100 days of lockdown, 100 lessons learnt

At home (Illustration: Nadia Bormotova/Getty Images)
At home (Illustration: Nadia Bormotova/Getty Images)

It's the 100th day of lockdown during the Covid-19 pandemic.

A momentous milestone, that not only reflects how far we've come, but also serves as a stark reminder that we find ourselves in unprecedented times.

With great change comes great lessons learnt, and we wanted to tap into that rich resource of self-discovery during this forced period of reflection. 

So, we created an open Google Doc and drew 100 empty blocks. Then we distributed the link at random and asked one question: "What have you learnt during lockdown?"

Here’s what we’ve learnt:

1) Herman, 35

I learnt to be comfortable with being by myself

2) Adriaan, 39

I learnt new respect for all the teachers.

3) Baden, 33

I learnt what really matters in life and makes me happy.

4) Clarisse, 26

I learnt how much time one wastes in traffic.

5) Nkuli, 31

I learnt how to (finally) use a skipping rope.

6) Jenni, 56

I learnt it is completely possible to stop smoking.

7) Jasmine, 16

I learnt that I’m good at things I did not know I was good at. Like sewing. (I made shorts out of my mother’s tablecloth)

8) Mpho, 31

I learnt that I can actually braid mine and my niece’s hair. We don’t need a salon.

9) Katy, 34

I learnt how to grow vegetables from seeds. It takes patience.

10) Elizabeth, 39

I learnt that I actually love playing with Lego with my kids.

11) Tony, 41

I learnt to bake really good sourdough bread for my family.

12) Katerina, 6

I learnt that I love my baby brother even more than I thought I did.

13) Qaanitah, 26

I learnt that I am a really terrible cook, but a resilient human being.

14) Athi, 24

I learnt that I need to start saving for the future.

15) Anselle, 24

I learnt that I’m not as introverted as I thought.

16) Glenn, 53

I learnt that it is completely impossible to stop smoking.

17) Janine, 39

I learnt that I have a lot more patience than I realised, especially with a 5-year-old that can’t stop talking and a never-ending sink full of dishes.

18) Kelly, 29

I learnt to never turn down the chance to travel ever again.

19) Maxine, 33

I learnt that through all the anxiety and stress of the virus, prayer really works.

20) Bombi 30

I learnt that I hate cooking.

21) Sloane, 5

I learnt that we all need to just love each other and always be nice to your friends.

22) Kaveel, 33

I learnt that bad things really do happen to good people.

23) Charlen, 31

I learnt that you can always have a braai, even when it's raining.

24) Katy, 34

I learnt that I am more resilient than I give myself credit for.

25) Mpho, 31

I learnt that living in a beautiful city doesn’t mean much when the people you love are not there to enjoy it with you.

26) Maria, 44

I learnt to stick to a budget, and that I don’t really need all those things I thought I couldn’t do without.

27) Kyle, 28

I learnt the dishes can (really) wait until tomorrow and time with your family is the most valuable commodity on earth.

28) Chantelle, 30

I learnt that standing up for myself and my family is worth it.

29) Maxine, 33

I learnt that playing the guitar isn’t child’s play.

30) Brigitte, 26

I learnt it’s okay to take a break sometime.

31) Phelokazi, 26

I learnt to extend the same level of kindness to myself that I offer to others.

32) Amy, 5

I learnt about the South African flag colours.

33) Kayleigh, 10

I learnt that lockdown is very tough, and you can’t go outside because it is dangerous.

34) Afika, 29

I’ve learnt that I’m quite the homemaker. I’ve also fully embraced the joys of being in my own company all day… every… single… day.

35) Essie, 45

I learnt that children are such troopers. They are also superheroes of this lockdown.

36) Luca, 7

I learnt that I miss my friends very, very much. It is scary, but we will beat this virus as soon as we have a vaccine.

37) Nicolette, 55

I learnt about the extreme ability of humans to be either utterly self-serving or completely self-less.

38) Kate, 37

I learnt that baking is a great stress reliever…until you realise you are the only one around to eat it all.

39) Justice, 35

I learnt that we are as vulnerable as the poorest person in society.

40) Gabi, 29

I learnt that being stuck at home isn’t as much of a punishment as it’s always felt for me - cause everyone else is also stuck at home so no FOMO.

41) Ntwaagae 39

I learnt that I enjoy working from home next to my loved ones except during electricity blackouts. 

42) Luwelyn, 36

I learnt that Telkom is more important than SAB.

43) Yvette, 49

I learnt that there are kind and helpful people out there. Also, I suck at quizzes.

44) Cebelihle, 24

I learnt that it’s almost impossible to live without a laptop.

45) Chris, 16

I want to say I learnt French, but I am not sure I learnt enough.

46) Tammy, 33

I learnt that I actually really, really like my colleagues. I miss them, even the ones who used to steal (sorry, take) my stuff from the communal fridge.

47) Sloane, 5

I learnt that we need to wash our hands all the time and my daddy always says sanitise, sanitise, sanitise everything!

