This pandemic is referred to by many as the new normal. I can recall the news coming through that there was going to be a national lockdown. Shock and panic filled the air. The possibility had been floating for a while, but when it was officially declared, nobody knew what to expect.

Questions swirled in my mind; 'what plans to put in place?', 'do I take all of my school books home?', 'will the supermarkets be closing?' and 'when or will we be returning to school and work?'

A time of fear and unpredictability for the world.

Even though I was safe in the comfort of my family home for the duration of lockdown, many nights were spent on tenterhooks waiting for the nine-o-clock news. Nervously awaiting updates from the Government, hearing the number of new reported cases, seeing the death toll rise and fall and new national restrictions being imposed.

Chance to reset

The five month hiatus has affected everyone differently. For adults; adapting to working from home or for us, students; continuing on with schooling through online platforms. The need to create a daily structure that involved emails from my teachers with feedback on my work or that day’s assignment and lesson plan.

The world has never been “shut down” before and it has certainly been a time full of anxiousness, stress, worry and fear. Lockdown however, has provided people with an accidental positive. Something that was scarce before due to the rapid pace of modern society, that there never seemed to be enough of – time.

For me, being too busy was a common explanation for missing a movie release or lunch with a friend or potentially, a milestone in my own or a loved one's life.

Isolation from the old life has made me more appreciative of the big things, like my health, family, and friends. But also for the just as significant, smaller luxuries such as completing my schoolwork for the day, closing my laptop, tying my hair up in a ponytail and being able to simply go for an evening walk with my mum and our family dog, Milly.

Beautiful Ireland

Over the course of lockdown, I have gone for a walk every day, and now I struggle to comprehend why I didn't go for walks more regularly before. It may sound trivial, but I reap so many benefits from it. Both for my physical and mental health and also time to talk to my mum while getting our energetic Cavalier King Charles out for a spot of exercise.

Days were frequently spent getting lost in our beautiful country seeing all of its hidden gems, making regular visits to the beach, gazing out on the vast, choppy Atlantic Ocean. Braving the trek up to Queen Maeve's Grave in Co Sligo and being rewarded with a stunning view. Being able to feel the cool wind blow my hair behind me. There is no better place to be confined than the beautiful country that is Ireland.

Times ahead will be unpredictable, worrying but the glimmer of optimism remains that a vaccine can be obtained in the near future. I used lockdown as an opportunity to rejuvenate and be revitalised for when life starts to resume. This time will be marked in history – the new normal.

Sixteen year old student Emily Callaghan is going into her leaving cert year. She lives on a farm in Co Donegal which has 120 sheep of all breeds, two heifer calves, four working border collies and the newest addition – four road island red chickens, which lay eggs daily.

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