Pause, Blink, and It’s 2023: The Distorted Time Perception During and After The Covid-19 Pandemic

Time paused in 2020, and ever since, someone has been pressing the fast-forward button for a bit too long to the extent that the last three years felt more like a blur. Isn’t it weird how three years have never felt so long while you were experiencing it, but now it all seems like it’s flying away so fast once it ended?

How we perceive and experience time, or time perception, is often mind-boggling. Even when the “duration” of time itself is the same for everyone (e.g. 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, etc), it was proved in the 2010 research by Sackett and Meyvis that some days may feel longer or shorter based on several factors, such as our emotions or the number of activities that differ from our routines, because time is subjective. Fear and happiness could make time goes faster, while boredom may slow it down. When we stick to a certain routine, after a while, time will go quicker without us noticing. But spruce things up a little, and at that moment, time wouldn’t go as hurriedly. 

However, the way these last three years went is more extreme than just an hour flying by or a day slipping away. Instead of flying by or slipping away, time was distorted, with it feeling both very fast and very slow simultaneously. In this case, our time perception during the pandemic could be more accurately defined by another keyword: Temporal disintegration. 


“Dedicated to everyone who wonders if I’m writing about them. I am.”

I feel called out by this anonymous quote I found one day on Pinterest. It is the truth, after all, I am constantly writing about them.

About the kids that I grew up with whose presence in my life now is nothing but a few Instagram notifications from time to time.

About the girl that I low-key looked up to in middle school.

About the old friends and the almost-friends and the ex-friends that I wished I talked more with.

About the strangers that I only met a couple of times and whose life stories are still etched in my memory.

And about so many others who I have met in my short 16 years of living.

Real-life mundane, often overlooked, stories always fascinate me. I believe that there is always beauty in every small interaction and conversation. In the way that our eyes lit up when hearing our friend’s stories. In the faint smile and subtle signs of contentment. Even in the knowledge that hundreds of people we meet every day each have their own lives to live, their own stories to tell.

Small moments always hold the most value, even if we don’t realize it at first.

And I always love to capture these stories and moments in my writings. I enjoy remembering overheard whispers and conversations while trying to guess or make up my version of what happened there. I like interpreting faces and gestures, attempting to figure out what kind of person they are. And I especially love to imagine alternative endings to real-life situations I experienced or heard of. This is why I started the Conversation series so that I could have a space where I could share these –hopefully somewhat relatable– semi-fictional stories. 

So, I guess, consider this post as an introduction to what kind of writing I’m going to publish more in this blog. Of course, there would still be book reviews here and there and occasional stories about some of my experiences. But also expect more of these semi-fiction pieces and personal reflections, where I will be writing stories inspired by people I know in real life (and yes, it might be about you :D). 

Featured on Reflection School

It’s Okay Not to Be Okay

A feature article (Year 10 English Acquisition assignment) for Sekolah Cikal Surabaya Student Council‘s Bilik Ekspresi Program.

It was 11 pm when Sarah, who was already half-asleep, nearly jolted awake due to what she guessed were the 10th intrusive thoughts she had that night. From school-related anxiety to an existential crisis. The number of things her mind can worry about is endless. Yet she doesn’t know how to stop it either. Hence, sleep deprivation has somehow become a habit for her lately.

While others might not experience it as worse, Sarah’s story represents the lives of millions of teenagers during the pandemic. Even though they long to wander and explore the world, for over a year now, they are confined in their own house with a puzzle that seems unsolvable; their negative thoughts and emotions.

Before the pandemic, most teenagers are used to distracting themselves from facing these thoughts. So when the pandemic hits, they are forced to face all their negative emotions without any preparation beforehand. As a result, the pandemic worsens their conditions further. Lack of peer support, miscommunication in an online school, and other stressful situations have all contributed to the deterioration of teenagers’ mental health.

According to UNICEF, teenagers in half of all households in Indonesia showed signs of difficulty concentrating and sleeping. Behavioral and emotional problems have also gotten more severe as a necessary psychological intervention has not been done.

While recovering from these negative conditions might feel impossible, turns out it is still feasible to do. “Although I’m an extrovert, I have learned that some alone time gives me so much more time to do self-reflection, figure out what is the cause of the problems I’m facing, and then improve my well-being from there,” said Dea, Sarah’s friend, when they discussed mental health.

