England is slowly beginning to unlock, in the hope and belief that the worst of the coronavirus pandemic may be behind us. And while I'm ready to embrace the gradual return to normality, I have some thanks to express for the few but important personal upsides to lockdown.
I won’t miss you. I won’t miss the chaos and the misery you brought to so many. I won’t miss the closed restaurants, the faceless online shopping, the endless sanitising, nor the fear you instilled - that relentless, nagging concern about the health of those I love.
But that doesn’t mean I’m not grateful for the benefits you brought, beyond reducing the spread of COVID-19.
While many – myself included – fretted about the impact of school closures on young people, I watched a child blossom at home during lockdown, slowly but surely rebuilding the self-confidence they had lost through having to conform, having to learn a certain way at a certain time, to fit in or fail.
Without the distraction of shops or attractions, I’ve seen with fresh eyes the challenges a child with dyspraxia faces minute-by-minute as they navigate a new city’s unfamiliar layout, escalators and uneven surfaces – and how their quiet, determined, problem-solving techniques mark them out as someone set for success.
Despite often being told they would struggle with change, I’ve witnessed children adapting and thriving amid uncertainty – outcomes that have not come easy, but neither have they been met with the resistance or despair I may have feared.
And I’ve adjusted to constant interruptions from two- and four-legged family members and rediscovered the joys of working from home – being there for spontaneous conversation, to share the latest silly story or fascinating fact, and to say no to requests for yet another biscuit.
While many of the benefits of lockdown have been personal, there have been gifts in my work-life too. A temporary dip in client work left me free to help a non-profit with much-needed comms support and universal remote working has simplified managing projects involving multiple teams. Virtual events such as the CommsHero Conference, Tortoise Media Think-Ins and #RSAChange debates have enabled me to connect with and learn from colleagues and new contacts, many of which would have been difficult for me to attend in real life.
But I’m ready to say goodbye to this strange way of living. I’m looking forward to warmer (indoor) catch-ups, regular hair cuts and face-to-face meetings. Perhaps we may even return to a point where hugging friends and family becomes carefree. Let’s hope so.
So long, Lockdown – thanks for the memories, but forgive me if I don’t keep in touch.