Writing about high school is tough for me, because there are so many different aspects and I’m worried I’ll either exaggerate the experience or turn everything in the rearview mirror golden.
But an aspect of high school is this: I was lonely a lot. I think seventeen was alright, but something came crashing down again at eighteen and I think I’ve yet to pick it back up. I like to think this makes me more compassionate, more likely to see those who fall under the radar, but who really knows.
Writing about loneliness is difficult because I don’t want to be perceived as a lonely person, but we’ve all felt it, haven’t we?
When I was thirteen I didn’t make good friends. I don’t know why not, I just struggled to connect, and if there was a vague sort of likeness, I clung too hard which only causes distance in the end. At fifteen and sixteen I had a group of friends, but the feeling of being a misunderstood outsider never really went away, nor did my insecurities, so I spent a lot of time wondering whether these girls even liked me. Something settled at seventeen, though, and I have good memories of lying in the sun at lunch and laughing too loudly.
Then at eighteen things were shifting for me spiritually, which I felt impacted my ability to connect. I couldn’t help but wonder if life was full of asking for forgiveness from God, having a minister tell me I was free of my sins, but never feeling truly free. Everything felt dry. I did have constant faith in my teen years, but eighteen was spent wanting more out of life without knowing what that looked like. This made year twelve an odd year as I was torn between not “wasting my youth” and this doesn’t really matter anyway.
I vividly remember one girl walking up to me and asking what was going on with me, and I told her I didn’t know, because I didn’t. I didn’t understand it and I didn’t know how to talk to people my age about it. (I say this because my parents helped me, so it wasn’t like I was completely alone. I just didn’t know how that part of my life fit in with my school friends.)
When I look back on year twelve now, I see it as one very long day, without much to differentiate the hours.
The reason I’m talking about loneliness now is because how I’ve felt during this lockdown is reminiscent of how I felt in high school, sitting with a group of girls and not understanding how they knew each other so well when I didn’t even know myself.
I’ve been living in Sydney’s lockdown, which began in July, and I can safely say this has been an isolating time. I know I’m not alone in this.
Interestingly, my isolation is not due only to the fact I cannot see family or friends but has come mainly from those in authority and mainstream media.
As someone who is not vaccinated, and has no immediate plans to be, I have been labelled as selfish, idiotic, and crazy by people who don’t know me or know my reasons for not being vaccinated. This brings about a loneliness I can’t fully describe.
I’ve avoided posting about the current circumstances surrounding lockdowns and vaccinations, not because I haven’t been impacted or care, because I have and I do, both to a great extent. Only, it is a sensitive topic, and I don’t want to come across disrespectful or judgemental, because that’s not my intention.
I’m simply a young woman with some concerns.
I don’t have a problem with people who are willingly being vaccinated, but I don’t agree with the mandates, coercion, and risk of losing work or being ostracised because of a personal medical decision. On top of that, the vaccine has not been fully tested and we have no way of understanding the long-term affects of it.
Declaring that this minority of unvaccinated citizens aren’t putting in the hard work for society does not sit right with me.
I have followed the rules that have been put in place, including a curfew and extreme limits on where I can go and for how long I can exercise for due to living in an LGA of concern. I have worked one shift since July and now I face the risk of losing my job due to a new company policy. I don’t live near my family and I haven’t seen my friends in weeks. This decision is not an easy one, nor is it selfish.
I don’t say this for sympathy. I realise I’m blessed in being able to regularly see my boyfriend and talk to my family on the phone, all of whom support me in this time and help me feel less alone. If I didn’t have their support, this decision would be even harder.
But this is the first time I have been impacted by something so huge. As a Christian, I have always felt safe in Australia to practise my religion and speak freely about my beliefs, which is an incredible blessing. It shocks me that I feel more of an outsider being an unvaccinated citizen.
Something has to change.