I sat down to write this article over a week ago and battled with extreme writer’s block, staring at the mirror above my desk hopelessly waiting for a wave of inspiration to hit.
“What are you trying to say?” My dad asked me. I didn’t really know. I know there are things we will miss about lock-down, and I also know there are things we certainly will not miss. I took a week out of writing, cleared my head of all the ideas running around inside it and here I am for a second time, except this time in a Pret-a-Manger, typing in between sips of my flat white.
I opened Twitter the other day, and to my surprise the hashtag #ThingsIWillMissAboutLockdown was trending. Perfect! I thought. It was like a gift from the Gods. I’d been struggling to find inspiration to write this article for days, yet here it was, like the answer to my prayers.
The most common answers included spending time with family, people being kind and a new appreciation for nature. Some more unique responses included being able to watch daytime TV, McDonald’s being closed, having more personal space and not having to wash your hair or wear make-up as often.
Beyond Twitter’s response and our new-found love for nature and This Morning, there were some more profound answers amongst them. One tweeted that they will miss having “found beauty in the humblest things” like their morning coffee or a daily dog walk. On a similar train of thought, many people expressed their enjoyment for the simplicity of our new lives, without the distraction of demanding jobs being balanced with a social life and family commitments.
I scrolled through hundreds of tweets, but when it came to writing the article, I still felt nothing. I closed my laptop, went out for a walk and hoped I’d return with a new wave of inspiration, but each time I tried I felt the same writer’s block… Until yesterday.
Lock-down has been tough for everyone’s mental health. I speak to my friends who all say they experience the same range of emotions; we have all become familiar with the ‘Coronacoaster’. Being thrust into this pandemic, I’ve had moments of sadness, regret and heartache. I’ve felt self-hatred and helplessness as I felt the endless string of days fade into one big blur of ‘corona time’, feeling as though I wasn’t achieving anything. Social media was as toxic as ever, I worried that because I hadn’t learnt three new languages, how to play the violin and written a novel that my worth was determined by my productivity during a pandemic.
This constant thought that “I’m not doing enough” and “I’m falling behind” was running through my mind like a broken record. In fact, these thoughts are a thing of the past. Pre-coronavirus, time was at a premium. Busy jobs balanced with family lives and social commitments meant that we pushed ourselves aside. The mental health pandemic was and is still a pressing issue. We abandoned ourselves in order to get that promotion or reach a deadline, all whilst making sure the kids get to school, our rent is paid on time and we manage to check in with our friends, so we don’t feel bad for letting everyone else down.
Whilst I’ve felt sadness, there have been moments where I have been overcome with joy, happiness and love. I too have taken pleasure in the small things, my morning coffee, a dog walk or seeing a friend for a socially distanced catch up. But these are not the things I will miss. I can make a morning coffee, go for a dog walk and catch up with a friend regardless of a pandemic, but that time to do nothing and stare at the mirror above my desk is what we’ll rarely have again.
For most of my life I’ve felt incredibly insecure. My first year of university was one of the hardest years of my life purely because of my lack of confidence. I’ve spent years hating my body and trying to change my physical appearance, to an extent where it stopped me being myself.
I saw a friend in Camden yesterday and as I sat on the tube home, I found myself thinking about this article. I realised I had tackled it with a pre-pandemic mindset: looking around me for some form of divine intervention that would provide the inspiration for me. I was too wrapped up thinking that going for brunch, cocktails or dinner would give me the light bulb moment I’ve been waiting for. In fact, this moment came when I got ready yesterday morning and felt good about myself. I looked in the mirror and for once didn’t feel insecure.
I realised that I’d had four months of ‘me’ time and a chance to tackle my insecurities. It was in that moment that I learnt what self-love really means to me. It occurred to me then that it is something so simple – the time to do nothing, that we will really miss. For the first time in our lives, we have time. Time for ourselves, and that’s what I’ll really miss about lock-down.
I guess that mirror above my desk did provide some inspiration after all!
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