Every day has been tougher than the one before. I don’t feel ready for 2021 | Bethany Castle | Australia news

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Name: Bethany Castle

Age: 17

Dreams of: being a psychologist

17 December

A big part of my independence has been taken away…

My name is Bethany Castle and I am 17 years old. I live with my mother and step-father in a small coastal town of less than 2,000 people 250km south-east of Adelaide. A few weeks ago I finished high school and next year I’m looking to study away from home.

2020 has been a tumultuous year, to say the least. The burden of Covid-19 has generated various obstacles and created uncertainty around my future. As 2021 draws closer, I will be navigating life after high school, moving to the city from this small country town and starting university. I hope to study psychology and start my career focusing on mental healthcare. However, given the life-changing impacts of this year, I feel a growing apprehension as I progress away from high school and into the real world.

Covid-19 has affected my life greatly. Halfway through my last year of schooling, I had to temporarily shift to at-home learning. This abrupt change made it challenging to remain motivated and focused on school. It also left me feeling incredibly isolated from my peers. From this, anxiety and great feelings of sadness developed.

My daily life was an emotional struggle. I was able to pull through and finish my studies, but in doing so I neglected my own wellbeing. I failed at looking after myself. I skipped sleep to study. I didn’t exercise or go out and socialise. I made sure that everything in my external life was perfect. I was so preoccupied with success that I became anxiety-ridden in the deep end of the pandemic.

In March, I lost my casual job at a local cafe. My parents cover most of my costs now, while I’m living at home, but I was saving the money I earned as a waitress for my shift to the big city. Losing that job meant a lot less financial freedom and security. Every time I spent my money I felt more apprehensive about my future. It left me in a position where I am now not only feeling unprepared but also incredibly restricted – and not just financially. I feel like I’ve lost valuable time to gain work experience that will be essential in getting a job so I can support myself when I move to Adelaide.

Minor Covid restrictions have had big impacts on me. The restrictions in South Australia made it increasingly hard to access driving lessons. Coupled with the ongoing stresses of this year, I’ve not been able to focus enough time and effort on learning to drive. So I have not been able to get my driving licence. This also places me at a disadvantage going into next year. I will need to rely on public transport in order to navigate the city and to return home, which can be costly. I feel that a big part of my independence and preparedness has been taken away.

I am a very creative person. I play the piano, guitar and trumpet, I paint and draw, act in community plays and musicals, and write spoken-word poetry. These interests are a great emotional outlet for me. This year I was set to perform the lead role in my community’s local production of Ladies in Black, but the play was cancelled due to Covid-19 and I was devastated. I lost the first major role I’ve ever had. Not only this, but my musical and poetry performances were limited as restrictions on public gatherings have been intermittently harsh.

Despite this, I was able to build and grow my online presence as a writer and poet, releasing written and spoken word pieces on social media. Next year in Adelaide I hope I can join drama clubs, make artworks and enter poetry slam competitions.

My main challenge moving into this new chapter of my life is the lack of security. I’m moving to a new, unfamiliar environment with minimal funds and without a licence. I don’t feel mentally ready for the year ahead – the toll of Covid has prevented me from preparing myself adequately for 2021. My anxiety and depression have been at their worst this year as a result. Every day felt tougher than the one before it.

But the uphill battle was worth it. I’m beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel. And I’m determined that I will succeed.

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Hafta Ichi
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: Every day has been tougher than the one before. I don’t feel ready for 2021 | Bethany Castle | Australia news

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