8.3 Editor's Pick
December 30, 2020

Surviving instead of Living: Why Lockdown Regulations didn’t Change much for Me.

When the stories about Covid-19 came up around December, well into January, I knew it was only a matter of time before it reaches us in South Africa.

In March, the first person tested positive, and I knew then that it was only a matter of time before more people test positive, meaning we would be going into lockdown.

All these thoughts weren’t really thoughts I focussed on. I had them in passing mode. Not that it didn’t really concern me. Not because I didn’t think I would contract the virus and become sick or eventually die. However, I honestly didn’t care.

I did acknowledge the impact the virus would have on everyone—socially and economically. I understood how it would impact our economy, livelihood, and perhaps life expectancy. However, that didn’t cause me negative emotions. I was focused on how my internship would be ending soon, that I’d really like to have a burger, that I would like a Candidate Attorney position, and hopefully afford to take myself out more often.

If an event happens, it will carry through until it reaches a stage it is meant to reach. Panic, anger, sadness, stress, or anxiety won’t make it happen any faster or make it less impactful.

Perhaps this view comes from how I’ve just been surviving instead of living.

I’m surviving my socioeconomic status in South Africa, being Black, unemployed, only able to afford the most basic basics. I haven’t had juice in a while because it’s expensive. I haven’t had fruits in a while because if I buy them, I would be out of my budget. Sometimes I don’t have data, which is important for job application purposes and socialising since I am a homebody.

I eat the same things every day, and I can’t afford moisturizer that has SPF—and COVID-19 doesn’t change that.

I can hardly afford things like going out to the cinema or food from a restaurant—or just some ice-cream. I spend most of my days indoors. I’ve come to befriend myself, and I spend most of my time in my head. When lockdown happened, I knew nothing would change. I still only go out when I go to buy groceries or toiletries—just like before.

This realization made me worry about myself.

Most people are not coping well with being in lockdown; on the other hand, I often dislike having to go to the store. This love for confinement and isolation comes from when I had to adapt to being self-reliant for almost everything because of my childhood.

But now it is helping me to not be affected by this pandemic as hard as others. Texting someone whenever I miss them is often sufficient for me because I hardly hang out with my friends anyway.

Another factor is my perception: I don’t view the world in a way that causes panic or worry. I’m always calm in stressful situations because I believe things will eventually be okay. I always did the best I could, and my best is enough because some things are out of my control. What isn’t out of my control, however, is how I react and how I perceive situations.

I read and watch a lot of content on African spirituality, which gives me this ability to perceive things in a way that gives me a positive perspective in challenging situations. I also write down my random thoughts in a journal.

We know death is coming, whether we talk about it or ignore it, but it is coming. So if we do know it is coming, why would we spend time creating a negative mental environment for ourselves by resorting to negativity first but never attempting to work on seeing the positive aspects of a situation.

So I learnt that although it’s good that I find solace in isolation, I can’t limit my life experiences to just me and my world. Hence for the new year, I would like to go out more often and date more often. I’m working on it by applying for job opportunities, and I’m trying to get my driver’s license, which will help my situation.

So instead of reacting, I’m proactive, which yields better results. I am everything I have for myself, so I have a lot, but I do lack connection.

Hence the dating resolution—I am enough, but I would love to share that.

I always told myself I’ll wait till I’m financially stable, but who knows when that will be, so it goes back to the fact that my death is inevitable, so why deprive myself of an innate human characteristic: connection.

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Dignity Boikanyo  |  Contribution: 555

author: Dignity Boikanyo

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Editor: Robert Busch