“It’s hard to be twenty in 2020”. These words pronounced by Emmanuel Macron on October 14th express a form of compassion towards young people. The experience of confinement and then de-confinement, with barrier measures, social distancing, the partial closure of universities and the increased difficulties in finding a job indeed evoke an anxiety-provoking climate, which could be confronted by facing the restrictions of sociability, to the precariousness and uncertainty of the future.
“It feels like a whole year has gone by the wayside.”
– Alessandro, 21
“It’s hard for everyone, but when you’re young and need all those social connections, it’s particularly difficult” says Alessandro, 21 years old.
What we are experiencing is a surreal climate, the landscape of cities is almost apocalyptic: closed bars and shops, deserted streets and supermarkets always crowded. The virus is rampant, and the people are afraid. We are afraid because we have always claimed the good fortune of not having been born in a historical period characterized by wars or epidemics and now, we can no longer say it. We are afraid because each of us is surrounded by people we care about and we would never want to have to face a situation in which, due to the scarcity of places available in intensive care, our loved ones do not receive the necessary care. It is tough not to hug, not to kiss, not to be laughing in bars, not to dance, not to party. It is tough, but we are trying; we wash our hands more often, we limit going out and avoid gatherings. We are young, we are physical, and this situation has distraught our habits. Everything has changed for us. We no longer see the baristas who serve us coffee every morning before going to classes; that same coffee which we now miss, because being able to take it would mean no longer having such a big worry on our mind. We don’t spend evenings in clubs anymore, we don’t go to the gym, we don’t go dancing on Saturday nights and we don’t invite friends over to see a movie. We don’t do many things anymore.
A form of weariness. This seems to best sum up the feeling experienced by millions of young people, whose social life has been turned upside down by the global coronavirus epidemic. There were already worries about employment, e-learning, isolation during lockdown. As the pandemic lasts and the measures intensify, the psychological consequences of restricting the social life of those under 30 are setting in.
These days we are all called to make sacrifices. For us students it is not easy to “follow classes online”, we miss our friends and our routine. On television we often hear the phrases such as: “We hope that young people understand the emergency and do not go out”. But we are not superficial as they paint us, we understand how serious the situation is and we continually make considerable sacrifices, such as giving up our social life, which has always been part of our daily life. We are together virtually every day and try to have fun albeit locked in the strict rules that this health emergency imposes on us.
“The first confinement was already very hard, but we had the impression that afterwards we would be free and that it would get better. Except that now, we realize the situation is not going to improve anytime soon. It is taking away a year of our youth” says Alessandro.