Stay Home Advice: Camilla on taking opportunities
Each week we bring you the voice of one of the young people we are working with at the Jack Petchey Foundation to share their thoughts, ideas and tips about how to make the most of social distancing and staying home. This week’s is from Camilla, who reached out to us via email to tell us how she’s been staying positive and making the most of opportunities in lockdown.
What’s up, everyone? Camilla Ededjo here, a Year 11 student who was made aware of this opportunity from the Jack Petchey Foundation by my secondary school (shout out to Chadwell Heath Academy!). I also received an Achievement Award from the Foundation in 2019. With this blog post, I would like to encourage others to take advantage of every opportunity that comes your way, which was my experience in this nationwide lockdown.
Step back in time with me. It’s the 18th of March 2020, and I’m making flashcards on the structure of a leaf, for the Biology Paper 1 exam that’s coming oh-so-soon. As we teenagers do, I check my texts and feeds on my phone, only to see a text of joy from my sister – who is in year 13:
“THE A LEVEL AND GCSE EXAMS ARE CANCELLED!! (insert a ridiculous amount of party popper emojis). I’m coming home from studying at the library.”
I was distraught to say the least. My flashcards were completely discarded, and I just sat in shock. The GCSE’s? My GCSE’s? The first set of major exams in my life, flushed down the drain, and what pulled the plug? Covid-19. It seemed too much to take in. The months of prep, hours after school, leaving at 5pm and trudging home in the lovely London rain, all of it seemed wasted. On top of all that, there was a deadly virus lurking the streets, with enough power to strip 566, 674 Year 11’s of their exams and imprison us in our homes. To say I was feeling a tad pessimistic is an understatement.
Ok, back to the present.
The cancelling of the exams was a stumbling block to me, as I can assume it was for many others. I felt like I had nothing to work towards, no goal to strive for, but a lengthy, underserved holiday instead. In addition, I was going to base my A-Level choices on my results, which meant choosing the direction I would take in terms of a career. I felt that now my grades would be teacher-assessed, it would make it a little harder to choose. My plans for volunteering and building my CV also had to walk the plank, and I could do was watch them float away…
As a result of all this overly negative thinking, I began to feel mounding anxiety. The first few weeks of lockdown were not the greatest, to say the least. Constant dwelling in my thoughts, coupled with no goals and endless free time thinking about what could have been, resulted in a battle with negative feelings – which I was losing.
During this time, my school was continually sending out updates, messages of encouragement and things for us to do. I had not taken much notice of these, reading them and immediately after, switching back to YouTube. But one day I logged into my Show My Homework account and read through them properly. As I read through, I saw mountains of opportunity for learning new skills! All the departments had made known to us: online courses, articles, subject specific books, playwriting competitions, career quizzes and guides, skill platforms, even sports competitions you could do at home during the lockdown!
My eyes were opened! This was the encouragement I needed. I realised that I could still make the most of the lockdown period, learn new things and stay educated while doing things I enjoyed. School wasn’t the only way to keep my brain whirring!
With this new found initiative, I signed myself up for an easy online course and also began to learn British Sign Language, bit by bit. I realised that I didn’t need to put so much pressure on myself to be ultra-productive, I just needed to look at the opportunities made known to me and take advantage of a few of them, or even just one. This would keep me from all those negative ways of thinking, and I could put that energy into learning new skills and reading up on interesting topics.
This led me to realise that I cannot control everything that happens in life. Who knew that 2020 would bring the biggest stay-cation the country has ever seen? I sure didn’t. It’s easy to allow ourselves to be weighed down by things we cannot control, however there are always things that we do have control over! We control how we spend our time, what we think about, who we surround ourselves with, and what we can do in the 24 hours we are given every day, especially during this lockdown.
So, seize the day! Go and finally learn how to complete the Rubiks cube, or how to dance the Renegade on TikTok. Learn something new. Exercise your brain. Most importantly,