The Return to Normal: Is it all that it seems?


We’ve recently emerged from a four month lockdown here in the UK, weeks spent indoors with no access to our usual haunts and shops. No getting a little too drunk after a few post work bevs, or spending a little too much money because you get carried away having fun at a bar.

Sounds awful right? Wrong.

Lockdown was in place for over 3 months, which seems totally nuts, and at first I really thought I’d struggle with the concept of staying in indefinitely. I worried that it would have a negative impact on my mental health, especially given I spent three months furloughed so days turned into weeks quickly, and after the initial feeling of a school snow day I’d begin to slowly retreated into my lowest place.

I know that in saying this, I am standing at a very privileged viewpoint. Not everyone’s version of lockdown was a positive experience.

In the last couple of weeks since lockdown has eased, I’ve felt more anxious than I have in 4 months as the societal pressures of having and doing it all begin to rear their delightful head.

As someone who previously spent probably 5 out of 7 nights out, whether it was at a dinner or a bar – or even working late – I couldn’t have been more shocked at my lack of delight.

The last four months have been filled with more positives than I could count; for the first time since coming to London five years ago I feel as if I’ve finally slowed down and I’m not just yet another moving cog in the rat race.

The pressures of travelling to many places, or eating at the latest trendy place in London, were paused for 4 months – and a welcomed pause at that, for both my energy levels and bank balance. For the first time in 5 years – and sadly I am not joking – I’ve made it to the end of the month with actual money in my account. M-a-d-n-e-s-s.

I felt a real gap in my headspace as I stopped comparing what I’m doing with what other people were, and I stopped feeling like I had to prove just how much fun I was having constantly with #travelinspo or #latestrestaurant. The need to prove to former acquaintances that dropping out and not going to uni didn’t necessarily = failure. A stupid problem entirely created in my own mind, and by my own narrative. But that feeling eased – and actually for the first time I realised there is more to life than going out and being somewhere constantly.

But on top of that, I’ve spent time learning and consuming things I’d put off for months; books, documentaries, articles. Things that normally I’d get in from work and be too tired to do, but suddenly I found myself with time to do this and those small things have had a huge impact on me as a person.

I’ve had time to think – maybe even overthink – about things that have happened in the past. Things I regret, things I wish I had done differently, and things I want to do in the future to ensure these monumental mistakes are not repeated. I’ve found closure in things I never thought I’d have it in me to do, and I’ve repaired relationships with family members in the downtime I have had by doing their shopping or lending a helping hand. I’ve also realized things that perhaps just aren’t for me, and that’s okay too.

I spent nearly four months with my partner and his family. An experience at first which was daunting but couldn’t have been more fun. It’s hard not to feel positive when you’re seeing first hand a loving and caring family, who are so close and would do anything for each other. I’ll be the first to admit that being around that kind of positivity is incredibly powerful and can have such a profound impact on your mindset. We’ve since returned to London, and I miss it already. Bonus of that his parents had just got three cats - two of which were kittens.

I know that my version of lockdown is not the same for everyone, and in saying I will miss it I come from an extremely privileged standpoint. I am incredibly lucky that my version was positive, and truly has done wonders to my outlook, and I am incredibly daunted that I’ll fall into old habits that I’ve finally kicked in the last few months.

I'm not saying every day was a eat, pray, love day - of course everyone has bad days. We're human, afterall.

Lockdown has forced me to take a step back, operate at a slower pace and generally be much calmer day to day. Something I’ve truly needed for some time.

SO, whilst I am truly excited to see some of my favourite restaurants again and continue to my foodie quest, there's a huge part of me that misses the stages of lockdown that were filled with such positives.


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