Emerging from lockdown: adjusting to my new normal

Sussex student Jenny Bathurst is hoping to study journalism at the University of Brighton (Eastbourne campus).

By Phil Hewitt
Saturday, 13th June 2020, 6:30 am
Jenny Bathurst
Jenny Bathurst

The coronavirus crisis has robbed her of the chance to sit A levels. We have asked Jenny to share her thoughts on the difficult times we are living through... Here is her latest contribution.

For many of us, or so it seems, the main objective we are all working towards is knowing that at the end of this lockdown we can return to normal life. There will eventually be a time where it is no longer necessary to dodge passers by on the street or greet friends with a wave two metres away rather than a hug, but how long until that day comes nobody can be sure. I have known since the beginning of this pandemic to brace myself for a very different 2020 than I had imagined. I knew that my summer may not be as exciting as I had hoped and the prospect of filling my time with some incredibly random newfound hobbies was on the horizon, so when that expectation became a reality I wouldn’t have called it a nasty surprise. With the term ‘new normal’ being adopted by our Prime Minister we are encouraged to adapt to the changes that have been enforced to keep Britain as safe as possible, but I have also heard this phrase used to define life as we emerge from lockdown. It seems that I have always had this elusive image in my head of simply returning to how life was exactly four months ago. But of course this isn’t the case.

Throughout this entire period of time, the one change that struck me the most was finding out that colleges would be closed and my A Levels cancelled. Like many friends in the same situation I was shocked, but mainly upset. I have always struggled with the ends of chapters in my life, and to find out that this particular chapter would be terminating in just two days shocked me hugely. I still think it strange that it is unlikely I will ever enter those classrooms again, unpacking my folders and scribbling down notes. Considering I spent a large portion of my life at Chichester College this shift will be incredibly noticeable after this time of quarantine. On top of this, I have also found out in the past week that I will not be returning to my part time café job due to the coffee shop being too small to open for a significant amount of time as it would be impossible to maintain social distancing. Again, this place that I worked at for over a year was something instilled in my routine, yet due to the pandemic, this routine, like many things, has had to be broken.

From September, my ‘new normal’ will be just that. New. I will be in a new university environment, new job, new town to live in and new church to get involved with. Of course this would have been the case with or without the pandemic, but I had reckoned without the abruptness and finality of those previous parts of my life, abruptness and finality which felt so unsettling at the time; it was something I knew I would have to experience at some point but thought would be in the distant future, most likely at staggered intervals. I have found it so interesting to hear how my friends and family have been coping in the past three months. Some, like most of us, have found that as time has continued and the lockdown eased it is becoming more and more tolerable, whereas others have found this time away from reality so restful they are dreading returning to some state of normality. I consider myself to be in some place in the middle. I have only a rough idea of what my life will look like come September, but whatever my ‘new normal’ looks like we have all recently been obliged to learn the ability to adapt, and this will perhaps be one of the most valuable lessons I will ever learn.