Ashish age 17

I was in Year 11 doing my GCSEs when the first lockdown happened and I just had no work to do. Exams were cancelled and we were left in the dark till the September (2020). It has made doing my A levels now much harder because of being out of practice of working hard and having a long period of not working at all. There was the scandal of kids in lower income areas being given lower grades than average; sometimes one or two grades lower than predicted just because of the area they were in.  Luckily those grades were recalled.  It didn’t really affect me because of the area my school was in, and I was given my grades based on my predicted grades in the August. They felt fair to me, but not actually being able to do my GCSEs did leave me feeling a bit like they were unearned.  From the Christmas lockdown we were given work online but it was hard keeping up the mentality I needed and staying motivated, so I lost motivation because of not being around my peers and not physically being able to see the work.

The whole thing made me realize how important our health care system is. I was unsure what I wanted to do before the pandemic but it has made me 100% sure I want to go into medicine, being able to be in a position to be able to help people and reassure them, it’s given me a career path. We criminally undervalued the NHS before the pandemic but it has brought healthcare workers and the health care system to the forefront. I think it will have motivated a whole new generation of doctors and nurses.

I felt I missed out on celebrating the end of year 11, just being able to have some fun and enjoy that time with prom and going out with friends, but instead I was cooped up in the house. I was losing motivation in other ways too – I lost touch with friends, losing parts of my social life, and let go of myself health wise. I was binging on food and not exercising. In the final months of it all though, I did start jogging, it really helped. I felt jogging was releasing a good energy and made me feel I was in control of myself; not life in control of me. What actually helped keep my social skills going was playing games online, it was keeping my brain active and gave me some social connection.  Watching YouTube videos and Netflix really helped me unwind too.

I’m an only child and both my parents are key workers. My dad was a phlebotomist at the time and my mum is a recovery nurse, so I spent a lot of time at home on my own.  I started really valuing the time I had with my parents, going for walks with them, watching films together and playing cricket with my dad. I wouldn’t have appreciated my family as much if hadn’t been for the pandemic. When you lose these things it really makes them so much more valuable to you.

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