Pandemic life: "the fear of disappointment after disappointment"

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

Jenny Bathurst
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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"Despite having lived through over a year of uncertainties, they nevertheless continue to be a source of stress. Perhaps it’s the fear of disappointment after disappointment, or even lockdown’s way of making everything feel one hundred times worse, but there is something unnerving about not having control over a future situation. Not that I have ever dealt massively well without having control. All it takes is for a friend to suggest meeting at “whatever time” the following day and my palms start to sweat at the spontaneity. So you can imagine my mild panic at having no indication at all surrounding my return to university for the summer term.

"Having been ordered home by the government in early December and not returning to study since, I lost an entire term of face-to-face education to the grips of the virus. I consider myself particularly grateful in this time in which I have been living with a group of good friends in a village that is surrounded by countryside fit for countless walks and picnics. However, not everyone has been this lucky. For those students in built up areas living under the same roof for months, no guidance on a return date for the experience we have all been paying for has been unmotivating and even overwhelming. This lack of certainty only encourages many to return to university before government guidance allows, in the fear that it could be months and months before learning (and our social lives) returns to normality and they can continue the experience we have anticipated for years.

"Ensuring the safety of the public will of course remain the government’s priority, and rightly so. But I think I speak on behalf of all university students when I say that we have received very little recognition throughout the entirety of this pandemic. Perhaps I sound like I’m throwing my toys out the pram, and of course I recognise that the vulnerable deserve the utmost attention and support in this turbulent time, however keeping us in the dark is growing a little repetitive now.

"The past twelve months have been a constant reminder of the uncertainties of life. Even trivial pleasures such as trying on an item of clothing (not always a pleasure depending on how much I last ate) have been taken away from us, and it has been up to everyone as individuals to keep a brave face and be grateful for the little things. But sometimes we deserve to want more. I am not suggesting that we all march the streets in protest for every detail that has been missed this pandemic, but I do believe that it is okay to feel disappointed that something didn’t turn out the way you hoped it would.

"Perhaps it will be a week before I am back at university, perhaps it will be twenty-four. Either way, I will never force myself to feel guilty at the frustration I have occasionally experienced. Would you have a year ago even imagined you would have made it this far through a global pandemic? I doubt I would have."