Lockdown! When I entered 2020 watching fireworks in Barcelona, I told myself that this year would be the year… as I’m sure a lot of people did. In January, I went to Bologna and Venice and in February, literally two weeks before the UK was completely shut down, I was in Paris celebrating my 24th birthday. Never did I imagine that very shortly after, the country would be told to stay home (for what feels like indefinitely) and I would be working full time from my sofa with only my boyfriend to keep my company.
One thing I do want to say is how incredibly lucky I feel to be living in a happy home with a stable income and good health. Outside of my bubble is a global pandemic that is tragically taking tens of thousands of lives and the severity and impact of Covid-19 should not be underestimated. That being said, while the disease has had a spectrum of negative consequences, there is still some positivity that can be taken from the situation and elements of life that I quite simply forgot.
Pre-pandemic, I was living a fast paced life that left me feeling like some kind of Tasmanian devil. I was dragging my very non-morning self out of bed everyday, frantically finding some office appropriate attire, kind of brushing my hair, then spending 80 minutes a day (and hundreds of pounds a month) commuting on the dreaded Central Line. I’d then arrive at the office at 9am, grab a coffee, say hello to my colleagues and get ready to work a full day of work. Do not get me wrong, I really do love my job and often find myself sitting in my office grinning at the fact I’ve managed to find something I really enjoy doing but I do not deny the fact that due to the irregular hours that come with a career in the legal profession and my awful ability to prioritise myself, my work/life balance is not entirely there (and I doubt has ever been there). In the 3 years I’ve been working full time in London, I’ve transformed from a skinny little 21 year old skipping out of university to a 24 year old paralegal that has a mild addiction to expensive london lunchtime food that has seen me double in size! Then there is sleep. What sleep? I need time to just “do nothing” so going to bed at a reasonable time is not a thing I would usually entertain. You get the idea! At the weekends, I was very rarely at home and would find myself gallivanting off back into London for dinner, drinks, cocktails and bottomless brunches or jumping in the car or on a plane to go and explore somewhere new. Basically, I was just whirling around all over the place working hard and playing harder.
So, you may be thinking ‘Great story Kate, who cares?’ – at a very high level, the key thing that the pandemic has taught me is to just slow. the. fuck. down. and take the time to work out my priorities and the things that I actually really enjoy doing so that when this pandemic ends, I can maybe shift that work/life balance back in the right direction and remember the important things in life.
Here are just some of things I have realised from the confines of my one bedroom flat during the first five weeks of lockdown:
- I like Cooking
I really like cooking homemade food from recipes and I’m actually not bad at it. Spending an hour a day methodically putting ingredients together to create something is surprisingly satisfying and surprisingly good for your waist line…. who knew? (obviously not me!)
2. The importance of documenting life
I’ve always had a bit of an obsession about documenting life. I have countless unfinished diaries that contain random excerpts of my life that at the time seemed so mundane but is fascinating to read years later. These really are unprecedented times which are important to record.
3. My boyfriend is a very good egg.
For 5 weeks, its just been him, me and a whole of spare time – we have NEVER spent this much interrupted time together and he’s been great. My new chef abilities has seen his washing up pile double in size, flowers have arrived when I’m feeling down, he’s been dragged on long walks, let me overtake the front room with my latest hobby and just generally had the patience of a saint. I feel incredibility lucky to have him – lockdown buddies for life!
4. My relationship with food is BAD
During my A levels, I went on an extreme diet and dropped 2 stone in 2 months. I emerged from revision hibernation with A levels and a new slim body but also an unhealthy obsession with calories and thinking constantly about what I was eating next. That still exists today and I find my weight yo-yoing where I stuff my face one day with quick food and extreme diet the next to try and fix the damage. I really want to use the extra time to form good food habits and fix the relationship!
5. We are so incredibly luck to have the NHS
I feel extremely privileged to be able to do my job from the comfort of my home. Our NHS workers are on the frontline having to expose themselves to the disease to help others. Some are isolating away from their family and some are even losing their lives. They are fearless and incredible. We also don’t have to worry that if we are unfortunate enough to find ourselves requiring care, we don’t have to pay a single penny and that is truly amazing.
6. I didn’t realise how much I love being in London
London is like nowhere else in the world. I travel to many European cities and always find myself thinking “there is no place like home” – the history, the culture, the food choices (!), the parks, the things to do, the buzz! I very much miss travelling in with hoards of people every morning and finishing my day with a mass of choice on my hands for what to do next. I just can’t wait to get back to the city.
7. The virtual world can be a great place
There are so many virtual tools available to help us plug the gap where we are unable to see our friends, family and work colleagues. Going into this pandemic, I never expected to be spending most weeks taking part in virtual quizzes or bingo! Within minutes, you can bring 40+ people together to have a chat and do an activity together. We are so connected, even though we aren’t together.
8. We are all human
Another thing which I think a lot of people forgot is that we are all human. We are all facing differing elements of life that effect everyone regardless of status – some people have children, some people are completely isolated, some people find themselves unemployed, some people are suffering with crippling anxiety. We are all facing different things but now, more than ever, we need to make sure to look after each other.
If you are stuck for ideas on what to do during the lockdown, I am planning to make further posts with ideas on what you can get up to. In the meantime, have a think about what lockdown has taught you…