by Gabby G.
Imagine a world where you cannot truly exist in it.
That is the reality for most of the world’s population upon the malicious uprising of the novel coronavirus, known officially as COVID-19. Just uttering the name out loud is enough to stir fear in the hearts of even the most hardened individual (myself included).
Globally, thus far, there are 414,179 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with 18,440 deaths—and counting (according to frequent reports from the World Health Organization).
Social distancing has been implemented since mid-March for New York City in particular. It continues to echo the new status quo for the United States as more and more cases pop up, and more deaths are reported.
The question is, what is the new normal after all of this? How can we continue to exist and even indulge in laughter and happiness in the wake of the unknown cruelly staring back at us? What is the new normal in the tragic turn of social distancing?
I have battled severe anxiety and crippling depression since I was 12 years old. Dealing in a world without a global pandemic was a war in itself. To live in a world with COVID-19 is simply terrifying—I constantly disinfect myself whenever I go outside, even if it’s to throw out the trash. I fear bringing it home to my almost entirely immunocompromised family.
I have not seen my partner of seven years—as he and the sister he lives with are also immunocompromised. My normal routines are suddenly nonexistent, to the point my pillow and blanket have welcomed me like old friends at a high school reunion.
If you are also feeling like this, please know you are not alone—and that it doesn’t have to be this way.
To quote my partner, Victor, he tells me, “You’ve got to live, not just exist.” After one week of social distancing, I decided to follow my routine as usual: get up early. Do my schoolwork. I’ve taken up writing again.
I’ve been candid on whatever social media I have left. I only pay attention to news about the virus from the CDC and World Health Organization.
To my fellow Franciscans, I urge you to find your new normal and don’t agonize about the distance. I urge you not to drown in the sorrow, in the fear, in the unknown. I urge you to find a creative outlet, whatever that may be. I urge you to connect somehow with your loved ones—whether it is phone calls or video chats. I urge you to let yourselves be vulnerable.
Vulnerability does not make you weak. Vulnerability, particularly now, provides solidarity—humanity. If we share that with ourselves, with each other, I guarantee that new normal will become bearable with each passing day.
Remind your loved ones that you love them, and remind yourself too. The darkness never lasts forever. To quote one of my professors, “…the only good thing about this is that we can only go up from here.”
By the time we return—in all our Franciscan glory and Terrier proud—our new normal will close the distance between us.