"This left us with one option only: to find new ways to get through each day"Photo credit: Scarlet Rowe

To be completely frank, I’ve always associated the word ‘innovation’ with scientific experiments and Dragon’s Den. It’s never been a word I associate myself with, as I don’t see myself as a particularly creative person. So when I read that the theme of this week’s Varsity print edition is ‘innovation’, I was a little baffled at first. ‘How can I ever talk about that?’, I asked myself with furrowed brows.

“This left us with one option only: to find new ways to get through each day”

I’ll admit that I Googled its definition just to double check… And at the severe risk of sounding like I’m writing an essay, Google informed me that to innovate is to “make changes in something established, especially by introducing new methods, ideas, or products”. I sighed with relief upon reading this, as I quickly reached the conclusion that we are all innovators. Over the past year, we’ve been left with no choice but to make enormous changes to our everyday lives. With the spread of the virus, many of the routines and activities which we came to depend on for our wellbeing became unfeasible overnight. It is an understatement, then, to say that we were all thrown in the deep end. This left us with one option only: to find new ways to get through each day.

The first challenge I experienced with lockdown number one was the way that the days blurred into weeks, which blurred into months with no clear and recognisable distinction between them. Time went from feeling very sharp and defined to feeling very abstract and distant. So I stopped working by the clock, and established spontaneous and unpredictable working hours. My (already precarious) sleeping pattern completely fell apart because, suddenly, being awake all night had few repercussions for the next day. I lost track of which day and month it was because it just didn’t matter anymore. I had nowhere to be, and few people to see. This was half alienating, and half liberating. I was more able to work on my own time than ever before, but I also felt very separated from most people and things. My innovation here, if you like, was to reclaim time for myself, albeit only half successfully.

“I’ve accepted the fact that the cold and planning don’t always have to be my enemy”

The next challenge was that I missed (and miss) seeing friends. There’s nothing I like better than chatting to a group of good friends with tea and biscuits to hand. These sorts of conversations carry me effortlessly so that I don’t even notice the evening sky turning to darkness. I don’t realise the time passing because for a few hours at least, time ceases to exist. I’m sure you understand perfectly well how hard it is not to see friends in the way we used to, so I don’t need to complain about how frustrating it can be. However, we’ve all innovated to this change in affairs. I will now brave the coldest winter days and (slightly) awkward video calls to catch up with friends. I’ll even make plans in advance to see them, which I’d never have dreamed of doing a year ago. In other words, I’ve accepted the fact that the cold and planning don’t always have to be my enemy. That said, though, I doubt that my willingness to innovate will ever go as far as turning me into an enthusiastic planner.

The third challenge is more specific to lockdown three, as my general motivation to work this Lent term is at an all time low. I get distracted very easily (all the time), and actively find ways to distract myself. I think this is largely because uni feels very abstract and far away at the moment. If I want it to go away, I can simply turn off my laptop, and then I’m free to do whatever I like (within reason). It doesn’t help that I live with five siblings either, who together have an abundance of TikTok videos and sarcastic comments to share. I enjoy talking to them more than reading for my degree. This can sometimes be an issue when I really should be writing an essay, but am instead making myself a third cup of tea to discuss recent fashion trends with my sister. So, how have I responded to this innovatively? Firstly, a disclaimer: I haven’t been entirely successful with this one. However, I have managed to tuck myself away in my room whenever necessary. I’ve also minimised the generously numbered tea breaks I have, as I’m acutely aware that I often use them as a thinly-veiled excuse to avoid working.


Mountain View

Education, Who is She?

What I want you to know is that you’re an innovator. We are all innovators. We can thank the perpetual lockdowns for this. We’ve made it through an extremely disorientating year, which we could not have done without changing little things that we took for granted. We’ll be going through a similar process when the world starts to open up again. Then, we’ll be able to include things like being able to shop with friends or go on holiday or attend in-person lectures within the realm of possibility again. This will take some getting used to, but we will all be able to do it just fine, because we’ve already proven that the spirit of the innovator is in every single one of us.