Schools have been shut for 11 school days and it is 14 days since they announced ‘lockdown’. To say it has been a whirlwind is an understatement. The previous two weeks had felt like a never-ending rollercoaster as the situation changed daily and announcement of schools closing raised more challenges than it seemed to solve. But we got through it. Changing lessons to online learning, setting up provision in school for those students who needed to come in and trying to find answers to a million and one other things that you take for granted in a school but suddenly become an issue when staff and students are not in the building.
Yet talking about school and learning and education is not what is on my mind tonight. Tonight I am being far more selfish and wondering how I will cope when this all ends.
You see I am not finding being in my flat on my own too hard – that is my normal in life. My weekend was no different to my weekend’s before lockdown. I stayed in bed late reading or watching something on iPlayer and spent the days pottering round my flat – and managing to make all the muscles in my torso complain after putting them through a 1982 jazzercise class!
But what I am worried about is that I am now busier than ever as the rest of the world goes online and activities I usually cannot take part in because I am at work or I am too shy to go on my own have now been made available to me within my living room. Online exercise classes, streaming of theatre performances and people posting talks for online conferences fill up my days. Joining the #greatbritishhomechorus is a highlight of my day as I have not found a choir since I moved to the Midlands.
So my worry is what happens when it stops. What happens when this ends. My diary will look empty again. And the reluctance to go out and mix in large groups of people in social situations which I have always had (due to what google tells me is social anxiety) will not only be there but be even stronger because I have not had to force myself to do it for so long.
People are, quite rightly, saying check in on those on their own. ITV are running a get Britain talking campaign to get people to connect. I continue to speak to colleagues daily and my parents regularly and have endless WhatsApp conversations with two close friends. Again my normal continues. But if there does become more people I talk to, like the activities I am now able to be part of, what happens when we are ‘released’? Does all this connection disappear again?
I have repeatedly said I am ok on my own and berated the people who have told me I should settle down with someone. I always say while other people get engaged, married or have children, I would rather travel the world. And that has not changed.
So my selfish thoughts tonight are because I cannot shake the worrying. Not about now and the impact of the ‘isolation’ this virus is keeping us all in. But about the feeling of loneliness and real isolation that will come when this ends. When life goes back to normal. I know I was fine before – I am just hoping people do not suddenly forget those of us on our own and think that just because we are ‘allowed’ out again means we have places to go and people to see.
End note: Reading this back makes me sound a bit like I do nothing and anyone who knows me knows I am always signing up for things. But that is to force me to go out and do things. I would always much prefer to stay at home with Netflix! I know I will be back booking myself things to do when this is over too. I would just like people to know that there is another side to me – behind the jokes about doing what I want and that I do not have to balance child care and work and all those things, there is a person who does get lonely and whose coping mechanism means you are unlikely to ever get that impression.
And now I have indulged myself, I will return to blogging about education and learning and geography and travel. I just needed to get this out of my head.