Pandemic life: why we shouldn't live in fear

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 can’t think of a single person who doesn’t enjoy sleeping. Yes, there are the strongminded and frankly quite strange individuals who wake at 4:00am and workout more in one morning than I have in my lifetime, but perhaps we will just count them as an anomaly. Anyway, I love sleep but that doesn’t mean that I have 100% success with it every time my head hits the pillow. Unlike many other teenagers I have often struggled with waking anytime past 8:00am and have only this summer begun to sleep in without the weight of university responsibilities on my mind. Summer holidays have always been a strange combination of boredom and enjoyment, often peppered with the odd holiday and work set by school or college, however this year the break has felt like a well-needed but hectic blur.

"As the wise Taylor Swift once said, ‘August slipped away into a moment in time’, and it seems that myself and most others agree. After a year of uncertainty and abnormality, it doesn’t necessarily feel like a well-deserved break after a full academic year at university but a continuation of our time at home minus the studying and incredibly awkward video lectures. As restrictions slowly begin to ease I personally haven’t seen a decline in Covid cases in my circle, with many of my friends and others around me quarantining with the virus. I feel grateful to have not yet had to isolate, but it is beginning to feel like a rather strange game of Grandma’s Footsteps – if I don’t watch my back and remain incredibly vigilant, it could be me next cooped up in my home baking six banana breads a day.

"It feels as if we are to continue with our summer as normal, boost the economy and return to our lives before March 2020, however if we are to come into contact with the wrong person or even linger too long in one place then it’s game over for the next couple of weeks and all plans should be cancelled. I am reluctant to book anything expensive or exciting for fear of missing out, but surely this isn’t how we should still be living, in constant fear? I’ve had my first vaccine and am eagerly anticipating my second, and yet the prospect of quarantining is enough to frighten me into an average-summer-without-any-exciting-bits-shaped-box. Perhaps it’s just something that I have to accept, and with a part time cleaning job and many smaller day trips planned I am not suggesting that I am spending the summer like a hermit afraid to leave the house.

"Fear has always played a huge role in this pandemic, but should it? I think I’ve created this massive personal stigma around the idea of self-isolating, despite thousands, if not millions, of Brits having to quarantine and finishing the time period unscathed. This isn’t to suggest that we should recklessly ignore the risk of Covid and embrace the virus, but equally I don’t feel that we should allow fear to affect our everyday lives to the point where contentment and a relaxed summer is attainable. But if I go another summer next year without a holiday away I take no responsibility for my actions."