Pandemic life: "We can no longer get away with being self-contained hermits"

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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"It is no secret to those who know me well that I like to remain organised. So much so, that when using a sleep recording app last year there was evidence of me uttering that I was in fact “so organised” at 3:00am whilst entirely unconscious. This may of course sound like a trait to value, and in many senses it is. The need to never miss a deadline and the ability to consistently stick to my word are skills that have done and will continue to aid me in learning or workplace environments. However, with such a personal sense of responsibility comes immense stress, and when I just can’t get the words on the page of my university essay or know that I only ticked off two tasks on my ever-growing to-do list…I could cope better.

"The pandemic was a help and hindrance to this characteristic of mine. In terms of time, lockdown gave us reams of it. With nowhere to be and nobody to see, all there was to do was get things done. Cleaning, working, creating, and studying was the soundtrack of my days, allowing me to climb into bed that night feeling rather smug that everything was finished and that I had been ultra-productive.

"Now that we can no longer get away with being self-contained hermits, completing a list of tasks is no longer as straight forward a process. No, I would certainly not swap the past few weeks of lunches in the garden and shopping trips for endless days of work, but those precious hours of nothing-ness designed for keeping on top of responsibilities are growing few and far between.

"Perhaps you can relate to the overwhelming feeling of unproductivity at the end of the day. On one day I could write a whole essay and feel like I’d conquered the world, and the next, write two and feel like I had been sluggish and lazy. We set ourselves this bar of productivity that we expect ourselves to meet or exceed every day, no matter our mental state or circumstances. It sounds a cliché, but we can never do more than our best at the time, and sometimes my best is writing the title and date at the top of a piece of paper before collapsing into bed.

"However, with the emergence from lockdown (dare I say it) comes new opportunities and experiences that are far more exciting to organise than assessments and cleaning products. The anticipation of a summer in which I can abandon many of my responsibilities and simply enjoy myself is on the horizon, minus the guilt of not completing a mammoth to-do list. Of course this is not the case for everyone, and when I secure a job after I graduate I will look back at myself with envy, but whilst being a student I will happily make the most of it.