In this Newsworthy series, students reflect on living in the shadow of the coronavirus.
On my way to my gym class at 6:55am I passed a line of elderly people queuing at the closed doors of the local Coles. Despite the supermarkets not yet being open, the queue extended 50 metres along the footpath, restless old people who were feeling the pressure to get in and out before the supplies of toilet paper and other staples vanished.
This was a pressure that I have been exposed to, and yet it hasn't quite penetrated my actions. Numbers at gym classes are dwindling, restaurant strips are ghost towns and my own family members are returning from shopping trips with bags full of enough pasta and peanut butter to last us at least six months. And yet, I am determined to maintain my regular scheduling.
'I am aware my anxiety will catch up with me but it's [my] habit to ignore the problem until it builds up into an explosion.'
When going out for dinner last week, I was frustrated to see that the restaurant we had booked was closed, despite having received no indication that our reservation was no longer valid. I felt angry and frustrated, and not at the COVID-19 situation, rather at the fact my night had not gone the way I had planned.
Perhaps I am subconsciously aware of the impending isolation we will all be forced into, and am determined to bury my head in the sand to maintain a sense of normality for as long as possible. Last week, that normality was easier to achieve. Then, on Saturday, they closed the beaches. This morning was hard. Restaurant dining is gone, no more hanging out in cafes, or gyms. I've done my last gym class for who knows how long.
I am aware that my anxiety will catch up with me but it's a habit of mine to ignore the problem until it builds up into an explosion of stress and emotion. As a creature of habit I fear this will come as I lose control of my life and am forced to live by the schedule of my other family members - something I have not had to do since I gained independence with a driver's licence.
For now, I continue to use humour to deflect, and make fun of the people that are already there, all the while suppressing the peanut butter-tinged dread of the lock-in with family to come.