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The Reality of Getting Back to "Normal"

{By Hannah Nguyen}


In a time when our daily lives have changed dramatically to accommodate current events, we can only dream of having things get back to “normal.”


Although that feeling comes from an innocent place, it distracts us from reality. 


Upon entering quarantine, there was a feeling of uncertainty. What’s next? What can we do now? When will this all be over?


[Image of Question Mark]


In the beginning, we were scrambling to find things to do. We binge-watched shows on Netflix, found new hobbies, and got lost in the Tik Tok rabbit hole. That became our new normal—attempting to find ways to satisfy our extreme boredom. At the time, we thought it was going to be temporary; we thought things were going to get back to how they were before we entered quarantine. The stay-at-home order was later extended, and by that point, we were left feeling uncertain yet again.


After well over a month, we began to lose our minds. At-home haircuts, movie nights, and DIY arts and crafts no longer satisfied us. People began to criticize their local leaders for getting in the way of their daily lives. Then, the protests began. People were furious because their desire for a “normal” life grew rapidly. They couldn’t accept what their routines had come to.


Towards the end of May, cases of police brutality and hate crimes against the Black community began to make their way back on news and social media headlines. Throughout the early months of quarantine, there were few cases that were able to rally enough attention; however, it wasn’t until the cases involving George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery where the Black Lives Matter movement made its presence out in the streets and in our social media bubble again.


[Image of Phone & Social Media Applications]


Social media was filled with activism posts in solidarity with the Black community. New and old cases were gaining attention. People were educating their followers and their loved ones at home on the issue of racism; documentaries, books, YouTube videos, social media threads, and articles were shared. Silence was no longer an option.


On the other hand, there were individuals who chose not to support the cause, emphasizing that it was an attack against the “good apples” and white people. 


The race war prevailed. Daily protests occurred. Hate crimes were not just increasing, but they were also being filmed and broadcasted for the world to see. In a time when it felt like there was an increase of community and solidarity, there were still traces of hate and separation.


[Image of Protest Sign that says "Justice for Breonna Taylor"]


Then, in a matter of a few weeks, social media began to go back to “normal.” People were heading off to the beach and hanging out with their friends and family and it was all showcased on social media. The algorithm went back to how it was before. Activism posts went down. It was like nothing happened.


In the midst of everything slowly dying down, news about Yemen and crises going on in the world then went around social media. Posts went up to give light to the situation, and donations were made, but the Internet quickly went back to selfies and beach photos yet again. 


As we are entering a new phase where things seem to be getting back to their prior state, we must remind ourselves that we cannot escape from what we learned and dealt with or the things that are out of our control. We can never get back to how life was originally. We can’t disregard what is happening around us whether or not we realize it’s even occurring. 


Having to wear masks everyday or maintaining our social distance or knowing that there is still a battle for basic human rights happening is our new “normal.” We got back our past routines, but it came with a twist. The hope for a “normal” life was a distraction from the things we refused to face.


[Image of Sign that says "Turning Point"]


The definition of “normal” is often misconstrued. “Normal” isn’t always what remains standard or typical. It stays consistent throughout a certain amount of time until it gets challenged and things must change. 


Although it may feel like we’re entering our usual state again, I stress that everything that had to happen where we were forced to be uncomfortable was the challenge we had to face in order to prepare us for our new “normal.” The truth is that even though we get to distract ourselves by doing some of the things we previously took for granted, reality will continue to have its presence in the back of our minds. As you continue to post pictures of your trips to the shore, I shall remind you that the things you choose to ignore will not go away on its own. Soon, a new and more difficult challenge will arise, but by that point, you’ll be forced to face it and that’ll be your new “normal.”


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