With our new reality sinking in, and for lockdowns being in effect all over the world for the last few months, here at Girl Museum, we wanted to recognize this time in our lives, and in history. This is the second in a series of blogs where the senior staff of Girl Museum reflect on their lives during the COVID-19 pandemic. We will be posting weekly reflections here, continuing with Contributing Writer Tia Shah.

I tend to write without a plan. I put my fingers on my keyboard and just let the words flow out. But this piece, I have written and re-written and re-written again, trying to work out what I want to say. And I’ve come to the conclusion that is has to be the truth – or my truth I should say. So here goes:

I have been in lockdown for 47 days. (This piece was written at the beginning of May.)

47 days of not being allowed to leave the house except for a few very specific reasons. Of worrying about family and friends. Of missing the outside world. Of wanting to go back to my wonderful workplace. Of wanting to give my mum a hug.

I spent the first half of lockdown trying to pretend I was okay despite the constant anxiety I felt and some very challenging situations. That lasted until one of my friends told me it was okay to say when things are really rubbish, even if other people seem to have it ‘worse’ than I do. So, the honest truth is things have been pretty rubbish and there have been moments where I have been so sad I felt like I wouldn’t be happy again.

Over the past 8 weeks, my life has changed, in some ways irrevocably. First came a dramatic closing of my workplace overnight. Then came moving to our head office and changing jobs, then working from home. Next the UK went into lockdown and my mum was sent a letter which meant she had to ‘shield’ from everyone, which meant we couldn’t have any contact with her despite living in the same house. Soon afterwards, my great uncle and my beloved grandma passed away from Covid-19. Then I was furloughed, which meant I cannot work for a minimum of 3 weeks. Covid-19 has taken so many things from me – my job, my hobbies, my loved ones, my time, my ability to give my grieving mum a hug. And in exchange, it has given me anxiety, fear, bad dreams and sadness. I feel like I should be angry. But I’m not.

The thing is, despite all that I just said, I can’t pretend that this entire experience has been awful. There have been some really tough moments, but that doesn’t mean there haven’t also been small pockets of happiness or laughter. This lockdown has also brought me many things – peace, a sense of stillness and enforced time off. It has given me a chance to really be able to control my own time and make routines that work for me. I have been able to create time for things that I want to do – like cooking, reading and exercising. I have been able to explore being on my own and what that feels like. I’ve also discovered new things like podcasts and audio books and I have rediscovered the joy in writing letters. I have also felt the love and support of my friends perhaps more than I ever have before. So there have been positive things.

It seems hard to decide what I would want future generations to know about this experience because it’s not yet over. It feels like I should know the end of the story before giving any takeaways but I will try anyway. I guess I would want them to know that nothing should be taken for granted. I could not have dreamt this situation in my worse dreams; I would never have imagined there would be a time when I wouldn’t be allowed to go into work, or even outside more than once a day. So I would say don’t ever take for granted being able to hug your loved ones, or meet a friend for coffee or even go to work. I would also want people to not lose the sense of community that people have gained. It has warmed my heart to see so many people looking out for each other during this time and to watch businesses’ that have completely changed what they are doing to try and help provide essential supplies for hospitals. I hope we never lose that communal spirit. And more than anything, I would want people to know that all things pass. If something seems unbearable right now, just remember that you won’t have to bear it forever. From our darkest moments, we will emerge once again into the light. I’m still waiting for when the world emerges again into lightness – but I know it will happen and that’s what matters.

-Tia Shah 
Contributing Writer
Girl Museum Inc.

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