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08.03.2021- Back to Life, Back to Reality?

As spring unfurls its bountiful blooms and the days grow lighter and longer with every cross on the calendar, it's easy to feel a little bit more hopeful than I think any of us have since the start of the year. I've seen a lot of people online saying that they've found this lockdown the most difficult to navigate of the three (!) we've had here in the UK. Honestly, I'd probably have to agree. The novelty of the first lockdown has all but evaporated, and, if we're being honest, the second lockdown wasn't really a lockdown at all. This time around I've felt much more anxious about life in general, and have been well and truly riding that coronacoaster, with the emotional ups and downs hitting me a lot harder than they had done previously. 

It's been a fortnight since we were presented with the roadmap to the end of this lockdown- a phased return to 'normality' between now and 21 June, when (although I'll believe it when I see it), social distancing will be at an end and life as we knew if BC (before Covid) can resume. Something to rejoice about surely? You'd have thought to, but, in all honesty, the idea of a return to 'normal' fills me with dread. Between now and this time last year, my life has changed in ways that I don't think I'd have been able to predict in my wildest dreams. I've been made redundant because of the pandemic, so in that sense my 'normal' no longer exists. And, although I still find myself getting irrationally angry and upset about the circumstances surrounding losing my job, I can't say that I'm sad to be leaving that chapter of my life behind. My previous Monday-Friday existence was one of feeling absolutely shattered all of the time, hauling myself into an overcrowded office, commuting every day (flexible working was a myth until 2020, am I right?), and feeling like I was compromising so many other aspects of my life because of how much my job was taking out of me. And, on reflection, the scary thing was how normal that was. 

Now? The time and space to think about the bigger picture over the last year has really made me appreciate the small things. I'm grateful every morning that I can wake up without stressing about dashing out of the house for the train. Grateful for the huge season ticket refund I got last April. Spending more time at home over the last twelve months has allowed me to claw back some of that fabled 'work life balance' which I didn't believe was attainable before. For the first time in a LONG time, I've put myself first. Granted, it hasn't all been plain sailing (we have, after all, been living through a global pandemic), but if making it through the last twelve months has taught us anything it's that we only get one go at this game of life. Every day is precious. 

With that in mind, I can't say that I'm particularly craving a return to 'normal' as it was. I've realised over the last year just how much of myself I'd lost in the fog of worrying about what I 'had' to be doing rather than what I 'should' be doing. Yes, I can't wait to see (and hug!) my friends. I'd love a change of scenery when it's safe to travel outside of this particular postcode. But, as for the rest? The culture of toxic presenteeism, the underappreciation, the sheer unfiltered rudeness of the London commuter? I'd rather keep hold of this new normal, thanks. 

How are you feeling about the end of lockdown?

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


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