With news of the first vaccine being rolled out, I celebrated with everyone else at the idea the nightmare of the pandemic would soon be over.
But my excitement quickly gave way to anxiety, as I realised this could usher in my old way of life, a life I don’t particularly want to return to.
We might look back on the time before lockdown with rose-tinted glasses, but, the truth is, life then had its own problems that many of us were freed from when covid-19 hit.
Still, some seem keen to distance themselves from this “new normal” – but should we really be so quick to dismiss the lives we built for ourselves in lockdown?
No matter how many jokes we make at the expense of those who baked extravagant amounts of banana bread during lockdown, maybe they had the right idea. We were given so much time this year to explore new things, so why not bring some of that along with us in 2021?
Throughout 2020, we’ve seen dramatic increases in big life changes across the UK. Searches for getting a divorce were up 25% this year, according to Citizens Advice. Part of that might be because being cooped up with just your spouse for company isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. But another side of it is that we are finally seeing what’s really important to us in life. For some, the answers might be surprising.
There’s also been a mass exodus of people moving out of London. The number of people looking for jobs outside of the capital has doubled in the wake of the pandemic, according to careers advisory service Escape the City.
Switching locations, switching jobs, switching lifestyles: all of this indicates that 2020, if nothing else, has sparked a wave of dramatic decisions that will change our lives long after the pandemic. And that can’t be a bad thing.
Having dramatic change thrust upon us in the form of a national lockdown may not have been on everyone’s wish list last Christmas, but at least Covid has given us the time and the opportunity to take stock of our lives.
If you’ve found yourself enjoying the weekday evenings free from work drink obligations, embrace that. If having to work without the camaraderie of your mates around you has made you realise that your career is not for you, go out and change it. It’s never too late to go out and seize what you actually want from life. Covid-19 has proved that life really can be too short, so why waste another second of it doing something that doesn’t fulfil you?
The big distinction between life before Covid and life after is that now I think we have a choice. We know that the world went on turning when we didn’t spend our time doing what everyone else was doing.
Moving forward, I want to hold onto that mentality. When I choose to book a trip, change my career, or even take up a new hobby, I’m going to do it because I want to, not because I just saw five people on Instagram share their own filtered version of it.
With life changing so drastically throughout 2020, we will all have discovered something about ourselves and how we lived our lives in the “before”. Even if that’s just how much you loved your life, it’s been a huge learning experience for everyone. But I don’t think it’s anything to be ashamed of if there are some parts of your life that you don’t want to return to. In fact, it’s crucial that we resist the urge to welcome them back in. Covid has given us an opportunity for a clean slate, we must embrace it.
For me at least, I’m planning to spend the (hopefully) last few months of lockdown thinking about how I can bring some of the good parts of 2020 along with me into 2021 – because there have been some. Being forced to slow down and look inwards was exactly what I needed.
As much as there was a lot that I missed from “normal” life during lockdown, there’s also a whole lot more that I won’t be sad to see the back of.
Rachael Davies is a freelance writer.