“conforming to a standard; usual, typical, or expected”
What is normal in a world that disguises subjectivity as fact?
Before the pandemic, I had my own idea of normal. A few months into the lockdown, my mindset started to shift. Like a John Green novel, the emotions came slowly, and then all at once. One minute, I’d find myself referring to the “new normal” as if it was nothing more than switching from my regular coffee to decaf. Other days, it was as if I’d been told I’d never be able to drink coffee again. Now, as a reader, I understand the whole coffee analogy is probably not best placed. The pandemic is serious, and this blog post definitely doesn’t change that. But for me, life before the pandemic meant brunch and a flat white with friends. It was firmly ingrained into my life, until it wasn’t. It was a privilege that felt lesser so, until it was gone. And now I can barely remember what it was like to go outside and not fear the stranger walking beside me on the street.
For some in the UK, everything starting to reopen has made them feel free. For those of us who were already struggling, the lifting of restrictions has only heightened our anxieties. In March, lockdown felt like a means to an end. It was a time to pause and reflect, to bake and write and work from home. The Spring weeks, of course, were tinged with loss on such a huge scale that all we could do was look towards the better days. But then those dates came and went…and little changed. The pandemic was never going to be over by summer. Even the most wishful of thinkers had to know that. But then, in the trying to stay alive and sane amid the chaos, I found myself losing my grip of reality. Time stretched out in unbearable waves, and I accepted that sooner or later, no matter how much I wanted to hide away, I’d have to step into our new reality. The normal we’d always known would eventually become an unknown, and I became nostalgic for the weeks before this all came to be.
So, yes, Hindsight is 20/20, and being overly cautious during a pandemic feels a lot like getting left behind…
But just because it feels this way now doesn’t mean it always will. Normality was always relative. Privilege, in every sense of the word, had always made sure of that. Now, as the world learns to adjust, and the old world seeps into the new, we mustn’t forget what it was like to truly let go of control. The choices we didn’t have for months are things that many may never have in years, or a lifetime for that matter. For some, this was always their normal. We were just too wrapped up in our own lives to notice.