Mental Health The Pandemic Now + Beyond

Here’s how texting is giving us anxiety – and what to do about it

I have a confession: I’m tired of texting.

Not because I hate technology and certainly not because I think we need to go back to the old times. Rather, I just find it mentally exhausting.

After months of not seeing people regularly in person, texting is just slightly better than solitude at best and emotionally taxing at worst. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think we need to break up with texting altogether, but maybe it’s time that we don’t treat it like the only form of online communication.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think we need to break up with texting.

Before the pandemic, I preferred texting to other forms of social interaction. As someone with social anxiety, it was easier.

I’d have time to think about responses, I wouldn’t have to show my facial expressions and, if a conversation was awkward, I could just ignore it. I much preferred texting to the dreaded phone conversation, the most anxiety-inducing part of my life.

Texting saved me. It was my social crutch. I could second guess myself or start a thought over without appearing awkward. I could easily draft and edit my response to any interaction, and nobody would know.

For someone who struggled so much with socializing, texting was a godsend.

What I never realized was that, when texting is your only form of communication, it’s exhausting. Because of the pandemic, I couldn’t see people in person. And with only texting, it’s notoriously difficult to tell someone’s tone while they’re texting, which can make conversations feel awkward or inorganic. I also find it difficult to hold a casual conversation while texting.

When I talk to someone face to face — or phone to phone — we’re able to shift from subject to subject and talk about the most mundane things. With texting, I always feel like I need a purpose to start or continue a conversation. This makes it very difficult to keep up casual friendships. During my time in pandemic-induced isolation, those relationships started to slip away.

Texting turned from my refuge to one of my greatest anxieties.

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There are exhausting aspects to Zoom, Facetime, and Skype as well, but having face-to-face communication can feel so much more invigorating. Being able to see someone’s facial expressions and hand gestures, and hear their tone of voice makes such a difference. Being able to have an organic conversation, with plenty of twists and turns and digressions just feels more comfortable for me.

I never realized that, when texting is your only form of communication, it can be exhausting.

Don’t get me wrong, I still like texting, and I’m not in favor of stopping it altogether. Still, we should stop treating it like the primary form of online communication.

Some of us need to be able to see a human face while interacting with others.

Texting turned from my refuge to one of my greatest anxieties.

Some of us just prefer the spontaneity of a talking conversation.

Texting is great, and it can be a lifesaver in certain situations, but it can’t be the only way we communicate. Technology is bringing us closer to real human interactions in an online setting, so we should take that opportunity. It makes a big difference.

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TV Shows Movies Pop Culture

I didn’t like horror movies until the pandemic — here’s why

If I’m going to be perfectly honest, I used to hate horror movies. It might be a social faux pas to say, but I didn’t see any merit in them. To me, they were just another unnecessary source of anxiety in an already anxiety-inducing world. Then the pandemic hit. Now, I don’t just like scary movies, I love them. I’d even go as far as to say I need them. But why?

I can’t quite answer that. What I do know is that horror movies have turned from a great source of anxiety for me to a kind of comfort or escape. The jump scares and ghost stories in horror movies seem so out of this world that it’s hard for me to be scared of them, especially when the real world is already so scary. It can be helpful to direct your anxiety into something not only fictional but so unworldly and absurd that you can’t imagine it happening in real life.

There’s been a pandemic outside for over a year now, and a whole host of political and human rights worries have both prolonged the pandemic, and been unearthed by it. Sometimes it’s nice to retreat into a world of haunted houses and demons from other dimensions, even if just for a moment. When I’m watching these movies, I’m more focused on ghosts than on the pandemic, and that’s a much-needed distraction.

Still, even if it’s easy to escape, it’s not always right. I think that part of the appeal of horror movies isn’t just how distant they are from the real world. They also appeal also because they represent the real world all too well. Media isn’t just a place to escape, but a place to reflect on the state of our society. We obviously can’t turn our backs on the real world forever.

For me, watching horror movies during quarantine helped me understand the world outside of me, even when I wasn’t able to experience it personally. There are clear-cut examples, such as Get Out or Us, which criticize racism and societal inequality, or Pan’s Labyrinth, which is essentially a parable for fascism. Even the ones without overt political messages can be commentaries on the state of our society. Films like It Follows and Scream are commentaries on the sexist tropes and slut-shaming present in a lot of horror flicks and turn those stereotypes on their head.

Horror movies are also very helpful for anyone dealing with isolation, anxiety, or uncertainty. Watching films like Midsommar or The Babadook, which feature women undergoing mental health crises while also encountering supernatural horrors, made me feel somewhat seen. Going through a mental health crisis can sometimes feel overwhelming and close to the supernatural. I’ll admit, seeing my struggles through the lens of a horror movie is actually really effective. Sure, it’s not realistic, but it still makes me feel less alone.

Horror movies were always unnecessarily stressful to me, and I couldn’t find any artistic value in them.  I admit that I was totally wrong. Part of me was just being pretentious, and part of me was still working through my own issues with anxiety. I don’t blame anyone who doesn’t like horror movies, because we all have our own tastes. Still,  I’m now proud to say that putting on a scary movie is comforting for me. Sometimes, the real world is confusing and scary, and watching a story about supernatural issues is easier than confronting real ones.

However, it goes deeper than just escapism. Horror movies actually help me conceptualize and challenge the real issues the world is facing. They’ve forced me to confront both my personal issues and the role I play in society. Scary movies started out as an escape and then became a wake-up call. They became a way for me to start understanding complex societal issues that were difficult to wrap my head around – to serve as a stepping stone for more nuanced discussions and ideas.

Of course, horror movies have gone above and beyond just being ‘scary’. In fact, it’s been pretty eye-opening for me. From stereotypical horror movies to ones that dissect issues like racism and feminism (I’m looking at you, Get Out and Jennifer’s Body), there truly is something for everyone – especially if by the end of the movie, you can’t sleep at night.

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Coronavirus Life

My experience in quarantine has changed what I want in life

When I decided to do an internship in New Zealand last year, the original plan upon my return home was to search for work in my selected field of journalism with the hope that my Master’s degree would help me land a job. I didn’t expect it to be easy, journalism isn’t typically considered a lucrative, high-demand job. I thought I might have to go back to the pharmacy job I had before leaving the country while searching for work in what I wanted to do. I didn’t know how long it would take me to get where I wanted to be career-wise. But I figured now that I had my Master’s, I was equipped to apply for the types of jobs I wanted.

