Social commentary and think pieces

24 March 2020

Corona virus: how am I feeling?

Last Wednesday I spent my evening perched at the edge of the sofa watching the news, when Boris Johnson announced that schools would be closing from Friday and that the exams for this year would be cancelled. I've spent the past year and a half preparing to take my GCSE's this year so, whilst I was expecting school to shut at some point, the news that I wouldn't be sitting the exams that I and so many others had anticipated for such a long time was shocking and the uncertainty at what would happen next didn't make it any better.
Now, I know that I will (hopefully) be getting the grades I deserve, based on previous exams and teacher predictions. Whilst this is not what I expected, I have now come to terms with it and am actually quite relieved. I don't believe that exams are the best way to asses students so I'm glad not to have to sit them and hope that the method of using teachers - who truly know their students - rather than exam board markers to grade students will be considered as an alternative method in years to come. 

However, though I have come to terms with how I will be assessed for my GCSE's, I can't say I've fully accepted that I will never go to school again. 
Its a strange feeling. I wasn't mentally prepared to leave yet, though I wouldn't expect to be as it was not yet the end. Each time someone had said "Only -- weeks left of school" as the weeks crawled by and we neared the end, it had bought with it a pang of sadness, for me personally. I couldn't say exactly why except for feeling I would miss certain people. 

Like everyone else, I could never have foreseen this happening. I expected to sit my exams and leave school feeling not only a sense of achievement at its completion, but also an excitement for all the plans I had for this summer. Gigs I was going to go to, family holidays, a trip to Paris with my best friend. 
Instead, what I've been working towards for the past year and a half has finished without completion. As a friend of mine described it, its like we've been full of building adrenaline for such a long time, but it hasn't peaked its just disappeared. 
The uncertainty has left me feeling a lack of purpose, I suppose. The exams which I was likely subconsciously always thinking about aren't happening. The summer plans which had kept me going through the year aren't happening. We can't hope to know what will happen next and that uncertainty brings great discomfort. 

My mental state has taken a hit, which could only be expected at this time of uncertainty. But I feel that what also plays a role in that is the fact that, in a way, I am mourning my school days. Its a form of grief and like grief, it comes in waves. I've gone from feeling perfectly happy to being on the verge of tears in just seconds. Something will trigger it - the song Wild Horses, most recently - and then I'm crying and that strange feeling of loss and uncertainty returns. 

In saying all this I am very aware of sounding too self pitying. This is a difficult time for everyone and I recognise how privileged I am even to have a home to self isolate in. But, I can only speak from my own experiences and hopefully by sharing those experiences we will all feel less alone. 

On the topic of privilege, I hope that these tough times will lead to a greater good in the long run.
In a way, this situation is almost reminiscent of something biblical - the humans were misbehaving so God sent a plague in the hope that they would learn a lesson from it. I'm not religious, but I do see that a lesson can be learnt from this, though one at the expense of the lives if so many. 

Already the environment is benefitting because people aren't flying from country to country for meetings and are instead doing so over Skype, which we have had the facilities for for so many years.
There seems to be more of a community spirit - something we far too often lack in London - people are helping each other, and buying their vulnerable neighbours shopping. 
People are learning to cook for themselves and growing their own foods because the supermarkets don't have enough. Maybe if we take away the luxuries, things that we been fooled into believing are essentials, we can learn to value the little things more. 

I'll be the first to admit that I've been selfish and ignorant about this. Even just a month ago I thought that Corona Virus was nothing more than a meme, which could be ignored because it wouldn't ever have an impact on my life. When I realised it in all its seriousness, I'm ashamed to say that my first thought was; so will I not be able to go on holiday? 

Despite this, I don't think I'm an especially selfish person. I think my response to this is due to the conditioning that comes with living in the western world, where I have never lived in a war zone and nothing like this has ever happened in my life time to directly impact me or my family. This is all new, which is why its so scary. 

I hope all of you are safe and well. At this time I think its important to embrace what we do have and to share our experiences so that we can all feel less alone. If anyone wants to share, please do in the comments. We have a nice little community here and I hope that this can be something we will embrace at this time. 

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