OCA wellbeing: Community in lockdown
Miranda shares what she has found helpful during the pandemic so far. Miranda is new to the Student Services Team at OCA, and has had the challenge of joining the OCA ‘virtually’ during the lockdown period!
As an extrovert, I knew lockdown was going to be hard for me. In normal life, I’d be out and seeing my friends four or five nights a week, whether to play boardgames or grab a drink at our favourite pub. That kind of connection and sense of community is really important to me, so when I realised it might be a long time before I could do that again, I panicked! But I quickly figured out that being physically apart didn’t have to mean losing that connection.
When lockdown started, I set up two daily zoom calls – one before work, at 8am, and one after at 6pm. I put them out to my friends on social media, with the promise that I’d be on them every day, from then until forever. They were supposed to be a short term thing, something to help us all adjust to being indoors, and give some structure and routine to the days. But four months later, they’re still going strong!
The great thing about those calls is that there’s no pressure – there’s a group of maybe 15 of us who show up sometimes, just when we’re free or when we want someone to chat to. It bookends our days – we talk about how we’re feeling in the morning, what the day is looking like, what TV we watched the night before. In the evening we vent about work, or the weather, or whatever happened in the news that day. It’s been a lifeline to keep our friendships going, and keep us up to date on how each other are doing.
Even that isn’t quite enough for someone as hyper social as me though. I’ve also been letter writing. Before lockdown, I had three penpals, two in the US and one in France. Now, I write to a list of 20 people once a week! It’s a funny experience – in some cases, I barely know the people I’m writing to – they’re primary school friends, or fellow volunteers, or friends of friends who got added to my list somehow. Some of them write back, some don’t. But those who do say how nice it is to get something personal in the post, and a little slice of someone else’s normal.
I tend to write about whatever is on my mind at the time. Some letters have just been an account of my week, others a furious diatribe about how break-ups suck (not me, my friend!), and even once a poem I liked and copied out 20 times in a row. At the beginning I went to huge lengths to put stickers and doodles on each one, but I’m a little more chill now – though I do still use fancy writing paper. This week’s has owls on it.
When lockdown does end, and we go back to seeing each other in person all the time, I hope some of the closeness and community we’ve built during lockdown will stick around. Being on zoom twice a day probably won’t persist, but messaging each other about our days might. And I think some of my lockdown penpals will continue – if I can keep affording the stamps!
Let us know how you are finding structure in your days or keeping in touch with people!