As the coronavirus pandemic continues to run rife in the UK, we’re back in lockdown again. We’ve all been instructed to follow the same rules (more or less) - but how that actually looks from person-to-person is surprisingly unique. With so many different living, working, and personal situations at play, each week Cosmopolitan invites a different reader to share a glimpse into their life over a 24-hour period….
Cordelia is a 24-year-old Bristol University Graduate who has spent lockdown at home with her family in South West London, unemployed, desperately trying to get a job, and feeling totally stuck. She already feels the pressures of her age - trying to move out, finding the right relationship, etc - but frantically searching for the ‘dream’ job and working out what she wants to do with her life amidst a pandemic has been the rich, royal icing on top of an already wobbly cake. Cordelia feels that recent graduates have been particularly affected by the last year, struck down at a pivotal age in their career and personal progression.
8.00am: It’s Monday morning and the dreaded 'radar' alarm sounds from my phone, reminding me it’s time to start yet another week in lockdown. Mondays are the worst - a total slap in the face that I’m still unemployed. No Zoom meetings, no colleagues, no motive to work. Just slightly overwhelming. I get dressed; I could stay in my pjs all day, but I must keep proactive and aim to look slightly human.
8.30am: Breakfast time. Like most days it’s a good bowl of porridge - warming and comforting for these strange times, and delicious topped with fresh berries and a squeeze of honey. But first, a large cup of (strong) coffee, accompanied by my concoction of Vitamin C and D tablets. Placebo or not, they’ll keep me strong and healthy, warding off any signs of the dreaded COVID. One by one the rest of the clan appear - some chirpier than others, it’s always a gamble on moods. We’ve all been at home with our parents for lockdown; four 'kids' over the age of 21 - two working, one doing the LPC and one (me) totally lost. My brother and sister had previously moved out but after coming home for Christmas, they still haven’t left - I think my parents secretly love it!
8.45am: We hear the daily news briefing from my mum, it’s like having our very own Laura Kuenssberg. Whether we like it or not, we get bombarded with the latest facts and figures on the vaccine process, the R-rate number… it’s all a bit much first thing in the morning. Coffee has not quite kicked in. I try to limit my news intake as it can become overwhelming; it’s hard striking the balance of being informed and aware, whilst not getting too bogged down with negativity.
9am: Morning walk. I’ve made getting out first thing part of my daily routine - just a quick walk round the block, headphones in, music on. It’s refreshing and awakening - a great way to clear my overthinking head. I also love seeing the rest of the world waking up; people commuting to their lounges or kitchen windows, and a friendly smile with the neighbour instantly ignites some form of sociability which can be so easily lost during lockdown.
10am: I try to mimic a 'working' day, so I set up at my desk and start the trawl of job searching. I go through different job sites, chase any applications I’ve done, write a few speculative emails… It’s a tricky thing to do at the best of times, but add in a pandemic and it becomes very demoralising. So many companies have frozen recruitment since COVID so the opportunities are limited, yet with unemployment rising the demand is high. This makes the job hunt even more competitive; a mass of over qualified graduates applying for the same internships and entry-level jobs.
I’m desperately trying to get a job in journalism, but it's super competitive like so many other industries. Graduate schemes are few and far between so it’s all about internships and making contacts, which is nearly impossible during a pandemic. And then you have all the others in the same boat, fighting for any role that does come up. Rejections don’t seem to faze me anymore though, I’ve become immune to them. Some companies don’t even bother ever getting back to you, or you just receive the generic ‘unfortunately on this occasion your application has been unsuccessful’. It’s a very disheartening, frustrating process and morale levels quickly deplete.
11am: Whilst having yet another morning crisis of feeling forever unemployed, the doorbell rings. It’s the postman - a highlight of the day in our household - and soon my sisters and I are yapping away to him (he’s young, single, rather dishy and to be honest the only man we’re able to flirt with at the moment!). I did try Hinge for a bit, but it wasn’t quite for me. The dating scene has become stagnant and handsome strangers a distant memory. Bring on the surge of other pent-up singletons crawling out of the woodwork in the days to come!
11.30: Exercise is my saving grace, so before lunch I always like to do some kind of HIIT workout, yoga sesh or go for a run. Running is my favourite - it gets my heart rate pumping, endorphins soaring and my head full of stress and anxieties cleared. I was training for the Paris Half Marathon last year, but when COVID struck it was cancelled. I decided to continue with my training and run my own version to Buckingham Palace in October instead. It was a great way to keep motivated whilst raising money for Mind charity.
