For people like me who love to plan out their lives down to the minute, COVID-19 was a speed bump I was definitely not expecting. Confined to my house like everyone else, it can be difficult not to get antsy and wonder when things are going to go back to normal, just in time to be told that “normal” will never happen again. These can be difficult words to hear, but I think mostly because they are so ambiguous that any possible meaning behind them is lost. What is normal? And what is this post-pandemic normal that everyone speaks of? It’s hard not to get anxious at the uncertainty of the future during this time, but rebranding what “normal” looks like is an opportunity that we might never have again.
Recently, I read a popular article for school written by Julio Vincent Gambuto, called “Prepare for the Ultimate Gaslighting” which discusses how the future may look when this is all over. He starts off by warning readers that governments and big corporations will fight hard to make everything seem like it was before, in attempts to increase consumerism and help the destroyed economy. However, Gambuto predicts that this will be done through gaslighting, essentially convincing us that the pandemic was never as bad as we thought it was, and all of the good outcomes that came out of it, like the reduction in harmful environmental impacts, were never actually that good. More importantly, he says that we need to look past the desire to go back to exactly how things were, and use this opportunity to make our “new normal” what we want it to be. I have gotten fed-up with people talking about how the world is going to change after this, and how this will have more life-changing impacts than 9/11, but if everyone takes a second to stop and think, change is not necessarily a bad thing. Gambuto is incredibly accurate, because we may never again get an opportunity like this to redefine how we live our lives.
Our society is already pretty messed up in a lot of ways, as we hear about violence and poverty without batting an eye, but when the world comes out of its literal pause, it will be a fresh start. One of the things that seems to be impacting people’s mental health most at the moment is the lack of control. We can’t control how long this will go on for. We can’t control if people stay in their houses. But we can control what we do and how we spend this time. And when this is all over, yes. Life will be different. But it’s up to us to decide what different means, and it gives us a great opportunity to make change for the better.
Note: The Free Your Mind Mental Health Society is an independent youth-led organization. The contents of this blog are not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. In the event of a medical emergency, please call your doctor or 911 or other local emergency numbers immediately.