After a year that feels like a big human behavior experiment requiring every ounce of resilience, creativity, and fortitude we can muster, there is palpable eagerness to return to “normal.”
Still, we cannot let earned overzealousness disillusion us to think things were normal to begin with. Pre-pandemic was no picnic: We were already dealing with a global mental health crisis and significant disparities with regards to race, class, gender, sexual orientation, age and ability. This past year has shone a needed light on the tremendous need for relentless work for accountability, reparations, and overdue social change.
There’s nothing wrong with wanting a reprieve; in fact, research shows that returning to routines aids healing. But when we romanticize normal, it can impede our process of recovery, which will likely continue to be messy and tumultuous. I’m not saying we have to expect the worst, but that keeping our seatbelts fastened until the ride comes to at least a running stop is wise. Given all we’ve endured, we need to stay buckled to evidence-based approaches that mitigate trauma to help protect us in the days ahead.