I also wanted to travel more. The program I worked through to get my internship was the one I wanted to use to do a work abroad program that I was eligible for up to a year after I graduated university. Before leaving for New Zealand, my therapist also advised me to get certified for work as a substitute teacher, as she claimed it was relatively easy, flexible work I could land with my Bachelor’s degree. I thought teaching part-time was much preferable to going back to retail, so I planned on taking the exam to get that certification. I also figured that having teaching experience would help in getting certified to teach English as a foreign language, so I could both work and travel.

When I was in New Zealand, I considered taking on freelance work, since I always liked the idea of working independently and being able to write. I created a profile on a freelance platform but hadn’t really put any effort into making myself marketable as I figured I wouldn’t need to worry about finding work while I was out of the country anyway.

However, when the Covid-19 pandemic hit the U.S. last March, I knew returning to my old job was not an option. I have a medical condition that makes me particularly vulnerable to the virus, so working at a pharmacy would be way too high of a risk for me. I also knew I wouldn’t be able to teach or travel for a long time, at least until after the pandemic was over. So when I got home in April, I went into quarantine, where I have been for a year now. I focused on applying for remote positions and polishing up my freelance profile because now I desperately needed the work. Unemployment was not going to be enough to cover the cost of living on its own and the stimulus checks would only go so far in helping financially.

While my focus was always on journalism, I have managed to get a decent amount of work doing editing. It doesn’t make a lot of money, but I do get a consistent flow of projects to work on. It also allows me to utilize my skillset in editing and writing, and it has made me a more attentive reader and a better writer.

Getting so many projects has had an interesting effect on the way I work. I used to loathe being busy, constantly having tasks to do, and vastly preferred having ample downtime to just relax. The first eight months of my quarantine had me wallowing in my depression, which was amplified by my isolation and the dire state of the world. I didn’t immediately get any work upon my return home because the packages I offered through my freelance profile were not attractive in price or scope. When I finally got around to fixing these, I got a constant influx of orders, and still do.

The result of this is that I pretty much always have work due. I’m never at a point I don’t have an upcoming deadline, and my perpetual awareness of this keeps me continuously working with a fear that if I stop, I’ll fall behind. I feel guilty for taking time off because I feel as though I’m not doing all I can to complete my work on time and maintain its quality. My therapist asked me if I thought going so long without a break was sustainable. I told her no, I wanted a break. But even after fixing my schedule to allow myself more time off, I find myself wanting to work during my allotted downtime.

Realizing how much this has exhausted me has forced me to set boundaries for myself in how much I am working and also how I am interacting with the world. Before the pandemic, I was convinced I needed to be on social media as often as possible to maintain a following as a journalist. Anytime I was not occupied with work, I was on Instagram and Twitter, making sure to post, tweet, like, and share other posts regularly.

With so much time to myself during the pandemic, I ended up preoccupied with social media to the extent that it was harming my mental health. My anxiety was at its worst, and I felt like my interactions were empty and inauthentic. I knew I was only on social media for the attention and the validation, not out of a genuine interest in interacting with the world through it.

So I gave up on the schedule I had established for myself to go online. I refused to check any of my social media accounts unless I got notifications on them. If I went several days without hearing anything, so be it. This made the interactions I did have more genuine, as they were usually with my actual friends sending me videos or funny memes. While I still struggle to limit how long I am logged onto social media, my motivation for going on has become more about connecting with who I care about rather than clout chasing.

I still want to travel and I still long for relaxation and I am still an introvert with social anxiety. Being locked away from the world has been traumatizing, depressing, lonely, and anxiety-inducing. But it has forced me to evaluate where I actually want to go from here and what I really want from life. The pandemic has allowed me to explore my passions and skillset more thoroughly and sparked a need for companionship and adventure that I hope will broaden my horizons and keep me growing as a person.

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Science Now + Beyond

How is the COVID-19 pandemic going to end?

There are two ways a pandemic needs to die before we can declare it over. First, it needs to end medically: a period where the number of cases and deaths aren’t worrying anymore. But it also needs to end socially. Until we decide as a society that the pandemic isn’t a threat anymore and until we stop fearing it, COVID-19 will never truly come to an end. 

This is not the first time humanity is faced with a life-changing pandemic. Every century has had its own share of diseases and plagues, but the spread has never been so global. What can we learn from pandemics of the past to help us predict the way COVID-19 will make its way to the end?

Plague of Justinian: Herd Immunity

The Plague of Justinian arrived in Constantinople in 541 A.D. when Emperor Justinian ruled the Byzantine Empire. It spread like wildfire across Europe, Asia, North Africa, and Arabia. It’s estimated that half the world’s population at the time died as a result of the plague. At the time, there was no understanding of the plague and certainly no way to cure it. The remaining population is believed to have survived because of a newfound immunity.

But the picture painted by COVID-19 need not be so grim. If 70% or more of a population develops immunity, the spread of the disease can be combatted. 

However, attempts to build herd immunity without a vaccine haven’t gone well. In 2020, Sweden did not implement any strict lockdown rules in wake of the pandemic. Even though large social gatherings had been discouraged, other public places like bars or restaurants were open for business. Sweden had hoped to achieve herd immunity through coronavirus antibodies, but it did not go as planned. By November 2020, Sweden’s COVID-19 death toll per capita was 10 times more than its neighboring country, Norway. 

The road to herd immunity is long and deadly. Without putting the lives of an entire population at risk, herd immunity will never be successful without vaccines. 

Influenza: Endemic Flu

The H1N1 influenza pandemic, also known as the “Spanish flu,” took as many as 50 million lives from 1918 to 1919. Although its origins have nothing to do with Spain, the deadly flu picked up the name as the Spanish media–declared neutral in World War I–was one of the few countries allowed to report on it during media blackouts. World War I only made things worse. As soldiers moved across borders and oceans, they carried the deadly flu with them. 

Even though there have been three other viral pandemics in the 20th century, none have seen death as the 1918 pandemic did. The most important aspect of this pandemic is that the disease eventually turned into a less fatal seasonal flu, taking 290,000 to 650,000 lives every year worldwide.

