“Do you want a pint?” asks my boyfriend as we relax in a London pub on a chilly January evening.
“What’s going on there?” I ask, staring at the tiny tv hidden away in the corner.
“Oh, it’s the big virus that’s broken out in China. COVID or something. It’s been going on for a while now - do you want a pint?”
“Haven’t heard about it.”
“Yeah, they reckon the big fat plague is back and ready to get us all. DO YOU WANT A PINT?”
And so our lovely Saturday night in the pub continued. I didn’t bat another eyelid about the big fat plague. Completely oblivious to how lucky I was to even be standing within a 2m distance of my boyfriend. Little did I know that the overpriced, flat pint I was sipping would be sorely missed only two months later.
Lockdown & Me
I live in lively Wimbledon- a hub of yummy mummies, posh dogs and faced paced businessmen. It is a fabulous place to live.
My three housemates and I moved here after completing our masters the year before. The girls are without a doubt the most wonderful and ridiculous people I’ve ever met.
We used to do most things together. The gym, socialising, practising (we’re all singers - poor neighbours), shopping and making food. Sometimes Naomi even sat outside the bathroom door whilst I showered. It was pretty full-on. But we loved it.
When lockdown hit we all decided to return to our family homes. All self-employed - we knew this pandemic would be a struggle. At least with our families, there would be food on the table even if we were down to our last penny.
So off I travelled back to glorious Yorkshire.
Nine weeks later and I am seriously missing London, my friends and the pub.
Although it's been a struggle, I’ve learnt some pretty great things. Lockdown has helped me understand what keeps me sane, what I value and how I deal with distance.
I’m taking these discoveries with me into post-lockdown life.
When it finally arrives...
Discovery 1 - Everyone is obsessed with themselves
Ever had a zoom call where you don’t look at yourself at least 80% of the time?
No, I don’t think anyone has.
Being on camera is exhausting. I sit through my Saturday night fancy dress quizzes and I CONSTANTLY STARE AT MYSELF.
Usually, when I chat with my friends we are out and about. I’m looking at them, out of the window, at the woman across the road - anywhere apart from at my own face.
During Zoom calls, I miss the ends of stories; too busy counting the wrinkles on my forehead.
Obviously I used Facetime before lockdown but it was never my primary method of communication. Never before have our interactions with others been so focused on ourselves.
I am very grateful for video calls during this pandemic but I can’t wait to get back to real-life conversations.
Lesson learnt- Do not take real-life conversations for granted.
Discovery 2 - Live experiences are unbeatable
As a performer, I find nothing more exhilarating than a trip to the theatre. Watching London's venues shut down one by one was a disheartening experience.
If you’re not a theatre fan this won’t be a big deal. But it’s shown me how much I rely on the arts to keep me motivated. It reminds me to stay focused and work hard to achieve my goals as a performer.
I guess it’s like a mad football fan having to watch repeats because the game has stopped. It’s hard to watch the things you’re passionate about crumble and stop so suddenly.
The National Theatre released recorded performances of past productions, which has been amazing. But you can't reproduce the buzz felt when sitting in a live audience.
I can’t wait to get back and watch as much theatre as I can from an old, slightly dirty, red velvet chair.
Lesson learnt - Book the tickets. You won’t regret it.
Discovery 3 - I’m in a love/hate relationship with Social Media
I love social media because it keeps me updated, makes me laugh and introduces me to new people and brands.
I hate Social media because it’s overflowing with opinions, distractions and big fat lies.
Like any relationship, space is healthy. I learnt early on in lockdown that my relationship with social media is no different.
I don’t have to stare at every selfie posted and feel deflated because I didn’t do my makeup that day. I don’t have to read every complaint, Carol, from number 32 has about her daily trip to Tesco. I don’t have to listen to celebrities telling me to stay at home as they kick back in their million-pound mansions.
Take breaks, be kind to yourself and remember that people only post what they want you to see.
Lesson Learnt - Take all content with a pinch of salt.
Discovery 4 -It’s good to relax
London life is so busy. Full of constant travelling and everything happening “on the go”.
No matter how many books I buy I never get a chance to read them. No matter how early I set off somewhere I always feel stressed when I arrive. Lockdown has been a great chance to relax and cleanse.
Every day I'm more comfortable with my own thoughts. I’ve become good at baking and had time to work on my business. I've read books and learnt about things I never knew would interest me.
After being swamped by busy vibes and pressure for so long, the lockdown wasn’t a welcomed break but a needed one.
