Lockdown has really tested our ability to generate happiness on our own. When we are so used to socialising and going out as students, lockdown hit really hard (at least for me), and I did not realise how much I relied on seeing my friends and my family. In my degree I read an article that said our identities are made from the different webs of interactions that we have, so our relationships with our peers creates who we are. So, how has lockdown affected this for us?
When we talk about socialising I think that we need to break this into two sections. Firstly, there is the evident drinking with friends, going for a coffee and a cake and going to places like Tynemouth together; this is the generic image of socialising that comes to mind when we think of seeing friends. But, I think that what is largely forgotten about here is the unintended socialising that we used to do on a daily basis.
Arrived late for your seminar? Talk to those lovely peers outside the room while you are waiting, and either share your fears about not starting the most recent essay, or ask them if they did anything for Halloween. Walking down Northumberland Street with a Pret coffee in your hand and running late for your lecture? You would inevitably see someone you know who wants to chat, and you have to explain you love them but need to get to class. These are what I call accidental meet ups, where they are unplanned but spark joy nevertheless.
For me, I think that the lack of both of these has made me feel very isolated at times.
Sometimes you don’t want a huge meaningful catch up with somebody, but just a quick conversation to remind you that there is a world outside of you, your desk and the seminar work that is looming over your life.
So, what does this mean for how we can look after ourselves during this current lockdown?
I think that by this time Zoom quizzes are a big fat no. I have had enough. Do not ask me if I want a pub quiz because to be quite honest, I will groan and complain. Instead, let us be original. I have loved playing scavenger hunts with my friends on a call, where you have to go and collect items around your house in a race type situation. If this is not possible, then download the app Psyche and find out some truths about your friends. Or, you can always just have a good Netflix party.
I feel that these all simulate life more, where the conversation is more natural and not forced. If you are just doing a quiz or just staring at someone on the screen, there is the expectation of an event to be meaningful and monumental. Instead, take time to emulate real life where you can all sit on your phones will chatting mindlessly.
Life is about the happiness found in these small times, I always say, and lockdown should not make us forget this.