In a similar way, some scientists believe the coronavirus will never really go away. It’s scary to imagine a world where we’re constantly at risk of contracting this disease. But this doesn’t mean it will be just as viral or lethal as is it today. Similar to influenza, we might see COVID-19 become a part of the seasonal flu that causes the common cold and similar respiratory infections every year.

Smallpox: Vaccines

For centuries, smallpox was an endemic that plagued Europe, Asia, and Arabia, killing three out of every ten people infected by it. But when explorers landed in the Americas, this disease, along with war, wreaked havoc in the lives of the indigenous people. Lack of natural immunity among the native population wiped out 90% of their population. 

Things took a turn in the eighteenth century when Edward Jenner created the first vaccine. Eventually in 1980, WHO declared smallpox completely eradicated. 

The COVID-19 vaccine has been effective so far. But while we may outsmart the virus with a good vaccine, the immunity it provides may not be permanent. Mutations of the coronavirus are rapidly developing and it affects immunity rates. Then there’s the entire nuisance of anti-vaxxers

We cannot predict what is certain about the future of this pandemic. Medically speaking, the pandemic will come to an end when we figure out everything about this infamous disease. In the meantime, social distancing may seem to be a new reality, but we’re already seeing how isolation impacts mental health. Furthermore, businesses and companies have been pushing for reopenings. Considering the current situation of the pandemic, we may stop fearing it before it is truly eradicated.

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Health News Coronavirus Europe The World

Clapping has become the UK government’s new and absurd way to deal with national crisises

It’s no secret that the pandemic has been unprecedented. It has had an impact on every aspect of our lives and in some ways, completely changed the way we behave. Across the globe, governments have responded in extremely different ways. Islands like New Zealand and Australia immediately closed their borders. Countries in mainland Europe followed suit, however the long-term upkeep has been difficult.

As an island, I expected the UK to follow suit and close its borders. You cannot access the UK unless you sail or fly so it didn’t seem like an unreasonable response, however, the government is incompetent. And so, here we are one year on from the first cases detected in the UK and our NHS (National Health Service) is struggling, infection rates are rising, and we are in and out of lockdowns more than high schoolers in relationships.

The NHS was implemented after the Second World War to provide free healthcare to British and later EU citizens. To say it has been a lifesaver would not be giving it enough credit. So many of us in the UK would not be here without the NHS – and a future without it seems unimaginable.

So, how does the government deal with such a crucial institution during the time of a pandemic? Increase its funds? No. By clapping.

During the years before the pandemic, the Conservative government systematically cut funding to both the NHS and its workers. By the time the pandemic hit, the system was not in a place where it was able to cope with the increasing demand.

Junior doctors had been striking against increased hours without higher pay and the government refused to grant them better working conditions. Last March, both the NHS and the government put out the call asking for retired staff to come back to help- and they did en masse.

In appreciation, the government raised the salary of career politicians and began clapping weekly to show some gratitude to medical practitioners. The Covid cases, especially in the North of England, were rising steadily with well over 2,000,000 cases. The reproductive rate in the North of England had reached 1.5 – yet the government did not act.

It reached such a low point that a 100-year-old man, Sir Captain Tom Moore, an otherwise ordinary citizen who had fought in the Second World War, walked around his garden over the Summer as a means to raise money for the NHS. His goal was to raise £1000 by his 100th birthday, yet on the morning of his birthday, it was reported that he had raised well over £30 million. The NHS is not a charity, it does not depend on the donations of the public to keep going. The fact that a regular citizen felt compelled to raise money in this manner is awful. The work done by Sir Captain Tom Moore was amazing and he should be commended for it but it should not have been needed.

A few days ago, Sir Captain Tom Moore died from Covid-19; and in true British fashion, the government organized a national clap for him. Sir Tom was born prior to the creation of the NHS and had seen the suffering of a country without a national healthcare system firsthand. It is disrespectful to his memory that the UK government chose performative appreciation over actually helping the NHS in his memory.

The NHS is probably one of the only things Britain has to be proud of. The lack of care by the Government for the people who are the most vulnerable is pathetic. To suggest that the way to show appreciation is through clapping is insulting. So many frontline workers have put their lives on the line and haven’t received anything from the Government. The pandemic has near enough crippled the UK, at the time of writing, there were over 3,911,573 cases of COVID-19. With the 3rd lockdown in force, many self-employed and small business owners are struggling to provide for their families yet the Government are more interested in clapping than bringing an end to the pandemic.

The clapping needs to stop, and the Government needs to act.


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Celebrities Music Pop Culture

“You’re probably with that blonde girl”: Olivia, Sabrina, and Joshua’s PR Triangle

I’m going to blame society’s collective obsession with Olivia Rodrigo, Joshua Bassett, and Sabrina Carpenter on the fact that most of us are stuck in our homes and have nothing else to do or talk about. But surely everyone realizes it’s all a publicity stunt? 

When my friend messaged me asking if I had heard “Drivers License” (still bothers me how it’s missing an apostrophe…) I told her no. Immediately, she sent me the music video and proceeded to text me about the celebrity teen’s heartbreak. If you, by some miracle, don’t know what I’m talking about, here’s the 411. Seventeen-year-old Olivia Rodrigo is heartbroken because Joshua Bassett, her HSMTMTS co-star, is now rumored to be with fellow actress-singer Sabrina Carpenter. 

Let’s fast forward to now where Olivia Rodrigo’s song is now one of the biggest hits ever. 

I have nothing against this song. It’s an enjoyable teenage breakup song, but let’s be real here: this song would not be this popular if it weren’t for the drama that surrounded it. I can never prove this, but there are hundreds of good songs about heartbreak that haven’t received even half the attention as “Drivers License”. While Olivia has a following due to High School Musical The Musical The Series, this song has reached way beyond that realm of fans.

Why? This song created a drama beyond some lyrics about random, obscure people.

The original version of the song, that Olivia sang live last year, was meant to have the word “brunette” when singing about her love’s new beau. When the official version was released this month, fans were quick to figure the “blonde” must be Sabrina Carpenter. People are accusing her of ruining Olivia’s relationship with Joshua and are unimpressed with this year’s Forbes’ 30 under 30 winner, Sabrina. 

