What is Normal, Anyway?

Yesterday, I wrote twice. I started a blog because I was angry. Angry at what specifically, I cannot really say because I don’t really know. However, by the time I was finishing the blog, my anger had waned and I did not know exactly how to end the piece. I was also ashamed for feeling angry when others are dealing with so much more than I. So, I let the writing sit and did not publish a piece yesterday.

Walking with my friend helped. She listened, lent me words of support, and I hope I did the same for her. We both agreed that the restrictions of the pandemic and necessary changes in our world have taken a toll on everyone. Nothing, it seems is normal. But, really, what is normal? What is normal for one person or family or community is not normal for others. This, I know to be true.

Families are spending inordinate amounts of time together. I, for one, am very grateful my children are not young or in a K-12 school any longer. Supervising their online learning is not anything I would have the patience for. When my oldest transferred to an online school in 2010 to complete the last two years of high school, fortunately, I only had to provide support – not supervision. He was independent enough to take care of his coursework on his own. And, thinking back, this was not a “normal” occurrence either. But, he/we got through it with a tremendous amount of success. I feel for all the families spending time with blurred lines of work, school, and play. It has to be so difficult.

And, then, even though most of us are spending larger than normal swaths of time together, we seem to want more when it comes to the holidays. Holiday traditions are hard to give up. I know. We gave up many traditions nearly twenty years ago when we moved away from our families in Western New York. Gone were Christmas Eve celebrations with both my husband’s side and my side of the family gathered at our house. Gone was walking to Christmas Eve services in the church my sister and I had joined that sat at the end of our road. Gone was trying to ingest two Thanksgiving meals or being fought over for whose grandparent’s house would be attended for the big meal. Normal changed then. And, normal will change now. Sometimes we choose what normal is (probably, most times) and sometimes, a new normalcy is forced upon us. When things exist long enough, they become normal, don’t they?

The future normal will most likely not be the past “normal.” This, I am coming to realize. The rest of my day had some semblances of normalcy, such as grocery shopping. But, it is hard not to recognize that even something so simple has changed. We’re masked. We fail to recognize people we know or people we know fail to recognize us. The markings on the floor tell us to stay away from each other, at a designated distance. Some glare at others who fail to keep their distance. However, others are visibly cogniscent of the social distancing rules and stay to the side while other shoppers browse a shelf, looking for what they need, only moving in for their turn when the other people leave. I try to be the second type of shopper.

Normal is a relative term. For now, we have to let go of the meaning it had in the past and wait to redefine it until after the pandemic is over. Everything will have changed. Education, healthcare, business, and even how we celebrate holidays. Some will go back to how it was last year, but many won’t. I don’t know which I wish for the most.

Normal will have changed.

4 thoughts

  1. There’s an old saying “normal is only a setting on your dryer”. In other words, “normal’ doesn’t really exist, it’s merely what a group of people might agree is how things operate at any specific time, in any specific culture, in any place at all. To people outside that group? The ‘normal’ behavior might look damned odd. I have known for many years that I’m NOT ‘normal’. I’ve been told that, and by reactions from others, I’ve FELT it too. I’m glad. No expectations or less stringent ones when one accepts that normal is only the setting on the dryer…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This is such a great comment! Thank you! Yes, I’ve never been one to be “normal.” In fact, we (our family) prides ourselves on being “weird” (but in a good way). I’ve never felt I “fit” in and neither do my boys or my husband. It’s great to be different. Normal is what you make of it! Right?! Thanks, again!


  2. I understand completely.

    Lately I’ve noticed that my mindset has shifted — seemingly all on its own — from thinking “when it’s normal again” to “when it’s okay again.”

    Liked by 1 person

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