This time last year, I was awaiting Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews' daily press conferences with a mix of anticipation and dread.
I was living in Bendigo, COVID-19 case numbers were rising, Melbourne and one regional area had already been plunged back into lockdown, and the rest of the state was about to follow.
Each day I'd switch on the TV or open Twitter to see how many new cases there were, how many remained active, when we might finally go back to living somewhat normal lives (spoiler: not for quite some time).
There's a sense of deja vu this winter, but I'm no longer in Bendigo: this time I'm in Wollongong, which is under the Greater Sydney lockdown.
Once again, I find myself tuning in each morning for the premier's daily update, hoping for better numbers but bracing myself for worse.
One of the more tiresome things I've experienced this time around, aside from the obvious, is the commentary about whether those under the Sydney lockdown have it as hard as others have had it.
Now it's true, I didn't experience Melbourne's lockdown, which was a few weeks longer and had a couple of extra restrictions than what was applied to the rest of Victoria.
And Greater Sydney has not lived through the number of lockdowns Victoria has seen.
But I can tell you that lockdown has been hard in both states, and nit-picking does not help those in the midst of it.
No matter where you are, if you've gone through any lockdown you've experienced the frustration, the uncertainty, the disappointment of cancelled plans, and the longing to see your loved ones - and of course, a lot of people are dealing with the stress of losing work or business as a result.
The pandemic hasn't been easy for any of us, even for those who have not gone into lockdown, many of whom have been separated from family and had plans thrown into disarray.
What helps everyone in these turbulent times is compassion and kindness and knowing someone is thinking of us.
So, whether your loved ones are bunkered down at home or out living their best lives, send them a quick message to check in; offer to pick up some milk and bread for your neighbour; or flash a smile (even if it's behind a mask) at the people you walk past in the street.
When the situation is looking bleak, these simple gestures actually can make all the difference.
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