The Summer of 2020

We meet 12 young individuals who share their personal story of how the summer of 2020 will be one they will never forget...

The ‘Summer of 2020’ has affected everyone in different ways. Some have had a more difficult time coping with the unexpected change and many who had planned to start or advance their careers this year are more or less left directionless. One the other hand, some have been able to see the positives in these times and have used their time in isolation to take a relook at their priorities. We meet 12 young individuals who share their personal story of how the summer of 2020 will be one they will never forget…

"I was interning in Bangalore when I heard the news about the virus, I did not take it seriously and expected it to be over within a month. A few days later my mother frantically called me home, and within a few hours of the same call I was flying back to Delhi to find out that flights had been cancelled from the next day. I still believed this would pass in a few days but I could see the line of this ending get so blurred that I started losing all hope. But you can’t stay in that state for a really long time also because it gets really negative in the head. I currently am in the last semester of college and stuck here for longer than I expected because of the virus. I am a fashion technology student and freelance model. The plan was to focus more on the modeling part after college. Engaging myself in self-shooting with anything I could find at home. My height is 5’3”, modeling is something I am passionate about and I don’t feel you have to be at least 5’7" to take it professionally. There are so many beautifully diverse people out there yet to be discovered and they shouldn’t be deprived of this opportunity because of something that they were not born with. Modeling agencies and the industry should be open to working with unconventional models. It will be logical to say that a huge part of the customers they are catering to are petite as well so why not have petite models? That’s what I was hoping for in 2020 but I guess that’s on hold now since there are bigger problems to deal with. Helping my mom clean the house. Shooting indoors, bribing my little brother to click pictures of me. That’s what kept me going through this period and helped me divert my head from not thinking about what’s happening and when this is going to end." @yashikaaasabharwal, 22, Student
"This summer is definitely not what I expected it to be. Being quarantined for close to three months has had a negative impact on my mental health and I wasn't able to focus on anything, initially. But, I gradually got to introspect, my mental health improved and so did my attitude towards the situation. The summer of 2020 has been like a journey for me. I've done a lot of thinking about life, friends, family, and pretty much everything. It has helped me in a lot of ways and handling the ongoing crisis patiently is surely one of them. I wasn't doing much when this started, it was all a bit confusing and I personally never thought this was going to stretch the way it did, but now that I've gotten used to it, I'm always trying to be productive, learning different softwares to find new ways of creating content indoor. I have also made some contacts through Instagram, it's amazing how technology brings us so close especially during these times. I can't wait for this crisis to end so that I can collaborate with all these talented people I got to know during this summer." @kartik_pande, 18, Student.
"As 2020 began, I was really hoping for the year to be great career-wise and most importantly mental health-wise. Unfortunately, this pandemic happened. Initially, it was really difficult but then I realized that there is no other option, that this is real, and it won't be over anytime soon... I started getting creative rather than focus on the 'what ifs'. I designed some clothes, improved my drawing skills and my singing capabilities. I was also able to focus on my family as well as my mental health. Some of us are lucky to be able to wait it out, while there are many who are going through the worst times of their life. I am one of the lucky ones to be able to stay at home and I can only be grateful. So I have decided to look at it as a long summer break instead of being stressed about things that are not in my hands and plans that went kaput." @reettalwar, 19, Versatile Artist
"We all went into 2020 thinking it would be our year. The year of growth, change, and progress. Two months into 2020 we started giving up on the resolutions we had made. We started canceling 2020 and blamed the pandemic. However, we don’t realize that going out and social contact is canceled, not our goals and our resolutions. We can still stay at home and work towards those goals. During the spring of 2020, I joined a K-Pop dance crew and we planned to make 2020 'our' year. We wanted to step out and start creating but the global pandemic forced us to stay inside. But that didn’t stop us from doing what we love: dancing. Over the course of the lockdown, we made numerous dance covers and participated in a lot of online dance contests. Through online tutorials and video conferences, we not only choreographed new routines and songs but created a lot of digital memories too. We learn and grow together 'online', we create memories and save endless screenshots. We are far from each other but still together. The summer of 2020 did not turn out how we thought it would. I didn’t get to attend music festivals and go on road trips as I had planned, but I made a lot of new friends, revived the old, worked on my talents, and learned to live with what I have. I hope we get through this together with more positivity. This summer was not how we all planned but what is life without a little detour. This too shall pass." @fatheryudes, 20, Student.
