It’s a Social Thing — An Exploration of Change in the Pandemic

Life persists through change

Eden sat on her bed with dark blonde hair, wearing a navy blue jumper with pink red and green sleeves. She is straight faced and looking into the camera.
Feb 2021 in my bedroom at my parents’ house, willing change to happen

Social Rituals

For the friends and family we usually involve in our social rituals, the separation has been undeniably blunt, no matter the number of Zoom calls you organise. The lockdown birthdays, the newborn babies only held by their parents, the grieving behind closed doors, in these moments of great significance we are apart. We are unable to authentically access the change happening in our loved one’s lives, just as they are unable to do the same for us. It is a collective loss that feels cruelly like an individual burden — demonstrated no more starkly than in the countless households where there are empty chairs that should be full.

Eden and two female friends stand at the top of a grass hill in Durham. Behind them in the distance you can see the skyline of the city, along with the Cathedral. The sun is just beginning to set and the sky has a haze of pink and orange alongside blue. There is not a cloud in the sky.
Celebrating the end of our degrees in summer 2020

The Uncanny Nature of Change

For those of you familiar with psychoanalysis, you’ll have heard of Freud’s theory of the uncanny. This is the belief that an object or experience can be at once known and unknown. For Freud, the purest example of the uncanny is the mother’s vulva, a place that is at once familiar before birth and yet unfulfilled in sexual pleasure. A location of safety, but potential engulfment.

Change as a current rather than a wave

For all my pondering on change, and how we have had to grapple with its very nature, I have found this adjustment oddly more peaceful. The shifting ripples and waves within my life have been processed more introspectively, examined and then laid to rest. Change has become a current, rather than a series of violent waves.

Building back better

My perceptions of change in this pandemic are undeniably shaped by my life experience as an able-bodied person.

Life persists, what a wanker

This third lockdown has been the hardest, felt the most hopeless, and really challenged our individual and collective resilience.

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Eden Szymura

Eden Szymura

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Writer and thinker exploring homecoming, culture and connection. Co-founder of feminist arts organisation, MEDUSA. Newsletter called 'Yearning' on Substack.