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The Bane Of 2021

We have lived 75% of this year in different phases- shock, acceptance, appreciation, normalization, and now, hope.

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And once again as we discussed vacation plans around the dinner table, I postponed them to a point in time in future. ‘A couple of months’ later is no longer a consolation because it isn’t clear to me if that’s what it would be- for a vaccine or for building back the confidence some of us lost in getting out there and being with people. Well, several of us seem better off than others, perhaps smug in the confidence of their immunity levels to deal with whatever it was that came their way, aerially or otherwise- no one knows. I recently read about the discovery of the super-viral (akin to superhuman) abilities of the virus to traverse even up to 20 feet distances, clearly giving all the previous brethren a run for their money.

The issue in my mind is not the fact that there was a willingness to postpone, or a compulsion for it. The issue was the fact that there was too much that now rested on the shoulders of the year to come. It was almost like the peer pressure one feels at the world championship coming after the performance of the best participants- one does not have the choice but feel trepidation at the comparisons drawn. Perhaps that’s what 2021 is going to feel like, except that it would come close to the heels of the worst year several of us would have seen in our lives- in its unpredictability, its ability to question every aspect of the way we lived, earned and even breathed! And when one comes after something so bad, one has no choice but to look good. Well, its not any more about just looking good- one HAS to be good.

We have lived 75% of this year in different phases- shock, acceptance, appreciation, normalization, and now, hope. Yes, most of us have traversed this spectrum all in the span of a single year. Several in the hope that it would all get back to normal- at least for those of us who hope we have many years ahead of us, we would rather preserve ourselves during these trying times than expose ourselves to what may shorten the imminent future. But then there are those who perhaps already live on borrowed time and may view this time as something they desperately wait to pass, lest this would be the last they would remember of the lives they led as they moved into the next!

Irrespective of which one you were, there is hope in the offing. Hope of having gotten the worst behind us. The second wave notwithstanding, the extent of economic downturn being unprecedented for many, unemployment at its worst. Well, whatever it was, we are hoping we will soon put it all behind us.

We are hoping to usher in the new year with a healthier lifestyle, a digitally savvy populace, and with a feeling of treasuring what we had taken for granted until this year came our way. More than that, there is a feeling of HOPE amassed over the entire human population that never in its known history has had such a collective feeling of despair that this year brought in us.

But it is always easier to be optimistic about the future, especially when the present and recent past has been full of so much negativity. We are hoping the economy would do better and folks left in the lurch as several businesses took a beating will be able to start afresh. We are all hopeful that the vaccine would work, that social animals as we are (especially so in India), we will be back to normal, with our workdays, weeks, holidays, schools, entertainment, etc.

Whether we need it as much given that we learnt to live without it is not as much of a question, as the fact that we need the choice to exercise it, even though our inclination may be to do so only occasionally. Because let’s accept, there are several of us who have been happy with pursuing hobbies in the time we had at hand as we avoided braving the traffic on roads of some busy metropolis, or ensured meals with family after years of having relegated them to those select weekends or precious weeknights, or stopped treasuring the unenviable mileage points our travels rewarded us with.

Adaptability is a human trait, unparalleled with any other species- a significant reason why we have lasted as long as we have. We adapted to this year and its ways- though not without its trials and tribulations. But in many ways, we have also pushed ourselves in the hope that the next will bring an end to the destitution several of us have felt- physically, mentally, emotionally, professionally.

Whether the year we are all looking forward to, to be our messiah will be able to live up to our expectations is besides the point; firstly because we feel we have seen the worst and what we feel is all that matters. Perhaps that explains the optimism one sees in several people as they go about their business with masks on their chins because the vaccine seems to have already taken effect for them and the population around them. Secondly, even if the worst was yet to come, we as humans have an infallible spirit of conquering it all, and we will ensure we adapt once again to what it is the vagaries have in store for us. Thirdly, if we were worried about ourselves, think about the pressure the calendar faces as it moves into the new year to usher what perhaps may be the most sought after time in any living human’s life- just by pure virtue of following in the heels of the despised one!

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

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Year End 2020

Bhavana Bindra

A graduate of Indian Institute of Management (IIM) Bangalore, Bhavana joined the corporate world starting with Consulting at The Boston Consulting Group (BCG), followed by almost 13 years in the Manufacturing & Engineering sector with the US MNC Cummins India Limited. Setting up and running businesses with expertise in the areas of leadership, strategic thinking, sales and marketing, Bhavana believes learning is continuous and experiments worth the time spent. This explains explaining her stint at a start-up in the Data analytics space, as well as her last role in the Chemicals industry as the Managing Director of a Dutch company in India.

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