It’s December 2020. The world has been in the grip of a pandemic that has changed the lives of millions. One of the phrases most bandied about is “the new normal”, and for many it’s scary.

But here’s the thing – your whole life you have been preparing for this. Your life has been one “new normal” after another. Moved house? Left school? Left college? Got a job? Got a promotion? Got a different job? Got a new partner? Lost a partner? Got a pet? Had a child? Child left home? Developed a health condition? Every time your life changed in some way you had a “new normal”. And you adjusted and carried on. 

The beauty of humanity is its ability to adapt. We would not have lasted this long if we could not do so, and there would not be nearly as many of us. You are hard-wired to adjust to a situation. You have already done so more times than you realise. 

In 2006 I underwent radiation and chemotherapy for cancer, which I survived. Around the middle period of my treatment, I remember standing in the shower, feeling awful, not allowed to use soap due to my radiation regimen, and thinking to myself “so this is what my life is like now”. A new normal that lasted 8 weeks. Then the next “new normal” when the treatment ended, and then the next and the next and the next.

All periods in your life are temporary. You may enjoy a period in your life or you may hate it, but it exists for a limited time and a new different one is inevitably coming. Nothing ever magically resets and goes back to being just like it was. Your very existence is a rolling series of distinctly different things. 

The difference in attitude comes in whether you choose a “new normal” yourself, or if it is thrust upon you. In either case, you have choices to make. You always have options. They may be good ones, or not so good ones, and you may choose poorly. Whatever action you take will lead to yet further options and more choices. It is scary when you did not expect to have to make certain decisions, when you did not expect things to go this way. But choose you must, because that is life, and whatever you do you will learn from the experience. If you cannot see your options clearly, talk to people about their experiences and their choices. Something you would never have thought of may present itself. Look back at previous periods of your life and see how you accommodated a change in circumstances. You did it then, and you will do it again. And again and again.

Life would not be worth living if it was always the same. Embrace all your new normals and learn from them, even the unpleasant ones, because they will not last. The next one will be upon you soon enough.