When does something stop being normal? For years my normal was: wake up, drive to work, work, drive home. That was normal during the week and on the weekends I did things out of the norm, like sleep in, not shower, stay home. Over two months ago now that normal changed to: wake up, Brad and I both work from home, do stuff, eat and do more stuff. Now I’m finding myself having to adjust to another new normal again.
It was hard at first. I didn’t know what to do with myself. How do I fill my days when I wasn’t driving to and from work or getting ready for the day in the same way? Even though it was disorienting and often confusing, my husband was home too, so we could wade through it together.
That is until last week. For the first time in months, I was home alone all day. And it was hard. Again.
Another new normal
Another new normal, my friend said. Yes, that’s it exactly. Just as I was getting comfortable with a new normal, another new normal popped up and I got all disoriented and confused again.
Just as I did the first time, I’m easing into being home alone. I notice the perks and focus on those. I don’t have to shut my door on zoom calls or worry if my music is too loud. And, the bathroom is always free, so that’s a plus!
Why do we expect life to be normal? I mean, when we talk about going back to when things were normal, what do we mean exactly? And when we think about a new normal, what is that? What is normal?
What is normal?
As an adjective the dictionary defines it as conforming to a standard; usual, typical, or expected. As a noun it is the usual, average, or typical state or condition. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be normal. I don’t want to conform to the standard; I don’t want to be average.
Now, I don’t mind a routine (a sequence of actions regularly followed) because that helps me remember to take my allergy medicine at night and brush my teeth in the morning. However, routines don’t have to be normal. I can have routines that don’t conform to a standard (ie the belief that we need to bathe daily) or average (ie driving to an office every day because that’s what most people do).
I don’t want to go back
If I’m going to be completely honest with you… I don’t want to go back to “normal.” I don’t want the daily drive to work-sit at a desk for eight hours-drive home pattern to be normal. I’m happy establishing a new routine, even if it’s outside of the norm. I’m okay not being average.
Although it will take a little more time to get used to the days when I’m home alone, in general, I really like this new routine I’ve developed. I get my work done while also doing things that feed my body and soul.
Old and new
In the old normal I woke up in the dark and did everything quickly with the goal of getting out of the house by 6:45 to beat morning traffic and arrive at work by 7:15. Now I wake up with the sun. I feed the dogs and take Steve on a short walk to help us both wake up and take deep breaths. I fix myself a healthy breakfast. I write a note and walk it out to the mailbox. Then, after tending to myself and our dogs, then I sit down at the computer.
Sure, I could do all those things if the old normal became the new normal again, but I’d have to wake up really early or I’d have to stay later at work — neither of which I want to do. I like the slow, quiet mornings that allow me to feel refreshed and grounded before I start working.
In the old normal I had to fight traffic the whole way home. Now, I will say, getting a convertible did help the drive to and from work more enjoyable, but top or no top, traffic just isn’t fun. Now when I drive it’s a luxury! I filled up my gas tank on March 13 and still had half a tank last weekend. I went ahead and filled it up the rest of the way when I was out since gas prices are going up. But, wow! To spend less money on fuel, to spend less time driving, to enjoy my car — these are the things I really like about this new normal. Plus, I can’t imagine how much better this is for the environment!
Being clear about “normal” for me
I know those who aren’t able to to work from home need to return to work. I know that many people are struggling. I know that I write this from a place of privilege. I know this. And, I also know that despite the disorientation and confusion and moments of questioning everything, I love this time in my life right now.
Another new normal will come again. They always do. I just want to be careful about what I accept as “normal” moving forward. I want to be clear about what I think is normal and what others are telling me is normal — the two aren’t always the same.
Have you experienced different “normals” over the past few months? What do you want “normal” to look like for your life? I’d love to hear!