me
feeling overwhelmed. It seems I am sinking. The sentiment of feeling alone while surrounded by
people has become my reality.

Fortunately, Honours has made the adjustment slightly easier. Coming from my third year of
MBChB, I was concerned that my background was insufficient and that I would be drowning in
work. I questioned whether the science boffins would be welcoming or deterring; especially
considering my now questionable ability to socialise and connect with others as an estranged
being. To my surprise, not only have I made friends, but the workload is manageable. Hybrid
learning, both physical and remote, has given me the space I need to transition, while still being
engaged with others.

In many ways my balance remains slightly skewed. It feels odd to be achieving a postgrad
without an undergrad, but the increased freedom and decreased working hours, has allowed
me to navigate through this new normal. At times I feel as if the tides still pull back, but I
continue to paddle in search of more stable ground.

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