I’ve been out every night since 2010. Well, not every night, but most of them. I moved to London for university when I was 18 and, for most of the next 10 years, I made the most of every opportunity, event, party, meal, drink and man I came across. While the other people on my course were going to freshers’ fairs and poetry competitions, I was vomiting arancini balls into the toilets at the Barbican.
I would blame my “chronic Fomo” or Sagittarian nature – but whatever the reason, I put all my eggs in the “going out” basket. I thought it was a sturdy, well-woven basket. There’s no way “going out” would ever not be a thing, right?
It is not an exaggeration to say that, this year, all my worst fears came true.
At the prospect of staying home indefinitely, I was inconsolable. Staying at home terrifies and unsettles me. After more than two evenings on the sofa, I usually experience a kind of manic claustrophobia. I have to get out.
My darkest evening was in March. I imagined a future of only ever seeing my friends via Zoom, and never experiencing a party, event, or buzzing city centre again.
But gradually, like so many others, I grew to accept the situation. I’m lucky to have a private flat, which my partner and I have now shared for just over a year. When flat-hunting, our priorities were to find something we could afford and that had windows and doors. In London, you can’t be much pickier than that. What we ended up with was a very compact but pleasant basement apartment.
As life changed over the months of lockdown, I started to view the space I had previously seen as a refuelling station between social engagements as a home. When I got a job, it became an office, too. Slowly, my priorities began to shift: the desk in the corner that had previously been gathering dust and coffee mugs became my workspace; our flat’s proximity to two major tube lines no longer mattered, but the fact that we had a small yard, which I had barely noticed before, felt lifesaving.
As we realised how important the space around us was, and how well it was looking after us, we started to give it a little love in return. Money that would otherwise have been blown on a 5am minicab was now spent on house plants, garden chairs and kitchen utensils.
It is a change in mindset that has remained, even as the lockdown restrictions have begun to lift. Spending the day on the sofa or at my desk doesn’t scare me anywhere near as much as it used to. I have realised the world won’t end if I stay in, relaxing on the sofa with a meal and a film. In fact, I’ve found that it can be a good thing, particularly when it comes to my mental health. More than anything though, I’ve realised what an incredible privilege it is to live in a home that’s safe, stable and calm.