Pandemic life: "the hesitance remains"

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.

"I have often found that you can categorise individuals into two groups: always early or always late. Now you might argue that no, I am always perfectly on time, neither early or late, but in that case I would place you in the “always early” box because if you are anything like me I am sure that when the hour comes near you break out in a nervous sweat at the thought of being anything but ready and waiting on time.

"I consider myself to be one of those people who finds lateness rather disrespectful, until I am late and then of course I have a supposed ‘valid reason’ that I am outraged if anyone tries to contest. I am not strict only with appointments and lectures but extremely harsh on myself, setting myself times for the simplest of menial tasks such as when I should eat my lunch and making sure that I’m dressed by a certain point in the morning. These small responsibilities affect nobody but myself and yet I still strive to achieve these personal goals. In fact, my blood test is in forty-five minutes at the doctor’s surgery a thirty second walk away and I am already checking my phone every ten seconds to ensure I leave way in advance.

"Of course when the pandemic hit the pressure to turn up on time and make a great first impression suddenly vanished into thin air. If you have nowhere to go, there is no option for either punctuality or tardiness. Yes, the endless Zoom calls and Teams meetings did require a certain level of timekeeping, but I would be lying if I said there weren’t multiple occasions where I turned up with perfect hair and makeup but holey pyjama bottoms and fluffy slippers.

"Where before my calendar app was full of dates and events, the pandemic suddenly resulted in an empty void; yet now we’re slowly creeping back into periods of busyness. To some, the idea of throwing away their face coverings and ditching the hand sanitiser is a dream come true, and to others it is a nightmare. I think I find my preference somewhere in the middle, discerning when I feel more comfortable donning a mask and when I feel entirely safe without one.

"I love to make plans and meet friends, but the hesitance remains. In fact, I imagine it will do for some time. We are so accustomed to waving from a distance and greeting each other with our arms firmly at our sides that now we are permitted to hug and to welcome others into our home it feels all rather unnatural.

"Whether you are habitually early or routinely late, I wonder how quickly you will be jumping into ‘normal’ life? Because turning up nowadays feels like a win no matter what time you arrive, extra points if you don’t wear your holey pyjama bottoms.