But let’s all get one thing straight, fame is fickle. Being a successful celebrity means you just need to be talked about. There’s a reason the phrase “there’s no such thing as bad publicity” exists. And frankly, all of this was just a publicity stunt. 


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A post shared by Olivia Rodrigo (@olivia.rodrigo)

Thousands of people are still talking about “Drivers License” and Sabrina’s new single “Skin”. People have rallied behind Olivia’s heartbreak, posting memes disappointed with Sabrina’s response. However, Sabrina has recently stated that, while her song may reference Olivia, it is not solely about her. She posted on her Instagram: 


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A post shared by Sabrina Carpenter (@sabrinacarpenter)

Despite the “drama” being due to a boy, few have fully discussed Joshua Bassett amid all the hate towards Sabrina (the usual double standards, because of course the girl gets all the blame). That being said, ironically, Joshua’s new release “Lie Lie Lie” is doing the worst out of all three songs.

That’s right: all three of these people happen to have new songs out all within days of each other. Due to this juicy PR stunt, Joshua’s worst is still better than it would have been without all the gossip. On top of that, Joshua has also just released a second new song today, “Only a Matter of Time“. The song is supposedly about his experience with haters on social media in 2020, but of course, people are still trying to dissect the lyrics for more references to the triangle. 

It’s too soon to know the success of “Only a Matter of Time”, but people were talking about it all over the internet in anticipation and as of right now it has more than 70,000 views on YouTube in less than 20 minutes.

His other song from last week “Lie Lie Lie” made its debut on the Billboard Bubbling Under Hot 100 Chart within about a week of its release. There are millions of songs in the world and I doubt this one would have made it on this list at all without the love triangle gossip. I personally would have listened to Sabrina Carpenter’s song since I follow her music, but would it have thrived so much so quickly? Would it have been #6 on the US iTunes, #4 on the US Spotify chart, #33 on the worldwide chart and have received 1,857,698 opening day streams? Probably not. And then we have the song that started it all, Olivia Rodrigo’s first debut single. “Drivers License” has broken records and is currently #1 on Billboard’s Top 100.   

I won’t say the song doesn’t deserve to be on top charts, but her marketing team knew that pushing the narrative of Olivia’s ex and his new girl would be a great way to get the song on everyone’s playlist. Sabrina and Joshua obviously didn’t mind because their songs also benefit from the attention, despite it being pretty negative. 

All of this to say, the internet and fans may just be a little too invested in drama that isn’t as big as we think because this tweet sums up the reality: 

Nearly a year of quarantine has truly done a number on us.

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Mental Health Health

Saying goodbye to a year filled with crippling anxiety

As 2020 descended upon us, I stood huddled in the midst of my friends, a sparkler waving in my left hand. Toasts were made. Hugs were shared. Laughter echoed through the winter air. Throwback songs and hips shaking, bodies shed of anxieties and tensions. Sparkling and fresh with the residue of hope.

There was glitter everywhere. The way you imagine a new year to begin. 

We all decided this will be our year. Joyous whispers of hope. As people usually do on new year’s eve. And the year commenced in all its greatness. Things were happening and dreams were written down, plans were made for holidays and life events, big changes to come. But nothing ever happened as we imagined, it usually never does. 

I only promised myself one thing for 2020 – that was to look after my mental health. And when the year began, I know I was trying. I was writing down all my little lists, tracking my wellness, exercising, creating. When the lockdown first hit, I was stuck. Completely dumbfounded by the reality around us. Everything felt other: walking on the street, watching Netflix, eating dinner.

My mental health was dwindling and I couldn’t do anything about it. I spent the first two months without meeting a single friend. I know I was lucky to have had my entire family safe and at home with me. But mental health works in peculiar ways and mine was crushing me. It was hard to do what once felt so normal, so easy, so mundane.

April and May were the lowest points when there wasn’t a single cent of hope lingering in the thick heat of Karachi. Days stretched deep into dreary nights and I continued to battle the demons of my mind. They wanted all of me, all the time and I couldn’t seem to find a way out. I didn’t write anything, draw anything, read anything. Most days, I used TV shows as a crutch to push my mind to oblivion. Because anything was better than feeling too much all the time.

June and July pushed me to do better. I starting creating again. And slowly, it became an obsession. I was drawing and writing and reading constantly, never looking up or looking back. It was my way of getting through things. I had to be getting better, right? I was trying at least. I know now that I was just going through the motions, albeit in a different way than before.

August, September and October came with growing anxiety. Things were better in the country but that also meant that everywhere I went, a shop or a restaurant or just outside, people were not wearing masks. There was a deep resistance against them and that made my head spin with counting the number of shopkeepers I interacted with that didn’t know how to wear a mask over their nose. But I was going and moving and doing some of the things I had so deeply missed. But along with that, came a deep yearning for the silence and the lull of the lockdown days. They seemed almost serene to me now. Ironic isn’t it, how we always dream of the days gone by?

With November, I stopped trying once again. I thought my depressive episode was simply that, an episode. But the more I tried to uncover what I was feeling, the more I realized I couldn’t get to the root of why. And having lived with it for so long, I should have known. Because once you fall, you continue to tumble into the darkness unless you’re actively working on yourself. I traveled, thinking being away would change how I felt. But it didn’t, it never does. No matter how much you try to run away from your mental health, the demons always find you. 

And now December comes to a crumbling end. Everywhere I look and breathe, there’s another case of the virus and my anxiety is constantly peaking. I fill my days with work, create a new project for when I’m free. Because if I’m not doing anything, I am encapsulated by a crippling and brutal form of anxiety. So I keep filling myself with tools I once thought made me whole and now I question whether any of it really means anything at all. My body feels heavy and I’m nauseous and exhausted and tired of always feeling this way. 

I don’t want to completely discount the year, because I know it had a lot of great things within it too. I found a new form of resilience and remembered what it felt like to have time to myself. I slowed down and maybe, I am now better for it.

The year of ashes and anxiety, of storybooks and archives, the year that will never be forgotten. It took so much and yet the one thing I know it gave me, was the reminder that I can do this. We can all do this.

So as the new year rings in, I can only hope to follow through with that lingering promise I made to myself back when the world was whole.

This year, there will be no glitter. No sparkles. No hugs. 

