We are getting into the new normal. Some businesses are opening up, some places are staying closed, or open with altered hours. It is not unusual to see hand sanitizer, masks, gloves, required to wear to enter a store. There are limits on how many people can be in a store or restaurant at a time. Social distancing is a new thing entirely and when it’s not happening, we are aware of it. While these things took some getting used to, we, as a community, are predominantly adjusting to the obligations to keep ourselves and each other safe.
On the other hand, there are things that exist from before that are not being addressed. In the face of a pandemic they seem minor, especially considering they were hardly acknowledged before.
I could go on forever about misogyny. That’s not the topic of this blog but it’s something that always needs to be recognized, particularly as a woman who prefers to run alone. I still have to be concerned if I am walking down the street by myself. If I choose to run alone, it’s not safe (it never was). In workspaces or social groups where we are isolated, people reach out to each other and read between the lines when the only correspondence is in text. Somehow, we have to realize that this still exists in this “new normal” and find ways to ensure the intention is clear. Communication has to grow on all levels.
Next is ableism, which has always been part of this blog, even if it’s not overtly stated. I am still epileptic. Individuals with medical conditions still have their medical conditions. Those conditions didn’t go away with the pandemic. My risk of seizures does not protect me from COVID (or vice versa). If anything, I have fewer resources and support now than I did before. It is harder to get medications. Hospitals are risky. Isolation means no one might notice if I’m not “there”.
Mental health is a big topic too. Previously, I knew I could talk to friends or family about the struggles I was having with my medical condition (or have some wine and complain about sexism). Now, everyone is dealing with some impact of the virus. Sometimes people just don’t have the energy to support others when they are struggling. That doesn’t mean that people love each other less, it just means that they have to work on self-love and self-care before they can offer anything to others. In a time of quarantine though, sometimes it can make a person feel even more isolated.
All of the systematic things that existed before the pandemic still exist; ableism; misogyny; racism; socio-economic judgement. Speaking personally, I am more vulnerable now than I could have imagined when I “only” dealt with ableism and sexism. Those things are still there. It doesn’t matter how many online courses I take, how many languages I learn, how many mittens I knit or online chats I have with friends. The pandemic didn’t replace the other challenges: It added to them.
And yes, we will get through this. As a society, we will come out stronger both physically and emotionally. We will fully know the value of community and health, physical and mental. Personally, I know I will get through this. It’s a volcanic eruption at the same time as the hurricane, the only difference was, I was used to the hurricane. We can’t stop the volcano. We can adjust to it, make it the new normal and move forward, learning how to live with it and the challenges it makes. The important thing to remember though, is that we can’t stop the hurricane either. We can’t forget that the hurricane is there. Both deserve attention and respect.
21 years ago, seizures became my “new normal”. My whole life has included misogyny as “normal”. Now I just have to add COVID to the list. That’s not a complaint or whining. That’s just the way it is. That’s what I mean when I say “The New Normal”. Recognize it, learn it, and keep moving forward.
P.S. Can we please appreciate that I didn’t include ANY quotes in this, especially Jeff Goldblum, even though I wanted to? I mean, maybe in the next one, because you know… life, uh…