I spent so much time wishing I could be who I was before the pandemic. I thought that the effect this period had on my character would wear off over time and I would get back to who I was. I kept waiting, but nothing changed. I didn’t go back to who I was before, not when the world got back to a bit of normality, not when the lockdown was over, not when I got back to hanging out with my friends and going on vacations again. Still, I wasn’t the same. The truth is, none of us are the same, and we will never be the same again.
To be locked down for quite some time and suddenly forced to let go of your daily lifestyle and most of your normal everyday activities changes a person beyond our expectations. The amount of fear and stress we have experienced is enough to impact a person’s personality in so many ways. To be subjected to the kind of news we have been subjected to ever since the pandemic began, starting from the normal updates about the virus to losing a loved one because of it to figuring out ways to help out your close ones who got it—all that is not a simple thing at all, even if we don’t think that what happened to us is that huge.
To not be able for some of us to fly back to our homes and just be stuck somewhere else. To be forced to have unplanned long-distance relationships because the world made it impossible for you to be with who you want at the same place. Not being able to greet people by hugging them or even shaking their hands changes the way we interact with each other, even if we don’t realize the impact of these small things. Seeing people with masks all the time and not being able to see their facial expressions and smiles changes our communication with each other. Having more virtual meetings, classes, workshops, and lectures than ones in person changes a lot of things about our learning and social experiences. To lose jobs and sources of income and experience this significant financial instability impacts the way you think and handle your finances. To feel extremely helpless, especially at the beginning of the whole pandemic, and literally not know what the hell is going on changes a person. You don’t come out of all this the same person. You realize how much nothing is certain and how one day you can wake up and nothing is just the freaking same, and even if you already knew this about life all along, knowing it is something and experiencing it is something else.
When my grandmother tells me about the time of cholera, I can tell how much this period has impacted her personality, even after all these years; this experience is engraved deep within her. It changed her, and she just never got back the same. One does not simply go back to who they were after a pandemic, just like there’s a new normal now in the world and nothing is quite the same; the same applies to us humans as well. Our new normal self is not our previous self. We’ve changed, and there’s no going back to who we used to be, because all that has happened has impacted us in different ways that we might not even be aware of; it changed the way we perceive things and the way we think.
So that’s the new us. And we need to try to find the best version of this new version of ourselves rather than keep trying to go back to who we used to be. This experience is meant to shake you and make you feel a little (if not drastically) unsteady, because eventually, it’s not a tiny thing; it’s a big massive thing that turned the whole damn world upside down, let alone what it did to each and every one of us internally.