Life changing lockdown - my story
March 17th, 2020 was a Monday like any other. After a busy working weekend, I longed for a few days off, but there was no hope for any that week. On my way to work, I got a call from my sister living in Italy, who begged me to return home and stay there. She was scared, her voice was breaking, and I had to lie and say that I would do what she asked, only to make her calm. As the call ended, I began to question my confidence in thinking that it would all be different for us here in London.
Towards the end of my shift, I was told that all events planned for that week were cancelled. That was my last day at work.
Within days, the gossip from behind the scenes became reality—we were officially in lockdown. I was prepared for it, in a way; the news coming from other parts of Europe left no doubt about our future, and yet the idea to stay at home felt odd, especially in the beginning. With the lockdown announced, it surprised me how everything around me changed virtually overnight. Deserted streets, queues outside of shops, and empty shelves made the surrounding reality almost surreal. It would all end soon, I thought, but my family and friends doubted my optimism and I was soon proved wrong—on that occasion, at least.
The first weeks in lockdown were filled with calls, reading, and watching films. I welcomed news about the furlough scheme with immense relief, and was truly amused by all attempts to pronounce “furlough” by those (including myself) who had never heard the word before. With my anxieties at bay, I designed a workout plan and followed strictly, what I called, my basic lockdown routine. I then started learning Swedish and took other free courses, making new friends whilst reconnecting with those neglected by my work schedule and constant lack of time. I enjoyed my time. I soon started a new job and gently embraced the change that rapidly led me in, what I knew was, the right direction.
As lockdown eased, it was evident that I had no desire to return to my pre-COVID life. I had celebrated getting some of my freedoms back, and I now feared that the pandemic would suddenly end, which made me feel bad and selfish. After all, so many died because of the virus, causing pain and suffering to hundreds who mourned their loved ones.
On a personal level, however, I felt nothing but joy and happiness. Juggling two jobs and trying to balance work and private life, I longed for the pause that the pandemic so swiftly introduced into my life. From fear and anxiety to hope and new beginnings, I was taken on a journey through ups and downs—re-shaping my life and paving a way for its new, much more meaningful chapter. The transition now seemed well-settled in its new tracks, and it was enough to work to keep it there.
With this piece, I wanted to connect with all those who, like me, found a space during the pandemic to transform and change their lives in their own unique way. I believe my story is not isolated; I am sure there are plenty more of them—inspirational, positive, and utterly captivating. So, whatever yours is, please share. It is special to you and will be special for me, and others, to hear it!
By Ewelina Gawrys
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