As we roll into week 14 of lockdown, I've been thinking a lot about freedom and independence. We have all been confined to four walls for so long now and, although the restrictions have gradually been easing up, I still can't help but feel as though we are a long way from gaining back the sense of freedom that I, and so many others, were lucky enough to experience before lockdown began; be it freedom in the form of going on holidays, taking trips to London or even just an impromptu visit to the pub with friends! It seems crazy to think that we once had the luxury of being able to travel, shop and visit people without worrying about breaking the rules and keeping a distance... how times have changed!
At the start of this year, I felt truly free for the first time in my life. I had no school commitments for the first time in 14 years, I had so many exciting plans for the upcoming year and - on the 8th of January - I went to Australia with one of my best friends for three months. I literally had no responsibilities and it felt amazing! Considering that I'm still a teenager, leaving my parents for three months, fending for myself and spending everyday how I wanted to spend it felt like freedom in its truest form. I knew that I was going to love Australia pretty much as soon as I landed; the people were so friendly, the vibe was so laidback and the scenery was breathtaking. However, looking back, I've realised that one of the main things I miss about my time spent travelling is the sense of achievement, independence and freedom that I felt everyday. Every activity we did (from skydiving to snorkelling, road trips to relaxing days) and every single person we met just added to these feelings. Despite us constantly being on the move and restricted to our backpacks and meticulous schedule, spending so long in an amazing place surrounded by likeminded people was so freeing and (without sounding too clichéd) life changing!
When the threat of coronavirus became more serious, we were forced to leave Australia and return home; whilst I was sad to be leaving such a beautiful country, I was also excited to get home and start preparing for the other amazing adventures that I had in the pipeline. However, the day that we arrived home was the day that the UK entered full lockdown. Going from having the time of my life to being told that I couldn't leave the house for the foreseeable future was not an easy transition!
Like everyone, I have had no choice but to deal with these unprecedented times and adjust to the new normal, but last week I really felt the effects of lockdown for the first time in a while. I had no motivation, I was really emotional and I just felt trapped! I'm so lucky to have a home and a loving family to quarantine with, but spending the last three months indoors definitely caught up with me last week! During these down days, I missed Australia immensely. I was craving the feeling of freedom again but struggled to see light at the end of the tunnel.
One thing that helped me through my 'down week' was seeing my friends, which is something that we weren't able to do during the early stages of lockdown. Socially distanced picnics have become the new night out, and being able to briefly escape from my house and socialise with other people definitely cleared my head. However, there is still a sense of something lacking. Right now I feel that we are in limbo. You can see your friends, but you can't hug them. You can fly to Spain, but you're advised not to. You can leave the house, but there's nowhere to go. You can do a lot more than you originally could, but will still be met by some form of restriction. We are so close to freedom, yet still so far.
I know that better days are definitely around the corner, but sometimes they're hard to see.