As the coronavirus pandemic has put a lot of things on hold, many of us may be feeling like we’re living in limbo.
A state of limbo is often described as “an uncertain period of awaiting a decision or resolution”, and I don’t think there could be a more accurate way to describe the current time we find ourselves living in.
In my experience, this state of limbo is akin to sitting in that awkward place between where you are now and where you want to be soon.
The unfortunate part about being in limbo is that you put living, loving, and dreaming – whatever it is you want or desire – on hold. You essentially put your life on hold.
And this has been the reality for many of us this year, whether we have intended it or not.
Many young people haven’t had the chance to mark a rite-of-passage like finishing their school year, attending a graduation ceremony, hosting an 18th birthday party, or embarking on a gap year before making big decisions about their future.
Just before the pandemic hit, one of my friends launched a travel business that would’ve seen her leading study tours in Europe right now.
Instead, she has put the business on hold and returned to her former profession. She is determined to eventually get back to her original plans, but for now finds herself playing the waiting game.
Another friend, who is newly married and had plans to do a substantial amount of travel abroad with her husband over the next year before they start a family, now finds herself in a state of suspension.
With international travel potentially off the cards until 2023, delaying starting a family until after the travelling is done could blow out to almost five years from now. She asks if that is too long to wait, along with the pressure of declining fertility, but she also hadn’t contemplated starting a family earlier.
These are questions for a huge life decision she doesn’t currently have answers for, so instead finds herself somewhere in between. “I feel like I’m living in limbo,” she said to me, and I haven’t stopped thinking about how much I’ve felt the same way.
While I have fortunately been able to retain my job and other privileges throughout this pandemic, there are certain plans and goals I won’t be able to fulfil anytime soon.
Like many others, I had plans to travel abroad this year to reconnect with family and friends who live in faraway countries. I had plans to expand my business to incorporate events. I had plans to further my career with new opportunities like public speaking and attending conferences. All of these things are no longer within reach.
And while I take comfort in knowing that I am just one of many people in the same boat, there’s nothing to shake the perspective of being stuck in a place or a mindset that feels so unresolved.
In speaking to friends and analysing my own discomfort with being in a state of limbo, it has made me realise that people are intrinsically driven by the prospect of progress, the possibility of making plans, the potential to reach goals.
But in lockdown we have been stripped of the ability to engage in many of the things that inspire us to strive.
In this time of such uncertainty, we’re unlikely to be fuelled with the confidence required to change plans or make big decisions.
And I suppose the unfortunate irony of wanting to remove the discomfort that comes with living in limbo is that – at least for the moment – all we can do is wait it out.