Teenagers’ coping mechanisms may vary, but the key to all of them is the ability to accept and reflect on each of their conditions. Some might apply it through writing their thoughts, some others through painting or art-related mediums. Whatever it is, validating their thoughts and emotions should be the first step for teenagers to cope and heal through this hard time.


To Grow Up is To Embrace Uncertainties

As I got older, birthdays that were once full of hope and dreams turned into a day full of anxieties that only reminded me more and more of the uncertainties of life. The hope and dreams were still there. But there were also lingering feelings of disappointment whenever I realized that my childhood birthday dreams would continue to be just that. A dream. A past expectation stuck in my memory. A reminder of how I wish everything could have been.

So for the past week, I have been asking myself. Am I going to let this disappointment wash over me on every future birthday I’m going to have? Am I going to let my future birthdays be ruined because of the anxieties I have about my uncertain future?


“Malu Bertanya Sesat di Jalan”, Cukupkah Pepatah Ini?

Sejak kecil, satu kalimat yang selalu muncul dalam kertas ujian, dalam buku pelajaran bahasa, dan terus digaungkan oleh guru di masa TK dan SD adalah:

“Malu bertanya, sesat di jalan.”

Pepatah ini tentu baik artinya. Mengajarkan kita untuk tidak segan bertanya atau mencari bantuan orang lain ketika sedang menghadapi persoalan.

Tapi pepatah ini seharusnya tidak menyebabkan misinterpretasi yang akan berdampak tidak diinginkan pada murid, atau siapapun yang menggunakannya. Sebagai contoh, apakah melontarkan pertanyaan itu harus selalu didahulukan? Ataukah ada hal lain yang seharusnya bisa lebih dulu diupayakan untuk mendapat informasi?


StudyTube Culture: Discouraging or Motivating?

study hour 1 | Free stock photos - Rgbstock - Free stock images | lusi |  January - 29 - 2010 (273)

As much as YouTube is usually used for entertainment purposes, there has been a new subgenre in the YouTube community that defies from that stereotype, called StudyTube. Just like the name suggested, these StudyTubers exclusively make content related to studying and education.

Within this genre, you may expect an abundance of study tips and methods videos, alongside ‘study with me’ videos, which is a long video (some reach 4 / 5 hours or more) of people studying, and stationary hauls, ‘journal with me’ videos, and many more. These are basically the types of video StudyTubers makes over and over again, or perhaps with some variation of vlogs and routines videos. Whatever it is, videos they make not only attempt to encourage productivity, they also romanticize and make studying as a part of their identity.


Passion vs. Expectation | Dead Poets Society (1989)

The movie; “Dead Poets Society”, is a must watch classic. The story is about Mr. Keating, a literature teacher, who taught his students about how important it is to ‘seize the day’ and think for themselves. Although they’re in a conservative highschool that defy those kinds of mindset.

Screenshot 2020-07-05 at 12.50.36 PM

Personally I discovered this movie several months ago. And I was immediately attracted to the fact that the story feels very relatable and honest in portraying the truth behind our education system. Even when I’m watching this years after its release.

Before I continue, I will warn you that there will be major spoilers of the movie. So unless you’re fine with it, I think it is better for you to watch it first.


Coronavirus and Our Mindfulness Towards Others

Even if you don’t get sick, the choices you make about where you go could be the difference between life and death for someone else.

– Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus,
Director-General of the World Health Organization

During these uncertain times, it’s not a rare sight for us to see tons of news about the Coronavirus pandemic regularly. We see hundreds of people getting infected. We see countries that are forced to do a lockdown. Added with the large amount of schools, offices, and other public spaces that are continuously shutting down.

These significant changes everyone is facing can feel somewhat surreal. In result, almost everyone began to panic over the pandemic. Which I don’t necessarily blame by itself. But sometimes, these uncontrolled panic may cause a whole new set of problems.


A Reflection of “Bhineka Tunggal Ika”

The sayings “Bhineka Tunggal Ika” has been Indonesia’s motto for years, they say. Implying how despite all of the differences in terms of religion, tribe, and race in this country, it will always last as one. A unity in diversity.

But the status quo is clearly different. With the discrimination happened over these past years, isn’t it just showing how people in Indonesia could not fully understand the motto our ancestors has passed to us?


SMA Selamat Pagi Indonesia | A Journey Beyond the Past

In today’s era, a totally free education is something we rarely see in our surroundings. And our society nowadays still have the mindset that the more expensive a school is, the higher the quality would be. But since today, SMA Selamat Pagi Indonesia has proved me wrong.