Beyond all the chaos, stop-starts, Eat Out to Help Outs and confused government messaging, if you’ve ever felt a pinch of nostalgia for the UK’s Covid lockdowns, rest assured you aren’t alone.
Last month, we surveyed over 300 people aged 14 – 23 from across the country, to find out what kind of impact the pandemic had on them, from thwarted plans and gap years to mental health awakenings, fresh ways of socialising and newfound hobbies or partners – all that good stuff.
You might be surprised to learn that an overwhelming majority of respondents reported that, yeah, actually, they did miss lockdown life – 66.9 per cent of them, to be exact. For all the sadness and boredom born out of the pandemic, many of you experienced significant improvements in day-to-day-life. Away from all the noise, focusing on enjoying things you perhaps didn’t have time to before made for some eye-opening realisations.
“Before the first lockdown in 2020, I was going through a serious gender crisis,” says Freya, 18. “Lockdown, in some weird twisted way, was just the thing I needed. I could dress exactly how I wanted and experiment with my look and gender expression in the comfort of my own home.”
Some people’s mental health also got better, not worse, as a result of isolation. Some finally started that pesky fitness regime which wouldn’t stick BC (before Covid), learned how to knit, skateboard and cook. And some met people they wouldn’t have crossed paths with (digitally or on government mandated walks), had it not been for said lockdowns.
Others grew closer to their families. At a time when so many experienced grief en masse, this feels like a particularly important positive to shine a light on.
“The best thing I [got] out of [lockdown] is my relationship with my mum,” says 14-year-old Lucy. “Before, we’d never talk and now I can talk to her like a friend.” For Pol, 23, lockdown was an opportunity to get to know her grandmother, binge-watching films together for the first time. “I hadn’t known her very well until then, we always lived in different countries,” she says. “My family are closer than ever.”
Another reason lockdown holds a special place in some of your hearts is that it allowed for you to figure out what was really important, from quitting crappy jobs to embracing sexual identity. “I have come out as non-binary and now feel like myself,” says Denise, 22.
“[Lockdown] was an introvert’s paradise. I miss it immensely,” says 23-year-old Sarah, who also described the most challenging thing about the pandemic was “it ending”.
Now, as we tentatively roll into the first – relatively – Covid-free summer since 2019, let’s bring every morsel of lockdown positivity with us.