Forget the new normal, stay with the new for now

Over the past couple weeks talk has turned to what the ‘new’ normal may look like.

Things won’t be the same again, we are told. It’ll be very different. The same people can’t tell us what our hinterland beyond will look like, it just won’t be what we were used to before.

You become caught up in speculating, imagining, visualising. You realise the national ‘new normal’ narrative tells you nothing, it’s all assumptions, opinion and uncertainty. The deficit of detail amid the noise tells you no-one else really knows either.

For some among us, life has already changed. We’re in a redefined landscape. For the more fortunate, life has carried on albeit with reduced benefits.

All talk of relaxing restrictions and fresh norms leaves you feeling far from easy. Weeks of being babysat by the government, swaddled in a blanket of instruction, has created a lingering sense of agoraphobia. Every so often its little panicked voice tells you it won’t settle for anything less than a vaccine.

At the start you were quite relieved to be told what to do, what not to do, how many times and for what reasons. You feel bad admitting it – you wouldn’t want your entire life ruled by diktat – but trying to physical distance was a nightmare. What does 2-metres looks like? A car length? A cow from nose to tail? What, exactly?

You understand we can’t stay indoors in the hope of antidote. You know the economy needs thawing after weeks in the deep freeze. But does the virus know that? Will someone tell Covid we’ve had enough and ask it to go away so we can come out now? For hugs and holidays and spending and stuff?

You crave ordinary days, ones which aren’t a psychedelic mash-up of Christmas and New Year/Easter/Sundays. Ones where you’re not a teacher/parent/colleague/child hybrid. 

You’re one part tired, one part energised. The difficulty is waking up not knowing which will be centre stage. When you think about life ‘after’, you’re part curious, part apprehensive. Now are too many jostling parts and not enough room. 

And so you’ve decided: bugger thinking about it. You let questions go unanswered, allow the competing parts to wear themselves out and lean into the now. 

Your biggest (and arguably best) strength is this new and improved ability to keep going in the normal of right here, right now: wrapping your head around each day, riding the emotional turbulence, navigating through the fog of uncertainty and finding joy in the slow.

You’ve discovered reservoirs of resilience you didn’t know existed. It’s taken a few extra snacks and silent sobs in the bathroom but it’s getting you through.

Deep down you know you’ll adapt. You’ve not got this far without dealing with some epic shit in your life. New normal? Pointless thinking about it. Don’t panic. Finely-tuned ‘new for now’ is perfect.

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I'm a writer, journalist and communications officer based in the South West of England. I write about wellbeing, the outdoors and life in a rural playground.

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