Raise your hand if returning to “normalcy” has been a little strange? Did you know it takes at least 30 days to form a new habit? Now think back to the height of COVID, many of us over the past year and a half have been forming new habits without realizing it. Some we want while others have become like unwanted house guests. Remember this, you are not alone. Whether you are introverted or extroverted, people got accustomed to the isolation. As many people begin to lift their masks and return to our pre COVID routines there seems to be a bit of uncertainty lurking in all of us.
Let’s start with the basics, human interaction. We can finally hug, but as I wander into some of my old stomping grounds this is still a strange feeling. For example, before COVID or B.C. many of us just went in for the hug. In today’s COVID or T.C. we now must ask, “Are you okay with a hug”, and then if someone says no, well you are left with that awkward silence and space between the two of you.
Have you noticed that starting conversations with people can be difficult? It used to be we talked about the weather first, and that helped us move more fluidly into the real conversation.
Now it’s “How was your time during COVID?“, which only leads to more COVID questions.
“Did you get the vaccine?”
“Moderna or Pfizer? … Ugh how’d you do?”
My fear is how long will this type of mundane conversation go on? Will we be able to start having meaningful talks again or will everything be COVID centric? I am sharing all of this with a semi-smirk, because I know it’s not a major deal, especially given the size and scope of what we just went through. But it does pose a larger question, for many which is, “How have I changed since COVID?,“ or, “What lessons were learned?”, and, “Who do I want to be?”
It’s confusing, but it can also be an incredible opportunity to focus more on ourselves without the guilt, create healthy boundaries, and rid ourselves of the negative thinking and narratives that once consumed our brains.
I like to think of it as how I used to feel when I returned from vacation. At first, I was resentful and focused on all the things I was going to miss from my vacation life. Slowly I learned this was not healthy and not helping anyone. So, over time, I tried to take some of the lessons or life hacks I had discovered on vacation and just tried to implement one new idea from vacation into my home life. Eventually I strung these things together and before I knew it, I was living the good life at home and away.
Most important be patient with yourself, your family, and friends. Returning from COVID isolation will take time, as well as patience for yourself and your community.
Good luck. And remember, “You got this!”