For me, the first few weeks under the stay-at-home orders were just about adjusting. We’ve had to adjust in so many ways – of course, there’s the logistical or physical adjustment we’ve made of cancelled plans, of working from home, of not leaving the house unless it’s for something truly essential, if at all. But there’s also the more emotional aspect of it. As much as I’m an introvert by nature, I still live my life based around making so many plans – meetings to go to, friends to visit, shows to see. But that all got put on pause – almost all at once – and it was a strange, surreal new reality that took me some time to get used to.
I always knew that this wasn’t likely to be a short-term change, but that was somewhere deep in my mind that didn’t seem quite real. But now that a few weeks have passed, I’ve come to accept the reality in a bit of a more “real” way, for lack of a better term. I’m not focusing on the countdown of when we can go “back to normal,” because normal is going to look different once we’re back to it. Instead, I’m learning to be happy in our new normal, whatever that may look like. I don’t want to try to recreate my “old” life, but rather find a version of it that works for me now.
For me, that means working during the day, close to normal daytime hours. It means watching some of my favorites on Netflix – Gilmore Girls, The West Wing – as “comfort” TV. FaceTiming with my friend and getting to know her toddler through a screen instead of in person. (He points at her phone and says his version of my name to tell her he wants to talk to me! It’s so cute.) I’m making some kind of general routine for my days, but not making it too structured, either.
Basically, I think we should settle in to this new normal, while it lasts, however best we can. If you’re someone that deals with these times best by doing – by volunteering, but picking up a hobby, but learning a new skill – that’s wonderful. But I don’t think we all need to expect that we’ll all be more productive, skilled people as a result of this pandemic. This is – truly – an unprecedented time. So if your version of settling in to this normal means spending extra time watching Netflix, go for it. I don’t think we need to feel pressured to act in any certain way. It’s becoming more clear that we’re going to be living in some version of this new normal for the long haul – we need to deal with it in whatever way works best for us!
But still – I think it’s so important to remember that this will pass – that there is an end in sight, even if we can’t tell right now. Having that hope – that light at the end of the tunnel – is so important for us all.