Lockdown has forced me back to my teenage years – this is what I’ve learned second time round

Aoife Loughnane never thought she would get a second chance at lounging around with her sister in their parent's house. Here, she realises it was just the tonic she needed


Only a few weeks ago, we were blissfully unaware of how the whole world was about to be turned upside down. For some people, everyday lives would be changed beyond recognition. For others, the pace would be slowed down to a leisurely lull. For me, it’s been a strange mix of the two.

First things first, let’s go back to this time almost two years ago.

It was in the romantic setting of drunken Temple Bar that I met a handsome, smart and funny Belgian man. A year later, I made the leap to move and join him in Belgium. I had long been eager to shed my childhood home and town and have my first taste of real independence.

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By early March 2020, I was fully in the swing of this exciting new chapter in my life. My days were spent happily running around the gorgeous city of Antwerp with fellow expats. When it became apparent that something called Coronavirus wasn’t some harmless cold that was going to go away, I had to make a tough decision. I moved temporarily back home to Dublin the day before Paddy’s Day. Initially dreading leaving my flat, boyfriend and new life, I realised something wonderful when I arrived in my childhood home. I was being gifted a second chance at being teenager. The part of my life that I had thought was to never be again, is now my every day.

A tonic we didn't know we needed

I'm sharing a room with my sister again. I'm spending my days slouching around in pyjamas and socks reading yellowing paperback Nancy Drew books in my living room while my parents watch TV.

I want to make it clear that my teenage years the first time around were mostly brilliant. My house is the kind that has always buzzed with life. It was where my friends would gather and where parties-people-didn’t-want-to-end took place. It was always a sanctuary to unwind in after a shitty day at school or college.

While I enjoyed those years, I was always trying to get through them a breakneck speed because I was hungry to experience the world. But now I'm experiencing it as a different person and appreciating it in a way that is impossible to the first time round.

I’m finding that for someone who is (temporarily) unemployed and notoriously lazy, my days have gone by in a flash.

While I have managed to avoid banana-bread-making bandwagon, I’ve been working out for the first time in my life, thanks to Leslie Sansone’s YouTube workouts. I’ve been writing again. I‘ve had Zoom calls with friends I haven’t seen in months. I learned how to make my boyfriend's delicious veggie soup. Basically all of the things that have been on the to-do list that I never made time to do before.

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I’m spending afternoons in the garden sun with my family and actually soaking up my surroundings. Something as simple as our Friday night takeaways and watching the Late Late Show together is the highlight of my week. And the surprising thing is, it makes me so happy. I’m talking pure, unfiltered joy.

There is something about melting back into the fabric of your childhood home that is perhaps a tonic we didn't even know we needed.

Making the most

I always thought it was better to be out meeting new people and trying new things. But this pause has shown me that sometimes simple is good. Not exactly a groundbreaking revelation, but an important one.

This strange reality that we are all living through will eventually end and life will resume, though maybe not the way it was before. I suppose knowing that this reprieve of the hamster wheel is a once-off, makes it more magical.

It’s so easy to get tricked into thinking you have to outgrow the various stages of your life as you move through them. I‘m sure I’m not the only one who has some new-found respect for hanging out with their families as we’re all forced to isolate either together or apart.

This time is something that won’t come around again and that’s why I am making the most of every walk with Dad, belly laugh with my siblings and Bailey’s hot chocolate with my Mam. Waving to my Grandma from her gate and having a socially distant chat with my aunty and younger cousins from their car are things I never thought I’d cherish.

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So thanks to lockdown, I’ve learned the importance of embracing the present – because you might not get a second chance to.

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