Title: The Start.
We are being confronted with a lockdown, a change of home and a new routine. My final year cut short, my peers and everything familiar, has been removed. Yet I am not alone, the whole world is facing this crisis, but it doesn’t change the way I feel. So, I think sometimes it feels dramatic to be overwhelmed about being ‘locked down’ inside a house full of people and feeling so entirely alone, knowing I am missing out on what could have been. Instead the four walls of my room are closing in on me, with no end in sight, figures being repeated, optimism being blown and the hope of seeing familiar faces has become a shadow at the back of my mind.
I was ignorant at first to think that it would blow over in a couple of weeks, but the UK announcing a national lockdown has definitely proved me wrong. So abrupt, so final and none of us were given any notice that events would unravel in this way. Instead a piece of me has just been suddenly ripped out; taken from my friends and a place that was home for the past three years, it was not how I anticipated my time at York to end. I feel numb, overwhelmed, emotional, confused and abandoned by how I thought my future was supposed to go.
A Lockdown? What is a lockdown? A state of isolation or confinement...so we have become prisoners to a virus? How does this make any sense, how did it even get to this point and why does everything suddenly feel so different? I’ve spent days in my room through deadlines, stresses, pressures and heartbreak barely moving from my bed many times before. So why does THIS feel so different? Back then it seemed fine, but I guess that is what happens when you get told you are no longer allowed to do something, it becomes a barrier that you want to push against. You used to have the choice to take one step out of your house to only return a few minutes later, but now it’s only thirty minutes of exercise a day. It becomes a restriction, not a bad habit you used to have and days you have lost in the past, become one’s you wished you had embraced.
To think that I'll miss out on the scrabble for library seats in summer term, the last-minute dissertation stresses, the printing failures and the witty Instagram captions on photos of my last days in education. To missing out on the Summer Ball, end of degree celebrations and not seeing my housemates faces for the last time. To rowing and the summer regattas, the sunburn and lycra, to complaining about the colour of our gowns and throwing that mortar board up in the air alongside friends made for life. All of this brought to an end because of a global pandemic. If you would have told me that a year ago...maybe I would have laughed, maybe I would have cried, in all honesty who knows how I would have reacted. So how am I supposed to react now, and what am I supposed to feel?
All I need is for someone to tell me that six months from now things will be okay and we will be back to some form of normality
I guess we can only hope.
Word Count: 565
Everything happens for a reason. I truly believe that this pandemic and all of the things that I have gone through in the past few months, have taught me about myself and how to live a better life. I know so many people have also felt this period of change and used it to revaluate their lives in so many different ways.
It initially was easy to dwell upon everything that has gone wrong for me, and everyone else this year- whether it was battling the illness, experiencing unemployment, moving across the country, graduating into a pandemic, or going through friendship or relationship issues. This pandemic has served us up a fair share of everything, and there are not many areas of anyone’s life that have not been affected.
Yet it is so easy to focus on these negatives, but for me, what this time has provided, is a time to refocus. It has taught me new life lessons, which I undoubtedly would have brushed over or not paid any attention to, if this had not of happened.
Firstly, it has taught me how unpredictable life is and when things do not go the way you planned, you still have to seize the day and make the most of every opportunity. Things truly do happen for a reason; so, whilst your life might seem like it is temporarily on hold, it is actually a breathing space for new opportunities to arise. You just have to hold on to the fact that everyone is experiencing the same thing and know that everything will work out eventually.
Secondly, I finally learnt that it really is okay to take a break. One of my biggest fears is the unknown and not having something to do or focus on. So, to graduate with no job lined up and one of the highest levels of unemployment, it became my worst nightmare. All of these questions spun round my head: How was I going to get a job? How long was it going to be before I had a focus again? Would this reshape how my life was supposed to go? Yet what I should have been doing was taking a break and lockdown forced me into doing that. Having spent the last sixteen years of my life in education, I absolutely deserved some time out, giving me the opportunity to reflect on the achievement of my degree but also how far I’ve come as an individual. So, despite all of the anxieties of lockdown, it halted everyone’s lives for a brief moment, because no one could do anything other than ‘Stay at home, save lives’. It was the pause that a lot of people needed.
Finally, it goes without saying, lockdown really highlighted how important family is. You quickly learn family are the people you can turn to for anything and they are the only constant in your life. But also, the significance of friends, especially those who have stood by your side through thick and thin. If they love you, friend or not, they will show you without asking. A lesson learnt is that people will consistently come in and out of your life, and each one will teach you a lesson, whether that be a positive or negative experience. So, that library guy, housemate, course mate, book recommendation boy and the girl you trained alongside, who you’ve drifted from…all served their purpose in shaping you as an individual in some warped way.
The thing is, I know change was inevitable even without lockdown, but it has certainly challenged people in many different ways. The strangest part is that one day, this past few months will be a period in our lives which we lived through and overcome in so many ways.
“The heaviest of burdens is therefore simultaneously an image of life's intense fulfilment.”
This quote was taken from the book recommendation mentioned above, and while the person has drifted from my life, the book is the fragment that remains. And this mimics too intricately the lockdown period and the aftereffects, by carefully connoting the complexities, realisations and revaluation this period in our lives has offered.
Word Count: 701
 Milan Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of Being.