While we might be well into 2021 with no clear timeline of when Covid-19 will be fully in our rearviews’, we’re beginning to see a light at the end of the tunnel. As bits of ‘normalcy’ are being sprinkled into our day-to-day’s in some areas, a whole lot of questions start popping up about what this transition’s going to look like.
It feels like there’s been this moment of collective panic, where a lot of us are realizing the bits of our pandemic lifestyles that we actually liked and fear for what we might be expected to give up to “go back to normal.” Don’t get it twisted, I’m sure I don’t speak alone when I say I want my life back, but here’s the reality. We’ve all adjusted to a new way of living over the past year and a half, and for many, it’s f***ing draining. We’ve become accustomed to coping, and through that have become more honest, leaning on the crutch and built-in excuse that a pandemic can provide – so what happens when the crutch is taken away?
Where some people feel like they need to “fix the bad habits” they’ve picked up over the year (read: declining plans for no real reason, isolating themselves, etc.), I say we’ve all gained a mutual understanding of how exhausting it can be to just live life sometimes, and those habits aren’t bad habits at all. There are things that, IMO, should be just as normal post-pandemic as they are right now.
Taking a Long Time to Respond to Texts
There are a whole lot of “normalize fast replies” PSA’s floating around the internet. While there’s a time and place for speedy responses (especially when you’re dating), I’m here to vouch for normalizing slow replies. Before we could all text and DM each other on every platform imaginable, at any time, we talked to our friends and loved ones frequently to check in, but not constantly to check up. As much as I love it when I get a message from someone, being expected to reply right away can get exhausting pretty quickly.
The past year and a bit has provided a bit of clarity here. When everyone is kind of dealing with the same sh*t every day, you start to realize you really don’t have that much to say. Slow replies became more normal because we were all just tired of having the same conversation with a bunch of different people. Our lives were pretty stagnant. As our lives begin to pick up some speed again though, let’s make being a “bad texter” okay. Most of us aren’t spending a lot of time on our phones throughout the workday, and when that part of the day is done, we’re friggin’ tired! We all just want to relax, especially if you’re on the introverted side and need time to recharge. Trying to keep up with timely responses can be stressful, and sometimes you just don’t have it in you. Post-pandemic, don’t hold it against your friends, or yourself if this is still the case.
Saying No to Plans
This is a big one. I’ve noticed the overwhelming sentiment of “I’m never going to say no to another plan once this is all over,” and I get it, I really do. We haven’t been able to socialize the way we’re used to in a long time, and the excitement to do so is very real, but saying no to hanging out can and should still be completely normal.
In the pre-pandemic world, there was always this weird expectation that if you weren’t busy, you were free … meaning you would say yes to any plans you were offered. We have a culture of needing an excuse to say no, and a pandemic gave us a big ol’ built-in one. As someone who’s a homebody by nature, and not always up for social gatherings, I know I’m going to feel the pressure to always say yes when in reality, I don’t always have the energy. If this hits home for you too, know this: just not wanting to is a good enough reason to decline plans. Read that again. Just because we’re being slowly given the freedom to socialize again, doesn’t mean we have to. Let’s lose the underlying connotation that saying no is bad, and recognize that it’s an act of self-care, and most of all – normal.
Mental Health Days
Honestly, this one should speak for itself, but given that it’s Mental Health Awareness Month, it deserves some special recognition. The pandemic’s been a double-edged sword for mental health. So many people have been struggling, which is obviously terrible, but it’s made it feel a little more normal at the same time. We’ve been given (for the most part) more leeway and understanding when we’re just not at max capacity because hello …. we’re in a pandemic, but what about when we’re not?
There’s a collective struggle night now, so it feels easier to just give people a break, but taking that patience along with us even when things go back to “normal” feels like it should be a requirement. We all need mental health days just as much as we need sick days, this is will never not be true.
Setting Clear Boundaries and Expectations
The last thing on the list but perhaps the most important of them all! The nature of a pandemic has forced a lot of us into situations where we need to be brutally honest about our boundaries and expectations, you know, for safety. From friendships, to family, to dating, we’ve had to be much more open out of necessity. I don’t know about everyone else, but it’s definitely made me realize that this should really just be our natural state of being from now on. The extra honesty I’ve gotten from people over the last year and a half has only made my relationships stronger, so I’d say that’s a pretty good argument to carry it forward. We’ve spent so much time catering to people’s feelings that we end up ignoring our own, and the positive part of spending so much time alone these days is it’s allowed a lot of us to reflect and realize that our wants and needs are what’s most important. Taking care of yourself first is normal now, and should be normal always.