The phrase new-normal is a simplistic way of acknowledging the changes we’ve experienced since the COVID-19 pandemic hit home. These two words differentiate what was to what is, and what will be. It refers to the before we were knocked down and the after, when we get back up.
An obvious and not-so-fun fact about the pandemic is that we are all going through this together, albeit in our own individual ways. It’s wreaked havoc on our lives, for some more than others, and has collectively impacted how we work, learn, shop, eat, socialize, travel, and exercise. It’s taken a toll on us emotionally, too, as many people are coping with varying degrees of upset related to the recent past and concerns about the future.
This new-normal is ever-changing, and what is now is not what was, and will likely not be. This isn’t a philosophical thought exercise rather a dose of reality about how much our lives have changed over the few short months since this pandemic arrived. We have worked together to reduce the number of cases and understand that it takes just one person to kick off the domino effect of things quickly going backward. Sadly, we’re starting to see that now.
This new normal requires that we now have our temperature taken before going into some buildings. It’s my keeping hand sanitizer, Clorox wipes, masks, and gloves by my front door of my house and in my car. It’s waiting on lines to get into stores, and having plexiglass separate me from the check-out clerks.
My new normal has taught me to recognize six-feet without a tape measure. It has normalized wearing masks – some fashionable and washable, others plain and disposable – and redefined walking away from others as a respectful, not rude, act.
My new normal includes having a shorter commute to work since my office was relocated temporarily to Suite A (aka my home office). It’s my dressing professionally from the waist up and ready for a yoga class waist down and loving not wearing shoes. It’s having every meeting by Zoom and getting used to worrying that my internet connection will fail or that I won’t be able to find meeting IDs and passwords.
My new normal has me wondering when it will be safe to return to my actual office and see clients in-person. It’s my renewed appreciation for working on the second floor while knowing that others will need to wait on long lines for an elevator due to capacity restrictions.
My new normal is feeling concerned for businesses and wondering which ones will metaphorically get the virus, recover from it, or close their doors forever?
My new normal skips cordial handshakes when meeting people. It’s my not knowing if I will recognize them later since I can’t see their full face now and not recognizing those whom I’ve known for years.
My new normal has me relying on internet shopping to reduce exposure while also feeling the need to support local mom and pop shops. It’s my preordering and prepaying for things and relying on curbside pickups or porch drop-off deliveries.
My new normal includes having (even more) respect and gratitude for all front line workers who are keeping us (and having kept us) safe. It’s my newfound appreciation for grocery store clerks, delivery services, cleaning crews, and retail workers.
My new normal includes spending more time in my backyard now that the weather is warmer. It’s also my phasing-out virtual cocktail parties and jigsaw puzzle fixations, my old new-normal, for very small socially distanced fun with friends by my new firepit.
My new normal is enjoying just-released movies (I loved King of Staten Island) and binge-watching shows. It’s watching Hamilton with the original cast on Disney + (if only I had it) at home where you’ll have far more legroom than in any Broadway theater.
My new normal includes waiting to find out how schools will be de-densifying classrooms and college dorms. It’s waiting to learn which days my son will have classes at home or the high school, while I’m not sure if my daughter will be starting her freshman year of college in her dorm room or bedroom.
My new normal requires learning how to live responsibly alongside the COVID-19 virus for the foreseeable future. It’s my sadness for so much loss and my appreciation for everyone who is collectively tackling the toughest of personal and professional circumstances with patience, resiliency, and adaptability. It’s my hope that everyone continues creating alternative solutions to these unfathomable challenges while maintaining healthy perspectives about their priorities, choices, and opportunities. May all of our new-normals come together and be a permanent reminder that no matter how bad things may get, when we get knocked down, we always get back up.