I would like to start off by saying that I tried to think of something to write this blog about that wasn’t to do with covid, working from home, or quarantine. I tried, I really did. But it turns out that that’s all there is folks, so here we go. 

Image description: A laptop sits in the foreground with a book (The Aunt Who Wouldn’t Die by Shirshendu Mukhopadhyay, translated by Arunava Sinha), some blue light glasses, and a mug of coffee with flowers on it.

I have always been a social person. Not that I’m extroverted, in fact I sit comfortably in the middle (51% introverted) according to Mses. Myers and Briggs. I don’t always feel energized by socializing, but human interaction is very important to me, and positively impacts the way I feel in my day-to-day life. So I know each and every one of you reading this will understand when I say that this has presented some challenges over the past year or so, especially when it came to attending a postgrad degree online. I’d be willing to bet that even if before this year an individual had considered themselves highly introverted, they will have perhaps reconsidered after spending so much time either by themselves or with their only company being faces on a computer screen.  

I’m very conscious that this could become a bit mopey, so I promise to try and conclude these grievances with a little positive insight. While there have been upsides to zooming into morning lectures straight out of your bed (which of course I never did, God forbid), there have also been a number of pitfalls along the way. Whether this comes from the classic British stoicism or the new-ish idea of constantly upholding an insta-perfect life, it seems it has become more difficult to express when things are becoming overwhelming, or you’re not coping so well. This phenomenon is compounded by this new online version of the university experience where no one has been able to get to know each other well enough to feel like they can offload to someone when they’re having a hard time. By no means am I saying that socializing has been impossible, as our class rep (big up) has been doing a stellar job of organizing fortnightly web-ex meets which have been a lovely breath of fresh air amongst everything else. But even these can be overwhelming, and I might even go as far as to say that online socializing, while you don’t need to leave your bedroom if you don’t want to, can be as draining, if not more, than some in person meet ups in the before times.  

Then there is the issue of online networking. I will admit that this side of the industry probably would have been an issue for me anyway, as a chronic sufferer of lack of self-belief, but the idea of doing it online? Where exactly are we meant to have acquired these skills? Having said that, the adaptions the publishing industry has made in the last year to ensure that events can still take place have been amazing, and to be able to take part in them from a distance has hopefully been an invaluable lesson to hosts and attendees alike. And while social media presents a good opportunity to make your voice heard, it can make it seem that much more significant if you’re not able to attend an event and you log on to twitter to all the discourse around what you missed. Considering the omnipresence of social media in many people’s personal lives, sometimes the last thing you need is to have to bring work there too.  

So now that I’ve thrown my tuppence worth into WFH discourse I’ll stop complaining and provide a complimentary and probably not entirely helpful piece of positive take away material. Mostly what I’ve learned from this year is that when you are having a bad time of it, there is a very good chance you are not the only one.

I did say it probably wouldn’t be helpful. I hope there’s some comfort in it anyway.