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June 21st. What a glorious date.

On March 23rd 2020 Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the UK was going into lockdown in an attempt to protect and stop the spread of COVID-19. By June 21st 2021, it will have been 455 days since this first announcement, with nearly 3 million lives tragically lost worldwide. It has been an extremely difficult year for every single one of us, from what the great pandemic has caused and the drastic changes it has made to everyone’s lives. It has beaten, bruised, and damaged us; coming into our society and breaking the bonds of amity throughout the world. For a lot of us, we haven’t been living, we’ve been surviving. The world today is a place where many are enduring the fear of our past lives, the pandemic life, and our new lives. 

Yet we’re here now, a lot has changed, but we are still here. Tough situations build stronger people. We can all say we’ve grown courage and strength throughout the past year and a half, and have proved to ourselves our vast capability to adapt to the terrifying unknown.

The light is finally shining through the darkness.

There has been a lot of reassurance on having a sense of normalcy again, but what is normal now? Mask or no mask? Hug or no hug?

The adaption we’ve endured has created a huge cultural shift, some for the better and some for the worst. We saw the unity of the people as they came together during the momentous Black Lives Matter movement throughout the injustice towards innocents such as George Floyd and Breonna Taylor; a movement that’ll change the world indefinitely. It’s moments like this that restore our faith in humanity as the whole world comes together to fight for inequity.

A big shift throughout lockdown was the trend to ‘get fit’: after the stock piling toilet paper and hand sanitiser craze, the world’s focus turned to food. Health and fitness became a bandwagon everyone wanted to jump on, and I for one can vouch that home workouts were definitely pencilled into my routine throughout summer. Along with the obsessive banana bread baking and Tiger King binging (Carole Baskin 100% killed her husband), we can all agree we’ve spent the last year trying our best to adjust to living in isolation.

However not everyone, and were perfectly entitled not to, wanted to become a part of the lockdown workout hype. Yet with the restrictions lifting there’s a lot of chatter formulating about ‘losing lockdown weight’ and ‘get fit for June 21st’. But there shouldn’t be pressure on ourselves or others to change and become “normal”. Because lets be real, there isn’t a normal anymore (and was there ever really one originally?). We should go into 2021 with whatever size, mentality, colour we are, and not be ashamed. There is no judgement for being unduly anxious at the new world ahead of us; the pandemic has had a lasting effect on our mental health. We still have the same opportunity for happiness that we did before, we’re just being encouraged to look in different places to find it.

We can definitely say our eyes have been opened to the destruction of the world around us. Human health and the health of the planet go hand in hand. Despite the warning signs, humans continue to plough through the earth’s resources: dumping 30 billion tonnes of carbon into the atmosphere, poison the soil and water, and destroy entire animal and plant species every year. Our industrial-era mindset of growth at any cost has become a recipe for our self-destruction. Was the pandemic beneficial in this sense to enlighten us on the chaos around us?

The only cure for societal chaos is individual responsibility: we mustn’t abuse our freedom nor take for granted the work that both the nation’s heroes and earth has done for our future. We’ve learnt but we’re still learning. Don’t adopt ignorance and become comfortable with the aftermath; it’s the aftermath we must focus our efforts on by not embracing old habits and returning to the ‘happy’ façade of our past life. We’re getting close now. Don’t turn away.

We were in it together, and will continue to be so. 

Be kind to other people.

Isabel McDonald

Nottingham '20

I'm Izzy and currently a second year Architectural Environment Engineering student at UON. I'm a kind, ambitious, and optimistic individual and am a part of the BUCS Volleyball team; also regularly staying active through running, badminton and squash. Staying entertained during lockdown without these hobbies I think was something everyone struggled with, but staying connected with friends and adhering to the rules (obvs) was the saving grace this year, and even allowed the friendships to grow stronger than before. I came across Her Campus on Instagram and wanted to get involved in such a supportive and informative community to share my input, advice and ridiculous lessons on life :)
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