Life is not the same as it was at the beginning of 2020.

The workforce has changed, financial security is increasingly uncertain, family life is different, habits and hobbies have shifted, and more. This is something that I believe most of us know to be true and some might say that this is an understatement. However, many people likely do not understand that the rest of 2020 will continue to be different from any year before it. The truth is, there is little about this year that is “normal,” and this pattern will continue as we move forward. 

Generations before us have faced their own incredibly challenging hardships, such as war, recessions, disease, and natural disasters. Generations after us will also experience their own hardships, many of which will likely be things that have not been experienced by those before them. After each of these hardships, a new type of normal must emerge. Terms like normal, average, mundane, and every day are constantly changing to hold a new meaning. The “average” day for a woman in the 1950’s is drastically different than the average day for a woman in today’s world. Through the continuous development of technology, “normal” communication from 10 years ago is even different than communication in 2020. The world is not a static place. New discoveries, developments, and challenges mean that the society around us must evolve to meet the needs and reality of the new world.

So what does normal mean for 2020? Well at the beginning of the year, a normal day for a young-adult in America likely involved getting up in the morning, drinking a coffee, and getting ready for work or classes. After work or school, this individual likely went to the gym, took their dog for a walk, had a nap, or relaxed with some type of hobby. At night, they drank a glass of wine or a beer while watching reruns on Netflix. They also likely did not even blink an eye when their pantry was running low, knowing that they could go to the store soon to stock back up on a week’s worth of food.

This type of normal does not exist today, however, and realistically, this same normal will not return. Attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors have been altered due to the pandemic, and many of these changes will leave a lasting result on people’s lives. No one knows for certain or will know for a long while, what normal will be like after a global pandemic. While many aspects of life will return to what they used to be like, many other parts of life will not. Every country, county, and individual experienced a different type of normal before we were faced with this situation. This will only continue to be the case even after restrictions ease. 

Nonetheless, post-stay-at-home orders or restrictions, whenever that may be, it will likely be normal that people are more anxious and cautious than in the past. For many, doing even mundane tasks like going to the grocery store will still be stress-inducing. Turning the corner of the cereal aisle and almost running into a person will lead to an increased heart rate. After all, this situation likely does not follow the 6 feet apart recommendation. People will likely also be much more conscious when it comes to proper personal and item cleansing and sanitation as well as maintaining liquid funds in the case of an emergency. Admittedly, these last two points will also do some good for us all.

However, if there is anything largely positive that this pandemic can give us, it is a stronger sense of unity. Generations are often brought closer together through the process of experiencing similar challenges. In this case, it is not just a generation that is experiencing the same challenge, it is the entire world. Of course, different individuals have been impacted by or reacted to the pandemic in different ways. It will also still be difficult to understand at times the situations of those around us.

Nonetheless, 2020 can be a year of unity. To find some humor in the darkness, and to quote High School Musical, after all
“We’re all in this together.”