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Heather Large: Baby steps as we go back to normality

By Heather Large | Weekend | Published:

When lockdown was announced back in March, our diaries were suddenly empty. Whatever plans we had for the coming months were almost certainly cancelled and it seemed pretty pointless making new ones with everything so up in the air. No one knew for sure what the future held and it was all pretty scary.

Baby steps as we go back to normality

Without much warning everything had changed and it felt like we were no longer in control of our own lives – and in many ways it was true, sadly the pandemic was in charge now.

And for someone like me who loves to plan and have social activities booked in the diary to look forward to, it was also going to be a big adjustment. I like to have an idea of what’s going to happen next and to feel prepared, it keeps me calm and collected.

Yet, despite the initial shock, doubts and fears, adjusting to a ‘take each day at a time’ mindset turned out to be easier than I thought. It was tough at the start, not knowing when we would see our families next was particularly hard.

But over time lockdown life got easier. I’ve written in this column before about how I began to relish the opportunity for a quieter, slower life that the break from our busy day- to-day lives offered.

It took a few weeks to get into a routine but now working at my makeshift desk at the dining table feels like a new “normal”. It no longer seems strange that I’m not rushing out of the door to drive 45 minutes to the office each morning.

My boyfriend and I have settled into a new routine of making each other hot drinks and catching up on how our working days are going over a quick lunch together.

Now with lockdown easing, everything from hotels and restaurants to cinemas and hairdressers are opening up again, and it feels like we are taking big steps towards normality – or at least as close to normality as it’s possible to get at the moment.

And it’s good news for business owners and people employed in those industries. I’m sure it’s a massive relief for them to be having paying customers again and to be going back to work and earning money.

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But, now we have all of these options for how we spend our precious leisure time, I’m feeling really torn. It feels like, just as I was finding my feet everything is changing once again.

I feel like I should be making plans for the coming months because, after all, that’s what I’ve been waiting for since March.

I could arrange that long-awaited catch-up with friends over a nice pub meal or use the cinema gift vouchers I received for my birthday to book tickets to see a new release.

But I can’t help thinking it’s still a little bit too soon and I’m not sure I’m ready, especially as the threat of a second wave is very real. We only have to look at Australia which has been forced to put Melbourne residents and businesses into a second lockdown as the virus takes hold once again.

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There is still a chance of catching the virus and unknowingly passing it on to someone else, the latter is what has always worried me the most. Without a vaccine, this isn’t going to go away any time soon.

The idea of being in a crowded space, even socially distanced, makes me a little uncomfortable. And it worries me that the experience might also be slightly tainted because it can’t possibly be the same as it was before the pandemic.

We’re always going to be conscious of keeping our distance, screen guards and whatever other measures are in place. Will we truly be able to relax and forget our worries? I’m not sure.

Yet at the same time, I really, really want to get back to my pre-pandemic life. I want to move ahead with all of the plans for the year that we had made and make up for all of this lost time.

It’s all very confusing and it’s hard to know what to do for the best. I think what it comes down to is that I’m not comfortable with this halfway to normality situation.

I want everything to be like it was before we even knew what Covid-19 was and the word furlough became part of our everyday vocabulary. That way we don’t need to risk-assess everything we do.

I do understand, however, why this can’t happen yet and it has to be a gradual thing with all of the necessary precautions. I will need to find a way to feel more comfortable with it and work at a pace that seems right.

So, I think for now, while the nation takes those big steps towards normality, it will just have to be baby steps for me. 

Heather Large

By Heather Large
Special projects reporter - @HeatherL_star

Senior reporter and part of the Express & Star special projects team specialising in education and human interest features.

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