A year has passed since we tumbled into a series of Lockdowns, stress, collective trauma, job losses, furlough, breakdowns, breakups, distance, loss and grief. But, has there been any light, any hope, any joy? We think so. We know how hard this last year has been for so many of you, we have shared a lot of words and feelings together over this past year and Letters from Lockdown was a real emotional highlight for us and it brought light and conversation with it.
So, here are some uplifting things that our writers wanted to share from over the last year with us.
At 5, I used to set up a pretend office under the covers, replete with torch, notebook and pen. I’d sit cross legged, lean over, and act like a writer, and just be thrilled with myself. I’d go between hmmming and chewing the end of the pen to waving it in the air with an aha! I couldn’t even write then – just long squiggly lines with the occasional semblance of a letter thrown in.
Lockdown caused me to reflect deeply about my dreams of being a writer – I knew at 5 that’s what I wanted! What have I been doing in the last 25 years since then? If not now, when?
So in 2020 I joined two writing collectives (The Scribbler’s Union and The Hysteria Collective). Now, I am working on two novels and am regularly writing and performing poetry.
Since those play-pretend times at 5 I have written, yes, but I would never have called myself a writer – until now.
I’ve always loved food – except for a brief flirtation with a wine/coffee/cigarettes style Parisian diet when I was 20 – but now, it is what I want to do for the rest of my life. I want to cook and eat and learn and it has only been through the time Lockdown has given me that I have really explored what that means for me. I cherish cooking for friends, eating and talking with them so much now. I cherish beautiful ingredients and recipes so much more now that I can stop and think about them. The time the last year has given me has changed the way I view my body, what I eat, how I socialise and what I love. I respect my own space more, my own time and honesty and for that I am so grateful.
Lockdown gave me time. I’d moved to London after my undergrad and was madly waiting tables to afford my rent while searching for a job in Publishing. Six months in, I was getting interviews, followed by silence. I’d started at a secondary school and saw my Publishing career fading away behind school bells. When lockdown came, it was the first time I’d paused in months. I had time to rethink and refocus. What did I want? I applied to do a Masters in Publishing, started various freelance gigs and gradually my career came back into view. Now, graduation is creeping closer and I’m excited for my future.
2020 was the year I learned how to look after my body and my mind. Lockdown encouraged me to start yoga and other forms of exercise from home, and eat better since there was more time to prep food. Being constantly anxious about getting ill, keeping track of what I ate and doing small amounts of exercise did wonders for my mental health. So, despite their hardships, these lockdowns have taught me to appreciate my body for all that it can do.
The three of us. The four of us. The six of us. This last year has brought me closer to you. Through a screen, through a keyboard, through a letter. A one-way mirror that allows me to see you. I am thankful for the last three hundred and sixty-five days for letting me get to know you better and love you more. I am thankful for the little moments and the times I feel light and serene. I have learnt to appreciate more. Oh, and I’m thankful for the opportunity to watch endless reruns of shows I’ve seen a thousand times, naturally.
Since lockdown began, I have been able to focus on, and take time to value, the important people in my life. Isolating with my family has been an experience I will always treasure, just because we have been able to spend so much time with one another. It has also allowed me to reflect upon my relationships with those I wasn’t isolating with – were they as meaningful and healthy as I thought they were? Due to this uniquely reflective period, I have been able to become closer to those important to me, while distancing myself from others who were causing more harm than good.
The past year has allowed me to take a step back from my life and critique it under a new lens – one that wants to make the most of things. I’ve made choices to prioritise myself more often, said goodbye to things that no longer brought me joy and found out what really motivates me. Through reminiscing pre covid times, I have been able to understand the kind of life I want to lead once normality resumes. I know myself better now, and moving forward I will try to have more of the good things and less of the bad.
Since the first lockdown, I have been able to figure out what I want to do after my degree, which I will be finishing this year. I’ve realised I want to get into Journalism and because of lockdown, I have had to write for various publications, become an editor myself and take part in webinars to hear from people in the industry. If lockdown hadn’t have happened, I may have never realised this is what I want to do or had the opportunity to build my portfolio in the way that I have.
A year later and it feels like nothing has changed, but at the same time everything has. I have finally fallen in love with myself after years of feeling lost, I enjoy my company, I don’t run from the glimpse of a mirror and I show myself the kindness I always needed to . I am proud of who I am.
I discovered what I want to prioritise in my life and am so aware of how precious time is. The smaller things matter to me and I take even more joy in them now than I ever had before.
A year ago I thought I had my life in check. I was financially stable; thriving in my professional life and thought I couldn’t be happier in my personal life. But it wasn’t until I was forced to stop that I realised my relationship with myself was bad. Now my relationship with myself has never been better. I’ve had time to learn how to look after myself mentally and physically, by actually taking the time to listen to myself. I now understand how I need to live, and how my body needs and deserves to be treated.
The beginning of lockdown this time last year, was a massive kick in the face. I was in the middle of my last year of University and in the space of a day everything came crashing down in one anti-climactic swoop of cancelled events and sad goodbyes. Having said that the lockdown made me realise how independent I am, and how hardworking I can be as I finished the end of my degree from home with little support and resources. It’s also made me appreciate my family who have been there to support me, and my friends who I haven’t been able to see, and friends from University who I may not see for a while.
Having hope in this horrible situation has of course, been a challenge. But, what we have seen from all of our team, writers and community is real personal growth, peace and understanding. Thank you all for being there for us over this strange year, here’s to a far more simple year.