The coronavirus pandemic has put life on hold for people all over the country. Here, one writer explores how having their plans disrupted by the virus – and not knowing what the future holds – has left them feeling stuck.
I have always been someone who likes to plan. I’m not talking about detailed itineraries and elaborate diaries (although I am a stickler for stationery). No matter what stage in my life I’ve found myself at, I’ve always found myself thinking forward – having an idea of where I want to be in the next four-six months has helped me to feel in control of my life.
When I imagined what 2020 might look like in January, I had one clear ambition: moving to London. In my mind’s eye, 2020 was what I called my “London” year. I’d spend summer in the city for the first time. I dreamed of summer evenings after work strolling between pubs with my friends and weekends spent perusing shops with my boyfriend.
But then the pandemic hit, and everything changed. Instead of moving forward with plans to move in with my friends (we’d originally hoped to find a house by mid-April), I moved home to spend lockdown with my parents. Instead of spending the summer with my boyfriend, I found myself in a long distance relationship.
But this week, for some unknown reason, my mind has taken a sudden turn. My ability to take things one day at a time seems to have dissipated, and the uncertainty of the future has dominated my thoughts. For the first time in this pandemic, I feel completely stuck.
First of all, I feel emotionally stuck. I’m struggling to summon much more than a feeling of numbness right now – with the coronavirus pandemic ticking along in the background and little changing in my personal life day-to-day, I just feel a bit flat. I’d definitely prefer that over a crushing feeling of anxiety or sadness, but it’s a noteable change to how I was feeling for the first months of lockdown.
Secondly, I’m struggling with the idea that my life is now on hold. The coronavirus pandemic has taken the future out of our control, and the fact that I’m unable to plan two weeks ahead – let alone imagine where I’ll be in six months – is hard to handle. I’m a planner (planning is what I do, people!), so not being able to give myself a long term goal or image to work towards is a bit of a shock to the system.
There’s also the small fact that I am physically stuck – here, at my parents’ house in West Sussex. In an alternative universe there’s a Lauren strolling aimlessly around the streets of London, visiting her boyfriend whenever she likes and coming and going as she pleases. In this universe, I’m at home, separated from the majority of my friends and boyfriend, without the option to take public transport and go… anywhere.
I want to make it clear that I know I’m in an incredibly lucky position. I love living with my parents – we get along really well and they’re happy to have me here as long as possible – and I know that I’ll be able to realise all those plans I dreamed of at some point in the future. But I don’t want to pretend like everything is OK, either.
After all, while it’s definitely not the end of the world to have your life put on hold for a bit – I’m lucky that myself, my friends and family are healthy and doing well – it’s still a bit of a shock to find yourself so massively displaced from the version of yourself you’d imagined you’d be. It’s a feeling I’m sure a lot of us are coming to terms with right now – whether you’d been looking to move somewhere new, dreaming about an upcoming holiday or wanting to get back on the dating scene, we’re all mourning some version of our future selves right now.
For now, I’m reminding myself that it’s OK to feel sad about the plans that will no longer go ahead – and hoping that this experience will help me to live more in the present in the future. If there’s one thing the coronavirus pandemic has brought into focus, it’s that we can’t control where life is going to take us – and that’s OK.