by Student Olly Halton
Shielding with my father has been one of the most challenging things for me to do during the pandemic. Going to University in Winchester and then returning home was like moving to another reality or daydreaming of a time long ago. Something as simple as walking down the road has its consequences; when we step aside for people to pass at a safe distance, we are met with nothing but scowls as though we are telling people to go and have a wash with our minds. It really makes you feel like that island in the 1970s that didn’t realise World War Two had ended.
Given my father’s medical vulnerabilities, we knew from the ‘get go’ that our experience of the pandemic would greatly differ to others. In fact, it’s quite hard to see the rest of the world revolving without you and being trapped in a glass box having to watch it roll on by. Now, I realise this happened to countless people around the globe, but the majority are now able to go to the pub and visit relatives up and down the country, or to even go to and from University without first needing to quarantine for over a fortnight in advance. Sometimes, it is hard to remain positive.
Whilst out on runs with my mother, we often cross paths with people who seemed to forget the existence of the deadly scourge, known as Covid, that hides itself as a sibling of the common cold. They forget that it remains very much real and prevalent in our society. People take up the pathways with their conversations, let their dogs run amok and gather in parades that tear through the streets like swarms. I watch people congregate for meals out, attend drive-in cinemas, go for outings to the beach, as well as maybe cheeky trips to somewhere a little safer; a drink and a catch-up. More often than not, it reminds me of all the things that I cannot do. I am struck with a plethora of jealousy.
It is the simple things I miss that others take for granted. I live a short walk from my oldest school friend, but because of the reality that we find ourselves in, the two of us have not been able to meet in person since seeing the last Star Wars film at the cinema, three months before BoJo announced the first of what is now three lockdowns. We were 19 yrs old at the time. Now, as his 22nd birthday approaches, I don’t know when I will see him.
It’s important for us all to remember in times like these that it isn’t all bad. I’ve managed to avoid the virus’s detrimental effects, I’ve gotten closer to my family, watched everything that Netflix can plate up for me and had more time to focus on my writing and degree than I’ve ever had. I’ve also become more mature, confident and, in all honesty, happier.
So, whilst I currently still message friends declining hang-outs until the time is right, I know that said, time will come sooner than we know, especially thanks to the incredible work of the vaccination companies and the NHS.
If you need help or support with with social isolation or are shielding due to Covid talk to a counsellor at The Lighthouse Counselling Partnership tlcpartnership.com. We are still currently able to offer sessions via Zoom for those that are still shielding or working from home.