Pandemic life: "My goal is to have no goal"

Sussex student Jenny Bathurst has been writing for us about pandemic life since lockdown began back in March last year.

Saturday, 29th May 2021, 5:05 am
Jenny Bathurst

The pandemic robbed her of the chance to sit A levels. But she ended up with three As and is now studying journalism at the University of Brighton (Eastbourne campus).

Here is her latest contribution.

"After living through one of the hardest years in recent history, you would think that by now I would deal with stress or panic with more grace or decorum. However, this is not the case. Of course, back in March 2020, the world around us began to feel drastically helpless. As shops closed and we were locked in our homes, it is a miracle that many of us coped so well and can now look ahead with a sense of optimism in the knowledge that the worst is (hopefully) behind us. Like many, I remember the first time that I discovered my life was going to be radically changed. The fears and thoughts that ran through my mind in that moment were feelings of anxiety and hopelessness, concerns of how I would fill the next four months of my life with no exams to study for and every anticipated plan cancelled. Reflecting on this now I am confident that I will never again be presented with a situation of this nature, yet one week ago the feelings I had experienced over a year ago temporarily returned.

"I am sure that there are very few who consider exams enjoyable, and I certainly don’t count myself out of this stereotype - however after sitting a much-anticipated test for my degree on Friday I for the first time felt almost as anxious after finishing it than I did beforehand. Now for many this perhaps is normal if they felt that the exam had gone particularly badly, but personally this wasn’t necessarily the case. I had spent hours and hours poring myself into studying for an exam that plays a huge role in my degree and therefore my career, and my mind wouldn’t let me forget it. The build-up, as always, was agonising and the excitement at being able to press ‘submit’ and flopping into bed was all that I could think of. And of course, that was an exhilarating moment. But hours later when the adrenaline wore off and I realised that everything was over, I suddenly felt quite the opposite of excited.

"Something that I had been working towards tirelessly for so long suddenly just didn’t exist, and I felt at a loss for what to do and how to replace it. Waking up with no ‘need’ to study felt alien and the intensity of the fear matched that of the first lockdown, despite that being a scarier and far more unprecedented time.

"Patience has never been my strong suit. Constantly fearing or anticipating the future takes up a huge proportion of my thoughts and is certainly something I want to work on. My goal is to have no goal. To take this time of rest to discover what my passions are when my head isn’t buried in a textbook, and to take life one day at a time. It is so easy to get wrapped up in what I don’t have, but I know that what I do have, I am extremely grateful for.