Just the silence of the clock passing over to another year of the unknown.

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Work Now + Beyond

Working from home showed me what I really want out of my work life

Working from home hasn’t been easy for everyone. With the coronavirus pandemic, many people are out of work or working from home for indeterminate amounts of time. I know a lot of us are unhappy with working from home, but for my family and me, it’s been a source of newfound freedom.

For my parents, it’s been easier working without a long commute, which saves them hours of time. They can now spend more time with their family, when before they usually only saw us at the very end of the day. They can also take short breaks in between work calls and meeting, which they’ve admitted makes them much more productive. After a particularly difficult work event, they can cool off with a walk or a relaxing TV show, instead of staying in the office environment.

As for me, I’ve done both my schoolwork, my on-campus job, and my internship from home. While it has its downsides, there are plenty of net positives. I never rush in the morning, so I can take my time with all my meals and chores. If I need a break between classes or work activities, it’s easy for me to take a nap or take some me-time. I’ve had so much more time to write, read, sew, knit, draw, and indulge in my other hobbies. I was incredibly stressed and in a terrible mental state before lockdown. Working at home brought me the peace of mind I needed to heal.

So will this change anything? Part of me hopes so. Many people I know have always heard that they can’t possibly work from home in their industries. After lockdown, most of them realized that it was totally feasible to work remotely. Those that need to be at home for medical reasons, to take care of their children, or simply because it’s convenient might be able to continue working at home.

For people like me, I think the lockdown has taught us that we can’t thrive on work alone. In a healthy society, every person should have time to relax, pursue hobbies, and spend time with family instead of working every hour of the day. Hopefully some of our employers will learn that we can’t afford to live with that schedule anymore. Even if this working from home schedule isn’t permanent, I hope it can spark some meaningful change.

Working from home has given me a better work and life balance. I’m finally find some forms of fulfillment outside my job and my schoolwork. It has encouraged me to pursue my hobbies and take time to relax and refresh. I know a lot of us aren’t happy with working from home, but it’s significantly better than losing your job or needing to work on-site during a pandemic. It doesn’t mean we have to be happy, but we’re the lucky ones. This is a unique time, and we should make the most of this change and come out of it with a better understanding of how to strike the right home/work balance for each one of us.

K-pop Music Pop Culture

BTS breaks records and blows up serotonin levels with “Dynamite”

Ever wish you could wake up with enough enthusiasm to move mountains before lunchtime? That feeling has been pretty hard to come by for most of this year.

What with a whole pandemic forcing us to stay confined at home, while global injustices seem to pile on to no end. It’s understandable why things would seem pretty bleak to the average human.

However, global sensation BTS stepped up and decided they’re going to create an environment full of happiness by dropping their new comeback single “Dynamite.”

BTS Dynamite teaser
[Image Description: BTS looking at the camera, over a green counter at a donut shop. From left to right: Jimin, Jungkook, Suga, Jin, RM, V, J-Hope]
This track marks the first time the band has sung a song that’s completely in English. According to their leader Kim Namjoon (also known as RM), it was them challenging themselves in a world that’s changed so drastically. With their own tour for their last album Map Of The Soul: 7 postponed due to the pandemic, they wanted to spread love and happiness to as many people as they could through the song.

There is literally NO EXCUSE for you to not listen to this track under the guise of “I can’t understand Korean” now.

The music video goes along a retro theme, with the song’s disco beat is one that is instantly reminiscent of watching your favourite bops on MTV during the good old days. The boys themselves are all dressed in the funkiest, coolest outfits and are just… having so much fun in the most colourful surroundings.

BTS' Explosive New Single 'Dynamite' Is Here! - PlNKWIFI
[Image Description: a gif of BTS dancing in colourful retro clothes in front of a white building. There is a large blue sign behind them that says DISCO in yellow letters] via
And the lyrics. The lyrics literally feel like the day is suddenly brighter than ever, there’s a swing in your step and you leave a trail of stardust in your wake. 

For 3 minutes and 43 seconds, the world’s an infinitely happier place than ever before.

Cause I-I I’m in the stars tonight

So watch me bring the fire and set the night alight

Shining through the city with a little funk and soul

Light it up like a dynamite

I guess I can say that BTS blew my serotonin levels sky high with Dynamite.

And I’m not the only one who thinks so.

Dynamite broke records for the biggest music video premiere on YouTube, with over 3 to 4 million concurrent views when the video released. It became the fastest video to reach 10 million views, within 21 minutes. Within two hours of its release, it garnered over 29 million views and has just hit 51 million as I write this.

And folks, it’s only the beginning for this comeback.

BTS 'Dynamite' Official MV uploaded by 𝔾𝕆𝕃𝔻𝔼ℕ 𝕀𝔻𝕆𝕃⁷
[Image Description: a gif of BTS looking down at the camera as it circles them, with Suga smiling closer to the lens. There are bright multicoloured lights above their heads.] via WeHeartIt
However, Min Yoongi (one of BTS’ rappers, also known as Suga) mentioned that the goal they want to achieve with Dynamite is one that doesn’t involve numbers or metrics. 

“We hope the people who listen to it find comfort and strength… I hope it gives strength to us and the fans,” he mentioned.

It’s safe to say the band has killed two birds with one perfectly aimed stone!

BTS have been known to promote the message of self-love and self-acceptance through their songs. They also talk about the gruelling journey to achieve both of those. Their lyrics convey that message in a way that touches the deepest corners of their fans’ hearts, making a home there and brightening it up in ways we would never have thought was possible. 

Pin by ☾ ♡ ❂ on bts ~ ot7 | Concert, Bts memes, Rap monster
[Image Description: A gif of BTS from one of their Love Yourself tours, where they’re looking at the camera and making heart signs for the fans] via 𝓬. on Pinterest
They mentioned how singing in all English proved be a challenge for them, but one they were willing to overcome to make their fans happy wherever they are. Despite having their success well established in the global music industry, they continue to go above and beyond for the sake of ARMY’s happiness. They consider the relationship they have with their fans to be infinitely personal, intimate, and deeper than anything known to mankind; constantly citing ARMY with words such as their “everything”, their “life”, and their “ultimate source of strength.”

