What is Normal anymore?

Even though I have limited my consumption of media over the past several weeks, I too have listened to many folks share strategies for handling our “new normal.” The information can be overwhelming; the strategies too numerous to count. Where does one even start to try to figure out what the New Normal actually is for themself?

I have been talking to many colleagues, clients, students and friends. We commiserate, plan, laugh and sometimes cry together. Each one of us is muddling though these times the best that we know how. I shared in a group meeting yesterday that no one should be feeling guilty or badly about what they are or are not doing right now. There are NO RIGHT ANSWERS (Other than.. stay at home!) What is working for me, may not be right for you; what makes me feel safe and relaxed may make someone else nervous and anxious. I think instead of beating ourselves up for what we are not doing, we should be giving ourselves time and space to figure out what actually makes us happy — and then, do more of that. I am sort of hoping that — out of all this craziness — one silver lining will be that we have all had more time to self-reflect and get back in touch with who we really are.

So how does one actually realize what makes them happy? When working with my teens, in trying to help them work out their interests and passions we start with a few simple questions:

What do you do in your free time? When are you most relaxed? When you have choices of how to spend your time, what do you choose to do? When are you most happy? When do you feel complete, fulfilled or challenged? If you could learn something new, what would you learn? What is your favorite food? What kind of music do you like? What do you read?

These questions are simple and easy to observe about yourself. It is helpful to jot down thoughts or answers as you take time to ponder these questions. It can also be hard to be true to yourself, when others (family, friends, media) are constantly telling us to be someone we aren’t. So, that may take some work. As we work towards the end of our “Shelter-in-place” restrictions, begin to list out the places you want to travel and the things you’d like to see, try or experience. Set up weekly goals to try new things and broaden your list of things that make you happy. Again, be true to who you are, there are NO RIGHT or WRONG answers – there is just the truth. Be kind to yourself, be patient — take time for you. I am sure one the other side of this crisis, a stronger, more confident you awaits. I can’t wait to meet and get to know that person!

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