Here’s How I Feel About Coming Out of the World’s Longest Lockdown

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To be completely honest, I don’t know how I feel to be coming out of lockdown.

I’m in two minds.

Part of me can’t fricken wait. Melbourne has spent 262 days (nine months) in lockdown since March 2020, making it the world’s longest lockdown throughout the entirety of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Having entered the first lockdown at 24 and emerging from the sixth lockdown as a 26-year-old, not only have I spent two birthdays in lockdown, but two years of my life have flashed by right before my eyes. It feels like no time has passed; as though someone hit pause on the remote control of time and we’re gearing up for them to hit play again. It’s the oddest feeling.

Although lockdown has been really great in some ways, allowing me to catch up on my finances, giving me time to follow my passion for writing as a career path and seen me enter into my first long-term, monogamous relationship… it’s also been really hard.

I’m a very social person. A huge part of my identity is being out interacting with the world. I love dressing up, meeting new people, going on new adventures, getting outside my comfort zone and experiencing all the different scenarios life has to offer me. I truly thrive on being enveloped in a busy, social and interactive world.

Because of this, being in lockdown has taken a huge toll on my mental health. I’ve always suffered from anxiety and stress, but the lack of independence, spontaneity and interaction has caused me to have some really low moments. Recently, especially, I’ve been feeling really lost. I’ve been feeling as though I don’t recognise myself and my life anymore.

For these reasons, I’m really excited to get out of lockdown. Restrictions are set to ease this coming Thursday, October 21, with restaurants, bars and cafes reopening, as well as beauty salons, hairdressers and gyms. We’ll also be allowed to have up to 10 people at our house each day, which calls for heaps of catch ups with friends I haven’t seen in months.

I’m pumped to feel like me again. To resume the things I’ve chosen to do in my life that define who I am. I’m excited to go back to dance training (I’m a professional ballroom and Latin dancer) and work on all the things I’ve been practising at home, plus be able to feel that level of creative physical energy that dancing in an apartment or doing at-home yoga doesn’t quite allow me to. I think dance training alone will help me feel more like myself again.

I’ll be able to wear all the new outfits I’ve accumulated in lockdown. I bought a new dress and heels for my 26th birthday, which was back in September (a few weeks after we went into lockdown again), that I am dying to wear.

I get to go out to bars and flirt with bartenders, which is one of my favourite past times. Plus, honestly, that independent sexual energy is so necessary — especially when you’re in a relationship and you’ve both been cooped up in an apartment for months.

I’ll be able to walk down the city streets of Melbourne on a Friday night, and feel the buzzing atmosphere I moved to Melbourne for in the first place and it will inspire me, like it always does. I’ve missed being inspired.

But then, on the other hand, I’m nervous.

In normal circumstances, I live a very busy life. I have a full-time job, which sees me write articles like this on a daily basis. I have a full-time dancer career, which sends me to the studio at least four times a week to train, as well as teach and compete at a national level. I also work as a plus-sized model, signed with an agency, which is something I love doing because it’s creative, helps get different body shapes and sizes out in the world of Australian fashion and is a great side hustle. I’m also in a monogamous, romantic relationship with someone I really love, which needs regular time, effort and care.

I know, it’s a lot. One of the best things about being in lockdown is that I’ve been able to take the pressure off a bit, and just focus on one thing at a time. I’m worried that when restrictions ease and my jam-packed schedule returns back to busy vibes 24/7, that I’ll be a messy anxious ball of stress.

So I’m getting prepared. I’m writing schedules. I’m figuring out budgets. I’m even researching recipes for easy, yum and healthy meals I can make in less than 30-minutes and can eat on the go.

I feel like being in lockdown has forced me to recognise that I’m really an adult now, with actual commitments and goals that I want to reach and that it just takes a bit of extra effort and planning to get there.

Gone are the days of being in my early twenties and living each day as it comes. I no longer live in a huge share house in Carlton, work the evenings in a cocktail bar and have no morning commitments. In these two years of lockdown, my lifestyle has changed and, in order to thrive, I have to accept and embrace that.

Lockdowns have also taught me that it’s okay to not feel okay all the time. And that others aren’t okay many times, too. If things feel overwhelming coming out of lockdown, chances are that a lot of people are also feeling the same way.

Let’s be kind to ourselves and acknowledge that the past two years were unprecedented and like nothing we could’ve imagined living through. But we’ve done it. We’re coming out the other side and we should be proud because we carried ourselves through.

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