Self-sufficiency during Lockdown
by Suhani Sharma
It was the beginning of March 2020, and everything was going incredibly well. Term 3 exams were wrapping up, and Grade 10 students had just submitted the last bits of our 9 month long Personal Projects. The days were intense, and the constant juggle between schoolwork and SAs tested our ability to stay focused, but I very much loved it.
I have a vivid memory of my friends and I walking to the Oxford Circus tube station after another tiring day at school. From a distance, we could hear people preaching through megaphones that “COVID-19 is more than just a virus.” Newspapers with bold headlines addressing the first death in the UK were being handed out. My friends and I were overwhelmed by the atmosphere, and decided to leave the area immediately.
Just when we thought we could take a step back, have a breather and appreciate all of our hard work, the first few weeks of the COVID-19 lockdown kicked in – leaving us suffocated and indolent inside our homes. Little did we know that the virus would later be labeled a global pandemic, and that it would have caused the death of nearly 27,000 people by the end of April.
In my eyes, self-sufficiency was a theme throughout the lockdown. With the sudden quarantine situation and the switch to online school, we were unable to interact with those who we usually would on the daily, leaving us to ourselves. There was an initial patch of loneliness and demotivation, but I didn’t let myself dwell for long. My school has done an incredible job at upholding the atmosphere of a “school day” within our homes, with daily check ups from our advisors and class video calls at the usual times. I decided to make the most of what was there, and the outcome was surprisingly positive.
As the lockdown began, I feared for what would happen to my friendships, as I thought that without the daily interactions at school, we would all drift apart. I was gladly proven wrong, and to my amazement, my friendships became even stronger throughout the lockdown – I was even able to reconnect with old friends from Singapore. A commonality of feelings resonated despite distance and across borders that bonded us uncharted.
My “Sweet 16” was indeed a special day. In my head, I had planned a lovely birthday dinner with a group of friends at a restaurant in central London. However, coincidentally, my birthday was during the week at which the cases of COVID-19 were at their peak, so this plan was quite impossible. As I cut my cake, all of my family members were on video call on different devices around the dining table, all singing a hilariously asynchronous Happy Birthday. The day was still immensely special to me and definitely created quite a story to tell in the future.
Slowly, in May, the lockdown became more bearable as I went out for more walks and took up biking with my mum. The biking culture is popular in London, and with restricted travel around the country, the roads were empty and perfect to bike on. If school was still on, I can assume that I would have been stressing over exams, staying at home and up late at night studying, just like I was doing last May – but the lockdown allowed me to finish my school work during the early hours of the day and spend the afternoons doing recreational activities.
The events of the past three months have positively transformed me as an individual – I entered the lockdown as one person and exited as another. The lockdown has now been lifted after three long months, and I have grown to appreciate what I used to take for granted. Everyday after March 23rd 2020 – when the UK was officially put under lockdown – has taught me to live in the moment whenever I can and cherish the days spent safe and healthy around people who matter the most.
Suhani Sharma, 16 years old, Grade 10, Southbank International School London