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Coping with the end of school in lockdown

With schools suddenly forced to close due to the Covid-19 pandemic, many young people didn't have the end to their time at school they were expecting. Ella, 18, shares what this was like for her and what has helped her cope with the sense of loss.

Lockdown has been a huge change for the vast majority of students at schools and universities across the world, particularly for those whose school lives have ended early due to the current situation. It’s completely surreal and hugely anticlimactic. All of a sudden we have no leavers assemblies, no summer parties or proms, and no emotional hugs goodbye! Now we’re just left wondering, “What are we supposed to do now?”

My experience

Like many year 13 students, I had my school’s closing sprung upon me, with teachers telling us that morning that it would be our last day. It didn’t feel fair; it didn’t even feel real. We had a rushed leavers assembly after which we all elbowed each other goodbye as we were no longer able to hug or high five to avoid spreading anything.

After I got home, it suddenly occurred to me that I hadn’t said goodbye to anybody and who knows the next time I’ll see them, if ever. I felt cheated. It wasn’t fair that this was all we got. It wasn’t fair that we didn’t get a goodbye. None of it was fair.

It wasn’t fair that we didn’t get a goodbye.

I’m certain so many people feel this way and so I’m going to share my way of coming to terms with it all and turning a negative experience into a mildly positive one.

Remember the bigger picture

This was, for me, the most helpful way of accepting the situation, and is what I’ve been telling all my friends when they start panicking. Remember that it’s not just you! It’s everybody your age in the country who is dealing with this. You are not alone. While you may have missed out, so many others have too – in fact, so much so that missing out has become something you share and will eventually bond over.

Remember that it’s not just you! It’s everybody your age in the country who is dealing with this. You are not alone.

Stay in contact

For me, a huge issue was the sudden need to say goodbye to everybody. This absolutely wrecked me, until I realised that it’s only really goodbye if I let it be.

For the first few weeks I was shocked at how I hadn’t been talking to so many of my friends. I realised that the easiest way to change this is simply to text them! I know how difficult this can be if it’s someone you wouldn’t normally text, but you just need to remember that everybody is in the same, lonely boat. The chances are, by checking in on someone, you might just make their day!

I realised that it’s only really goodbye if I let it be.

"Don't cry because it's over; smile because it happened"

Cheesy quote I know, but it does actually make a lot of sense in this situation. While the ending of school may have been a little rubbish, you shouldn’t let it taint the experience.

It’s been tricky (but incredibly useful) for me to remember the positive times I had at school and to realise how the abrupt ending was only a tiny part of a much bigger experience. Me and my best friend have even taken up having weekly phone calls in order to discuss funny stories from school and moments we’re glad are over!

It’s been tricky (but incredibly useful) for me to remember the positive times I had at school and to realise how the abrupt ending was only a tiny part of a much bigger experience.

What to do now

Another issue that has made school being over even more painful is the sudden amount of free time I’ve been getting. It’s making me miss schoolwork (almost!). The sudden change from constant studying to having nothing to do has been really jarring and confusing, especially considering how younger students are having their online lessons and constant contact with teachers.

To help me have a sense of routine and something to do, I’ve started taking online courses in order to slightly bridge the gap between schoolwork and lying on my bed all day. It’s surprising how much I’ve actually enjoyed getting back to learning! I’ve found some new hobbies from the courses I’ve been taking and I’ve managed to boost my CV a little too (always a positive). I’ve even started taking courses with friends to make it more fun. You basically get all the parts you miss about school except you can sit in your PJs eating sweets!

The sudden change from constant studying to having nothing to do has been really jarring and confusing.

This is what has helped me, but remember we all need to do different things to help us cope. Find what works for you and don’t push yourself or make yourself feel guilty if it looks different to someone else.

A final thought

I read an article the other day that was intended for people who had been furloughed that said to make the most of the government-mandated down time, as it’s unlikely that you’ll get this much time off again! Although it wasn’t intended for students, I feel like it really helped me.

When you think about it, we are basically having a seven-month summer holiday (albeit stuck indoors), so we ought to enjoy it if we can and try to make the most of it. Because, when else are you going to get a chance to watch all the TV shows you keep saying you’ll get round to, or finally learn to play the guitar? You’ve been forced to take time off, you might as well try to make the most of it!

We all need to do different things to help us cope. Find what works for you and don’t push yourself or make yourself feel guilty if it looks different to someone else.

Having said that, if you need to take the time to rest, or if you are struggling to cope and don’t feel able to “make the most” of the situation, that’s valid too. Be kind to yourself and reach out for help if you need it.

 

Author: Ella, 18

Where to get help

If you are struggling with your mental health, or are worried about somebody else who is, take a look at our find help page for information, tips and suggestions of where you can get help.

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