Girl with a mask on
That's truly what I believe to be happening right now: I’m coming to accept the reality of my own world. Photo: Hong Yue Wang/Fulcrum
Reading Time: 4 minutes

Maybe there is no normal

Well, here we are — two years have gone by since the start of the pandemic and the masks are off! With most of us vaccinated, we are ready to continue our lives with as much normalcy as possible. 

Wow, I never thought normalcy would come. After months of sitting in my room staring at this screen, FaceTiming friends and family, and dreaming of the day when I could have my first night out as a legal adult, we are finally at the point where the dreaming has ended and now it is the time to actually do it.

I wish I could say I feel relief and joy, but, instead, I feel heavy and saddened by the events of the past two years. The loss of innocence that came with the pandemic, and the mental health struggles, including anxiety and depression, that myself and countless others have experienced due to it, weighs on me.

If I’m being completely honest, I’m not sure how to feel during this time. My whole perspective of myself, others, and the world around me has changed. While I wish I could say this change was for the better — that this shift gave me a new meaning and joy to life — I am not sure that it was. 

At this point, you’re probably thinking: “Shit, this girl is negative. Why am I reading this again?” 

And hey, I don’t disagree — I could definitely work on my optimism. Despite this, I think myself and my peers carry a young adult unique perspective, doing our best to navigate this weird, semi-online world during a global pandemic and the overarching crisis of humanity we currently face. 

That’s truly what I believe to be happening right now: I’m coming to accept the reality of my own world. That is to say, the world that surrounds me and how it is presented to us versus the way we experience it. 

The pandemic woke me up out of the naive, untouched, westernized bubble that made me blind to a lot of the injustices and crises happening around me every day. I hate to say that it was this event that did it, but it was hard to ignore the very privileged ways of how I previously moved through this world when the entire world was in a state of crisis and panic.

The weirdest part of the pandemic for me is the fact that a lot of these things I have learned and experienced throughout this time have been facilitated through technology. How do we navigate this online world? How do we line up the realities we see firsthand and the realities presented to us on the screen? Anyways, I’m getting carried away here. We could talk about technology endlessly. 

Maybe this is just growing up. Maybe this confusion and sense of meaninglessness is normal for my age, but I feel that the pandemic made it seem more profound and abrupt. I am coming to feel my way through it, rather than push it away with fear, but it’s hard.

Before I leave you feeling completely sad and confused, there are a few things I want to highlight that the pandemic has given me to make me appreciate the simpler, happier things in life. Although my perspective has changed, maybe it was for the better, after all. 

After two years of semi-isolation, I appreciate things a bit more every day and try to practice gratitude in all aspects of my life. Through the pandemic, my friends and family have played such a huge role in making me feel as if there is still hope. Love of all kinds is truly one of the most important things for humanity to hold on to, now more than ever. We must not underestimate its power over all living things. 

Throughout the entirety of this experience, my friends have made me laugh uncontrollably and I forget all about the crazy shit happening in the world and in my mind. We talk, laugh, eat, cook, and cry together. I could not be more grateful to have had those bonds. My family, too, shows me support and compassion for no other reason than because they love me. 

As well, the pandemic has allowed me to explore my creativity. Thanks to restrictions giving me an abundance of time, I have been creating for the sake of creation and the feeling it gives me, as opposed to approaching creation with anxiety and the pressure of having to create something useful, beautiful, or cute. Art of any kind is an expression of love and self-compassion — something that can visually represent any and all feelings within the chaos of the mind. 

Finally, I have taken up a new love for houseplants. Although I do not have a pet (except for a very un-cuddly fish named Benny), I show love and care for these living things that bring me joy to watch grow. They are so resilient and bright, so imperfect and beautiful, and all I have to do is water them and chat to them once in a while. Now, I may get called the crazy roommate from time to time, but, in essence, these are all just acts of love.

I think one of the only ways we can find some peace within the craziness of our always changing and moving modern world is through showing more love and compassion to those around us — to the strangers on the bus, the people in the grocery store, your friends, your family, your plants and animals. Nothing bad can come from showing more love. 

I hope someday this pandemic is a distant memory and that I feel “normal” again. At the same time, maybe there is no normal, and maybe it’s okay I’m feeling this way. The little things will keep me going — perhaps that has always been the case. I have to remind myself that I cannot solve all the world’s issues and that, for now, all I can do is be a good person to others and myself. Is that enough? Who knows.

For now, it’s what I’m going with. In the meantime, I’m stuck in my reality as a broke second-year student who considers dropping out every other day, who spends too much time worrying about boys, and other dumb stuff — and who definitely spends too much money on alcohol to be anywhere close to figuring all this life stuff out.