BTS describe their relationship with their fans as one where they both make sure they don’t walk down the path of life alone. They do their best to provide ARMYs strength to face life through their music, while their fans do the same by giving them unconditional love and support for whatever the band does.

With that being said, any comments making fun of their lyrics and pronunciation are racist. They created a song in a language they aren’t completely fluent in for us to enjoy. If the effort can’t be appreciated, it just goes to say that a serious reevaluation of mindsets is needed.

this might be my favorite dance sequence in the MV #networkbangtan#bts#bangtan#bts dynamite#bts gif#mygif #theyre so carefree and happy #i love it so much
[Image description: a gif of Jin in a yellow shirt moonwalking across a basketball court while his friends look at him from one of the hoops. The wall behind them is splattered with colourful art] via:
Dynamite is just the kind of feel-good dose of happiness that the world could use. Even for a short while because hey, their self-produced album’s coming out later this year, in case you’ve forgotten! 

I think we could all spare 3 minutes and 43 seconds to feel like we can shine through the city with a little funk and soul. Or even in our house, for those respecting quarantine.

So what are you waiting for? Head over to YouTube, Spotify, and Deezer right now! Stream to get your happiness injected directly into your bloodstream. You might just see your blood turn purple right afterwards.

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Music Pop Culture

25 new releases to save you from your musical drought this summer

Summer is usually a music-lover’s dream haven. It’s when we get new album releases each week, have endless concerts to attend, and when we can gaze upon outstanding music videos from some of our favorite artists.

Take last summer for example: We were blessed with Willow Smith’s self-titled album and Megan Thee Stallion’s FEVER mixtape among many other critically acclaimed masterpieces that are still receiving praise to this day. 

But as COVID-19 disrupted just about everything in the world, the music industry’s typical release cycle wasn’t exempt. Music festivals and award shows were canceled one by one and the future of music for the year looked bleak. And as we’re already many months in, it can be confirmed that this summer during quarantine has definitely felt like a music drought at times.

Despite it all though, some artists have released new projects to keep us all dancing and singing from home. Here are 25 female musicians with recent drops that are keeping this summer alive:

1. Lianne La Havas – Lianne La Havas

On July 17, the Greek and Jamaican soul singer released her third self-titled album that candidly talks about growth within a failed relationship. Lianne La Havas’ sultry voice, vulnerable lyrics, and smooth jazzy tracks make for a cohesive album that’s perfect to listen to with a lit candle, facial, and tall glass of wine on those stormy summer days.

2. Hinds – The Prettiest Curse 

These four garage-rock musicians from Madrid, Spain are back and better than ever with their third album, The Prettiest Curse, released on June 5. Hinds has given us the ultimate soundtrack of the summer with their airy voices and catchy lyrics that almost anyone can relate to.

3. Aditi Ramesh – “Heal” (Single)

Mumbai, India’s Aditi Ramesh is changing the world with her soulful pipes one song at a time. Whether cooking and sharing recipes on her instagram or dropping new singles, Ramesh can not disappoint.

4. Dounia – DE-LOVE-USION

Love and the complexity of relationships aren’t new topics for Dounia, the North African activist who’s making waves in the music scene with her smooth rapping. She’s at it again in her latest two-song project titled ‘DE-LOVE-USION’ that was released on July 17 where she sings of secret crushes and falling hard in love.

5. Phoebe Bridgers – Punisher

In her sophomore album titled Punisher released on June 18, the indie singer and California native sings about mental health and wellness. Her deep self-awareness shines through and challenges listeners to do the same. Bridgers has made something for us to cry to and dig deep introspectively for the summer.

6. Saweetie – “Tap In” (Single)

If there was ever a movement where I missed the outside parties and barbeques of the summer, it was definitely when I first heard Saweetie’s single “Tap In” on June 20. In it, she samples Too $hort’s iconic “Blow The Whistle” song from 2006 but completely makes it her own with her famous “Icy Girl” brand. Saweetie is on the road to success with this as a tease of what’s next to come in her next album to be released sometime soon called “Pretty Bitch Music.”

7. Empress of – I’m Your Empress Of 

With her name inspired by a tarot card reading, this bilingual Honduran singer is connecting to her roots in her third album called I’m Your Empress Of that was released on April 3. Born and raised in Los Angeles, Empress Of talks about old trauma and heartbreak with background audio from her own mom included in some songs.

8. UMI – Introspection 

UMI – which is the Japanese word for ocean – has always poured her heart into her music which was exactly what the world needed this year in her latest EP called Introspection that was released on June 21. The biracial singer who plays the piano, guitar, and ukulele blessed us with stunning visuals and songs to sing all summer long.

9. Jessie Reyez – Before Love Came to Kill Us

Jessie Reyez is a stand-out star this year in her debut album called Before Love Came to Kill that was released on March 27. The Colombian singer and songwriter has soulfully light pipes that you’re sure to remember. She delicately approaches conversations about sexual assault, mental health, and love in a summer record that’s nuanced and unique.

10. Ivy Sole – Bittersweet (Single)

Ivy Sole’s latest single is luxurious, sexy, and smooth which fits in perfectly to the North Carolina artist’s sultry discography. Each track from her is layered, multifaceted, and complex which is a direct reflection of her as a queer Black woman who grew up in strict churches. Sole doesn’t fit into one box musically or personally and it’s powerful and much needed in this day-and-age.

11. Tei Shi – Die 4 Ur Love

Nothing can come keep Tei Shi down. After a tumultuous year of switching music labels and having her tour cancelled due to COVID-19, the Columbian and Argentinian artist took life into her own hands and self-released her EP called Die 4 Ur Love on July 17. Consider this project an epic breakup letter to her old music label, old self, and old life. Tei Shi is not holding back.

12. Rina Sawayama – SAWAYAMA

All eyes are on Rina Sawayama as she’s now finally dropped her highly anticipated debut album titled SAWAYAMA on July 2. The Japanese singer and model has given us timeless bops like ‘XS’ with a jaw-dropping music video that’s sure to be on repeat for the rest of the summer. While wearing her queer identity proudly on her sleeve, having a degree in politics from Cambridge University, and literally doing it all, Sawayama is an inspiration to us all.

