Nothing seems normal these days.
If we’ve learned anything from the COVID-19 outbreak, it’s that it only takes something small – or in this case, microscopic – to throw our entire concept of normalcy out the window. The need to socially distance ourselves from one another, which medical experts around the world say is the best method of slowing the spread of the virus, has necessitated a complete overhaul of our day-to-day lives. For many people, home life and work life have merged. For those who have been furloughed because of (hopefully) temporary work closures, that may mean filling out unemployment applications for the first time. For thousands of students, that may mean spending their final weeks of the school year studying at home. For business owners who can, that could mean switching up their business model to serve their customers while keeping their physical locations closed.
Even those stores that have remained open … Walmart, for example … have changed. The retail giant closes just after dark and strictly limits the number of people inside their building. Inside the normally bustling retail giant, it can feel a bit like a ghost town.
Life has changed for all of us. Normal isn’t what it was a month ago. By next month, it won’t be the same as it is today.
But don’t let that discourage you. Normal has always been a vague concept at best, a fabrication at worst. Life is a series of changes until it ends. Although the idea of any given moment being “normal” is comforting, it’s as tangible as air, as firm as water. You can’t hang your coat on it.
Normal is nothing more than a feeling of control. Of having a plan of action. Of knowing … or at least thinking you know … what happens next. As bad as things may get over the coming weeks – and the state’s medical experts say the worst is yet to come – remember that you have as much control over your lives as you’ve always had. Instead of worrying what happens next, whenever possible, enjoy the moment as it is. Find comfort in family members however you can … if not in person, then over the phone or via Facebook. Schedule group-chat Netflix sessions with friends. Go for a walk (as long as you stay at least six feet from other walkers). Learn to cook. Write a novel. Read a novel. Tile your bathroom. Build a birdhouse. Maybe try juggling.
One of the most admirable traits about humankind is its ability to adapt. We may grouse and grumble, kick and cry. But given time, no matter what situation we find ourselves in, we adjust. We will this time, too.
In the meantime, do whatever you need to do to feel normal in circumstances that are, as always, anything but.