12.30: Bath time. In the middle of the day. I’m unemployed and living through a pandemic - a bath and face mask at midday is totally acceptable!
1.30: Lunchtime is like feeding time in a zoo in our kitchen. Everyone flocks in hungry, stressed out, and frantic for food. By the end it looks like there has been a burglary - the kitchen is a tip! There’s fighting because tempers are fraying in lockdown, we’re all fed up and someone steals the last of the bagels. I go for some homemade hummus (yes, I have time to make my own hummus) with smashed avocado on toast (oh how I miss boujee brunch spots). We all have a quick natter, and the others end up moaning about their bosses, so I don’t get a word in edgeways about the struggles of having no job. I end up loading the dishwasher once everyone’s out. I have nothing better to do and I find it weirdly therapeutic, maybe it's a metaphor for me trying to clear my busy mind.
2pm: Afternoon slump hits - now what to do? Everyone’s back to their offices (bedrooms) so I have another quick gander for one of those elusive 'job' things…. No luck. It seems I have officially exhausted the world wide web. Afternoons feel long, just waiting for the others to finish work so I have someone to play with! How old am I?!
3pm: I decide to give the job search a break. There are only so many hours I can look for things that don’t exist. Instead, I dedicate an hour to letter writing. This has been a lovely old-fashioned way to connect with my friends and brighten their days with a little letter in the post. It’s cathartic and mindful too, letting my thoughts pour out onto the page, writing exactly how I feel.
4pm: I have a phone call with my token unemployed friend. We share a good vent about how we both feel stuck in a rut and lost at what to do next. It’s nice to have someone who understands your quarter-life pandemic crisis - it can be hard when a lot of my friends are working full-time now. It’s a bit bittersweet talking to friends; I love catching up but it makes me miss them and normal times at the pub even more.
5pm: I was supposed to go on a walk with another friend who lives locally (another bloody walk - that’s all we do!) but due to the classic British weather, it's tipping it down, so it’s off the cards. Oh how I long for summer days. Another jigsaw it is, then. I’m perhaps not your typical jigsaw-goer (I’m 24, nearing 74?!), but it is a total distraction from the hum-drum of lockdown, and as a bonus I’m totally improving my cognitive function, right? I’ll be thankful in my granny days later down the line.
A cup of tea and browse at Zara’s sale is a welcome break… but online shopping just isn’t the same, especially with no income. I do a quick check of my Vinted account - I have been trying to sell clothes from the back of my wardrobe to declutter, and it's nice getting a little bit of pocket money too. You know things have got bad when your only form of salary is £8 from the sale of a pair of old jeans…
7pm: I have taken on the role of Head Chef at home. I love whipping up exciting recipes, trying new things, and using every ingredient I can get my hands on. It’s a total switch off from reality, just me and the pots and pans. I put the radio on, have a little boogie, and whizz up something fresh and delicious from Deliciously Ella’s Quick & Easy, or Ottolenghi’s Simple. Tonight, it’s a Sri Lankan aubergine curry on the menu.
8pm: We all sit down and eat, usually with a drink of something alcoholic (there’s always an occasion - even if just another boring lockdown Monday - an Aperol is justified!) It’s a nice focal point of the evening, a time to catch up, have a moan and collectively wish we were on holiday. We annoy the hell out of each other as a family, but lockdown in a loud, non-stop mad-house has its perks.
9pm: Whether it’s my recent obsession with Bridgerton or trusty old Friends, watching TV has been a great way to unwind this year. I have also got much more into reading with more time so I dip into a couple of chapters to help me drift off before bed. I’ve just finished The Power Hour by Adrienne Herbert, and would highly recommend.
11pm: Another day done. Sometimes the days rush by, others it feels like a real slog to get to bedtime. That’s the thing with this weird world of lockdown - it’s all very uncertain and unpredictable. My sleep has definitely suffered in the past year; I toss and turn, overthinking and struggling to reach a deep sleep (it doesn’t help with the foxes screeching outside my bedroom window - they’re clearly bored of lockdown too). We seem to be a family of insomniacs - there’s always someone up and about in the middle of the night, running a bath, or having a cuppa, so at least there’s another sleep-deprived comrade around.
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