Pandemic life: fears and feelings one year on

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.

“Right now, my brain feels like mush” – these are the words that I typed out just a day before slamming the car doors shut and beginning the journey to Eastbourne for the first time as a new student at the University of Brighton. My head was a complete mash of emotions: sometimes desperate to begin this new chapter of my life and at other times willing to do anything else than leave my comfort zone. The day that this article is published I will yet again be trundling off to university but this time for my second year, moving to a new place just five minutes down the road from halls living with friends I have bonded with for a year now. To mark this passing year, I thought it might be interesting to react to my fears and feelings one year ago as I began a period full of unknowns.

Sep 2020: “I am yet to cram every bag and box in the boot of our car.”

Sep 2021. So am I. In fact, I think I will probably always delay the laborious notion of packing until the very last minute because my brain thinks that if I just leave it I will somehow get it done quicker when the time comes. In fact, it just becomes very stressful and normally results in a family argument over whether we will leave on time.

Sep 2020: “Exploring the town and the beaches surrounding the university is something that I am yet to do in detail also, however this will of course depend on the restrictions that may potentially be put in place.”

Sep 2021. Ohh dear. You know how everything started to seem like it was going to all return to normal and COVID 19 was just a thing of 2020? Sorry. ‘Potentially’ might not cut it.

Sep 2020: “I am entirely aware that the complete uncertainty is the primary cause of my fears.”

Sep 2021. Yep, still very true. Despite this being my second year of university there are still unanswered questions and concerns which I think are entirely natural whether you are returning to a similar environment or heading somewhere entirely new. I wouldn’t say fear is always a bad thing, and it’s definitely not a unique experience.

Sep 2020: “How am I supposed to grow as an individual and endure future challenges if I avoid any that come my way presently?”

Sep 2021. If I do say so myself, this is quite a true statement. Although actually I definitely stole this idea from somewhere else. I wasn’t this wise at eighteen. In fact, I should probably take this advice today. I want the next two years to be a complete breeze and to not face any challenges, but if that was the case then chances are that I would leave the university completely unchanged. Probably not healthy and probably not the idea of a life changing experience.

Last year was tough. I didn’t stay at university for more than a couple of months at one time, I had little opportunities to meet new people and there was a mountain of work to do with only the aid of online lectures. But do I wish that I did a gap year? Absolutely not. And I think that’s the sign that, really, my first year was nowhere near as scary as I thought it would be after all.