"How many of us have in bottled up our own emotions about Covid-19?"

Sussex student Jenny Bathurst has been writing for us about pandemic life since lockdown began back in March last year.

Jenny Bathurst
Jenny Bathurst

She has now turned those columns into a book Lockdown Observed: Becoming an Adult Without Leaving the House.

The pandemic robbed Jenny of the chance to sit A levels. But she ended up with three As and is now studying journalism at the University of Brighton (Eastbourne campus).

Here is her latest contribution.

"There’s a certain part of my personality that I find particularly annoying, and that characteristic is my tendency to never quite be happy with the pace of my days and weeks. The idea of having an empty few days overwhelms to the point that I’d rather do anything but sit at home and rest, however in that panic I find I completely overbook myself by cramming every possible activity into the space of a ridiculously short period and therefore tire myself out entirely. This week has been a prime example of this trait of mine. I have now been back in my university town of Eastbourne for one week, and it has certainly been a time of adjustment. Adjusting to a new home and job, a new area of town, and a new academic year at the University of Brighton.

"With lectures around the corner, now should be the perfect opportunity to take it easy before the onslaught of studying and commuting begins, however taking it easy seems to be quite the opposite of how I have been spending my first week back. I don’t regret a moment of it and the time I have spent with friends who I haven’t seen in months has been so enjoyable, but it definitely gave me an excuse to bottle up any worries I had about all this ‘newness’ and keep busy. Whether this is a good thing to do I don’t know, but it’s safe to say that I haven’t offered myself much time at all to fear anything that worried me so much exactly a year ago when I didn’t know the town or anybody in it.

"I often wonder whether many of us have in fact bottled up our own emotions about Covid-19 and lockdown by keeping our heads down and simply getting on with it. It’s certainly a very British thing to do and perhaps a sign of strength and motivation, but how many of us have really acknowledged and digested that we just experienced (and are still experiencing) a global pandemic? We all had our own moments of frustration when an event was cancelled or we had to unexpectedly isolate, but how many of us threw every toy out of the pram and refused to carry on? I don’t think I know anyone of the kind.

"I think it’s important to stop and congratulate ourselves for persevering when we could have chosen to not carry on. In the same way that many university students this year have travelled to a new city being entirely thrown in the deep end after a difficult year, surely it’s an opportunity to give ourselves a pat on the back, whether it’s a big or a small victory. I love to socialise and stay busy, but (and excuse my arrogance for a moment) I am proud of myself for reaching this point when after such a challenging year I felt completely overwhelmed. And so we should all feel just as proud."