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By Hannah Karpel
inally, a glimmer of hope on the horizon. As lockdown restrictions begin to ease across the UK, combined with last week’s mini-heatwave, we get the feeling that fun may, just possibly, be coming back to the capital.
It was a carnival atmosphere as The Stack team arrived on Primrose Hill but are the generation who is coming of age in these strange times feeling optimistic about the future or are they reluctant to get back into the fray?
For friends, Simran, Mansika and Maya, entering the first lockdown coincided with them enrolling in their first term of university.
“These are supposed to be the best years of your life,” says Mansika, “at the moment it just doesn’t feel that way. It felt like we couldn’t do anything to change our circumstances, the opportunities we should’ve had were taken from us. We are about to turn 20 and it feels like our youth is being stripped away.”
A shift in mindset also took place for this trio of students this year.
“I have stopped planning for the future, I just take it day by day now. You never know what will happen, you’ve just got to live in the moment” says Aphra.
Together they radiate confidence and hope for the future but commenting on the current climate, Dariot admits, “I don’t feel safe when I’m alone.” A poignant reminder of the effect this year has had on women.
"I think after what happened to Sarah it has just made me look at things... differently"
“I don’t really feel safe but I try not to think about it. I tell myself I need to go out and see my friends not be locked down at home and afraid, that is how I see it”, says Tiffany who was at Primrose Hill to catch up with friend, Donita, also photographed. “I have always felt safe in London, when I was at uni I would work part time and come home late and I didn’t really feel how I feel now” says Donita, “I think after what happened to Sarah it has just made me look at things so much more differently. It is actually scary to go out now and I feel like I am constantly looking over my shoulder”, she continues.
This break in routine couldn't have come soon enough for Kiana who perfectly summarises her mood this year as simply, “copy and paste”. Similarly, her friend Lily agrees, “little bit lost but I trust the process.”
Optimism was in the air too. Millie is set to start university in September, following an art foundation. “I’ll feel better when we get both doses of the vaccine, but it doesn’t look as though we will be getting them for a while”, she notes.
Francesca feels lucky to have benefitted from the lockdown, it has allowed her to indulge her love of music and find time to learn to play the bass. “I feel weird about my future because I think it is a bit uncertain. I am in advertising right now and I just am unsure if I will be able to get a job out of that” she explains.
"I don’t feel safe as a woman. I feel like the world is melting"
Looking to the future, both Maria and Hattie aim to live in the moment whilst being equipped for the unknown. “I do want to be prepared-ish in case anything like this happens again", says Hattie. "By that I mean financially, mentally everything”. And how do they feel about their personal safety at the moment? “I don’t feel safe as a woman. I feel like the world is melting. The world just isn’t a nice place”, says Maria.
As the sun gradually faded, most of the girls began heading home, but Kayla and Heiwot danced around the light of the single streetlamp on the hill turning heads with their bright biker jackets. Freedom to them is about being truly unapologetic Kayla tells me, "it's about being yourself and doing what you want at any given point. You can wear what you want, dress what you want, sing what you want, do anything that you want to do just because you want to do it”.
Social media became an unavoidable presence this year. Betty tells The Stack about her “fear of missing out”, even though as she put it “nothing is going on.” Milena agrees, “It feels like everyone is carrying on apart from me. I feel very lost right now. I’m tired of waiting for my future, I feel like I am waiting for my future everyday.”
So long to the days of being trapped indoors, the sun is out and so are we, but the mood on Primrose Hill is one of mixed emotions.
By Hannah Karpel