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Rethinking the ‘new normal’: How the pandemic has forced us to open our eyes

Last week New York City restaurants opened indoor dining at 25% capacity.

New Yorkers can finally now eat out without the stress of being hit by the rear-view mirror of a car while dining in what used to be the parking spaces in Manhattan.

Seven months into this pandemic and people are itching for things to go back to how they were. But while everyone wants things to “back to normal,” many are still procrastinating with their compliance to adapt to the “new normal.” 

The truth is, however, that things where never “normal” in the first place. In fact, it was never supposed to be that way. 

BC (Before COVID) 

The devastating effects of the pandemic made us acknowledge the little things that we had taken for granted.

For the first few months, we were forced into isolation; we missed important celebrations or even simple gatherings with family and friends. Most stayed home and saw the same people every single day, while others saw no one. 

The simple act of waking up and having a place to go was gone; even the anxiety of being late did contribute to some morning adrenaline that I am personally missing.

Going grocery shopping and being able to touch every single fruit to know which one is best without risking my life or the life of anyone around me was also nice. And let’s not start talking about going to the movies. 

Parties. Concerts. Travel. They are all well missed. 

But the pandemic also opened our eyes to the harsh realities. Global warming, racial discrimination, lack of health care, and bad human habits.

It was never okay for people to die because of water contamination, yet 40% of the deaths were attributed to that. Nor is it okay for cops to kill Black people for no reason at all. 

The simple fact that the United States’ president had kids lock down in cages and is not willing to condemn white supremacists is not okay. 

And, as soon as human beings were forced to confinement air pollution substantially decreased, water became cleaner and the ozone layer began to heal.

The lack of social distraction helped people open their eyes to the real problems happening out there. It helped raise awareness as people took the time to learn and unlearn about toxic behaviors we have adopted. And we finally took action. 

COVID-19 only proved that our definition of normal was only treacherous to all living rights.

The new normal

So when are things going back to “normal?” Hopefully, never again.

We have been forced to look at our lives in retrospect and really consider what’s working and what’s not.

The pandemic taught us several things, starting with health care. People have never been more conscious of their mental and physical well being.

Not only has there been a huge increase in hospital equipment investment, but also in mental health. Governments are finally forced to improve health care systems because there’s now proof of how poorly it was being handled.

There are no more excuses about exercising either. Being in our houses all day has allowed us to find creative ways to stay active. Workout classes have never been more accessible and working out in small spaces has been proven not only possible but effective.

And the internet, after all, is not that bad. It has eliminated the need for unnecessary travel, especially when it comes to working. The meeting that “could have been an email” is now a phone call or a Slack message, making companies just as productive.

Many have even realized the benefits of working from home so much that they may never go back to the office again.

And yes, social disturbances have not ceased while social injustices and oppressive systems still exist. But that is because people have learned about the real problems.

The world was literally built on change. And now, changing what was normal is exactly what we need. We literally have a ticking clock reminding us that our relation to the environment, and that includes the people surrounding us, needs to change.

We can’t go back to where we were.