13. Amber Mark – “My People” (Single)

Amber Mark is known for utilizing her platform to advocate for issues on race, mental health and gender. Her latest single called “My People” released on June 19 addresses the international civil rights discussions of 2020. As a well-traveled activist, her Jamaican roots shine through in her music for a nuanced conversation over gorgeous cultural accompaniment.

14. Teyana Taylor – Studio M and The Album

Actress, singer, dancer, choreographer, songwriter, and model Teyana Taylor gives the people not only what they want but what they need. In this crazy year, Taylor did just that with her two projects called The Album released on June 19 and Studio M released on June 30. She’s walked New York Fashion Week, starred in some of your favorite award-winning movies, and given us couple goals with her NBA player beau, Iman Shupert.

15. Beabadoobee – “Care” (Single)

Beabadoobee has embodied the teen angst that we all feel while being locked away in quarantine in her latest single titled “Care” released on July 14. The Filipina indie singer has announced her debut album which is soon to release called Fake It Flowers, and has given us all a sneak peak to it with this early 2000s and garage-rock sounding single.

16. Haim – Women in Music Pt. III

These three rockstars have yet again given the world confident and all too relatable music in their latest album titled Women in Music Pt. III that was released on June 26. The girls of Haim are blunt yet personable in this project while bearing all of the flaws that make them human and loved by fans.

17. Alina Baraz – It Was Divine

Alina Baraz has one of the silkiest and sensual voices in the game right now. Her album called It Was Devine that was released on April 24 conjures up all of those sensual feelings of the summer that are perfect for dancing in the mirror for no one else but yourself in a silk robe.

18. Ramya Pothuri – “Do You Care” (Single)

Ramya Pothuri is using her quarantine to put out one dreamy song after the next in Mumbai, India. In her recent single titled “Do You Care,” released on April 9, Pothuri lays her feelings out bluntly and spills everything that too many of us are afraid of talking about. On her instagram she tells fans to stay tuned for all the new music that she’s working to put out soon.

19. HAWA – the ONE

HAWA is probably one of my coolest music discoveries of the year. Born in Berlin to West African parents, she toured the world at age 11 as one of the youngest-ever composers for the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, Now she’s just released her debut album titled “the ONE” on March 5. With singles like “MY LOVE” and “GET FAMOUS,” HAWA is an up-and-coming standout artist for sure.

20. City Girls – City on Lock

The City Girls are are indestructible and will overcome just about anything that you throw in their way. These unstoppable messages that preach girl power have inspired an entire generation of go-getters and the girls’ latest album called City on Lock that was released on June 20 couldn’t have come at a better time.

21. Joy Crookes – Anyone But Me (Single) 

Joy Crookes speaks out about how music has helped with her depression over the years in a vulnerable tribute and a new single called “Anybody but Me” released on April 8. The South London raised Bengali singer has consistently put her soul into her art and has even been compared to classics like Amy Winehouse and Erykah Badu.

22. Bree Runway – “Damn Daniel” (Single) and “Apeshit” (Single)

Bree Runway is breaking down every stereotype that you may have previously had about Black women in the music industry. Her sound is at times punk, and other times pop or rap, and far from the genre-classifications that we oftentimes put Black women into. This London native is giving us award-worthy concerts and visually stunning music videos all from her home as the world quarantines. In her recently released single called “Apeshit,” she even got a nod from her inspiration Missy Elliot!

23. TWICE – More & More

The nine members of the South Korean girl group who found their start on a reality survival show are showing their unique and individual personalities that the world fell in love with once again in their latest album called More & More that was released on June 1. This KPOP favorite was missed by fans and made a comeback during the perfect time in this summer quarantine to lift our spirits.

24. Chloe x Halle – Ungodly Hour

These two Atlanta sisters are all grown up in their latest album titled Ungodly Hour that was released on June 3. With a mentor like Beyonce who gave the album two thumbs up, their ballads are nothing less than genius. Chloe x Halle have also gotten wildly creative by utilizing tennis courts and their home as the backdrop for music videos and concerts on their IG Live. I know I’ll be tuning into the next one.

25. Jhene Aiko – Chilombo

Singer/songwriter Jhene Aiko knows exactly how to conjure up complex feelings that are oftentimes juxtaposed within. In her third album titled Chilombo that was originally released on March 6, Aiko’s serene voice pairs perfectly with singing bowls and vibrational sounds. She sings of sensuality, love, and spirituality in a time most needed.

Of course, Taylor Swift also surprised the world with her album folklore which we at The Tempest absolutely loved too.

And the year isn’t over. Even though it may seem like we’re living amidst a musical drought at times during this COVID-19 summer, artists like Beyonce, Brandy, Katy Perry, Ariana Grande also have upcoming projects scheduled to be released this year. Stay tuned!

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The Pandemic Love Life Stories

The way we love has changed and it may never be the same again

In these current times, dating (and interaction in general) is shifting rapidly. Love (in all of its forms) may even look slightly different during quarantine, even though some places are beginning to open up. I have noticed these changes in my own personal life since this pandemic has begun. Communication with loved ones is different. Checking up on people looks different. Dates have become unfamiliar. Love itself is changing. Physical touch has been taken out of the equation for most relationships which makes a substantial impact.

I have never missed hugging people more than I do now. However, there are still a lot of wonderful and unique ways people are expressing their love for people in their life during quarantine. Love during quarantine in my life looks like Netflix parties, hand written notes, care packages sent in the mail, walks with friends six feet apart, crying and laughing together over the phone, long FaceTimes even when no one has anything to report, zoom happy hours, air hugs, sharing memes, virtual graduations and proms, and much more. We may not be able to express love right now physically. But, we can still convey the sentiment. Checking in, giving little gifts, performing kind acts, and being open and intimate emotionally with the people in your life are all good ways to do so. 

My dating life in particular has changed significantly. I am used to being able to visit my boyfriend frequently each week. But now due to coronavirus, since he lives about a 45 minute metro ride away (a 20 minute Uber) I am unable to visit him at all without putting myself at risk. As a result, our relationship went from in person to long distance basically overnight. This change has not been without some growing pains. I am very affectionate and definitely miss getting to hug and kiss him. Coronavirus has made physical contact near impossible, however we still have plenty of FaceTimes, Netflix Parties and happy hour dates. I have also been hyper mindful of checking in with him often and telling him how much I appreciate him often.

