Am I normal? Is this normal? What the hell IS normal?
Normalcy is described in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary as being the state or fact of being normal. Normal is described as conforming to a type, standard or regular pattern.
It’s obvious that nothing stated in that definition describes what our world currently looks like.
I am growing tired of the phrase ‘new normal,’ which is now said constantly as a form of preparation, or some sort of cold, refined reassurance, so that we understand that things cannot be as they were prior to this global pandemic. COVID-19 has effectively obliterated anything of comfort, and has created a slew of new phrases and explanations for how we are to live, moving forward.
To me, the phrase new ‘normal’ just adds to my pandemic fatigue. Which is added to my already-exhausted-at-life-fatigue. It angers me. It upsets me. What if I don’t want to be in this new normal?
The phrase started being tossed around after the powers-that-be began to implement a plan for moving forward through the crisis, as COVID-19 cases started to decline. This reopening, in a modified manner, to be done to keep people safe while we learned to live alongside a global threat to our health.
We took things for granted
Now, every aspect of our lives has been altered in some way. Some of the changes include wearing face masks, as well as physically distancing when out among others in public or even when spending time with those we know. We now realize that we took many of the old boundaries in the public realm for granted.
And took for granted we did. Visiting a mall for a quick trip to grab your child a new pair of school pants to replace an outgrown pair. Or a coffee date with a bestie at a cafe, escaping the kids at home. Date night with our spouses, lounging in a restaurant, eating foods brought to us by various servers who continued to chat with us each time new plates were placed in front of us. The closeness of hugs and kisses from loved ones. Even dating and sex!
Now we have new rules in place. New ways to interact, from afar. We are working to understand confusing regulations and to fight off an invisible killer while we navigate it all.
When the pandemic hit and the world was sent spiraling into lockdowns everywhere, I felt that we were just in shock as we watched the chaos unfold. It was surreal, and so our minds didn’t really grasp what reality would be after everything came to an end … if it ever would end.
Behind the scenes, governments and medical officials scrambled not only to cope with the sick and infected, but to learn and research as it happened, and somehow create future plans to control and restrict further damage—health-wise and economically. We didn’t witness that side. We did offer our armchair expertise, though, and many of us continue to do so. Ah, the political domain.
We sat at home: waiting, watching, bored, worried, uncomfortable. And as time went on, and the pandemic grew and magnified, we started to understand the gravity of its existence. The power it now had over the entire globe. Imagine that! Not one area of this great big world remains untouched by this ravaging beast. And as it went on, questions started to filter out.
When could we return to normal? When could we go out and live again like we did before it started? Why did we have to stay home? When could normal life resume?
We cannot go back
Soon, these questions were slowly met with this new phrasing, when the experts spoke to us from their government pulpits or medical Zoom screens from local hospitals and offices. There can never be the normal that once was. We have no way to maneuver this pathogen without a vaccine or cure. We can’t go back to our regular ways of existing without the threat of infecting one another, without a way to heal if we do so.
As the shock kicked in, many hearts sank. Granted, there are many foolish, selfish people out there spreading their stupidity (and likely this virus), purely because they believe it to be a conspiracy or hoax. Or just another flu.
That is life, though, isn’t it? There will always be those that just don’t comply with any directives given. They are yet another risk to us. But for the rest of us, we began to witness the new normal in very obvious forms.
When you headed out to get groceries, you would notice a long line outside of the stores, filled with (mostly!) masked shoppers, socially distanced and waiting. Signs were now everywhere within the stores, along with bright-coloured stickers on the floors reminding you to stay six feet apart. And if you didn’t, the glare from your fellow shoppers soon put you in your place.
Cashiers and staff wore masks, and plexiglass was now what greeted you when you paid for your items. Grocery delivery was stressful because you had to wait two weeks to snag a spot, due to the outpouring of panic from those who didn’t want to risk being in a store, but needed food.
Yes, this new way of life kicked in pretty hard and fast. Many griped about it, complaining for whatever reason. Businesses lost money, as others fought to create their own versions of normalcy by changing and implementing ways to cope.
Curbside pickup was created, and delivery became an option. The government handed out cash like candy to the many who lost jobs, thanks to this evil plague that set out upon us and shook the world to its greedy core.
New. Normal. Hmmm.
Apocalyptic is more fitting. Minus the zombies. However, you won’t find many making jokes about that anymore. No. Life is far too aligned with video games or horror movies now. Kids have adjusted to the routines of at-home learning, and being kept from friends. But who knows how their mental health will recuperate once they’re allowed to resume any semblance of what was?
It’s all fun and games staying in your PJs all day, and playing on an iPad while completing schoolwork that isn’t even marked, but is it really?
And how are we feeling when we come (distanced) face-to-face with another human who’s not comfortably among our approved bubbles or circles? Venomous. Rage-filled? Angsty? Fearful? Panicky?
Humanity was pretty challenging to begin with, but throw a pandemic that threatens our lives into the mix, and add confusing regulations and barriers, and watch the world take itself out. Literally. That has become the new entertainment. Grab your popcorn and read the comments of any online discussion.
The new normal is hearing how horrible 2020 has been. People want it erased. Finished. Jokes state that it doesn’t count as a year, and we will restart next year. The world as we know it has changed, and reconfiguring it to stay safe, yet live again, is daunting. For many of us, it is downright terrifying.
How do you plan a future that you’re not supposed to look too far into? We await daily reports on numbers and deaths, and the future is slowly being pieced together stitch by stitch, but it’s all very much based on wait and see. All underlined with the constant threat of being locked down again.
So it’s not a stretch to state that normal now can be defined as a state of holding out for better, for hope. Normal is awaiting hope. Hoping for better. Hoping for a miracle. But normal isn’t normal anymore. So if that is the case, is there even a normal, anymore?
Will there ever be?
No. The whole point of a new normal existence is just that.
Changed. Different. Unfamiliar. Unusual.
That’s what we must now make normal.
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image 1 Image by Tumisu from Pixabay 2 image by annca from Pixabay 3 image by zhugher from Pixabay