Return to “Normal” Requires Reflection

I think it’s safe to say that the circumstances of the past year have shown us that truly anything can happen, and despite the countless challenges we’ve been forced to undertake, our community has stepped up to the plate and adapted in ways thought to be impossible.

As the COVID-19 pandemic changed the course of our lives last March, we were thrown into the depths of our “new normal.” Heartbreak, loss, innovation, and the phenomenon of change slammed into us like the constant push and pull of the tide as we were forced to either sink or swim through the eminent discord.

However, the light at the end of the tunnel is ever growing. Our “new normal” has become vaccines, hybrid learning, indoor dining, increased travel, and 3-feet protocols. Campo athletes have returned to the field, choir groups are meeting in-person, and students are able to interact with their teachers face-to-face for the 1st time in over a year.

Having received my 1st dose of the vaccine recently, as many of my peers have since eligibility recently expanded to include all Californians 16 and older, the optimism I feel for a near future returned to normalcy is tremendous. At this time, over 20 million vaccine doses have been administered statewide, California currently has the lowest COVID-19 positivity rate in the nation, and Governor Gavin Newsom recently touted his plan to reopen the state in just over 2 months.

While these advancements are all incredibly exciting, eluding to a future rid of pandemic-related dilemmas and anxieties, the turmoil that comes with such change can be equally nerve racking. We no longer remember the old normal.

What might happen when our world resumes operating at the speed it once did? Will our desire to compensate for the time lost during this pandemic result in both physical and emotional burnout? How will we maintain the strides taken this past year to decrease turmoil and racial, social, and economic injustice?

Aside from the tangible impacts of the pandemic, this past year has brought to light issues surrounding bigotry and discrimination that are so deeply ingrained in our society. Above all, women continue to be disproportionately affected by economic and social oppression, and yet, it seems to be this unparalleled era that has allowed us to begin addressing such matters.

As we dive into this next chapter, honor your fears, provide yourself with the space to process these unprecedented changes, but also allow yourself to look forward to the future, however uncertain it may be. Stepping into the unknown can be frightening, but it also means that we may soon hug our grandparents, share heartfelt interactions with people outside of our pandemic “bubbles,” and spend long awaited time exploring the world and all it has to offer (free of worry, might I add).

With all that said, cheers to the new (and hopefully more normal) normals to come.