The Pandemic to Our Personalities

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“Maybe she’s different now, she’s no longer the arrogant lady we used to know. Regularly she would acknowledge me in a group chat, instead of being a faceless stranger.”

“It created an unstable boat in his life, now that the depression got a grip on him since the pandemic. More than just money crisis nowadays. We thought he became more reserved lately, but it’s not, it is something else.”

“The number of divorce increases every year. Before, there were about 800 each day, but from 2017 to 2020 it increased to 1,170 every day, or 50 every hour,” GiGa Indonesia chairwoman Euis Sunarti told reporters on Dec 15.  “The situation this year has been exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic,” she said, adding that more families are facing a degraded quality of life. “So, family resilience becomes an important force in facing challenges,” she said.   -Indonesian Family Activist Association (GiGa Indonesia), December 2020.

Statistics From Oracle

More than 70 percent say their relationships with family changed, with 22 percent feeling less connected from their family.

These situations are happening massively all over the world. Oracle surveyed in between April 7, 2021 and April 9, 2021, with a sample of 2000 people over 18 years old. 34 percent of Americans report their relationships with friends becoming less connected, compared to 15 percent who became closer with friends. More than 70 percent say their relationships with family changed, with 22 percent feeling less connected from their family. However, 30 percent believe the pandemic brought their family closer together. 

While, 70 percent of Americans say they have read more and learned more during the pandemic and feel smarter. By comparison, only 30 percent say the chaos of the pandemic distracted them from continuing to learn new things.

Oracle, May 10th , 2021.

Well, being smarter doesn’t necessarily or automatically create self-awareness. It was the surrounding that taste the change in us, making them felt happier, and at another corner of a different house, feeling miserable.

But the question is, are all of these changes temporary? or was it a big reflection from the years before and explosion occurred now, in a midst of pandemic crisis? Other assumption is; that it is a decision of being something you must. Based on subconscious fear of what will the world be in the upcoming days ? Not knowing the certainty, people can sometimes put on their “life vest” with different set of coping skills. After all, we, homo sapiens, are truly the smartest primate in the world.

Deaths Whispered in Our Ears 

In a spread of two months, we received countless of death news from colleagues, a friend at school, to the toll of the grim which is our close family. These terror of demise is the nature of fear in covid-19 pandemic. Some of us gets the turn of terrified on receiving PCR results to be the opposite from what’s expected.

From being stoic, revelating mindfulness, to trauma.

Catches the diseases and survived with, or without, heavy consequences have a wide variety of impact on someone’s mental state. From being stoic, revelating mindfulness, to trauma. Children experiencing learning loss and socially deprived from their peers, massive lay-offs and unpaid leave due to major retail businesses sinking to bankruptcy. The collapse of health facilities. But deaths most approximately, always carried a deep profound sadness to anyone losing their mother, father, a child, a husband or a wife at such sudden time. A hard knock to their personalities, and might even scarred for long period of time. For the worst, but not rarely, could be for the better. 

Riding The Waves

From the lavish lifestyle of travelling, fine-dining, and partying showcased brutally in social media, suddenly zip! lockdowns and covid-19 restrictions. A friend named Gaby, suddenly trapped at her home, only to find she can only go out at strict hours, with mask as mandatory. Gaby weren’t that type of saint when it comes to social interactions, she choose her people for the value they have. In December 2020, the majority people of the world already set high expectations : Once 2020 is out of the picture, so does the coronavirus.Turns out, the waves— first,second,and third— are still dangling from country to country mutating aggresively. Then came the delta variant that made it even merciless and tear open a deep wound, an apocalyptic misery hearing deaths of our relatives each day. The doomsday never felt closer and real. 

It was easy for Gaby in the first 4 months of lockdown. The case numbers were starting to go down. Then another few months it went up again. Restrictions were back. It was peekaboo of moodswings, with two of her kids at online school and a husband working from home too. The days were starting to go very long, and her sense of self begins to fade. It was also more than just humbling her. She was miserable without her partying friends. No lunchies can ever be the same without any available prominent companions. 

A Different Person.

Gaby shifted her free time for piano lessons online, and substituting her longing for her actual family with different treatment of some of the friends she can get in touch with.

The ones she never put much attention before.

She even started baking cookies for her neighbor in order to send a friendly gestures. 

Eventually people were beginning to assume that Gaby had it all figured it out on how to be a better friend, a nicer neighbor, or cousin, even if it mostly was only online. When actually she was occasionally in the brink of tears every evening, but she cannot grasp the actual reason. Or she maybe just wont admit it. Could she want her upbeat social life and free-of-mask, back? Is she missing her old-self badly even when everyone think she is nicer today ? Or could this be the new Gaby even after the pandemic is over?

The Chameleon in Us

Although the big five well-known personalities are extraversion, conscientiousness, neuroticism, openness and agreeableness (OCEAN), there are research that suggest the levels of personalities. Dr.Todd B. Kashdan, professor of psychology and senior scientist, Author of The Upside of Your Dark Side elaborate these three levels consist of Having, doing, and being. Having ; there are traits of personalities and their strengths , Doing : personal striving and Being : the life narrative that we tell ourselves and others to communicate who we are. The last level of “Being” is the level most people took their step on the survival mode of their mental being in the pandemic.

 Brutal years of pandemic teaches our mental being the feeling of gratitude.

Richard  Wiseman, a psychology professor at the Universtity of Hertfordshire , takes a measure in the “The As If Principle” which showed that you can behave “As if” you are the person you want to be. and at some period of time you will find that it is you. The controlling network of neurons in our brain tell us how to adapt for months. Brutal years of pandemic teaches our mental being the feeling of gratitude. It was somehow motivated us to appreciate life and our surroundings, including people, slightly better. It might even made some of us drastically woke.

Jelly Personalities

Turning moments can happen to anyone.  An epiphany from a hurtful scene. Or simply liberating yourself in a different atmosphere while travelling. The sequences on how it goes are limitless. But how long do you turn? Was it for eternity or simply just a refresh button for certain period of time?

The answer is yes, there is always a chance to return to the “old you”. Our default personalities. Depending roughly on age, the evolving environment, and of course your closest influence.  It is an adapted skill we own to stored crucial moments into a narrative. It cast us playing as the leading actors. As the plot continue to thickens a few of us are able to direct how we behave by seeing the story as an outsider perspective. This is related to the journey of processing problems and unwanted situations in a better angle. Humans normally possessed the ability to channel into suitable traits of personalities as part of coping mechanism. This indicates psychological maturity and a large part of resilience. 

Personalities may not similar to water, more of gel-like. Able to be mould relying on the container that fits every aspects of the person itself.

When things recover, at a productive age and supporting climate to socialise with her preferred circles after the pandemic. Gaby can always return to the old her. Essentially, one can always find the new personality to be uncommited in restored circumstances. Or, simply no longer applies for “the survival kit”-personality traits.

Author: Fraya

A writer and entrepreneur with profound interest in humankind research and insights. An avid coffee drinker and book hoarder. Hours and days spent in Jakarta.

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