‘We weren’t really talking about it’ - Teenagers open up about the pressures of lockdown

Lindsey Guardado (left) and Gracie Ashley both took part in UEA's project. There were over 250 entri

Lindsey Guardado (left) and Gracie Ashley both took part in UEA's project. There were over 250 entries, but just 35 submissions chosen. Photo: Lindsey Guardado/Hollie Ashley - Credit: Archant

Teenagers have opened up about the highs and lows of living through a pandemic - admitting that friendship groups, at first, were “trying their best not to talk about it”.

A poem written by Gracie from Smithdon High for UEA's 'Lockdown Diaries' project. Photo: UEA

A poem written by Gracie from Smithdon High for UEA's 'Lockdown Diaries' project. Photo: UEA - Credit: Archant

The University of East Anglia asked 10-16-year-olds to express their thoughts on coronvirus via “creative channels” for a Lockdown Diaries Story Collection published on November 9.

Gracie Ashley, from Smithdon High in Hunstanton, whose poem made the final cut, said it gave her an opportunity to “put into words” how she felt about the whole thing.

The 13-year-old said: “I got an email from my English teacher asking if I wanted to take part in the project.

“It was weird, because until that point I’d lost all motivation and felt completely drained by the lockdown.

A poem written by Lindsey from Smithdon High for UEA's 'Lockdown Diaries' project. Photo: UEA

A poem written by Lindsey from Smithdon High for UEA's 'Lockdown Diaries' project. Photo: UEA - Credit: Archant

“We weren’t really talking about it as a group of friends, and I missed being able to see them in school.

“Since I was little I’ve always been a really confident person. But the pandemic came as a shock, and I started to feel quite low.“Having something to focus on, like my creative writing, lifted my spirits.


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“My friends and my mum were proud of me. It just sort of clicked that I can be productive in lockdown, and it is something we can and should talk about,”

Lindsey Guardado, 15 and from Smithdon High, also said that a lot of her friends were, at first, hiding their emotions from their parents and each other.

Students have had to adapt to a lot of new restrictions since returning to schools in September. Pi

Students have had to adapt to a lot of new restrictions since returning to schools in September. Picture: PA Images - Credit: PA Images

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“This project really helped me express myself”, she said.

“It gave me a sense of achievement which I hadn’t felt for a while.

“I was spending so much time on my phone and felt very unproductive.

“But now I have a routine, and I’ve been cooking, playing the ukelele and sending out cards to my friends.

“Once we got back to school, I noticed that everybody was nicer and more well-behaved. People have matured and are more willing to get along.

“I think the pressure placed on young people caused them to hide their feelings - but we all need to learn to talk about things more.

“As a group of friends, most of our conversations are about normal and non-pandemic related things. But if someone is struggling, we open up about it - and really have each other’s backs.

“I feel much better about everything now than I did a few months ago.”

Visit sites.uea.ac.uk/fly to see the collection.

MORE: Impact of Covid on young people revealed

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