Despite all the shifts during this pandemic, I am trying to put a positive spin on the situation. I am taking this as an opportunity to reconnect with friends and show my love for people in creative ways. I see it as a positive for my romantic relationship as well. No, I can use this time to emotionally connect with my boyfriend on a deeper level. Since our own form of communication now is over the phone and FaceTime, our conversations and the way we communicate with one another is of utmost importance. 

More than ever, being there for one another for emotional support is imperative. The pandemic can take a real toll on mental health and people’s general quality of life. In order to combat that, we must exercise compassion and empathy and help one another however we can during this time.

Love may look a little different nowadays and the role of love may be changing, but the love in our lives still remains. It even has the potential to be stronger and more poignant than ever before. 

Shopping Style Fashion Lookbook

10 fashionable and breathable face masks to rock this summer

As U.S. states begin to lift mandated lockdowns, local government and health officials are instituting measures to maintain social distancing and safety protocols in public areas. Everyone will be required to wear a face mask, which according to the CDC, is significantly proven to decrease the risk of spreading the virus. That said, we’ll all be wearing masks for the foreseeable future, whether it’s for a quick run to the grocery store, to the workplace, or simply walking your dog around the neighborhood.  Most recently, face masks have gained more popularity as a fashion staple, with the rise of ‘mask selfies’ throughout social media. Personally, there’s nothing worse than planning out an impeccably sorted outfit only to ruin it with a blue surgical mask. So, leave the N95’s for healthcare workers and grab these 10 fashionable and breathable face masks to rock this summer:

1. Lisa Says Gah (Knit Mask & Knit Scrunchie Set – $32

[Image description: An orange mask with a strap on either side.] via Lisa Says Gah

Support small businesses and score double cuteness points, by opting for this knit mask and scrunchie duo from this San Francisco based clothing boutique. The bright tangerine, creamsicle color is the perfect addition to a colorful summer wardrobe. With every mask purchase, Lisa Says Gah is committed to donating $1 to the San Francisco Marin Food Bank.

2. Outdoor Voices (5 Pack Face Mask – $25)

via Outdoor Voices
[Image description : A denim blue color mask with the words ‘Outdoor Voices’ embroidered in white.] via Outdoor Voices

Outdoor Voices is one of my favorite recreational active-wear companies, mainly for their soft, velvety yoga leggings and their reinvention of athleisure style. They recently launched a set of 5 durable, washable and reusable masks for a bargain price of $25 and are partnering with Masks for the People to support underserved, minority communities in the U.S.


3. Citizens of Humanity (3 Pack Cotton Face Coverings – $30)

via ShopBop
[Image description: Three facemasks with striped patterns.] via ShopBop

Known for their fashion-forward and locally manufactured denim jeans, Citizens of Humanity recently introduced a series of cotton face masks in beautiful pastel-toned and nautical designs. The perfect accompaniment to your flowy summer dresses and all-white assemble.

4. Madewell (Three Pack Non-Medical Face Masks – $20)

via Madewell
[Image description: White and black face masks in a checkered and striped print.] via Madewell

The popularized sister company of J.Crew, notable for their willowy and feminine styles, are bringing back plaid with their best selling packs of 100% cotton face masks. They come in five beautiful patterns such as ‘Ash Melange’ and ‘Blue Glen’ which are the best addition to your summer bag essentials.

5. Aerie (Reusable Face Mask – $14.95)

via Aerie
[Image description: A grey toned, camouflage print face mask.] via Aerie

Aerie, the sister brand of American Eagle, universally acclaimed for their body positivity campaigns, introduced a new collection of reusable face masks in fun prints such as camouflage and cheetah print. Upholding their philanthropic mission and community support, they are donating 20% of proceeds to Crisis Text Line, a text-based crisis service providing free, confidential 24/7 support.

6. Splendid (3 Pack Face Coverings – $28)

via Splendid
[Image description: Three face masks. One is grey, the second is purple and white camouflaged print. The third is a black and white striped mask.] via ShopBop

If you’re a fan of Splendid’s ultimate, super soft t-shirt, you’ll love their new face coverings which are made of 100% cotton. They also come in a trio of colors in each pack, like solid gray, colorful camouflage, and preppy stripes.

7. Lucky Brand (5 Pack Pleated Cotton Face Mask – $25)

via Lucky Brand
[Image description: A blue and white striped print mask.] via Lucky Brand

It’s no surprise that Lucky Brand, a leader in the American denim industry, shifted their creative strategy into developing pleated masks in the pattern of chambray swatches and denim pockets. They’re also locally sourced and handmade in Los Angeles, CA, and charitable, as they will donate 5 masks to low income and unhoused community members in the Los Angeles area for every 5-pack sold.

8. Kenneth Cole (Wear in this Together Cotton Mask – $15)

via Kenneth Cole
[Image description: A solid black facemask.] via Kenneth Cole

Kenneth Cole is one of my all-time favorite brands, for their socially conscious mission and chic, contemporary collection of shoe wear and clothing. Perfectly suited for monochromatic all-black outfits, this Wear in this Together Cotton Mask is your next go-to accessory. For every mask purchased, Kenneth Cole will donate 10% net sales to the Mental Health Coalition, a movement dedicated to destigmatizing mental health.

9. FashionNova (Camo Face Mask 3 Pack- $14.99)

via FashionNova
[Image description: Three face masks. One is black, one is grey with white straps, and one is a camouflage print.] via FashionNova

FashionNova—a favorite of top celebrities and social media influencers including Cardi B— has released a collection of face masks for all style aficionados alike. My top pick is this super affordable pack of gray, black, and classic camouflage face masks fitted with durable ear loops for maximum comfort and efficiency. 


10. Rent the Runway (Made by RTR 5 Pack Reusable Masks – $50)

via Rent the Runway
[Image description: Five different patterned face masks.] via Rent the Runway

Finally, if you’re looking for the perfect pack of colorful, sophisticated, yet feminine face masks, look no further. Rent the Runway, a popular online service that is known for providing designer and accessory rentals shifted gears by launching a Buy 5, Give 5 campaign. For each 5 pack of face masks sold, Rent the Runway will donate a 5 pack of face masks to a community in need, through the non-profit Project Renewal, a New York-based organization founded to end the cycle of homelessness.