However, I think it is time that we ask ourselves; just how useful is it to be waiting around for the 'old normal' to return?
- Many times I have caught myself thinking "when things are back to (old) normal, I will...[insert designated activity, plan, etc.]". Unfortunately, I suspect that that the constant postponing and waiting for things to be able to happen 'as normal', leaves me with a greater sense of uncertainty. Some things definitely needs to be postponed, concerts, international travel, etc. And some things that keep being postponed is definitely beyond my circle of influence. However, I have noticed that the "when things are back to (old) normal, I will..." thinking is often an excuse for postponing something that I find difficult, uncomfortable, frustrating, boring, and so forth. Other times, I have found that my postponing is an excuse for not being willing to do the mental work of rethinking an activity - how could we change this activity to make it feasible in our current conditions?
- Next, in the "old normal", many of us had stability, predictability and routines that made use feel safe and secure, financially, emotionally, physically, etc. However for many people, the 'old normal' sucked too. Long before Covid came along, we have been surrounded by racism, poverty domestic abuse and epidemics of mental health. While the "old normal" might have been a comfortable place for myself and my immediate family, this is definitely not the case for large parts of our population. So it is only right to ask myself whether my wish for a return to "old normal" is really preferable to a wish to move to a "new normal" that might be better than the old? In other words, perhaps I need to stop wishing for things to go back to how they were, and instead wish for things to be radically improved in a new normal?
- Third, yet perhaps the most important question I have been asking myself... What opportunities am I missing by waiting for a return to (old) normal? There is a tendency for complex systems to maintain their momentum along a particular path until sufficiently disrupted by competing phenomenon. One might argue that schools and the education system is enmeshed in significant amounts of system momentum - while there are small fluctuations, mutations, disruptions, etc. these rarely change the whole system. Just think about the LONG list of school and education initiatives that have been discontinued, rather than becoming fully embedded and changing the way the system operates. For example, there is overwhelming evidence that our education systems are not equitable and in many places, racist. There are numerous initiatives to address this, yet gaining sufficient momentum within these initiatives to overhaul the whole system often seems an insurmountable task. Covid has managed to disrupt numerous systems at various levels. So while I could focus on "when things are back to normal...", I wonder how instead we might focus on what opportunities for radical change has been created through large scale system disruption?
- Following on from thinking about opportunities created by disruption and uncertainty, I have to wonder, are we just making things harder on ourselves by waiting for things to go back to the 'old normal'? By waiting around in limbo, are we stopping ourselves from truly adapting to our 'new normal' because subconsciously (or consciously) we are still waiting for things to return to the stability we were used to? Perhaps it's like a breakup? If we are still waiting around for and ex partner to change so that we can be better together, we stop yourself from really being available and open to finding better possibilities with a new partner.