2020: A Complete Write Off?
Updated: Feb 26
It's that time of the year when we start reflecting on the past twelve months. Usually, we consider what we have achieved and the memories we have made as plans for the following year are being formulated; giving us a sense of accomplishment and excitement about our futures.
During the 2020 global pandemic however, the very tempo of life has stagnated and we are living in a world on pause. We cannot plan, we have made far less memories and few of us have been able to achieve what we had planned to back in January 2020. Our lives have changed unimaginably as freedoms we are accustomed to have been stripped away from us and we have been denied basic physical contact with those we love. The COVID-19 pandemic has had an impact on peoples lives on a scale never seen before in human history and that fact alone is rather hard to comprehend. It feels like someone has grabbed the earth and turned it on its head as the rules and regulations governing us have encroached more and more into our daily lives. It is hard to believe that in March in the UK we could not leave our homes except for a short burst of exercise in a local area. Depriving such freedoms from a liberal society is exceptionally difficult to get used to.
I had come home from university in February due to the latest in a longgg line of strikes anticipating a few weeks stay at home. But I never returned except to move out of my shared house in June. I had envisioned staying in York until the end of summer, travelling, then relocating to a city with a sparkling new graduate job.
Instead, I was attempting to write final essays and a dissertation in a house of three other people who also had careers/education to be getting on with. To say this new office arrangement was problematic is an understatement. My essays suffered as a result and I graduated uni online and couldn't help but feel like this monumental moment had been stolen from me forever. My university friends were scattered across the country and the magnitude of the moment was non-existent. There was nothing to do but put on a fancy dress, drink lots of prosecco and hope for a graduation at some point in the future.
My life plan had been momentarily thrown sky high and I was back at my parents house working full-time as a waitress- I felt 16 again! But I soon realised the pandemic was positively transforming my lifestyle in a number of ways:
1 - I rediscovered my love for cycling and the outdoors
My childhood joy of cycling was reborn as the weather started to get warmer and I have since spent many hours cycling around the country lanes that surround my house (I have never considered myself to be a sporty person but surely this counts right?) Over lockdown, travelling long distances wasn't really allowed and so I learned to fall back in love with the landscape I had grown up around and appreciated my time outside of the house 10x more. The pace of life slowed dramatically and I began to feel reconnected to outdoor spaces which reflected the simplicity and tranquility of my new temporary lifestyle.
2 - Time with my family
Having been at university, the time I had spent with my extended and close family had drastically reduced over the last three years but since lockdown I have never felt closer to them. With the threat of another lockdown looming, Saturday coffees at my grandparents have became a precious time to enjoy the simple things in life. Following a local lockdown, family coffee mornings have relocated to Zoom and attendance is mandatory! On another note, I have been loving the creative online approaches families and friends have been taking to stay connected to each other - many generations have taken a more positive approach to social media than they previously had.
3 - A universal reset of perspective
Thanks to the pandemic, 2020 has reset the speed of life for many of us. With employers locking down on their staff intake and fresh job opportunities few and far between, I have had time to properly consider what I want from my life and what I want from my career. It has been a frustrating yet exciting experience as I consider what I can and want to achieve in a post-covid-19 world. I have temporarily been given precious time to get creative, to write and to think about my future in a way that I would struggle to do in a 9-5 job. After the national lockdown earlier this year, millions of employees quit their day jobs in favour of a strikingly different career path. Without being furloughed, millions of us would not have considered how our lives could be different, happier even.
For many, the most difficult challenge of the global pandemic has been spending time in their own company. But if lockdown has taught me anything, it is the importance of enjoying my own company, of spending time to reflect on myself ,my progress and my happiness. 2020 has been a year of universal self-reflection and I cannot help but feel many peoples lifestyles have altered for the better :)
My cousin recently complained that the pandemic has "robbed us of our memories". Whilst I agree with this sentiment I cannot help but feel that our memories are what we make of them. Sure, the traditional memory-making experiences such as festivals, weddings, parties, concerts etc have been denied us and this is a frustrating fact. But 2020 has left us with another type of memory. A rarer one, from which we will remember a year of simpler living, of shared, intimate experiences with our closest family members, of simple entertainments and a renewed appreciation for our health, for our lives and for our friends.
I would like to add that my thoughts are with those who have suffered the loss of a loved one to COVID-19 or its complications and those currently struggling with this destructive virus as well as medical staff across the globe who are working tirelessly to put an end to Coronavirus. I am aware that my experience of the pandemic has been exceptionally privileged - those affected are never far from my mind.
- Ellie x