48) Richmond, 26

I learnt that things don’t just happen to “other people”, they happen to all of us.

49) Faranaaz, 43

I learnt what really adds value to one’s life. You reassess everything, especially the materialistic things that used to make you happy.

50) Christo, 31

I learnt that when working from home it’s difficult to find a balance between work and personal life. I really had to discipline myself to switch off at the end of the day.

51) Essie, 45

I learnt that the alcohol that was consumed during the initial Level 5 hard lockdown, those dregs at the back of the cabinet, were there for a good reason.

52) Skyler, 3

I learnt about bees.

53) Tina, 34

I learnt that online conferences are a lot more exciting than I ever thought they would be. Can we keep them in the future?

54) Faranaaz, 43

I learnt to cut out and ignore people that add to my stress.

55) Shaun, 17

I learnt a lot about myself, but I can’t remember what it was anymore.

56) Anae, 17

I learnt that I like people more than I thought.

57) Christo, 31

I learnt that there is more to life than just stressing about work-related things and taking a few minutes to just sit in the sun is necessary.

58) Christine, 47

I learnt that I love social distancing and I have been practicing it for years without knowing.  I love being on my own.

59) Tshepo, 30

I learnt that I can bake anything if I put my mind to it and just follow the instructions.

60) Simon, 47

I learnt that I really dislike banana bread. Overrated. 

61) Mokhethi, 33

I learnt to live in the moment.

62) Kim, 36

I learnt that I can save a lot by not buying takeaways, snacks or coffees every day.

63) Benito, 50

I learnt to be grateful to be able to work during this period.

64) Francois, 14

I learnt to edit videos on my phone.

65) Amalia, 43

I learnt not to make too many plans ahead of time. (I’m stuck in in Istanbul and miss my family and friends back home.)

66) Rory, 23

I learnt how to make a mask.

67) Leandra, 36

I learnt that I love TV shows from other parts of the world. I just discovered K-dramas on Netflix.

68) Uma, 73

I learnt how to use video call.

69) Nkuli, 31

I learnt to appreciate the structure and escape that an office environment can provide you.

70) Zinathi, 31

I leant to become more spiritually enlightened, even though I couldn’t go to church.

71) Faranaaz, 43

I learnt that as a wife and mother my multi-tasking levels have gone up another level. I can fold the laundry while checking work documents.

72) Mathebe, 32

I learnt that it’s important to do an inventory check on my state of mind.

73) Lerato, 32

I learnt that it’s okay to ask for help or not get through everything you had planned.

74) Irene, 6

I learnt to ride a pedal bike and now it feels like my best friend.

75) Bevan, 38

I learnt that I miss being able to be in the office, you need that break from your home as much as you need a break from being in the office.

76) Sharlene, 33

I learnt that I could survive lockdown, thanks to my loving, caring husband. I owe him a huge thanks for every cup of coffee, every meal, and the endless encouragement.

77) Mathebe, 32

I learnt that taking care of natural hair (unprocessed) is a real test of your patience.

78) Brendan, 52

I learnt that I’m actually a bit of a procrastinator – not for all things, but definitely some.

79) Justice, 35

I learnt that we are not in control, we are not in charge, we are not the boss of our lives.

80) Nikolas, 3

I learnt how to not go out, and to listen to the lockdown man (Cyril Ramaphosa).

81) Barbara, 51

I learnt that I’m actually a lot stronger than I thought I was (emotionally, character-wise) and can handle a lot thrown at me.

82) Carla, 36

I learnt that we can do with way less than we have. Money has complicated life.

83) Leandra, 22

I learnt how much people need people to be human.

84) Zach, 14

I learnt more about South African history.

85) Mathebe, 32

I learnt how to sew.

86) Mbali, 32

I learnt that I struggle to prepare food for myself every day.

87) Michaela, 27

I learnt that major life changes bring about grief in different forms for different people. Support is important.

88) Nadia, 38

I learnt that living away from family is the worst.

89) Alané, 19

I learnt where I am going in life and I realise life is actually short – so I must do things now rather than later.

90) Mokhethi, 33

I learnt that I don't like cooking, but I can.

91) Charne, 19

I learnt that my family is not that bad.

92) Jessica, 24

I learnt to have patience in shops and queues.

93) Louise, 59

I learnt lots of computer tricks, like combining PDFs for distance learning.

94) Kelly, 20

I learnt to speak isiXhosa.

95) Zaheera, 34

I learnt to appreciate what we already have in life. Lockdown was a wake-up call.

96) Apostolos, 41

I learnt that stupid people exist and ignorance is bliss.

97) Luwelyn, 36

I learnt that my wardrobe isn’t extensive enough to wear casual clothes every day.

98) Sarah, 19

I learnt that my pets live a very boring life.

99) Mokhethi, 33

I learnt to be a man of my word. Anything is possible, you can lose people you love anytime. So, I’ve learnt to keep my promises.

100) Helena, 46

I learnt that a person with a short attention span shouldn’t attempt to paint her own house. 

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