Last year, in March, we found ourselves feeling victimized by the horrors of an unfolding pandemic. It was something that few if any living people had ever experienced. As a result, we had little if anything to draw upon that would inform us of how to navigate the building storm that would soon impact not just our world. It would impact THE world and turn any sense of normalcy completely upside down. Having a choice was not a part of the pandemic’s vocabulary. We found ourselves pretty much at the mercy of the wild and out of control winds of COVID 19.
This was then and we are currently at now. Being at ‘now’, we are hopefully able to envision an end being within reach. Even with concerning variants we still are beginning to see through the haze. We believe that we can and will be victorious in resuming a life that we want to live. Yet, a question that we all get to contemplate is what are the experiences we had living in this ‘forced’ world of new normal that we would like to carry forward? And what are the things that we lost in these 16 months that we want to resume at least in some form?
It’s an interesting issue to contemplate for we all have to ability to make choices. The ones we make that will allow us to design our chosen paths. We get to choose how the emerging new normal will be for us and the various directions we get to consider.
THE CHOICES OF OUR NEW NORMAL WE GET TO MAKE
Here are some choices we get to make:
What we didn’t choose: Once a place to retreat from the outside world, the residence became the world all under one roof. It became the office, the gym and the favorite restaurants. It also served as the school for our children and the play yards for needed exercise. It required both creativity and planning. It required us to recognize that we were in this for the long-haul and to resist was to increase our personal frustration and overall unhappiness. And yet … we had no realistic alternative.
What we may choose: To the extent that we grew to like the ability to work remotely the emerging normal may well provide the opportunity to continue to work away from an office… full or part time. For many, our employers have given us remote access to all of the information and tools we need to accomplish our work. Now that we have rearranged our homes to include a realistic work area this has become an attractive approach.
Remote work saves us the commute time to and from the office. Finding time to exercise or to get home in time to have dinner with the family has had a dynamic impact. Now, we may actually feel more in balance and that is good.
We may choose to continue having greater involvement with all aspects of being a part of a family. Roles that were somewhat clearly defined became somewhat fuzzy and we all pitched in to do whatever was called for. This tended to alter what being a family meant on a day-to-day basis. For many, this is a real positive.
We may choose to continue to focus on various home projects that isolation provided the opportunity to address. Wemight have come to realize that ongoing and occasional attention will prevent things from getting out of hand and becoming bigger than they need to be.
What we may not choose: The responsibility of home schooling is not something that many signed up to undertake. We don’t have the training or even the knowledge and that has created stress for both parents and children. It has also prevented children from interacting with others of their age and such socialization is important.
If you believe in absence making the heart grow fonder, a 24-7 existence can challenge this big-time with just a couple. This is magnified especially when it involves children as well. I’m sure there are those among us who will welcome at least some form of separation in the emerging world.
What we didn’t choose: For many, the easy interaction with co-workers and team members was something that never required much planning. We easily scheduled meetings or could drop by one’s desk or office to get needed input. Remote work changed the nature of this type of relationship and the ease of needed communication. We needed to devise different approaches that would accomplish some of the same need. We struggled with the imposed separation and the related challenges it created.
What we may choose:
With systems devised by both the company and within our homes, we have learned how to be effective in the work we do. We have achieved a way to produce what is expected of us while also being involved in other aspects of our lives. We have learned to gain connection with the likes of zoom. We value what having more time in other areas of our lives has come to mean and find ourselves willing to give up some of the in-person interaction as a result. Going into the office on occasion for needed meetings with a team or customers is a worthwhile compromise easy to make.
What we may not choose: For some, working remotely has created a very solitary type of life and has been found to be simply depressing. We now realize that working in an office environment is a contributor to our overall happiness. We realize the need for the socialization and recognize that we must have a job that allows for this. If not possible where we have been working, we know we need to pursue an alternative.
What we didn’t choose: We have no long-term experience living in an isolated world devoid of the simplest form of
interactions with others. This is especially the potential reality when living alone or with roommates having lives unrelated to ours. Such isolation has created loneliness as we have not experienced before. Bottom line is we don’t like it even if we have learned how to spend alone time over the past 16 months.
What we may choose: To carry forward some of the learning we have had … learning how to be with ourselves and actually enjoy it. Maybe we’ve taken up activities that we had never tried before … and liked them. Maybe we have successfully ventured into areas of thought that we have avoided and got answers and action that we had avoided.
Perhaps using the likes of zoom, we purposefully created opportunities to connect with others. Perhaps there had been few contacts in our previous life and now, given more solitary time, we reached out to reestablish connections we have missed … and we like it. In fact, even in the emerging normal we are all committed to holding onto such renewed connections. We’ve come to realize that we want these relationships in our life … ongoing.
What we may not choose: To work as hard to maintain relationships as we feel we have worked in this COVID world. For these many months, pursuing them was as much about fulfilling our needs for connection while perhaps being of value to them as well. However, emerging into a safer and healthier world will allow us to pick and choose what and who we still want to include in our life. And that’s okay regardless of the decision you make.
As much as we can’t wait to reestablish a ‘normal’ into our lives, we can and should also make personal choices as to what we carry forward, gladly leave behind. We get to create and develop the new normal of our lives. It deserves some serious thought, analysis and discussion. FINALLY, choice is close to being back and the choice is ours to make. It’s something to recognize and of which we owe it to ourselves to take full advantage.