Coping up with the new normal

Yesterday the internet was flooded with pictures of schools reopening in China.

These photos give me hope, hope for tomorrow, hope for normalcy but these pictures also tell me that the normal tomorrow won’t be the same as the normal earlier. 

There is going to be a clear difference in life for many of us.

The product person in me looks at these cute, beautiful hats and says – ingenious! 

Source: Linkedin

But the mommy-me somewhere feels bad for these kids, these hats are like a reminder that how life before and after COVID is not going the be the same, how these little ones will have to be cautious of social distancing. Every time they would try to get closer to their friends, how their headgear will remind them that they can’t. 

A few weeks back, my mother suffered an attack and a lung failure, she was in ICU, on the ventilator for many days alone and I couldn’t reach her. I tried a lot but neither I nor my brother could be with her. That pain, the fear of the possibility that we may not be able to see her again, that helplessness to be not there with her when she needed us the most – I don’t think I can ever express these in words. This phase once again reminded me of a similar fear that I had experienced a few years back where I was the one in ICU battling for my life.

Though in my mom’s case, we were blessed with very supportive neighbors and friends, some of whom are doctors and they took care of my mother the best way they can. She is out of hospital now and I am hoping to see her as soon as this lockdown gets over.

While we got lucky this time, I know, many weren’t. Their lives have changed permanently during this Covid crisis. 

Some lost their parents and couldn’t even attend their funerals.

Some lost their spouses whom they couldn’t even see one last time.

Some lost their jobs.

Some their whole savings.

Some don’t even have any money to buy food or essentials. 

Some are battling severe depression and emotional exhaustion locked inside the house.

It hasn’t been easy for many. Many have been left with nightmarish memories for life and are desperately waiting for a normal tomorrow.

But will tomorrow be normal that we were used to or is it going to a new normal? 

We know the answer.

We can’t deny that we will have to be ready to embrace a new normal soon. The way we meet, the way we travel, our job function, our personal priorities, all of it perhaps will have to go for a change, a change that we can neither envisage, nor be prepared for fully.

While embracing any change is never easy but having gone through some major changes earlier, I think I have had my fair share of learnings from the past. I remember struggling to deal with my new normal few years back and the prime reason for the same was – expecting things to be back as earlier.

I was constantly struggling between how things “should” be instead of accepting how they “were”. 

When everyone said, “be positive, you will be back to normal life soon”, I believed them all. For me, normal was – same as earlier which didn’t happen! 

And I can’t tell you the emotional upheaval after that. My personal life changed completely and my work life which until then was a huge part of my existence went through a complete metamorphosis. I tried to discuss it with few closed ones and they were surprised, their answer was – oh, be thankful, you’re alive. Think positive. 

I was thankful, very thankful, and full of gratitude that I survived. But I will be lying if I will say that I wasn’t looking back to find my earlier life which in my mind was “the normal” life for me.

It took me a whole lot of conscious brain reengineering to accept the new normal, to not expect things to be the same as earlier. Could I achieve it fully? No! But I tried a lot, and I am still trying.

It’s not easy but doable.

Let’s continue to hope that tomorrow will be brighter and happier but let’s also not try to expect everything to be back as earlier. Let’s be prepared to face a new normal. Our world has survived pandemics earlier, let’s hope that it will once again, and together, we will come out of it safer and stronger. 

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