Going back to normal - WTF?
Updated: Mar 10
This is a follow up post to one I wrote around this time last year - ‘Corona – WTF.’ I think it adequately summed up mine and a lot of other people’s feelings too.
It was as if we had all been hit by one massive snowball when we didn’t even realise a) it was snowing and b) we were meant to be playing. That snowball (forgive me, I don’t know where this analogy has come from), hit us square in the face and knocked us down where we stood. It took a long time to kneel again, let alone stand. But stand we eventually did. We got used to the sore skin from constant hand washing, the people jumping into the road and risking death by car to avoid us, the masks which I still refuse to use as a fashion accessory so purposefully use the ugliest ones I can find. We got used to not seeing people, to video calling (I don’t know why I have decided I hate zoom but I’m Skype till I die), and to having literally nothing to talk about. We finished Netflix shows faster than they could add them. We wanted to murder the next person who advised us to go for a nice walk. We secretly enjoyed the new excuse we could use to avoid things. (Oops I have a slight cough, better not risk work for 10 days, Dave).
In short, we have discovered the term I never wanted to use. We are living “The New Normal.” Yes, it needs capitals. When it was recently announced that by June things should be back to “The Old Normal,” I was expecting a very different response to the ones I received and it made me realise that the people I spoke to can’t be alone in their thoughts.
We don’t like change. It can be the best, most exciting, shiniest change there is, and we still don’t like it. We are creatures of habit and that habit is staying inside. Not only have we got used to it, but we have heard constant messages telling us it’s the right thing to do. Even worse, it’s SAFER to stay at home. Yes it took us a while to stop whinging about the loss of our favourite pub quiz, get used to the home haircut disasters and feel our fit, healthy bodies get squashier and squashier. But we did.
In the summer, many things opened up again and it didn’t feel so weird. This time, however, we are fully and completely set in our ways. We have settled down on the sofa and like defiant toddlers, we don’t want to get up.
The truth is, “The Old Normal,” doesn’t exist anymore and we can never quietly slip back into our old lives. Not only has the world changed, but we have too.
For some of us it’s work, for some it’s our relationships, and for some it’s our whole lifestyle. We were blindly going along in the same way we had for years. We never even considered doing anything differently. The Pandemic (or plague as I like to call it), opened our eyes to the fact we could actually do things differently. Assuming a change would be too hard, too strange or would make us unhappy, maybe we never seriously considered it. But now we’ve experienced something entirely different and it’s actually not as bad as we thought. In fact some of it is really positive. Whether it’s working remotely and cutting your commute out, drinking less or doing less drugs, spending more time with your children, or realising your relationship has come to a natural end. The brilliant news is this. You have the freedom to make any change to your life that you want. You may need to wait until June or you may be able to get started now, but you control your future, not Covid19. Last March the decisions were made for us but now you can make the decisions for yourself.
There is one more thing I want to talk about. I’m fully aware that it isn’t just the thought of change that is making a lot of us feel unbalanced right now. It has been so long since we have been around people that it’s yet another thing that is starting to feel unexpectantly strange. People who have never experienced social anxiety in their life are starting to feel it now. It’s normal. It’s totally and utterly normal and to be expected. Yes, if we were told everything is changing back to normal next Wednesday, I think we would all feel a rush of panic, go on crash diets and worry that we suddenly have to be physically and emotionally close to other humans when all we’ve been doing is making polite chit chat to our houseplants for months. But it’s not next Wednesday. It’s June. Maybe, perhaps, possibly. (Remember when they said Christmas definitely wasn’t going to be cancelled?) Things will open slowly over time. All we can do is adjust over the next few months and I’m positive that eventually we will feel “normal” again. If you don’t, there is lots of help out there for you, so make sure you ask for it.
Even for me, I've realised that working remotely has certain advantages. I absolutely can't wait for my clients to come back to work with me face to face and I've redecorated my Counselling room in preparation.
I don't know when I can welcome my daytime clients back to my home but I will as soon as I possibly can. However, I've decided to keep my evening work remote as it works so much better for my family. We have all had our eyes opened to new possibilities this year and it's up to us what we do with them.