Single, stuck and unable to mingle

Friday, April 24th, 2020 00:00 | By
Jeremy beggi.

Sure, working from home and doing your own thing can be nice and relaxing for the first few days, but one and a half months deep into social distancing due to Covid-19 pandemic, the gravity of the situation has hit. And no one likes feeling lonely. So, how are singles coping?

Grace Wachira  @yaa_grace 

David Ombija’s demanding job would make him go for weeks, even months without seeing his family.

He lives in South B and his parents in Athi River and still couldn’t make time for them.

“I work as an audit consultant and the past six months were the busiest since the financial year is about to wind up. For that reason alone, I couldn’t see them,” he explains. 

Now, the 27-year-old has all the time in the world. “I moved back in with them because I had missed them and social distancing while living alone does not make sense if you have family living around,” he says.

But David has lost track of time. “Every day is every day. I cannot tell a Friday from a Sunday or Tuesday; they are all the same.

I wake up, go through my emails and work on some files then take breakfast as I catch up with Trevor Noah on The Daily Show.

Nowadays, I have up to four meals a day because every hour presents an opportunity to snack, which I readily indulge in,” he laughs.

You’ll find David toggling between Twitter and Instagram as he binges on Ozark or Omniscient series on Netflix. “Online, IG posts are all throwbacks and the Insta stories are what entertain me.

I use Twitter for humour and news,” he says.  His masters’ degree programme is on hold so, later in the day, he catches up with his brother and together, they hone their play station skills.

“Now we are spending so much quality time, even playing games with my folks. No one will complain that I hardly see them now after the Covid-19 wave passes,” he chuckles.

 The haves and the have-nots

Under social distancing, the ‘haves’ are those who have children, partners, roommates or people like David who, even though he lives alone, could move back to live with his parents.

Yes, they may be loud and exhausting and a pain at times, but a warm body is a warm body. 

But to the ‘have-nots’, those who are isolated in their homes for days or weeks on end, this can seem like an incredible luxury. A phone or Skype call just isn’t the same as physical company.

Unlike David who had the option of moving into his parent’s house, there are those who are living the truest form of self-isolation, singletons, aka the live alones. 

On a normal day, 23-year-old Jeremy Beggi, like many young people his age would be attending classes and spending time with friends, but now, the script has changed.

“Our lecturers have been sending us assignments and online language classes have been keeping me going,” says.

Jeremy has embraced a new schedule. “I wake up, go for a morning run, do some yoga and then have breakfast,” he says.

He then gets to working on his assignments and in the afternoons, watches movies and chills. Currently, he is bingeing on the likes of Elite and Letter to The King on Netflix recommended by friends.

He keeps in touch with friends via WhatsApp video calls and once in a while link up for a party online. He had his phase with Tiktok and now, he is on House Party, a face to face social networking application that connects him to his friends.

“I am more of a social drinker, I do not take booze home. When we would attend events such as Koroga, Cake Art and events at my school, I would have a good time, but now, I can only do so online,” sighs the self-proclaimed movie expert.

Like Jeremy, Trevor Mahiri, a 23-year-old communication coordinator at B-Lab also links up with his buddies on the House Party app.

“I enjoyed partying with friends before the pandemic on the weekends, but House Party has really come in handy.

We have fun virtually with drinks, which we order online and play the online games,” he explains.

There are times though, he says, when feelings of loneliness and anxiety creep in, as is with everyone else, especially those struggling with mental issues.

No real schedule

That said, to keep his mind occupied, he is beginning to develop a new culture, “I have taken up Brand Management classes and I am reading more books, and also binge watches movies on Neflix” he quips.

And he has no real schedule. “I wake up and shower then get work done, I have brunch at 2pm, lunch at 5pm and dinner past 12am.

It’s crazy what we have to do now, especially, if you are living alone; it’s tough,” he admits.

Faith Ndalila, 28 says she writes, watches TV and movies, video-calls her friends and family, eats, exercises, cleans, cooks...she doesn’t think her flat has ever been so tidy since she moved in.

“I’m doing chores that I never normally do, like wiping the ceiling, ironing bedsheets and unclogging the sink,” she laughs.

But admits to feeling ‘achingly lonely’ to the point of crying. Staying level when it comes to her mental health has been difficult.

The anxiety and depression have been the toughest part of self-isolation. She has been struggling to sleep and nights are pretty hard.

Pius Mwenda, a counselling psychologist says humans aren’t meant to be in isolation, we have always been social beings.

While one may argue that those who have access to the  internet, staying connected should not be a problem, these ways of socialising merely supplement our need for connection.

They cannot replace a hug, a reassuring hand on your shoulder, or intimacy. He says people can find ways to interact with friends online like cook or watch something together.

“Also, maintain a work-life balance even if you are working from home,” he offers.

He asks people who live alone not to pressure themselves or otherss too much to utilise this time. “Normalise anxiety, fear and other concerns you and others might have.

Sometimes, just being listened to is more important, and trying to provide solutions may alienate the other person,” he concludes.

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