Two girls, both called Hollie, two very different experiences.
By Hollie Gallacher Teggart (in bold) and Hollie Rose Hetherington (in italics)
Both are UG students in Anthropology and History
My final year of school consisted of never-ending fun and energy. I attended school five days a week and worked three, if I wasn’t working during the weekends then I was somewhere doing something and making memories. I got on well with all my teachers and classmates, I went to the library after school to revise or do homework and I volunteered once a week. I went to formals, to Rome on a school trip and school socials once a month.
Life was busy. I had decided to make the most of every moment before time ran out. That time was taken from me.
The lockdown announcement was unexpected, not because I wasn’t paying attention to the news but because it felt like a dream, or a parallel universe because surely this could not be happening!
It did happen, and while everyone tried to deal with the situation and cope to the best of their ability – I was still digesting the strange turn our lives had taken.
As I felt my life progressing and my dreams were just around the corner, nothing could have been going better for me. My weekends consisted of flying to London to work on film sets and my career path was almost set in stone. Prior to this I had also spent months planning a four month solo trip to the states where I had a job secured for me at a summer camp in New Hampshire plus two months of travel where I had intended on getting a placement in New York at NBC Studios but that only dispersed into a mere wish in March. That’s when it hit me and any hopes were dashed. The moment that Boris Johnson came onto all our screens and announced the country was in lockdown. I felt like I became trapped in an unescapable vortex in a deep and dark abyss. I wasn’t alone though. My A-Levels may have been cancelled, my film career dreams may have been halted and my American tour may have been dropped. But, a sense of community arose. Stronger than ever before. In a way, we socialised more. We rang our grandparents, introducing them to the world of zoom and sat out in deckchairs on our front lawns conversing with our neighbours. In a way, a union was formed. Enemies became friends as we helped each other through such strange and troubling times.
Like many, within a week I had lost my friends, my job, my education and my freedom. I value my friendships as much as I value my family; I would have seen my best friends at least 6 days a week, therefore being cut off from those dearest to me stung. I’m aware these feelings were not unique to only me, in fact millions were experiencing this and far worse.
I felt tremendously lucky. I quarantined comfortably in my family home, no one I know got sick and I finally had enough time to complete my thousand-piece puzzle. I felt tremendously lucky but I also felt guilty for complaining about how bored and lonely I was, for crying almost every day. I felt tremendously lucky despite having to watch the mental health of myself and my family slowly deteriorate with each three-week extension of lockdown: even though the virus did not directly harm us, the isolation and fear did leave a mark.
Initially, I must admit I was heart broken. I felt what was so close had now become so far and A-Levels I had spent almost two years working towards were now almost as good as nothing. However, it didn’t take me long before I realised that lockdown was a good thing for me. Don’t get me wrong, I would never wish a pandemic to happen and the lives that have been lost are devastating. My heart goes out to those affected and their families. Coronavirus is a very real thing and I played my part by staying indoors when my mother was shielding to keep her and my family safe. As much as I missed the social aspect of life, my mother’s health came first. It also gave me the opportunity to re-evaluate my career path. My filming in London had taken up a huge part of my life but my passion was scuba diving. I came to the conclusion that I should incorporate dive with film. To do this I went scuba diving for the majority of summer and gained my advanced qualification and took part in a underwater videography course. This was quite possibly the most amazing experience I have had and due to this I now have an eight week internship to get a career in scuba diving in Summer 2021.
I understand a lot of people struggled with their mental health during this time but on the whole the world created a great sense of community and people who maybe remained quiet in the past allowed their voices to be heard as we knew we weren’t alone.
So, while the rest of the world on social media seemed to be baking banana bread, I spent most of my time going for long walks around my small town and watching the world go by.
I did have the intention of making banana bread however when I handed my mum the shopping list and sent her to Asda, she returned empty-handed because all of the baking ingredients were sold out. A month later, once stocks had been replenished, my lovely mum decided to make chocolate chip cookies for the family to bring some cheer. Although I love her very much, I write with honestly when I say that they were absolutely disgusting. How ironic.
I became more grateful than I ever have, realising I would not have gotten this experience without lockdown. It has also made me appreciate the time I spent with my family as I was normally, if not always, away. The nights I wasn’t diving I spent star gazing around a camp fire with my mother, father, my brother and two dogs and I realised just how lucky I was.
Like all things, lockdown came to an end and although things are far from back to normal, we have learnt to adapt and once again I am making the most of all opportunities thrown my way. It is far from perfect but I believe we will make it through eventually. I am grateful for the extra time I got to spend with my family and my cat before moving away for university, and the nights spent doing quizzes on zoom with my friends are cherished memories nonetheless.