The ‘new normal’

Is it just me, or does the phrase ‘new normal’ give you the creeps?

Whilst I would love to return to a state of stability and ‘normalcy’, I do not want us to return to ‘normal’. Even worse is the talk of returning to a ‘new’ normal.

Normal (noun) is defined as “a form or state regarded as the norm” (Merriam Webster). Not very helpful really, defining a word and using it as part of the definition? My current ‘normal’, as I’m sure it is for many of you, is that I feel uncertainty and instability as an accepted, but not liked, element of my work and home life. It’s not for want of trying to bring stability and composure to both, it’s just how we’re living at the moment.

How can you return to something if it’s new? Surely, by definition of it being new it’s not something that has been around or in your life long enough for it be ‘comfortable’ or ‘stable’ to be classed as ‘normal’?

No, what gives me the creeps is that this phrase has been politicised to mean returning, as best we can, to what we knew before lockdown. Surely this is a great opportunity to take a long hard look at what we did, look at what we’re doing now, and look forwards to how we want to do things in the future. In education, are the classroom structures really what’s best for children or students? Is a 1500 words assignment really reflective of real-world skills? A new normal could use available technology to introduce and support students across a wider spectrum of subjects or time than previously, or that technology can enhance areas of the curriculum previously thought to be too intense or not worth the effort.

No. My ‘new’ normal will be something I develop for myself – use the car less, get out more, recycle more, keep in contact with local friends as much as I used to with those at a great distance. I’ll savour time with my kids. I’ll be kinder, more considerate, less judgemental. But above all else, I’ll be more aware of how easy it is to settle into a ‘normal’ routine controlled by others, and more aware of how this can affect me and those around me.

PS. If you’re interested, you ought to check out this unique email-based course from Doug Belshaw and friends at We Are Open Co-Op. It’s for people who want to learn “skills for the new normal” – The 7 Habits of Highly Successful Virtual Meetings!

[Photo by Andrew Buchanan on Unsplash]