Spending an extended period of time at home is not something I thought I would grow to resent.
As a self-confessed homebird, the thought of confining myself between my bedroom and living room for a while wasn’t particularly alarming, and if anything, I welcomed the chance to avoid waiting for the bus for a few weeks.
But I didn’t anticipate three weeks at home turning into a year-long stint of isolation.
The initial novelty of pitching up a make-shift desk on the kitchen table soon wore thin, and many months of aches and pains later saw me finally cave and invest in a proper working from home set up, as the return to normality slipped ever further away.
After more than 12 months living and working under the same roof, I’ve slowly grown accustomed to this new way of life. Not being able to go out for a meal as a treat after a long shift no longer seems strange, and Friday night drinks to round off the week are a firm thing of the past.
I’ve reached a point where actually having those possibilities opened back up to me is the stranger option, and as the end of lockdown finally draws near, I admittedly feel a little nervous about returning to some semblance of my former life.
Dipping my toe back into socialising after restrictions eased in England this week has been a novelty in itself. I’m so used to interacting with people on a screen that speaking in person felt odd and unfamiliar, like I’d forgotten how to act. And that was just having coffee with a friend in a park.
With such limited social contact over the last year, it’s difficult to imagine returning to a busy office where you can happily chat among co-workers by the microwave as you wait for your lunch, or head out for a night on the tiles to take the edge off a hectic week.
Even once all restrictions are lifted, and these opportunities open up again, I think there will be a long period of adjustment as we gradually return to our everyday lives.
As someone who has yet to receive the Covid-19 vaccine, I admit I will feel very wary of being around other people until I’ve had my jab, and I will be mindful of keeping my distance.
And I suspect I’m not alone.
While we may all be eager to get back to normality as soon as possible, it will undoubtedly take a long time before the normal we once knew comes back into focus.
The past year has taught us the need to be cautious and I expect people will still be crossing roads when others approach, moving out of the way down supermarket aisles, and taking a step back if someone stands too close, for a long time to come yet.
But it’s okay to be nervous about heading back out into the world. It’s not quite the same one we left a year ago, and this ‘new normal’ will take time to get used to.