Learning from Lockdown

I write this at 3pm on the second Monday of National Lockdown 2.0 in my beautifully comfortable student bed, complete with flowery IKEA sheets and a fluffy blanket named Graham. This bed is more of a home to me than the house that encloses it. I have been in said bed since I woke up for an (online) meeting at 8:30am. The only time I leave this bed is for toilet, snacks, and water. My daily uniform varies. Some days, I wear an oversized t-shirt and trackies. Some days, I get dressed, then get back into bed. Some days, I just don’t get up at all.

For me, the first lockdown was an emotional, spiritual, and physical awakening. I went for runs. I started a blog. I ventured out into nature and took close-up photographs of leaves. I baked more scones than the average Devonian will eat in a lifetime and produced more cakes than the entire eleven series of the Great British Bake Off combined.

I read all the books that I’d been meaning to get round to – even did some preparation for university (if you can believe it). I enjoyed long, summer days and didn’t feel depressed by the weather. I picked up hobbies that I had let slide. My bedroom was purged of about nine bags of useless rubbish that had somehow managed to accumulate over the years. I found a fidget spinner, an old gumshield, and a broken lightsaber among the debris.

On one particularly brave day, I removed all my clothing from my wardrobe and drawers, spilling mountains of fabric onto the floor. What then ensued was a (slightly disheartening) try on of every single item I owned. If I had not worn it in a year, it was out. If it looked horrendous, it was out. If it was something I’d bought from a misguided impulse to become a New Woman and entirely revolutionise my fashion sense, it was out. Somehow, despite donating five bin liners worth of clothing to the overwhelmed charity shops, sinking under the weight of the lockdown purge, I still had drawers that were too full. It was a good exercise, however. My room felt more of a sanctuary again.

I was eating healthily, exercising regularly, reading lots, writing lots. Being what I would describe as a generally successful human being.

Today, summer lockdown feels like a glossy memory that happened to someone else. There’s something about the second time around that just isn’t doing it for me. I went for a walk yesterday and realised that I hadn’t left the house in two days – fresh air was a beautiful but alien sensation. We’re all bored, or tired, or both. With university only as far away as my laptop, my sleep schedule has disappeared into the ether. Any friends I speak to have had a myriad of issues with their housemates, the weeks in isolation taking its toll on tolerance. Those dishes in the sink. The disappearing mugs. The humour that’s stopped being funny. People are beyond stressed with work. Getting drunk with the same people night after night just feels like some bizarre recurring dream, and there’s always the comfortable option of slipping upstairs and calling it a night.

Rather than refining my culinary talents, I am surviving off frozen fishcakes and Aldi paella.

I get my kicks from online shopping and spending money I don’t have in the false economy of returns and refunds, then getting sad when the cool trousers I order don’t fit over my bum, or the trendy jumper that would have transformed me into a fashion icon makes me look like a Yorkshire pudding. The upcoming Black Friday sale looms like a beacon of hope in the distance, an event that will see me convince myself I need a spiraliser and a crystal healing bowl, because they are half price.

I boredom eat. Diets continuously start on Monday. I’ll exercise tomorrow.

We’re becoming elite television watchers. My housemates and I have binged two seasons of Below Deck in about a week. Season Four of The Crown is about to take a hefty hit as we cross reference the events from Wikipedia and debate whether they’re being too nice to Diana, or if Josh O’Connor is too attractive to play Prince Charles.

The novelty of lockdown has very firmly worn off, and what’s left is the legacy from the first lockdown: the feeling that we should be improving ourselves in some way, learning something new, changing our habits. When this doesn’t happen or we inevitably fail in our resolutions, there’s the feeling that we’re not doing well enough.

For me, I intend to get through the second lockdown just by surviving it. That will be success enough.

-Millie Jackson

Featured Image Source: Pexels

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