This article is one in a series of stories featuring real experiences, thoughts and feelings from young people living in Cardiff during lockdown. To see the other stories, please click here. This article was written for the campaign by Amy Carver, a 20-year old university student.
I’m currently writing this piece on my Year Abroad in Germany, just as the country has just gone into its second lockdown. The unprecedented shutting-up of society for the second time in a year has prompted me to think back to that distant March, where I experienced my first lockdown at home with my family in the UK. I did not cope well.
I remember noticing the emergence of several friends’ new Instagram accounts, where they would be documenting the progress of their new skill acquired in lockdown.
Amongst this baking, roller skating and painting, I was struggling to see the point of getting out of bed before noon. I felt not so much that my neatly mapped-out world was falling apart but being viciously snatched away from me, with no indication as to when I’d get it back.
Pre-March me was a person who largely operated around what and when. What restaurant are we going to meet at? When should I come over to yours? What are our plans for getting home after the night out? I found a lot of my inner security through eliminating the possibility of uncertain eventualities. (My friends must find me a delight.)
In hindsight, then, it’s understandable as to why I felt so lost during that first lockdown. Covid-19, arguably the biggest uncertain eventuality of them all, not only stopped me answering my what’s and when’s, but taunted me with the futility of my need to control all the contingencies in my life.
Now, in this second lockdown, I’m finding that my want to ask what and when has considerably diminished. I find it funny that the German press described the reinstatement of restrictions as a “light” version of the previous lockdown; it mirrors my own sentiments in that the heaviness I experienced in the spring has been lifted this time round.
I no longer wake up with a precise expectation of how my day should go, and now find myself quite at peace when met by a few hours which do not have a pre-planned activity attached to them. Whilst it is good to plan, there is (clearly) only so much you can prepare for.
These two lockdowns and the spectacle of Covid-19 more generally have forced me to relax my grip on the reigns of my external existence. But this has made room for an unexpectedly refreshing source of inner security. At no other point in my life have I been so clearly able to see who and what is important to me; that’s why, I think, I no longer feel the need to ask what and when.
If I could speak to myself before that first lockdown, I would say something to the effect of “LOOSEN UP! YOU ARE NOT GOING TO COMBUST JUST BECAUSE YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT YOU WILL BE DOING IN A MONTH!” And although it is quite extreme for a pandemic to have taught me this lesson, I am nonetheless incredibly grateful that it did.