Life&Style Writer Olivia Fleming reflects on her chosen lockdown hobbies in the face of the pressure to use her time wisely
There seemed to be this looming pressure during lockdown to be productive. I was constantly getting notifications from LinkedIn alerting me to the many useful activities being completed by old school friends and random acquaintances. This resulted in me spending hours obsessively trawling through online internships, LinkedIn Learning paths and anything else I thought would look good on my CV and act as a conversation topic when, in the future, someone asks, ‘so, how did you spend your lockdown?’.
Of course, all of this proved fruitless and only succeeded in stressing me out. I’m not sure what I want to do after university and internships are not necessary in the career paths that I am contemplating. So, to the people that have found ways to elevate their CV during lockdown: congrats! I am still sort of jealous. However to the majority that have not, it really doesn’t matter. This has been an extremely difficult time without the added pressure of a ‘CV gap,’ employers will understand that these are unprecedented circumstances and after a particularly stressed email from me to Birmingham’s career advisors I was told: ‘internships or work experience may make it easier to get your dream job, but you can still most definitely achieve it without them.’
Here’s some of the hobbies I explored to bide my time:
After a manic period of attempted ‘productivity,’ I realised that I could still use my lockdown time in a good way without psyching myself out. The first thing I did after this realisation was download the language app Duolingo. I quite enjoyed GCSE Spanish but of course abandoned it after my exams, this was a decision I regretted when during my post A-level holiday to Magaluf I could not remember a single word of Spanish (not that I really needed it anyway on the strip!) During lockdown I have simply set aside 10 minutes a day to complete a few Spanish vocabulary and grammar exercises and I am surprised by how much I remember. The fear of losing my 72 day ‘streak’ and the passive aggressive reminders in the form of Duo, the green owl, have kept me dedicated and helped me feel like I am spending my time wisely without having to get out of bed.
On top of this, the global pandemic finally destroyed all excuses I may have had as to why I had never played the guitar I begged for when I was fourteen. So, I dusted it off, tuned it, realised it was strung for a left handed person, re-arranged the strings, realised it actually had been for a right handed person, re-arranged the strings again, and started playing. I decided to download an app, one that ironically was showcased in an advert before one of my failed Youtube lessons. The app was great for helping me to get some basic chords down and was useful in that it allowed me to slow the tempo when playing along to songs. However, it certainly punished me for being a cheapskate and not paying for the full version. I could only play for 15 minutes a day, and it prevented me from playing any real songs! It would tell me I was learning ‘Ain’t no sunshine’ by Bill Withers but then cruelly remind me I was too poor for the full version and offer me ‘Bling Bling Star’ instead.
Sadly by the time I am writing this article my daily guitar practice has faltered to about two times a week. The songs on my app are becoming too difficult to get anywhere in 15 minutes and as lockdown restrictions are easing I am finding it all too easy to neglect my guitar practice in favour of other things. However, I am pleased to now possess some basic guitar skills, and I may go back onto Youtube and find some easy and recognisable songs which may relight my desire to play. I think the satisfaction and accomplishment of learning to play a song people can sing along to will help me to carry on the hobby.
Lastly, I have enjoyed cooking more whilst in lockdown. As I am living at home with my parents, I have access to a far wider range of ingredients than the uni classic of pasta, courgettes and some frozen Quorn. It’s been nice to cook for my family and try out some exciting recipes. Recently I decided my lockdown diet of Doritos and cereal probably wasn’t the best for my body and so I have been on a bit of a health and exercise kick. Youtube videos have actually been useful on the exercise front; at the moment I am in the middle of the viral Chloe Ting two week shred challenge. I have also found some simple videos on stretching, which is great because I am naturally as flexible as a brick. All this healthy lifestyle business is something I probably wouldn’t have bothered with at uni, but with a fully stocked fruit bowl and packs of oats in the cupboard I have enjoyed my transformation into a health and fitness guru.
Looking back on my time during lockdown, I realise that I have been productive, just not in the way I originally wanted. Although I have not learnt how to code or started a business Instagram account, I have put some effort into myself; taken up some new hobbies and strengthened my body. Maybe in my future job I will need to educate a client about nutrition in Spanish before dropping and doing twenty sit-ups whilst playing the guitar! Who knows?
No one should ever feel that they are wasting their time when they have a spare moment, often free time should just be spent as that, a time to relax. Some days during quarantine I struggled to get out of bed, let alone do a workout or a skill-building online course, and that’s okay, I did get out of bed, and now I have some new hobbies under my belt.
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