Mental Health Support
23 Feb 2021

A young person's perspective on life in the pandemic

This time last year, I thought everyone was making a big fuss over a cold. “You’ll be telling your kids about this,” my mum said, which I naturally shrugged off and told her not to be so paranoid. It’ll be old news in a month. Now, for once, mum wishes she wasn’t right.

I always imagined my early twenties to be the best years of my life. Meeting new people all the time, self-discovery, globe-trotting, learning new things, perhaps meeting the love of my life? Somehow, sitting in my bedroom doom-scrolling and eating breadsticks, eagerly waiting for the government to make a new announcement was not on that list.

I’m lucky enough to have a job, unlike so many young people. According to the House of Commons Library Youth Unemployment Statisticsas of December 2020, 515,900 people aged 18-24 were claiming unemployment related benefits - a 281,000 increase since March 2020. Other than the obvious gain of an income, a job provides structure, stability and some sense of social interaction, even if that’s over a video call. But for many young people, who may have lost their jobs or been put on furlough, those positives a job provides have been difficult to replicate. Notably the lack of structure, the ‘Groundhog Day’ effect. I have found that simple things, such as, changing up my daily walking route and mixing up what I eat every day can help it feel less repetitive.

Trying to keep yourself happy and healthy is probably the tallest task of the pandemic

It’s easy to fall into a low mood when the future feels so unsure. I know, I’ve fallen. And pulled myself out. And fallen back in again. And out. Trying to keep yourself happy and healthy is probably the tallest task of the pandemic.

But really (and I mean really) if you’re a young person who feels isolated and lost right now, you are not the only one. It can be difficult to remind yourself that’s the case, especially with the never-ending flow of social media posts at our fingertips 24/7. That’s why it’s so important to take a break from technology every day (and no, that’s not just to go to sleep!). The idea of letting your mind wander might seem daunting, but it’s crucial for gathering - and perhaps eventually vocalising - our thoughts. Try going for a walk without checking your phone, I dare you!

The looming presence of a ‘new normal’ has comfortably set up shop. But as distant as it seems right now, we won’t be locked down forever. Those things I thought I’d be doing in my twenties aren’t lost indefinitely, just postponed. The economy will recover and the job market will return. You will meet some amazing people; you will go on some terrible dates. You will dance and cheer in a crowd again.

-Imo Ettridge


This blog was first published on the West Sussex Mind website