We can only keep calm and carry on for so long.
“I cannot believe people are complaining so much. All we’re being asked to do is sit on the couch and watch Netflix! Think about when people had to go through during the war!”
This is something that I have heard repeatedly over the last seven months, and I have fervently disagreed each time. It implies that our frustration towards coronavirus restrictions means that we have lost that traditional British “Keep Calm and Carry On” spirit. It also disregards the struggles that so many are facing as our livelihoods, relationships, and health are put at risk. Adapting to unforeseen circumstances has been incredibly demanding. We must reject the expectation to react in a prescribed way.
We are not living under the imminent threat of bombs being dropped from the sky and destroying our homes. But, arguably, we are dealing with something just as dangerous. This virus has claimed the lives of approximately one million people, and over 44,000 of those deaths have been in Britain. To me, there is no greater fear than something beyond our control claiming our lives, or the lives of our loved ones.
Lockdown had us confined to our homes for the most part. We were cut off from friends, family, and the outside world, facing loneliness, isolation, and fear. For the elderly, and those with underlying health conditions, it was even harder. The NHS came under unimaginable strain, with only a weekly clap on the streets as thanks. Businesses have struggled to survive, unemployment has soared, and establishments all over the country closed with little warning. To say it’s been hard is an understatement - and with figures once again rising, it seems that we aren’t close to being out of the woods yet.
We are incredibly fortunate to live in an era where technology allows us to connect with family and friends through the touch of a button. The daunting prospect of spending days, weeks, or even months at home can be eased slightly by binging our favourite Netflix shows, working out from home, researching new recipes to try or doing that online course you always wanted to try. I don’t know about you, but as of late these novelties are beginning to wear off, becoming tedious and repetitive.
After seven months, I firmly believe that it is okay to feel lonely, anxious, bored, or frustrated without comparing ourselves to past generations and feeling guilty. It is even okay to feel angry too. Many of us have lost the best part of a year to this virus, and with it, countless opportunities and experiences. Being forced to sit at home whilst thinking about what could or should have been is bound to bring up feelings of disappointment and sadness. That we do not know when we can return to some version of normality is frustrating. That does not mean that we lack an understanding of the bigger picture.
I’m turning 24 next month. I have frequently seen the pity on my parent’s faces as I tell them how much I miss going out and spending time with my friends. It’s reassuring to hear them say that they would have struggled with being told to stay indoors at my age. We are at a time in our lives where we should have the freedom to do what we want to do, go where we want to go, experience what we want to experience. To be candid, I am angry that this virus has stopped us from enjoying our youth. I am angry that we cannot make plans for our futures because we simply do not know what that future will look like. And I can only assume that the young people who lived through WWII would have felt something very similar.
It’s not as simple as staying in and watching television; Britain’s coronavirus restrictions have come at a massive cost for many of us. Of course, it is important to look back at past generations to understand how they dealt with and adapted to life-changing circumstances similar to the coronavirus pandemic. However, there is no benefit in demanding a more suitable reaction toward the catastrophic events of this year. I have found it helpful to take life a day at a time; to accept and embrace whatever thoughts, emotions or feelings come my way. These are extraordinary times; we are allowed to feel whatever we want or need to feel.
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