This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Shirley Khurana. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

I’m Sorry I Was Too Tired To Reply To Your Messages

Hi, I’m so sorry I’m just seeing this. I’ve been feeling really drained so I haven’t checked my messages in a while,” I type and hit send for probably the fifth time today. The same deeply apologetic and guilt-ridden text that does a tour of my inbox every time I muster enough strength to reply.

The task of justifying my absence from my friends’ lives feels so distressing. No matter how sincere my attempt, my words often end up sounding more like a ludicrous excuse than any sort of valid justification. 

The pandemic has caused an upheaval in our individual and community lives. It has changed, perhaps irreversibly,  how we look after ourselves and those we care about. Its influence on the level and quality of our participation in our interpersonal relationships has been different for all of us.

social media apps
Representational image.

Still, a prevailing sentiment right now is that about two years of apprehension and adjusting to a ‘new world order’ has left some of us with a prolonged sense of social burnout.

How The Pandemic Has Made It Worse

Emotional exhaustion, chronic fatigue, low energy levels or other struggles may be responsible for our inability to contribute to or take charge of our relationships unlike earlier.

The reason may even be independent of the consequences of the pandemic. However, with almost every human exchange re-moulded into a digital interaction, there is an added pressure to be perpetually available and accessible through text, video or voice.

This is because a considerable part of our existence is now online– a domain without any space or time restrictions. Or because we are assumed to have more time on our hands now that we mostly stay home.

According to a report by We Are Social and Hootsuit, people across the world will spend a total of 3.7 trillion hours on social media in 2021, equivalent to more than 420 million calendar years. Existing in such a hyper-active space and being constantly flooded with information has got most of us feeling digitally burnt out

In this regard, the incapacity to live up to others’ expectations often leaves us with feelings of guilt and helplessness. The former because people naturally have a tendency to take things we do or don’t do personally.

Though our lack of enthusiasm to revert to a bunch of reels or voice notes may just be an outcome of our individual circumstances, it could probably be construed as a sign of a failing friendship or our self-importance. The latter because we realise, sooner or later, that there’s not much we can do to prove otherwise.

For me, this guilt further intensifies every time I’m hit with the realisation that living through a pandemic means that every person I care about is probably going through a rough time too.

People could also be judged for the emotional distance they maintain or the informal zoom calls and conversations they sit out. Representational image.

So, my inability to have a simple conversation with them translates into me not being able to help them out in any way. That this might hold them back from ever reaching out or opening up in the future hovers over my head.

Moreover, with online workspaces and stretched work timings, there has been an inevitable blurring of boundaries between our downtime and office hours. It is not uncommon for a meeting to be conducted at say 10 pm, simply because we are now aware of that possibility.

People could also be judged for the emotional distance they maintain or the informal zoom calls and conversations they sit out. This is bound to make them feel exhausted and/or unreasonably guilty.

What’s really surprising to me is how the entire concept of fixed working hours is just absent from online workspaces. If it were offline, I knew that after I come back from college and society meetings, I’d have that time all by myself to relax.

But now we have meetings scheduled at odd hours and we’re expected to be available all the time. I’ve tried setting healthy boundaries and saying no to some stuff, but it has left me with unbearable guilt. We don’t have open conversations about work-life balance here and I think we need it now more than ever,” said Anushka*, a student of Economics at Lady Shri Ram College for Women. 

Even so, when we do push ourselves to reply or initiate a conversation only to not appear rude or indifferent, the overwhelming desire to make amends and resolve any misunderstandings usually drains our energy even further.

“I’ve been apologetic for my poor texting habits for the past few years now. On top of that, ever since the pandemic, I feel this urge to overcompensate every time I get back to a friend after a long time.

Most of my conversations revolve around my absence, leading me to say kind words I might not even mean otherwise. And the feeling of not wanting to be any more trouble has erased my ability to be vulnerable with anyone,” Zara*, an undergraduate student at Delhi Technological University told YKA. 

You Can’t Pour From An Empty Cup

Since we spend the majority of our time indoors now, the specific environment of our homes also has a direct bearing on our moods, emotions and spirits.

People living in nurturing, amicable homes are likely to feel energised and excited to share their joy with others. Contrarily, if we’re in chronic-conflict environments, we are bound to feel worn out even before we engage in any conversations. 

I guess going forward it would help to take into account just how tired we all are after spending months in adversity. We cannot expect ourselves to behave in the same way as another if our headspace doesn’t feel the same.

Representational image.

Simply accepting our present limitations, whether they seem reasonable or not, might give us the time and space we need to overcome them.

“Over time I’ve realised that I can’t pour from an empty cup— none of us can. I’ve become more accepting of my needs. It’s okay to not be available all the time. There’s some relief in knowing that,” Zara* added. 

We must extend this compassion to our friends and family as well. Likewise, we should expect them to be just as understanding with us or set boundaries and communicate them if and when needed. 

*All names have been changed to maintain anonymity.
The author is part of the current batch of the Writer’s Training Program.
Featured image is for representational purposes only.
You must be to comment.

More from Shirley Khurana

Similar Posts

By Prabhat Misra

By Neha Yadav

By Priyanka Chawla

    If you do not receive an email within the next 5 mins, please check your spam box or email us at

      If you do not receive an email within the next 5 mins, please check your spam box or email us at

        If you do not receive an email within the next 5 mins, please check your spam box or email us at

        Wondering what to write about?

        Here are some topics to get you started

        Share your details to download the report.

        We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

        Share your details to download the report.

        We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

        An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

        Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

        Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

        The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

        Read more about his campaign.

        Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

        Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

        Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

        Read more about her campaign.

        MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

        With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

        Read more about her campaign. 

        A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

        As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

        Find out more about the campaign here.

        A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

        She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

        Read more about the campaign here.

        A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

        The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

        Read more about the campaign here.

        A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

        As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

        Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

        Find out more about her campaign here.

        Share your details to download the report.

        We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

        A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

        A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

        Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

        A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
        biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

        Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
        campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

        Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below