This is Not the “New Normal”

This is not the “new normal.” I don’t want this to be the “new normal.”

It should not be normal to have no choice but to stay confined in our own homes. It is not normal to fear being beside other people. It should not be normal to be too scared to breathe, to brush against walls and surfaces, to fear that any moment now you can catch a fatal virus and not really know how you got it.

I don’t want this to be the new normal.

This is just the here and now.

Some day, there will be a vaccine and a treatment and even, a cure. It won’t happen next week. But it will happen.

One day, the quarantine will be lifted. But we will be more cautious. We will hopefully be cleaner…and kinder.

One day, we will have the choice to go back to our chosen normal. One day we will have a choice.

But this is the here and now. And these are some things I have learned.

1. People are different. Each one is unique.
How people react to situations is so vastly different from one another. Some are stressed, some are bored. Some keep themselves busy to avoid overthinking. Some overthink to process what is happening. Some people freeze, some people move. Some people are cool, calm and collected. We all react differently to different things. Respect that.

2. We need to communicate better.
We were straddling the online and offline worlds before this pandemic hit. We had so much traffic on the streets, we were trying so hard to work remotely, use online services, do con calls instead of face-to-face meetings. We were trying so hard but it just wouldn’t really take. Then we needed to be quarantined and socially-distant, we had to make it work. And still, it doesn’t always work. How we communicate face-to-face does not necessarily translate online. The nuances of facial expressions, intonation, gestures, smiles, smirks, furrowed brows…those can be lost in translation online. Yes, even in video calls!

We need to articulate ourselves better, spell things out, utter full sentences, repeat instructions, explain emotions and constantly check if we’re all on the same page.

Clarity is needed. And that is a skill that has to be practiced.

3. Adapt
Yes, I don’t want to call it the “new normal,” but I have admitted, on day 1, that things will change dramatically. This is the biggest change in collective human experience in our recent history. It is on a global scale and it is happening to all of us all at the same time. There is no denying the shift, the change. We need to adapt and roll with the punches. The first step, is accepting the fact that we are not going to come out of this the same people. We need to adapt to the change.

4. Take the pause
Unfortunately, this is not a suggestion but an imposition beyond our control. But since it is here and it’s not going anywhere, take it. We all wanted a break, some time to rest, a time recalibrate, maybe even reset. Take the pause. And make it matter. Or not. You don’t have to come up with the next billion dollar idea. Take the pause and use it in whatever way makes you feel…better. Have you been putting off a project or a chore? Well, here you go. Have some time. (And yes, I am speaking for myself too!)

5. Take it slow
You know how we used to think we didn’t have time. And then you were told you couldn’t leave the house. Suddenly, you felt like you had too much time…only to realize, no matter what we do, 24 hours is a finite amount of time. Take. It. Slow. The only thing you can do now is go about your life without rushing too much. You can slow your roll and watch day turn into night. You can chew your food. You can relish your bath.

6. Simplify
Apparently, there’s a lot we can do without if you know what is enough. Apparently. So simplify and share. Share what you have!

7. It gets worse, before it gets better.
Maybe it’s because of perspective but I guess it’s just a reality of life. I’m still processing this thought. I know it to be true. But maybe I need to get to the “better” before this makes more sense to me.

8. And lastly, BE KIND!
For all the reasons stated above and for so many more. For the simple reason that each and every one of us is burdened by this pandemic. And we are all dealing with it in different ways. Or maybe experiencing it in varying phases. My good day may be your bad day and vice versa. And one day, we’re both in shambles. And some days, your just numbly going through the motions. Just cut everyone some slack!

This is not the “new normal.” And one difficult night, I finally realized why so many people hated the term. Normal is relative. This is our transition. This is collective. There have been many before this, in different forms and varying degrees of impact. But this is a global transition that spares no one.

What happens after is anyone’s guess. But someone did say, what if it’s not the “new normal” we’re headed to. What if it is simply what is NATURAL. Natural progression? Boom and bust? Ebb and flow?

No one will come out of this the same person. No business will trudge forward in the same iteration. No society will wake up as if this didn’t happen. But we will emerge as survivors. And hopefully, we are better people for it.

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