The end is in sight but instead of excitement, some of us are feeling drained and exhausted by the idea of making plans and speaking to friends. Why are we shrinking away from a summer of fun when it’s so close?
In the month that marks a year of going in and out of lockdowns, we finally have something to feel positive about. After all, the vaccine is being rolled out across the country, according to Boris Johnson’s roadmap we could be able to enjoy a meal with friends outdoors from 12 April and, hey, it’s all in time for spring.
But, even though we’re so close to the end, why do I feel more drained than ever? Shouldn’t this be the time for optimism, excitement and making bucket lists for summer?
I’ve felt a strain on my relationships throughout the pandemic; from finding a new balance in chatting with friends who have been on furlough, to feeling like I’ve forgotten how to socialise.
Now, though, it’s the expectation of a wild summer which has me turning away from my WhatsApps and feeling exhausted by friends who, it feels like, are piling on the pressure.
For me, the tetchiness I’m experiencing is linked to feeling pushed into making plans.
From ‘party girl’ friends who have already arranged a night out for 21 June to older relatives who are demanding to know my plans for the summer months to organise a holiday; I feel like telling them all to just “leave me alone” like a stroppy teenager and slamming my bedroom door.
Because, I’ve been through all this before. I splashed out on a fancy hotel for my birthday last year, only to be plunged into a month-long national lockdown.
After Johnson promised the country would be able to enjoy the Christmas period, my New Year Eve staycation was, like everybody else’s, cancelled at the last minute.
So, when someone suggests we book a weekend away a mere week after restrictions are supposedly lifted I feel a surge of irritation and defensiveness, perhaps because I’m sick of being let down.
For others, it’s a sense of flatness that breeds a need for solitude. Katy Harrington, Stylist’s commissioning editor says she shares that ‘leave me alone’ feeling.
“I know we are close to the end of lockdown and there is SUCH positive news about the vaccine and the mornings are bright but I still feel so blah,” she says.
Katy continues: “I can’t bear to look at my phone. I feel like WhatsApp is so intimidating at the moment. I hate the pinging sound so I’ve turned the notifications off, but then when I do go to check it and I see 15 messages from different people and groups I feel physically sick. I don’t want to even open the messages, never mind reply. It is anxiety inducing. I just want everyone to leave me alone!”
Stylist’s digital editor-at-large, Kayleigh Dray, says that right now “focusing on one day at a time” is the best thing for her and that an influx of messages from friends wanting to book plans is making her feel uncomfortable.
“I feel completely torn at the moment. On the one hand, I love the idea of planning for the future, but on the other I’m acutely aware of the fact there’s a third wave in Europe AND I’ve been burned before; I was in Tier 4 before Christmas, so I feel like I’ve been in lockdown for years,” she explains.
“All of this means that I feel weirdly anxious when my friends message to ask about booking the pub, or planning a weekend away, or asking me when I can come over, because I don’t know! I really don’t know, and I also don’t want to get my hopes up.”
So, why at the moment of liberation do we want nothing more than to curl into a ball and focus on the now? I think, for me, it’s because I’ve become to so used to living my life as it is, I’m slightly institutionalised and change feels scary.
The last year has been so overwhelming that any more change, even good change, is too much to take on. I don’t want to feel like this, but maybe this is the coping strategy that feels safest for now.