Stop Waiting for “Normal” Life to Resume
If you’re like me, 2020 has completely turned my life upside-down. In March I felt like my life was put on hold. I paused everything as my school, work, and ultimately my life, got flipped on its head. Normal went out of the window, and I went into survival mode. I stopped writing, I quit most of my extra hobbies and activities, and I bunkered down on school and work. In some ways it’s been good for me — I’ve been able to analyze my goals and motives and opinions in ways that I wouldn’t have been able to otherwise.
I would say that I’m adjusted now to the new way we do things, yet I’m still in survival mode in a lot of ways. I haven’t really added anything I considered normal back into my life. If you are in the same boat, why? Why haven’t you gone back to your normal routines? Are they really being disrupted by aspects of the pandemic?
Most likely, this is not the case. With a few adjustments, most activities have resumed in some form. With a few exceptions, most people can’t 100% blame the pandemic at this point. So what happened? Maybe you just got out of practice, the pandemic threw off your groove. For me, I’ve realized that I have been waiting for life to return to what I consider “normal” before returning to my normal activities.
As I’ve thought about why I haven’t been writing specifically, I’ve realized three essential lessons that I wanted to share with you today.
1. You are Constantly Changing
“We’re not the same person we were a year ago, a month ago, or a week ago. We’re constantly changing; experiences don’t stop. That’s life.”
While we hope that our society can return to some form of normalcy, the truth is — we are never going back to the way things were. Even when we leave COVID-19 far behind us, we are not going to be the same. And that’s a good thing!
In reality, people are constantly changing. You are not exactly the same person you were yesterday, and you are not going to be exactly the same person tomorrow you are today. You are constantly changing in mindset, mood, beliefs, and it is because you are constantly gathering new information from your environment.
For us to hope to “go back to the way things were” is all well and good, other than the fact that we can’t go back to the way we were before the pandemic began. Take a moment to consider how the pandemic, and the myriad of events that have happened since it began, have impacted your life. How have you been changed by your experience?
2. What is Considered “Normal” is Also Constantly Changing
If you were to show anyone this picture a year ago and tell them that this was the near future, they would’ve thought you were crazy. Yet, as the world has been impacted by COVID, mask-wearing has become the new social norm.
The truth is, our idea of “normal” life is always changing. Consider the social movements in the last century for equal rights for all races, genders, and sexual orientation. Think about the various changes in laws, healthcare, and politics. We are constantly advancing ourselves and raising our view of what a normal life should look like and include.
A worldwide pandemic has definitely been the fastest and most radical change in my lifetime, but when you look at it, it really is just another shift in what is considered normal.
I don’t mean that mask-wearing and social distancing will stick around forever. I mean that, as of right now, if you are impacted by the coronavirus in some way, you are in the majority. Therefore, you are living what should be considered a normal life. You are not alone.
3. Humans Suck at Change, But We Need to Learn to Embrace It
The human race as a whole loves predictability. We love being able to see what is coming next. Most of all, we love feeling in control. It makes sense then that when something unexpected happens that radically changes the way we live, our natural tendency is to throw the covers over our heads, curl up in fetal position, and wait out the storm.
I am the poster child of this attribute. My calendar is pristine, I update it frequently and have it open the entire time I’m awake. During my first couple of years of college, my friends would always complain that I didn’t know how to be spontaneous. If I went to a party or on a road trip with my friends, it had to be in my calendar at least two weeks in advance.
When the pandemic hit, I obviously did not take it well. I didn’t have it scheduled out, and it drives me crazy that there is not a clear end-date. Because of this, I have felt like I have less control over my life. I don’t know what the world is going to look like in a week, let alone in a year.
So what did I do about it? Well, now that I’m finally peeking through my covers and realizing that this thing isn’t going to go away anytime soon, I’m starting to realize that I probably need to find a new plan.
Now, my plan is to learn how to deal with unexpected changes in healthier ways. Before the pandemic began, I felt like I was hitting my stride in writing and school. I was seeing success in reaching personal goals. That all stopped as soon as I decided to wait out the pandemic.
While it’s been tough to assess the damage and figure out where to start again, it has been amazing to set new goals. For the first time in months, I’m excited about the future- whether or not the pandemic continues.
If you feel stuck, or if you are waiting for life to return to the way it was, take a moment to evaluate what your goals were before the pandemic. What did you want to accomplish this year? Then evaluate where you’re at now. How have you changed since you last thought about these goals? Are these goals still relevant to you now?
Adjust your goals as needed. Set new ones. Give yourself something to work towards and be excited about. Don’t just try to wait out the storm, get out there and face it head-on!