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07.09.2020- New Starts in September

There’s something about September which is synonymous with new starts, but this year it feels stranger than ever to be immersed in the sensation of things changing, especially after a year which has been marked both by a huge sense of upheaval and a simultaneous sense of stasis. In short, a lot has changed but it’s difficult to think about how or what when so many days of this year have felt exactly. the . same. Even the start of lockdown feels like it was years ago, and I can’t quite rewind to the headspace I was in back in March- naively optimistic about things springing back to normality (whatever that means) and still pragmatic about the future.

If anything, the arrival of September stands as a marker of how much of the year has passed us all by. Six months on from the start of lockdown, we’ve had a spring and summer which we’ve spent looking out through windows, savouring our daily escapes out of the house, or, if you’ve been shielding, facing the long wait to do something as everyday as walking around the block. It’s hard to get to this point in the year, faced with the prospect of shortening days and the instinct to hibernate which winter brings, and not feel like 2020 has been defined by a frustrating sense of uncertainty, fear and lack of direction. As humans in the 21st century, we’re not used to standing still, and have been constantly told that occupation, forward planning and looking ahead are rules to live by. If the last six months have taught us anything, it’s that this simply isn’t a sustainable way to carry on- progress for the sake of progress, competitive presenteeism and a culture which places an overwhelming influence on being busy at all costs. Irrespective of the impact on our health, our relationships and our environment, we’ve been conditioned to keep going, without thinking about the long-term damage which we might be doing. I can’t help but think that the pandemic is a reminder that humanity, irrespective of what it likes to think, isn’t invincible. 

September, as the turning point from summer to autumn, always makes me feel strangely refreshed. Autumn is, I suppose, the most dramatic marker of seasonal change, as trees transform in front of our eyes and chillier temperatures have us all reaching for our coats after a solid summer hiatus. This year, however, there’s something a little different in the air- a sense of trepidation as life adjusts, of uncertainty as so many of us grapple with what the impact of the last six months, and of a reluctance to lose the gains which lockdown afforded so many of us. Returning to a busy, overcrowded office, to a world where ‘work-life-balance’ felt like a truly intangible myth rather than something we could actually achieve. Living for the weekend. Pleading for the right to flexible working. Falling asleep on the train every morning. These are concessions which so many of us made when we felt like there was no alternative; now we know that another existence is possible, so why compromise the rewards in favour of the risks? 

If I’ve learnt anything over the last few months, it’s how unhappy I was in my life pre-lockdown. Without going into the specifics (and heaven knows that’s a story for another post completely), I was spreading myself too thinly, feeling guilty for putting myself first and increasingly frustrated by constantly banging my head against a brick wall at work. Whilst so much of the future remains uncertain, I’m determined to capitalise on what September brings- embracing change, going high when others go low, and, perhaps most importantly, staying true to myself and my gut. After 30 September starts together, it’s got me this far...

What does September mean to you?

(Image credit: Sarah Farrell, please do not reproduce without permission.)


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