The idea of normal has been thrown around a lot in the last year since our world was upended by COVID-19. What was our normal before the pandemic anyways, and how should we even begin to consider what our return to it will look like?
I think my perception of what was normal and what’s changed since then is a little different than others. My normal at the time was in high school and my normal now will be in college. Nothing would have been the same anyways even without the pandemic. So why am I even obsessed with the idea of what our new normal will be?
Maybe instead of the normality of life as a whole people are more focused on the little things that upended our old normal. That’s something I fully understand. There are lots of things that have changed in that sense. Now, I’m really good at baking focaccia – something I learned only because I had the extra time while I was in quarantine. I also know how to sew facemasks, a skill that a year ago would have seemed utterly useless in the United States.
There are bigger things, too, that I’ve always taken for granted until I had to start thinking about them once the first cases broke and we started learning more about the virus. I used to drive over to my grandparents’ house at least once a week, but for a while, I was only seeing them over FaceTime, and even now when I do go to visit I mentally check in with myself to make sure I don’t have any symptoms.
I also think sometimes about what I missed out on this summer. My mom was going to take me on a senior trip to Florida to see BTS, my favorite K-pop group, in person. Losing that experience isn’t something that greatly affects my life, but I’m not sure that, if they ever reschedule and I’m able to go, the concert will be the same as what it was supposed to be.
For me, the worst part about our new normal is the lack of human contact. I never got to walk across a graduation stage and hug my best friends before we said goodbye and all went our separate ways for college. For a while, I wasn’t hugging any of my family members, and I miss being able to give high fives and fist bumps to people without thinking about it first.
A lot of those experiences though I think we’ll get back to, or at least I need to keep hope that we will. I don’t see the world being able to hold off from concerts once most of the population is vaccinated. My friends and I are close to being able to hug again, and the other day I got several fistbumps.
As long as we’re able to get back to that normal, the normal of human contact, I think I’ll be okay with the time I’ve lost. And if, to get to that normal, I have to keep wearing a mask until the health officials tell us it’s okay not to, and carry one with me even then, I’m more than willing to do so.