Pandemic life: “Regret is an appalling waste of energy"

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

Jenny Bathurst

The pandemic robbed her 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.

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If there were to be a quote that all first-year university students have used to death in the past fortnight, it would be guaranteed to be anything along the lines of “I can’t believe that our first year is over already!”/ “Where has the time gone this year?”/ “It feels like we’ve only been here for a few months!”

These words have not just been uttered by myself but almost every university student I have spoken to who is currently in the process of cramming all their belongings into bags in anticipation of travelling back home for the summer. Like everyone in the past year we have had to make sacrifices, and in our case that sacrifice equates to having lost roughly six months of time we should have spent on campus. University carries an abundance of stereotypes, and the few that remained such as the opportunity to make new friends and endless stir-fries were as enjoyable as expected. However, like everybody during this pandemic, there is that voice in my head asking, “what if?”. What if we had experienced the year we expected? What if I had spent those lost six months in my university town? What if I missed out academically and socially compared to other year groups? The list goes on.

There is an excellent quote by writer Katherine Mansfield that I find so helpful to reflect on when these counter-intuitive thoughts enter my mind: “Regret is an appalling waste of energy; you can’t build on it; it’s only good for wallowing in.” There is so much truth in this, perhaps more than I would like to admit when I reflect on how I think the year ‘should’ have played out. Dedicating time to wallowing in regret and disappointment does not change the situation and will not push me any further into the future I believe God has planned for me.

Looking forward has personally been the most effective way to stay positive throughout the past year-and-a-half, and I felt I did just that when receiving my first vaccine yesterday afternoon. Yes, physically I did look forward because the idea of seeing a needle being injected into my arm makes me want to vomit, but metaphorically also it felt a big moment. Although I didn’t get teary with emotion as many others have, it felt incredibly surreal to be sitting in a waiting room in what was once a Mothercare store knowing that I am halfway there to being fully vaccinated from a virus that has wreaked so much havoc. The fatigue and sore arm may have come hand-in-hand with the vaccination, but it’s a small price to pay to be able to look forward to a brighter future.

Something else to look forward to (apologies for my terrible attempt at a smooth transition from subject to subject) is my book event, which will be held at Chichester College this Wednesday on June 30th. The evening will celebrate the launch of my book Lockdown Observed: Becoming an Adult Without Leaving the House and will involve a short talk, some light refreshments, and outdoor socialising, all socially distanced and Covid safe. I would love to have as many people there as possible so please do buy a ticket using the link below. 100% of the proceeds from tickets sales will be donated to Freedom4GirlsUK, a charity providing period products and education to those in poverty here and abroad.