New Year, New Me, New…Normal?
Happy New Normal! How did you celebrate? Did you watch the firework display on TV?
Now you are probably thinking what exactly am I talking about? New Normal? This year we witnessed the global pandemic that is COVID-19. For some, this pandemic caused several disruptions to our daily routines, our studies and our jobs. For others, it sadly led to the tragic loss of family members and friends. COVID-19 has well and truly affected the lives of thousands of people across the world. But did it affect your perception of what is ‘normal’?
What was normal to you before COVID-19?
Do not worry. This is not an essay. There is no right or wrong answer. The aim here is to think about what is normal to you and whether that has changed throughout this year. At the beginning of this year, I too was part of the ‘new year, new me’ wave. Yes, I felt motivated about 2020. Yes, I felt like I was going to make this the best year for me. Yes, I did binge on far too much food and chocolates during Christmas Day and Boxing Day.
For me, when I think about normal, the first word that immediately comes to mind is ‘structure’. I began this year with the mindset that I wanted to have a clear structure for my year. For different aspects of my life, whether that was my Graduate Diploma in Law, Personal development or Fitness, I created yearly targets for each area, breaking those targets down into monthly goals. Yes, it is all good to create fancy lists in your Iphone notes or place nicely decorated post-it notes on your bedroom wall. But how are you measuring your progress? Are you holding yourself accountable?
Do you really have a structure to your life?
For a lot of people, it is easy to say that they have a structure for their life. But do you really have a structure?. During the early months of this year, each week I would have the structure in my head of ‘gym, work, study’. Monday through to Friday. I would wake up and go to the gym before work, then enter the office, then study for my GDL once I came home from work. Saturday and Sunday would be ‘gym and study’. From January through to the start of March, I felt that this structure was working well. I felt that because I was consistently going to the gym, consistently going to work and consistently studying after work, I was making progress. I was having a good year. This all felt ‘normal’ to me.
But then COVID-19 entered the dance. It entered the group chat and fully caused absolute mayhem. As we have seen from the news and social media, a lot has happened in the world since March. For me, a lot changed. The gyms were closed. What was previously the foundation of my day was taken away. I was placed on furlough from work. Although I did not have to work, that aspect of my structure was disrupted. My university switched from face to face tutorials to online Microsoft team sessions at 10am on a Saturday morning. (Do not get me started. I lied and said my webcam was broken).
But did I really have a structure to my life?
What was once normal to me was well and truly flipped, turned and disrupted. My structure flew out the window. As we have all witnessed on the news and social media platforms, a lot has happened during the last five to six months eternally. But what COVID-19 did make me realise was how much control plays an important part in how I defined my normal. Although I previously had a structure that I was consistently sticking to, I realised that I was becoming comfortable and creating a false sense of security. I was not tracking the quality of my progress.
What was normal to you during COVID-19?
With the gym being closed, I had to find alternative ways to keep my body busy. Although my sister and I were able to purchase weights and gym machines to use in our garden, I had to find an alternative form of cardio. My beloved Stairmaster costs £1,200 and my bank account was telling me ‘insufficient funds for that transaction’. Despite me hating running whilst I was younger, whilst being on lockdown and the gyms were closed, I began running each morning outdoors. Something I once hated soon became a passion of mine, which saw me manage to run two half marathons.
Furlough for me was a blessing in disguise. Although I was receiving a less amount at the end of each month, I had more time. Some of this time was now placed towards increasing my studies. But I now had time to re-evaluate my relationship with my ‘normal’ and how I control what that looks like. During the last five to six months, I was able to rekindle my love for reading, spending more time reading the Bible and various books. I was able to enjoy different books and open my mind to new stories, motivation, passions. Even though a lot was happening to me externally, internally I became very happy with the way my normal was shaping up.
What is normal to you post COVID-19?
Ask yourself this question. What is your answer? I know mine. Here are a few words of wisdom that I would give someone thinking about their ‘new normal’:
1) The normal you had in the past has changed. Accept it and move on
Too often I hear people say, ‘I cannot wait for things to get back to normal’. Sorry to burst your bubble, but as much as we would hope that would happen, for most of us, our previous normal has now changed in one way or another. Accept it. Stop dwelling on the past and hoping for life prior to COVID-19 to be the same as life now. Move on.
2) Make a conscious effort to reflect on the positives and negatives of COVID-19 for you
A lot has truly happened this year. I genuinely cannot believe that we are in the last few months of this year. But put some time aside to reflect on the positives, but also the negatives of this year. What have you learnt? What did you not achieve? What could you have done differently? Ask questions of yourself. If it helps, ask your friends and family how they feel your life has changed.
3) Remember that ‘structure is the cousin of comfort’
Comfort is like that cousin we know we have in our life, but do not often pay attention to. Even though having a structure is good, it is important to continue redefining that structure. A famous person once said that ‘doing the same thing and expecting different results each time is madness’. Do not ignore cousin comfort in your life.
4) You have primary control
As much as a lot happens externally, you decide how that affects you internally. One thing I have realised during these last few months is that I have the primary control in my life. In terms of my words, actions, mindset. It is important to be aware of your emotions and mood swings. Regardless of the situations you face in life, we all have a choice to make. You are in control.
Believe in yourself. Trust yourself. Love yourself.
You know the vibes.