Back To Life, Back To Reality: Thoughts on Life After the Pandemic

Back To Life, Back To Reality: Thoughts on Life After the Pandemic

It’s funny isn’t it… We’ve now spent roughly a year of what has been suggested as to be something other than “normal life” because it’s not the life we once lived prior to the pandemic. The life where we had all the freedom and joys of going where we wanted, spending time with the people we love, and hugging people freely. What we’ve lived for the past year being named as the “new normal” but not one that we want to stick around. Or do we?

I’ve been thinking quite a lot about life after the pandemic since old Bo’Jo’s announcement on Monday… Life without restrictions, life being surrounded by people once again, and having to do all sorts of things that have been very much on the back burner whilst the Covid rules have been around, and quite frankly, I find it a little daunting. Of course I don’t want the pandemic to continue. I don’t want millions of people getting ill from Covid, and thousands dying from it, but some aspects of the lockdown life has made me reconsider how I want to and intend on living my life post-pandemic. I look forward to many aspects of normality to return, of course I do, but actually I’ve come to realise I do like the quiet life.

Please do not use without permission © Alia Thomas Photo

The main thing I’m looking forward to is being able to do hug my Dad, Nan, and the rest of my family and friends. It’s been about a year now since I’ve hugged my Dad. A whole damn year. I’ve not even been close, despite the upsets that I’ve opened up with in front of him. The tears that I’ve shed. Air hugs have been all that I’ve got, and that hurts, but I can’t blame him. He’s been a stickler for the rules and I completely respect that. He’s doing what is right to keep himself and others safe, but that doesn’t stop it from being so incredibly difficult. So I cannot wait for social distancing to disappear in that sense.

I also can’t wait to be able to travel around, and I’m not just talking abroad (- you’re reading from the person who’s not been on holiday abroad for the past 4 years, partly fault of my own – I’ve mentioned anxiety’s a bitch before, right?), I’m talking about being able to travel around the UK too. I haven’t left my hometown since December, which probably doesn’t seem that long to many, but normally I go to London to see my friend or on city breaks with Chris or to my special place, and last year I didn’t get to do much of that at all. There’s been very little escape.

Yungblud @ The 1865.
Please do not use without permission © Alia Thomas Photo (www.instagram.com/aliathomasphoto)

Let’s not forget the spas and gigs. I cannot wait to get a good dose of live music again, and doing what I love to do, and I am very much looking forward to a relaxing spa break with the girls too. Ohhh it seems like a dream at the moment. However, I’d like to take a minute to give an honest account of the thoughts running through my head as a person who at times experiences a great deal of anxiety, including social anxiety, and discuss reasons as to why I don’t want the previous normal life to return back fully…

Let me set a scene. My current workplace has the capacity for about 1800 people in total. At the moment? There are 100 at most, if that, including myself and our very small team. Lunchtimes are peaceful, apart from the cackling from some of the also very small facilities team. There are no queues for the microwaves, no-one barging into me in the bustling crowds, no queuing for the toilets, and the vending machines keep stocked for longer (important.) Not to mention the traffic is so much better!! It’s quite honestly glorious. I’ve gotten very used to it and have absolutely no wish for it to go back to the way it was before. The noise at lunchtimes and the copious amounts of people filling corridors that you’re trying to get through, squeezing past them. Ain’t nobody got time for that anymore. The pandemic has given me more health paranoia, I can’t deny, and I can’t see myself feeling completely safe straight away when all the restrictions have been lifted. I think it’ll be a cautious transition still. I can imagine some people will still be wearing masks in supermarkets for a while, and I will happily keep my distance from the general public for a while longer.

I’m not going to ignore the fact that the lockdown life has been great for Social Anxiety to a certain degree, because I obviously haven’t had a huge amount of social interactions that make me uncomfortable. Unfortunately at times I have still been met with some broken down boundaries which has caused me grief, especially due to the fact that I couldn’t as I’ve said before, escape (although that’s not necessarily a bad thing – face your fears to heal etc…). However, generally speaking it’s been okay. I’ve spent more time at home than I’ve ever done before (but I’m a homebody anyway) and have really appreciated what I’ve got here. I’ve learnt a lot about myself and changes that need to be made when “normal life” resumes. I’ve really come to realise who and what’s most important to me and what I want to do more of when lockdown lifts. However, there’s also the adverse feelings to go with going back to pre-pandemic life.