I don’t want it to last forever. But I hope I can go into the post-lockdown life with a clearer head and a little more sanity.
Lesson Learnt - It’s not normal to feel stressed 24/7.
Discovery 5 -Physical & Mental health go hand in hand
During the first week of lockdown, I did nothing. I exhibited my bad moods through long Netflix marathons. Combined with the consumption of many chocolate oranges and glasses of red wine: it was a sorry sight.
Prior to the pandemic, I was in a good healthy place. I was going to the gym 4-5 times a week, eating (reasonably) healthy and taking care of my skin.
Lockdown had made me sulky. I spent the first few weeks feeling sorry for myself and doing nothing about it.
After speaking to my personal training pal, I was roped into trying out a workout plan. I protested at first - accepting my new life as a hermit - but she insisted.
I changed my diet, went back to three healthy meals a day and cut out alcohol. I tried to fit in 10,000 steps every day and completed a workout 5 days a week.
Not only have I lost a bit of lockdown weight but I feel SO much better. My energy is back, I'm sleeping well and my mood has lifted.
I always knew physical health was important but I never realised how much it affected the way I live. After lockdown, I may still complain about going to the gym but I will remember how good it feels to feel good.
Lesson Learnt - The exercise is worth it.
Discovery 6- Distance is manageable
It can be rubbish. But it’s manageable.
With a tight-knit friendship group and supportive boyfriend, I’ve realised how lucky I am. Although we can’t see each other right now we can still speak and somehow the end of the phone doesn’t feel that far away.
I can’t be angry at anyone for isolation, we're all in the same boat. Although I can’t wait to throw my arms around people, the distance isn't painful because we’re all in it together.
Fortunate to be with my family right now, I am forever grateful for their constant support and love. It’s crazy how close we’ve grown over the past weeks.
Yet I’ve grown close to others too. People I’m not isolated with.
Lockdown has created a strange but strong bond between people. It’s been a reminder that no matter how far away we may be, the support and love we share still remains.
Lesson Learnt- The best people will stick around no matter what.
Discovery 7 - I will spend money on anything
Before writing this blog I was scouring ASOS for a new top.
Why?! I’m going nowhere.
Clothes, gadgets, food - any excuse I have to buy something I will do it.
I see girls on Social Media in matching loungewear and I am desperate to buy some. My multicoloured Pyjama bottoms and oversized hoodie do exactly the same job. Yet still, I’m sucked into trendy adverts and clever marketing.
No one can see me except my family and dog and they definitely don’t care.
Online shopping is my enemy. I’ve made a pact to spend my money only on necessities. I will not divulge any pennies into anything I don’t need.
Lesson Learnt- My bank account is healthier without ASOS.
Discovery 8 - A place does not a person make
I’ve spent a lot of time this past year reading time out. Searching for something to do with my weekend.
Making dinner with my housemates was not “fun enough” and going to the local pub with my uni mates was not “wild enough”.
We spent a lot of time scouring the streets of London. Ending up in an expensive bar with cool lights. Pretty much the same as the one round the corner from our house.
Right now all I want to do is have a cup of tea with the people I love. I want to dive into my housemates' room in the morning and dance around to Taylor Swift. I want to work out in an actual gym. I want to eat out at Nandos. I want to kiss my boyfriend. I want to go round to my aunts to wish her happy birthday. I want to hug my grandma when I deliver her shopping.
Lockdown has highlighted how much I take these simple things for granted.
I don’t care about going up the shard or sweating in a nightclub until 4 am.
I want to see the people I want to see when I want to see them.
Life doesn’t need to be crazy or different to be fun.
I should take advantage of the lovely things that exist around me.
My happiness isn’t expensive because it comes from the free company I keep.
Lesson Learnt- The place is irrelevant, the person isn't.
Lockdown has been an emotional rollercoaster. It will continue to be. I can't do anything about that but I can remember the lessons it has taught me for years to come.
To finish, here is a list of things I miss from pre-lockdown and some things that I really don’t.
Things I miss
- Lots of people I love
- Sunny day trips
- The local pub
- Summer BBQ’s
- Sitting in someone's house
- Hugging people
- Beer Gardens
- The kind woman from Cafe Nero that knows my order
- Not having time to make my bed
- The gym
Things I don’t miss
- Real-life clothes shopping
- Going to parties I didn’t want to go to
- Spending £60 on a restaurant bill
- Central London on a Saturday
- Wearing makeup