"One word to describe this summer honestly would be 'a nightmare'. It was a rough summer for EVERYONE, where everything has become so chaotic and the survival of the fittest seems to be the key. It is nice to see a lot of people get fit, work out indoors, to see brands endorse fitness and indoor workout as their key message. But what we are neglecting... because it seems to be a sensitive topic is 'mental health'. Mentally everyone is going through a change, this lockdown is affecting everyone's everyday routine. And I think people should be talking about it more and not be judged for not being ok. We should stop being so hard on ourselves for not having our career or our lives in order during a pandemic. Personally, this period has affected me in so many ways but one thing that I would say has been life-changing for me would be the emotional turmoil it has brought with it. In this fast-moving and materialistic world, this sudden change in lifestyle made me think of how we neglect our feelings. I decided to focus on my other non-materialistic needs and I can say that it has given me a fresh and positive outlook towards life and esp this lockdown. It’s okay to be 'not okay'. It's ok to not be productive. Take care of your mind and it will take care of you. I have realized that the ups of life would be deprived of its essence if there were no downs." @pooja84prashar, 25, Stylist.
"Never in my lifetime did I think this would happen to us, to me, to our generation. These are the things you read in history books but they never really happen to you. But it did. With all the time in my hands, I took the chance to try new things, much like many others I know. I started sketching, explored my style more with some indoor #ishoots. I also recently started listening to jazz, and am already in love with it. As much as we try to think and act positive, to be productive, the isolation, restriction, and limitation are too much to handle and at times irritation and frustration take over. It feels like life has been put on hold. It feels stagnant, and questions start to arise on how long will this carry on and how will it affect me personally and how will it affect my future, my career. To be honest, it is different, difficult, and challenging esp for those who are either just starting their career, have just graduated, or are graduating, those who are in the middle of a new start. Honestly, I just hope our government is able to deal with this better, that it gets over soon and we get the chance to enjoy the summer outdoors before it is over." @ra_uls, 22, Aspiring model.
“It's funny how a pandemic can make you rethink everything. When I think about this, it brings about a conflicting string of emotions in my mind. In the beginning of 2020, I was so busy I had no time to think. It was fast-paced, exciting, and most of all had been unraveling without any pauses. If I believed then, that I was confused, as a student in the third year of college, now it is absolutely uncertain. Many opportunities seemed to slip away from my hands like they never existed. But then again, I'm not the only one. The endless number of people feel dejected, lonely, depressed, and helpless, whereas some seem to be on the opposite side of the spectrum, being at the prime of productivity, health, and relaxation. I keep reminding myself that it's not a race, a display of who's more productive. You gotta do what makes you a better person at the end of the day! Staying at home more than ever has not been the easiest. As a family with very clashing personalities there's always friction. Reminding myself of people suffering much more than I can even imagine, I've kept making peace with what I have. But the most daunting thing of all has been the time on my hands. I mean, how much social media, Netflix, books, hobbies, video calls/phonecalls can you devour before feeling empty? I think there have been phases of denial, drowning in productivity, burnout, dwindling mental health followed by slow healing, and taking responsibility. This great pause in our lives, our livelihood, education, has been uneasy, but inevitable. I believe it's here to remind us that maybe our normal wasn't necessarily the right 'normal'. That may be a threat to the entire world was necessary to rethink things, habits, choices, mistakes as you already have witnessed so many changes in the business and the future of fashion. Somehow hope always creeps up in the midst of troubling times. To keep going and to live this struggle is like a little skill we have. We gotta hold on to it. We sure as hell aren't alone." @fearless_agathist, 20, Student, and part-time model.
