One year on…By Florencia Botta

Illustration of a girl standing next to a toilet roll. the toilet loo is large and a candle is place on top of it. Words 'one year later' is written at the top.

Image by Florencia Botta

It finally happened. We reached the anniversary of the lockdown. Although this one-year mark is in many ways an arbitrary date to a crisis that had started months before, I believe it is worth using it to look back and asking: What can I take from this year?

This year has put a lot of things into perspective and altered our perception and values. Thinking about it, I find myself confused. It seems like a long time ago and not enough at the same time. I remember the time before the pandemic weirdly: my plans, my routine, my perception of things.

I remember all the phases of my thinking. I remember before everything started, I used to carelessly have dinner while waiting for the train. I remember naively thinking this lockdown was going to last two weeks. This attitude quickly changed to being suddenly terrified of going out of my house, and getting anxious about people not-social distancing, even in movies. Now, it feels like quiet desperation. I am still scared but managing it. I have not seen my family in 14 months, and I am unlikely to see them soon. I am not happy, but it is still necessary. I believe I have entered the “new normal” state of mind. This state, although better than the acute fear I felt initially, is not necessarily good.

Sometimes I slip into the what-ifs and ask myself what would have happened if the pandemic was not happening. What would I have done during the year? Where would I be with my investigation and life? Why haven’t I been crazy productive with all this time?

Well, this is not a good nor fair question to ask. Firstly, because no matter how much you speculate, it won’t make any difference. Secondly, because the idea of suffering fuelling inspiration is often misleading, and we should not romanticise it. Everything that I went through this year is normal. It is ok to struggle, it is ok to take a break, and it is ok to take care of yourself. I am aware that this is not always possible. I have advantages, like being able to work from home, that many regretfully do not have, and it is critical to acknowledge this. However, we are our hardest critics, so starting with self-compassion and understanding is a great first step.

All these things are better said than done. Still, I have found out that talking about it and sharing my concerns and fears has aided tremendously. People have greatly helped me, ironically highlighting how important socialising truly is. We are all struggling and listening to others can be key to not only helping them but understanding oneself.

So, I come back to my original question. What can I take from this year? So many things that would take too long to explain in this short blog. Nevertheless, I can say this. Everything that happened this year on a large and small scale has shown both the better and worst side of humanity. Now, there seems to be hope to end this crisis. However, it is critical to remember all the lessons learnt, all the people lost, and battles fought. It is fundamental to keep listening to others and aim to help from a place of compassion and love. This will hopefully aid more people struggling with all the issues exacerbated by the pandemic, as well as aim to make us all better, stronger, and more human.

Want to take part and share your experiences of the last year? You can! Find out more about One year on and how to get involved.

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