Personally I don’t think we’ll go back to that normal life we once knew anyway, but that doesn’t stop it from being at all daunting. I’m 99.9% sure that the office will never be at its’ full capacity again (great!), however, general social situations will occur once again, and may be even more daunting than they once were because of only seeing a select few people over the past few months. I’m not used to this social malarky after essentially hibernating through the pandemic bar a few occurrences when restrictions allowed. I’ve never been a fan of clubbing really, and we didn’t often socialise at the pub before the pandemic so that’s not the top of my priorities for when things start opening up (although I completely appreciate a drink and some food in a pub garden on a nice sunny day is just wonderful!!), but I have missed going out for dinner. I will definitely appreciate that more in future and that’s certainly one of the first things I’d like to organise for Chris and I to do when we’re allowed to go out again, just us two, but also with friends. Another will be to go to my family holiday home and enjoy some proper time down there, again with Chris and friends. I absolutely intend to spend a lot more time down there this year and make the most of it.

Something less obvious that I will be taking from what I’ve learnt through the last year will be boundary setting, and saying no to things that won’t make me feel good or benefit me in any positive way. There is of course a difference from anxiety telling me that it’s unsafe to do, and me not actually wanting to do it, but that’s something I’ll have to learn further as the restrictions ease and more situations arise. I’ll be bringing gratitude journalling in to post-pandemic life for sure, and love the fact that I’ll now have this blog too, which I can’t wait to progress and improve (any feedback and pointers helpful and appreciated by the way!). I’m going to keep reminding myself and continue to act on the importance of self-care too, because this is definitely one thing I wasn’t very good at pre-pandemic. I’d just run myself to the ground a lot of the time. Taking time for myself is key for me to re-energise and look after myself. I hope to feel less guilty of choosing a night in or not socialising if I don’t feel up to it, if I feel I need that time to just focus on me. Just because things will be happening again doesn’t mean we have to go to everything, and just because we’ll be allowed to see anyone and everyone doesn’t mean that we HAVE to do so.

Shropshire.
Please do not use without permission © Alia Thomas Photo

Can we also appreciate what a great impact it will have had on the environment?! Less travel means less pollution, less fossil fuels being used as often. Humans being able to do less has given nature the chance to regrow, and flourish. Like Jeff Goldblum (as Ian Malcolm from Jurassic Park) once said, life always finds a way, but the space we’ve given it has encouraged it to even more. I won’t be ignorant to the fact that the disposable masks have not helped, due to the amount of wasted, non-recyclable masks that will likely be clogging up the ocean now, but more and more reusable products are being made and improved. Thankgoodness.

Small businesses have been given more light during the pandemic, AND not to forget, incredibly importantly is the awareness of mental health which has been reminded to us almost constantly, because the pandemic has of course caused a lot of grief to a lot of people in more ways than one, and has been detrimental to some peoples’ mental health and wellbeing. More people than ever I feel have been talking about it, and that is truly fantastic.

Please do not use without permission © Alia Thomas Photo

It’s been a long journey from the beginning of the pandemic to now, and we’re still going through it. Who would have thought it, back in February last year, that we would be in another lockdown now?! However, there is now light at the end of the tunnel. An end in sight. I do feel pessimistic reminding myself and people that the UK Roadmap signals the earliest dates that each restriction will happen, but honestly the way our government has handled it all over the last year, I’m not going to hold out hope that Covid will be “gone” by the end of June. At the end of the day, it’ll just become like the flu is for us, ya know? However, it’s just another learning of patience and gives us time and opportunity to ease in to the newest normal at our own pace. I for one won’t be jumping straight into normal life again, I’ll be going at my own speed.

QUESTION: How are you finding everything at the moment? Has the thought of normality returning hit you with overwhelming joy, or a little more caution?

Whatever you are feeling, it’s completely valid. Positive, negative, or anywhere in between. We’ve been through an absolute rollercoaster this year, and the fact that we’re still here, to appreciate all the world can give us, is wonderful.

xo

6 thoughts on “Back To Life, Back To Reality: Thoughts on Life After the Pandemic

  1. Hi it’s Niraj!!

    This is a really interesting blog post, and I enjoyed reading your views! I understand that there are aspects of pre-pandemic life that you don’t want to return, and this pandemic has really made me think of how I want to live life in the future. I think I definitely want the social aspect of pre-pandemic life to return for sure, but I also want society to be more kinder post pandemic than pre pandemic!

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    1. Thanks Niraj! Yes I’m looking forward to the social aspect of it to a certain extent. I am looking forward to being able to spend time with my friends again, and my family, and making more memories with them for sure. It’s just another change to get used to I guess! Change is always a bit scary, even if it was actually familiar before haha.

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  2. I feel you girl. My boyfriend’s parents were extremely strict with it (as they should be) and we weren’t able to be within 6 feet of them. He also hasn’t hugged them in a year, but we all got vaccinated and are finally able to be with them this weekend for dinner!💗

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  3. Every time I think we’re closer to everything returning to normal, we enter some sort of restriction or lockdown. Right now we have another 3 weeks of re-imposed restrictions, so we’re nowhere near to things going back to the way it was.

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