This week marked a full year since the UK entered the first lockdown.

As we excitedly rang in the new decade, celebrating the arrival of 2020 with fireworks and parties, we couldn’t possibly have imagined what was in store for us all.

We hurried home from education and work, perhaps some even relished the thought of a few weeks down time. The weather was glorious, perfect for a BBQ, and an ideal time to catch up on some DIY.

Little did we know that those weeks, would turn into months and then a year. Now, Facebook is peppered with announcements from people celebrating their 2nd lockdown birthday, and the novelty of Netflix has long faded.

Lives have been lost; livelihoods have been lost. Our mental health has taken a battering.

I think it’s safe to say that everyone globally has had their life impacted in some way. But everyone’s story is unique and personal to them. There have been high points and low points and we are all a part of this piece of history.

With the sadness and the challenges, there has also been resilience, friendship, hope, community, strength. The human spirit has shined as people have pulled together to encourage, entertain and support one another.

A quote I remember reading years ago springs to mind:

 ‘We are each of us angels with one wing, And we can only fly embracing each other.’  (Luciano de Crescenzo)

Maybe, in the past year we’ve learnt to be more accepting of each other and ourselves. We’ve understood that people are managing the best they can as they’ve adapted and adjusted to the world around them.

I’ve personally loved the insights into the lives of celebs and world leaders when their cat casually strolls into the broadcast. Many of us have enjoyed trying to see what’s on the bookcase behind them or wondered if they have their joggers on below the desk, whilst they present to the nation in suit and tie.

It allows us to see them for who they are behind the façade. They are relatable, people like us. We all share the same thoughts and feelings that make us human.

One message has been clear over the past year ‘It’s ok to not be ok’. The pandemic has allowed us to unite (virtually) and to check in on the people around us. Mental health stigma is being smashed down, removing the shame attached to the very normal emotions that we ALL experience (even when we try to put a brave face on it).

When restrictions lift and we take our first tentative steps out into the world (again), It’s natural to expect a kaleidoscope of emotions to be coming up: anxiety, excitement, relief, maybe a bit of cynicism thrown in for good measure. Some of us may be battle weary, some raring to get back out there.

My hope is this acceptance and kindness continues once we are back in the ‘real’ world.

I wonder how many people will reflect on the past year and make different choices for their future. Has a year in lockdown brought a fresh perspective?

I wonder, after a year of life stripped back to the basics, what it is that people missed the most? (I think hugs may feature pretty highly on that list).

I hope that amidst the challenges, we can all find the moments to be grateful for and to appreciate just how much we have achieved. Regardless of our DIY endeavours, just to be here in this moment in time is enough ’doing’ and we should all feel very proud of ourselves for that.

By Wendy Parrott – Youth Cancer Support Worker