"My head, every now and then, starts a riot with myself on issues that I want and don't want to discuss. While this year seems to unanimously piss us all off, I have come to realize that there is so much we need to change within ourselves. For me, 2020 has become a year of confronting and negotiating with my own thoughts. It's also a year that's given me a whole different outlook on the reach of social media and what it does to people. I believe society and its insecurities are very deeply rooted in our individual opinion which needs grooming and fixing over and over again and nobody should shy away from that responsibility. It's very important to discuss, talk, and educate yourself and others. It's difficult but necessary. Staying on social media almost all day, for the past three months, has made me realise that every word I say or read, has such a heavy and strong impact. There is a plague of fear everywhere and social media has become a platform for it. And we need to use such a platform for positive comments and/or constructive criticism. I do strongly believe that there are issues and concerns that you can't control but you can limit it or negotiate with it and learn to coexist with it. It's a long long summer for me and for all of us so stay connected and be healthy and positive, both mentally and physically." @anoushka_bhandari ( @bluntcreatives ), 20, Student.
"Being an Economics Student, I started with studying Economics and moving ahead with exploring new academic disciplines. Also since I model, it was always important to stay fit and healthy, I got busy working out and eating healthy and trying to stay fit, working out indoor. I learned to cook... well enough to feed myself, which I am keener on exploring. Overall it turned into a productive summer with small steps that help in a big way. My phone cranked up and I couldn't use it for a long time since I could not repair it, which also helped me really concentrate on myself and stay offline. I think I will continue the schedule that helped me be a better me and stay off the phone as much as possible." @_kapilbishnoi_ 21, Model.
"For me, this summer has been one hell of a trip, many life-changing incidents happened. I am focused on taking it slow and doing things I love, reading more books, learning some things from scratch, and creating art/content online. Music and painting have always been two things that fulfill my heart. It feels nice to slow down for a bit, to reconnect with the things I love inducing my family." @namaste.sonakshi, 19, Model, and artist.
“From a global pandemic to murder hornets, to race wars in America, Caste, religious and Tribal-Govt wars in India, this year has been anything but normal. I want to share the story of how my cousin and I went through a very tedious journey to be able to go back to our home state- Manipur, for the remainder of the quarantine period. I won't bore you with all the details but it took over 24 hours of no sleep, a long plane ride (with a mandatory pitstop and deboard midway to clean the aircraft), 2 buses (one after 7 hours of waiting in a hot school filled with hundreds of people), and finally a very bumpy ride on country roads on the back of a pickup truck at 10 pm. This experience taught me two things- a) that our government and economy are truly equivalent to a teenage boy’s bedroom in terms of how disorganized it is and just hopelessness in general, and b) the unconditional love of parents and the lengths they will go to to see their children safe. I won’t delve into the first point. I think during these times, it becomes all the more important to highlight the positive things we still have around us so that one doesn’t lose so much hope. Getting back home was not at all easy and it took 3 different flight cancellations and 2 months of waiting to get back home. But not only that, our parents went through hoops and leaps of effort to get us home safe and quarantined in a centre that was safe and isolated from any “hotspots”. Many times I think about the importance that family is given in Asian societies and how time again we are told how we must care for our parents as they grow older. Now when I was a stupid, selfish, arrogant teenager, I shrugged off this idea because I didn’t want it to impede on my independence. I am sorry if this isn’t exactly the summer story you were hoping for. People are waking up to the reality of how uncertain reality is, and sometimes the only thing we can be certain about is the love we receive. But more importantly, the love we give." @phrodielicious (@ninjasmodelmanagement) , 21, Student and part-time model.
"Summer in Delhi has just started and it already feels like the most indoor summer of them all. For me, summer always meant - going out, in those breathable, simple summer clothes, for evening strolls and then ending it with ice cream. That's something I'll have to do without this year. I've mostly been confined to the house, with two other friends who I share it with. I feel I'm lucky not to have been stuck on my own in these difficult times. Another silver lining is that I can still see the beautiful cassia tree in our vicinity blooming. I've always loved those golden flowered trees; it reminds me of my hometown in Assam. I miss my family back in my hometown, I miss home but I'm content knowing that they are safe. I also remember spending hours gazing at the night sky and watch the stars, past summers. I think I might do that again sometime since I have plenty of time to spare; and I've always enjoyed that hobby. Sometimes it seems like everything has come to a standstill ever since the virus outbreak. I can't say I've been very productive in this lockdown and I couldn't care less. All I'm trying to do is stay calm and survive this pandemic. On that note, I hope this ends soon and things go back to normal." @romoyy, 26, Model.

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