When the lockdowns began in March of 2020, it felt like we were living in a science fiction movie. Suddenly, all of our lives changed drastically overnight. The amount of things we didn’t know and couldn’t predict felt scary and overwhelming.
At the time, I never would have imagined that I could get used to living in “lockdown” (or quarantine, or “sheltering in place” — whatever you like to call it). When the lockdown started, my then-3-year-old daughter wailed, “All my days have turned into nights!” to express her sorrow over being stuck at home, and I thought, “Girl, same.”
But of course we did get used to it. The “new normal” became comfortable and familiar. So comfortable, in fact, that when we recently returned home after a busy day of events and activities, my 7-year-old turned to me and said, “You know, Mom, I kind of miss lockdown.”
I don’t feel the same, but I get where he is coming from. There were certain things about sheltering in place that made life simple and uncomplicated (although definitely not stress-free!).
For many people, there’s a lot to miss as the world reopens. The sudden influx of social gatherings is a lot to handle, especially if you’re at all introverted or socially anxious. Many people suddenly have a lot less leisure time to exercise, pray, cook, or engage in hobbies. Life post-pandemic is also more expensive than it was when we were going nowhere and doing nothing!
Of course, none of this is meant to glamorize the pandemic. The lives lost to the virus will be missed forever, and the hardships of the pandemic left countless people with lasting scars.
At the same time, it’s true that many people did get used to living more simply. It’s always tricky to leave what you’re used to and transition to something different. This is still the case even if the “something different” used to be your normal life.
If you’re finding yourself feeling anxious about re-entering normal life after the pandemic, know that you’re not alone. It’s only natural that you’d feel that way as you adjust to yet another major lifestyle change. You know that you’ll quickly get used to life post-pandemic, but for now, it all seems a little intimidating (and more than a little exhausting!).
So before the memories grow too dim, let’s take a moment to honor what we appreciated about lockdown. And let’s consider how we can make those things a part of our lives going forward, even as the pandemic comes to an end.
1The sense of solidarity
When the pandemic began, there was a heartening sense of unity. “We’re all in this together,” we said, and it really felt that way. We found solidarity through encouraging messages on social media, clapping for healthcare workers, painting stained glass on our homes, and other shows of support.
Now that the pandemic is ending, we can find that sense of community in reconnecting with the friends and family we missed seeing for all those months. For Catholics, we might feel that sense of heartening camaraderie when we see little shrines or religious statues in front of neighbors’ homes.
2The simplicity of daily life
With most places closed, staying home became the default. We learned to appreciate the little things that made each day different.
Life might be becoming busy again, but we can continue to look for reasons to be grateful. We can still celebrate the small, wonder-filled details of ordinary life.
3No expectation or obligation to be social
The truth is that plenty of people enjoyed not having to be around others or orchestrate social gatherings. Just about every person needs at least a little friendship and community, of course, but the drastic drop in obligatory social events suited lots of people just fine.
There’s a lesson to be learned here: Attending social gatherings shouldn’t become a nuisance. If we’d feel relieved to hear that an event was canceled, we probably shouldn’t go! Keeping our social calendar fairly empty might be best as we ease back into the kind of lives we led before the pandemic. That way, hopefully there will still be time to keep up any good habits or routines we developed during these unusual months.