As I cleared out my university halls of residence in March to move back home for lockdown, all I could think about were the things I was going to miss out on. I had anticipated the final term of first year to be packed with as much fun and memories as the previous term. As we approached the spring months, I was looking forward to experiencing Sheffield in bloom, spending warmer days in the parks and growing closer to my new friends. In post lockdown however, I still think of these things but I mainly reflect on what I gained from lockdown, rather than what I missed out on.
After being independent from my parents for months at university, learning how to be an adult, I thought that moving back home would halt my development, but I was wrong. Lockdown furthered my development in ways that I never expected. Spending so much time at home, away from friends, taught me a lot about myself and my interests. Although I missed friends, it didn’t take long to realise that I enjoy my own company and that I can rely on myself alone for my own happiness.
A few days after moving home, my mum suggested to me that I should make a blog, to keep up my writing practice while away from university, and so I did. Writing blogs become a huge feature of my lockdown; it kept me busy, brought structure to my days and I enjoyed my own company. I also picked up reading as an interest; again it was something that I could enjoy doing by myself and helped me to forget other things on my mind. Being able to spend time reading every day made me realise how fast paced life had been before lockdown and how I never had time to discover what my interests are. Before lockdown, if I was asked what my hobbies were I would have been short for answers. Post lockdown, I am very grateful that I can rely on writing and reading to fill spare time, rather than scrolling through social media and watching TV.
Something that I never thought I would be able to do was long distance running. I thought that it wasn’t in my genes to be good at running until my brother, with as little running experience as me, had the confidence to get out there and complete a five kilometre run. Impressed by his improvement in fitness, I decided to join him and give it a go myself. I soon realised that with commitment and resilience, I also had the ability to complete a 5K circuit. Learning to run taught me a lot of life lessons. I learnt that I shouldn’t shy away from things and give more things a go. I learnt that just because my parents or friends don’t do something, it doesn’t mean that I can’t; and most importantly, it taught me that perseverance and consistency is the key to success.
One of the most valuable things that I learnt over lockdown is that material possessions and spending money doesn’t bring happiness. I have found that lots of people (including myself) find happiness in buying material possessions and spending money on having dinner and drinks at trendy restaurants. Though this does bring happiness, it is temporary, and lockdown has taught me that discovering long term happiness that can be found within myself and independent from materialism is most important.
More than anything, lockdown was a reality check. When the world was shut off and there were no distractions we were forced to spend more one-on-one time with ourselves. Personally, I found that spending time with myself was more valuable in growing up and developing as a person than any milestone, such as moving to university. I learnt more about life, happiness and what is important to me in the first six weeks of lockdown than in the first six months of university. While I did enjoy having time to myself, it taught me that my family are the most important thing and I was very grateful to have a few more months at home with them before moving off into the world for good.