July 2021, Sydney, Australia: Lockdown 2.0 extended - is currently the hot topic in every household. I can confidently wager the corporate jacket I haven’t worn in a year that if we were to take a poll, almost 95% of NSW residents would be using “lockdown” at least once as part of our daily vocabulary.
Though it’s a given that we can’t wait for the restrictions to ease, and for many businesses, this is our worst nightmare. However, there is also a population of people for whom this has been a boon in disguise. And others who fluctuate in between.
It’s been intriguing to observe the different personas people have adopted as a coping mechanism to deal with this time of stress and uncertainty. Having restricted access to the outside world and limited opportunities to conduct face to face in-depth research analysis, I derived the following descriptions based on observations made from family, friends and witnessing some crazy social media behaviour. So settle in, and read this for with a bag of chips (a pinch of salt) or a small bar of chocolate (you do you) or bottle of water!
The Wolves: In pre-lockdown life, these once social animals enjoyed socialising and being part of a pack. Now devoid of external stimuli and pack members, all their pent up frustration of being cooped up is expressed as anger.
The angriest of the lot: like how a wolf will eat nearly almost what it catches completely, people who have adopted this persona will devour anyone in their path. They prowl all day, frolicking news websites, social media platforms, and self-appointed to police everyone. So if you happen to cross paths with a wolf, don’t engage; walk away. It’s neither prudent nor worth your time to get sucked into the drama. Remember to be kind – knowing that they are at a loss and are acting out as missing their pack.
The Hibernating Bears: Most adolescents, young adults and young kids seem to have taken up this persona. Or perhaps it’s only at my place. I have two at home (so speaking from experience). It’s almost as if their sleep cycle extends in parallel to the announcement of lockdown. We are in lockdown for four more weeks, which directly translates to sleeping in for four more hours.
Lockdown seems to have activated the hibernation cycle in them the most indifferent and hungriest of the lot. All waking hours are spent foraging for food, and the rest of the time is spent dressed in slumber attire and positions. So if you happen to parent or co-inhabit with one of these hibernating bears like me, as hard as it seems, have patience. When the season changes, the bears are bound to come out of their hibernation (fingers crossed!).
The Ducks: In a pre-lockdown world, they would have been the go-getters, the organised lot, the life organisers who had perfected the art of juggling. Now with homeschooling, professional duties, home duties all colliding into one, they have adopted the persona of being a duck.
Just like a duck that appears to glide on the surface but is paddling vigorously underneath, you may find people who have adopted this persona never stop and are spending sleepless nights crossing off to-do lists in their minds. So, if you happen to know a duck, are a duck or co-inhabit with one: remind/remember to take a break and chill out with the swans.
The Swans: In a pre-lockdown world, they would be “wannabe” artists; wannabe singers, dancers, rappers, drummers. The once jam-packed schedule has cleared up, and now there is plenty of time to explore and hone their artistic pursuits.
Just like a swan that swoons around, you will find some who have adapted this persona spending excessive time. Making tik toks, reels, videos, unapologetically putting themselves out there for the virtual world to see and comment (much to the chagrin of their younger ones; again speaking from experience). If you happen to know a swan or happen to view a video of one, be gentle and compassionate. Embrace their “Yolo” spirit, as we need all the entertainment we can get (there is only so much content Netflix, Apple, Stan, Disney can produce under the current scenario).
The Hamsters: These may be just a lucky few who are still employed and/or worried that their jobs are at stake or people who have careers in finance, so financial year-end is crunch time (There is a fair chance I’m derived this by observing my life-sharer/husband). This lot were workaholics pre-lockdown too, the lockdown has just aggravated that behaviour, and working from home social distancing has become synonymous with self-isolating at the desk.
Just like hamsters running on the endless wheels, they have immersed themselves with work in this lockdown.
Planted in front of their laptops, desks or at home work stations, or couches, they spend dawn to dusk, chained to work. The furthest they may have travelled might be from their bed to their workstation. Interruptions frustrate them, and they may turn into wolves when continuously provoked. So if you happen to be a hamster or live with one, remember/remind them taking a break will actually allow them to be more productive than working non-stop. If you are a braveheart, you can try enticing them by pointing out that they miss out on the fun the swans and tortoise are having (if you are successful, share your tips with me).
The tortoise: In the pre-lockdown world, these were sticklers of routine but often found it overwhelming to keep up with the pace of things. Unlike others, the once trying to keep with the Hare race people are now the emerging winners. Lockdown seems to have levelled the playing field.
Their steadfastness and ability to keep going, just like the tortoise in the Hare race, has allowed them to not only stick to their routine but also allowed them to take up a new form of exercise they once didn’t have time for. So, if you happen to know or co-inhabit someone with this persona, make them your accountability buddy; with them, as your buddy, you will slowly but steadily ride through this phase.
No matter whichever persona you identify with, or you seem to fluctuate between, remember/remind yourself that everyone is coping in the best possible way they can. More than ever, it’s time to tune into our inner Zen, Dove persona, as the only way we can all get through this is by bringing our humour, kindness, compassion and patience to the forefront.
So what are you, you ask? I’m the hamster turned into a duck who is working up a way to being a tortoise/swan, trying to cope with this uncertainty in the best possible way I can by reaching out to connect with the outer world and flexing my wannabe author muscles. The irony is, in my case, being the swan still keeps me chained to my desk – just like the hamster.
I find that interesting, do you?