Pandemic life: "November. What is the actual purpose of it?"

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).

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Here is her latest contribution.

November. What is the actual purpose of it? The warmer months are well and truly over, there’s a 70% chance that it will rain any second and you are considered absurd if you even mention the idea of putting up a few Christmas decorations round the house. November seems like one of those in-between months, where students are well settled into the academic year and are simply bobbing along with life at an even pace. I realise often that when well-meaning friends and strangers ask what I’ve been up to that week I find myself shrugging my shoulders and uttering the same old “just uni and work really”, despite the fact that I might have had the best evening the night before and had a really exciting week. Perhaps my 20-year-old memory is not serving me as well as it should be, but it seems that I focus on the colourless and the mundane over the highlights of my days. That, or I just realise that somebody asking about my week is simply a social nicety and they’re not actually deeply interested in the ins and outs of the past seven days.

How easy it is to focus on the things that take up the majority of our time. I am always careful to not complain about my university experience seeing as 1) I am so thankful for the opportunity to have an enriched education and 2) this is the path I chose to go down; however I would be lying if every day I strode in with a skip in my step, eager and raring to learn. We British love to moan, don’t we. It’s so easy to find the negatives, especially as the darker months draw in and thick winter coats and scarves are required whenever we leave the house. I love autumnal walks through the local gardens and buckets of sickly hot chocolate, but as many young people do I consistently look forward to when times might change. “When will the evenings get lighter and I can see more of my friends?” “When will there be more to my life than just lectures and studying?” “When will I have more time for myself?” We wait and wait and wait for things to improve or times to change when I am sure that for many of us we will look back at this period of our lives and fondly reminisce.

So, November. It might be dreary and wet. It might feel like a pointless in-between stage of our academic year. But I know that wishing my life away until a ‘happier’ or more varied time won’t improve the situation. As a child I was constantly searching for excitement and that’s not a spark I want to lose, but being content with the everyday must be important too. Without the repetition of daily life, we would lose the habitual comforts that go alongside it – even for the most adventurous of people that can’t be a good thing.