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The New ‘Normal

As many Americans enters about a month and a half into stay-at-home orders, especially those in the New York and New Jersey area, our daily routines have continually been disrupted by the overwhelming news that controls our televisions and the ever-present deterioration of mental stability from staying constantly in our homes. All of which is caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

My daily routine, being a college Senior, consisted of waking up early to go to class, downing copious amounts of coffee while socializing in Kelly Commons, one of the main areas at my school where students congregate, back to class, then a club meeting, before finally sitting down and starting my work. Somewhere in between all of the chaos I found time to eat. The fact of the matter was, I made sure to stay productive throughout my whole day. Productivity is easier, especially for me, if I have social interaction. My friends have given me motivation to actually proceed in completing everything, providing me with human connection while still feeling accomplished.

Throughout the pandemic, my normal daily life has drastically become altered. Initially, finding a groove in this unprecedented time became halted by the sadness of graduation being postponed and my final semester ending prematurely. In addition, we, college students as a collective, have to deal with all of the stresses of college without the benefits of social interaction to relieve that stress. Socialization keeps us sane. Since March 10, the day that I packed up my belongings and left campus, the productiveness has been a rollercoaster, but I have finally, on April 24, found my ‘new normal.’

Waking up at between 9-9:30, I walk upstairs and pour myself a cup of coffee and sit down in front of my computer waiting for my philosophy class to start. One positive result of this pandemic, if you can count this as a positive, is that I am saving hundreds of dollars on coffee and other beverages college students usually thrive on. Because I only have philosophy two days a week, unfortunately, other days I attempt to wake up at the same time to keep my routine. In between classes, I continue to strive to complete all of my work.

Initially after I completed my assignments for the day during the beginning of my long stay at home, I napped… a lot. The problem with my love for napping is that I felt there was nothing else to do except nap. This routine gave me less motivation to do anything. I have adjusted my day so that I do not nap, no matter how tired I might be. My life has been consumed by work piling up, with some professors even choosing to assign more, having the belief that being at home corresponds with having more free time. To keep the social aspect involved in my life, I often choose to Facetime my best friend, the one person who can motivate me to be productive.

However, this need to do work has given me something to look forward to, a routine. As much as I hate the fact that my life now revolves around constantly completing work, it provides me with something to keep me going, a routine.

And while everyone might be settling into their new normal, it is important to note that each person differs in some shape or form. Take my father, for example; as a high school history teacher, he initially believed that he would be out of school for about two weeks. Due to this mindset, he gave small assignments, often having his students watch a video and respond. He did minimal work and started to go crazy. My father is a person who always needs to be doing something, if not he becomes easily agitated and stressed. After the realization that he needed to expand the scope of his work, he began to hold more virtual classes, interacting with the students, and, in terms of extracurricular jobs, he became involved in cleaning and reorganizing the house. Routine is something that he strives for and lives by. He claims that “I have a routine to keep me organized, which then reduces my level of stress because I know what to expect from my routine.”

The concept of knowing what will come next due to a routine allows for a sense of comfort in a not-so-secure world. While we cannot have the social interaction we need to thrive, routine seems to be the only thing that can keep us sane. Our ‘new normal’ might only be temporary, it is important to remember that our lives were never truly normal; we just set a basis around how we lived. This stems the question of what our ‘new normal’ will transition to after the pandemic and quarantine has disappeared. To that I answer, life has been and never will be normal and that is something we all need to realize.

What's your new normal?

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