With people now beginning to miss the first national lockdown, we asked out contributors to reflect on the ‘lockdown one nostalgia’ and tell us what differences they have noted between feelings towards the first lockdown and the situation we now find ourselves in.
As it approaches a year since the first lockdown began, it does seem inevitable that we are looking back. In an age of Snapchat Memories and Facebook reminding you what your mum tagged you in ‘1 year ago’, it seems impossible to avoid the revelation that the way life was before, is now over a year ago. Since then, my year has been marked by lockdowns, county restrictions and tiers, and now in my third lockdown, like many others I find myself looking back to the first and wondering why it felt so different?
In March 2020, I admit that the idea of extra time off before easter break began didn’t seem a horrible idea. Zoom quizzes with friends, a daily walk around where I live (once I was out of isolation), and a slower pace of life was a welcome novelty for a while. The good weather, weekly praise for the NHS and promise that national unity would help us prevail places the first lockdown in sharp contrast with the third. It is not that the first lockdown wasn’t tough, because it really was at points. Financial hardship hit so many, loved ones were lost and we saw our relatives and friends working on the front line tirelessly to save lives.
By now, ‘Zoom fatigue’ really has set in, and the realisation that now nearly a year has passed with life like this naturally leaves us looking back to a time when Covid was in our lives and yet things did seem somewhat easier. Wasting time on TikTok now leaves me feeling guilty and I miss sitting outside a pub past 10 pm with a drink. With there seeming to be a light at the end of the tunnel, it is easy to question why things may seem harder now than they did then. At some point nostalgia for the first lockdown was going to arrive, and in a time like no other, it is hardly surprising that it has already arrived.
Lockdown number one came at the perfect time for me. Everything seemed like it was going my way: A-Level exams cancelled, all work suspended, and a lazy six months at home. Things I did for my local community seemed like a normal part of my everyday routine- something I did in my spare time. It never really occurred to me that the same families I was helping were in the very same situation as mine. Now, after being ill myself, even going out the door is terrifying.
Nearly one year after the first lockdown, I am tired. I think it’s a symptom of desperation that many of the public look back on the beginning of the pandemic fondly, especially in the middle of a bitterly cold winter. One of the main reasons I am finding Lockdown Three so difficult is how close we are to celebrating people’s birthdays indoors for a second time. In March, quiet, low-key celebrations were played as ‘one-offs’. In 2021 we might be seeing the same thing happen again. Not just birthdays either, it feels like we’ve somehow missed milestones in our own lives.
I had been planning my first ever night out. I had scoped out the clubs I was going to go to, the drinks I was going to order, even imagined the feeling of stumbling home in the cold. My project over ‘lockdown one’ was thinking about how much fun University was going to be. When I arrived, I was excited. It took two months for me to realise that I was never going to have any of the things I had dreamed about.
In ‘lockdown one’ I had something to look forward to, things to celebrate. Now that I’m living in the less than glamorous reality, the novelty has worn off.
The memories of ‘lockdown one’ seem a lifetime ago, the nostalgia of whipped coffee, baking banana bread and the sunshine made it all so much bearable. We were new to the idea of lockdown and in some ways, naive to the experience and what was to come. Thinking that we would only need to go through this period of lockdown and life would go back to normal was a common thought amongst people including myself. But now, looking back, ‘normal’ doesn’t look the same as it did in the first national lockdown.
‘Lockdown one’ for me was surreal. With family at home, returning back from university and a long-distance relationship, I only thought about the things I was missing out on in that moment. The Zoom calls and quizzes were fun, the online drinking games were new, and it was a new way to socialize which we adapted to. However, it was meant to be a temporary thing and it’s now suddenly turned into the normal way to socialize (which we never expected at the start of the pandemic).
Now I look at it in a different light, time is a significant part in how I view each lockdown. As time goes on the more and more, I see the impacts on my life, relationships and friendships. I only envy the mindset I had during the first lockdown. Now, during this lockdown, we are seeing other countries out of this crisis and low cases of the virus whereas we are still in lockdown a year on. No more charitable runs or Instagram challenges, no more clapping for the NHS or social distanced picnics, instead we are living in a new normal. Essentially losing a year of our lives. The first lockdown was better for me, not because of the sunshine but because we just didn’t know what was to come.