Lockdown may be over but there’s a simple reason why I’m not a fan of the phrase ‘freedom day’. I have friends that are still on furlough. I also know a few who have lost their jobs and are struggling to find new employment. Freedom would suggest everything is as close to normal as it can be given where we are in the pandemic. But this isn’t freedom.
Despite what some people believe I think it’s an upward journey from here. I truly believe there won’t be a fourth lockdown in the UK and something like a normal version of the planet is on its way.
Although case numbers are at their highest since February, hospitalisations and deaths remain low which means there is less pressure on the NHS. In layman’s terms – the COVID-19 vaccines work.
When restrictions began to lift in Summer 2020 I was certain there would be a devastating second wave. It seemed inevitable with schools starting in September in a world without a vaccine.
However, 483 days after Boris Johnson first announced nationwide lockdown we find ourselves in a country free of most COVID-19 restrictions.
I’ve had the idea for this post in mind for a few months. It was simply a case of when was the right time to put it together. As someone who has spent the entirety of lockdown living alone in a two-bed flat it’s certainly been an experience.
It’s not been all bad. Just like it hasn’t been a walk in the park. What it did give me was a chance to really ask myself if the direction my life is heading is the one I want.
For this week’s post I want to take a look at life lessons from the most extraordinary of times.
Our environment is everything. Where we choose to live. Why we go to certain coffee shops and pubs. Why we stay in our jobs as long as we do. Our friendship groups. Heck, there are two cinemas within a ten minute walk of my flat but I choose to go to one which is a 20 minute train journey away. Why? Because I prefer the environment.
Having been locked away – like most of the world – for the best part of 16 months I thought about my environment a lot. My current environment. Past environment. The happiest environments of my life. The list goes on.
Although there are large parts of my life where my environment isn’t where I want it to be I have an idea of what I can do to improve it. That said, where I currently live, a two-bedroom flat in Chelmsford, Essex, is exactly where I want to be.
I think I lost that amongst the confusion of lockdown where everyone’s lives went from being completely different to exactly the same overnight. Well, my flat was on the market for a while so I know I did.
Although there is still some way to go, by being happy and settled where I spend most of my time (especially in recent times) I have a foundation to build on.
The idea of being independent is always something that appealed to me. I never wanted to be someone who couldn’t stand on his own two feet. I’m not about financially in this situation. I mean with everyday life.
Before lockdown I had never really been alone. People may say I travelled alone, but in that sense other than the odd week here and there I wasn’t with anyone I knew. Through the nature of my travels (Staying in multi-bed hostel dorms, backpacker routes and the occasional tour when it was sensible to travel that way etc) I was always with people. In fact, the days where I was alone was usually down to personal preference.
People often ask if I am an introvert or extrovert. I would say I’m a mix of both. In the pre pandemic world I would spend my time outdoors with like-minded people, such as at a West Ham game or in a beer garden with friends. However, once I get home I like to be left alone – that’s my down time. But it’s usually limited to an evening after work before I repeat the routine the following day.
During lockdown I was effectively without the extrovert part of my life for the majority of the last 16 months.
However, for my own self-esteem’s worth I’m glad I endured lockdown alone. By that I mean it was the biggest step towards being an independent man in my life so far. The feeling of knowing I can look after myself during the most extreme circumstances is incredibly freeing. Which is something I will carry with me for the rest of my life.
In the past I was always a materialistic person, until fairly recently actually. I drove nice cars from the minute I passed my test. I bought the majority of my clothes from All Saints and so much more. Truth be told – in that aspect of my life – I was miserable. I was a miserable human being.
It’s hard to find the right words to explain why. Brad Pitt kind of gets it right in Fight Club albeit on the extreme side: ‘We buy shit we don’t need with money we don’t have to impress people we don’t like’.
Tapping into the philosophy of Fight Club a bit more, a famous line from the 1999 film says: ‘The things you own end up owning you’.
There are many different ways you can view it but for me it’s simple. I would much rather spend the money I earn on experiences and things that give me stories to tell instead of material items.
The last car I had was a Mercedes A-Class A180 – which I loved – but it cost me £250 per month in finance. When I took up the financial agreement I hadn’t yet moved out so my financial overheads were considerably less. Whereas now I live by myself in a flat, meaning it naturally became a lot harder.
The life I would have if you added car finance on top of my monthly expenditures (Mortgage and bills) isn’t one I would want to call my own. Even if it did mean driving a nice car which I loved.
Instead, I want to spend that money on experiences. When I’m collecting experiences I’m at my happiest and being honest I’m a better person in that environment. Whether that’s traveling, going to concerts, running the London Marathon – the list goes on.
It doesn’t matter how shiny the car, how nice the All Saints jacket is or how clear the picture quality on a new TV might be – they will never, ever compare to an experience that turns me into a storyteller. Ever.
After being stuck in isolation for the past 16 months – especially alone – it goes without saying that this list of things I’ve wanted to experience for a long time has only grown larger.
Life experience over material goods – Every. Single. Time.
Life after Lockdown
So here we are. Three lockdowns and 483 days later the UK is into its third day of ‘Freedom week’. Although there is a long way to go until something like a normal version of the planet is restored it does feel good to be where we are.
As I alluded to earlier I’m glad I endured lockdown alone. Just because my lockdown was alone doesn’t make it worse than anyone else’s. I have huge amounts of respect for parents during this time. Even the idea of balancing full-time work as well as homeschooling fills me with anxiety. So although I was without face-to-face contact for a while I do count my blessings because it could have been so much worse.
This period of lockdown and isolation has definitely filled me with a sense of clarity about my life and where it’s heading. As well as learning from past mistakes and getting a sense of closure before drawing a line under them.
I’ve known for a long time that I’m a much more confident person when I’m alone. Although I love people, with my past experience of mental health problems it’s a case of more often than not it’s the input of others on my life that shatters my self-esteem into a millions pieces. But lockdown proved to me the levels at which this is true. With that in mind my it’s fairly obvious to say my main aim is to have that lockdown level of confidence in my day-to-day life.
There were times during lockdown where I was anxious I would’ve lost what it feels like to operate in a social situation having been without it for so long. However, I’m delighted to report that I’m coping just fine with the interactions I’ve had so far.
I’m both hopeful and optimistic that there will be no more lockdowns as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic in this country and that the world will soon be back to it’s best.
I’ve got a number of plans lined up to keep my mental health journey pushing in the right direction. There will be a time where I write about them on this blog but now is not that time.
2021 London Marathon
I’m running the 2021 London Marathon for Mind!
If you wish to donate or keep up to date with how my training and fundraising is going you can do so by following the links below.
Fundraising Page: https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/JordanCamp
My blog post about the event
Mind Website: https://www.mind.org.uk