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The Column: Why It’s Okay Not To Want Your Life To ‘Return To Normal’

Hello there,

I feel like every day of every week of every month over the last 15 months have had some moments of misery, fear, and anger, but finally, we all have a reason to get excited.

I can see it in my friend’s eyes, feel it in the warmth of a safe embrace, smell it in the BBQ fumes passing through my housing estate; life is getting back to normal.

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It only feels like yesterday that we were faced with the terrifying prospect of a world with no COVID vaccine.

I personally couldn’t even comprehend the thought of seeing this virus stick around with no prevention mechanism, living a life permanently in fear of catching a dangerous virus that I was so at the risk of getting seriously ill or dying from.

Now over a year later, I’m vaccinated, my parents are vaccinated, my loved ones are vaccinated and I’m seeing the people in my life feel free again.

This week the news came that international travel can resume. Not only does this mean we can all go on the holidays we have been dying to go on, but it also means families who have been kept apart by travel restrictions will finally get to reunite.

As restrictions and lockdowns come to an end worldwide, I really want to take a moment to thank those who stayed on course, who didn’t flout the guidelines, who didn’t shove an Ibiza holiday in our faces when we weren’t even allowed to leave our counties.

The level of selfishness and complete disregard for others I’ve seen over the last year or so has truly angered me, and I’ll never forget those who didn’t give a second thought to the nurses zipping up dead body after dead body, or the families who lost their loved ones to COVID.

It’s been a year of battles. Battling the virus, battling loneliness, battling depression, and to be honest battling utter stupidity.

I was happy to see last week that Instagram is finally starting to alert users to content on a certain former TV ‘presenter’s’ page being false and misleading.

To think that anyone would spend their time scaring people into not taking a life-saving vaccine truly boggles my mind. If you’re going to spout on about “my body, my choice” then don’t obliterate others for choosing to protect theirs.

Now that we’ve battled anti-vaxxers, the virus, and everything else I’ve just mentioned, the next battle is that of social anxiety. Anyone with me?

It’s okay to not want your life to go back to normal, it’s okay to not want to book restaurants or hotel stays or sign up for weddings and BBQs, we have to all do this at our own pace.

I’ve spoken to so many of my friends and colleagues about how they feel about “getting back to normal life” and we’re all squeamish about it.

For example, the thoughts of bumping into people again, and no longer having an excuse to dart off or stay two meters apart…

Small talk, as anyone close to me would no, is my least favourite thing in the world.

The pandemic has allowed me to hide away from social awkwardness, avoid the people I don’t truly have any time for, and be my strange solitude-loving self without getting caught out.

Now, sadly, this will start to come to an end…but maybe not?

If the last year has taught me anything it is that happiness comes in the form of the smallest things.

Seeing the face of a loved one, the touch of your partner, the smell of a newborn, the embrace of your mum, and the freedom to get in your car and go anywhere you want to go.

So as ‘normal life’ begins to resume I’ve decided to keep some things I actually liked about this year of hell, and add them into my new normal life.

For example, my plans of moving to LA and starting a new life there are completely scrapped, all I want now more than ever is to be close to my family and to actually settle in Ireland.

I also won’t be rushing back to a life of events anytime soon, my body is much happier without the thousands of calories from the booze, and I’ve fallen in love with big walks and exercising, that is also coming with.

And instead of jumping on the next flight out of here every time my escapist mind has a day, I’m going to take a breathe and look at all the good around me. Explore Ireland and put money back into our amazing country, instead of spending it all in Vegas (lol JK I’m obviously going back).

I spent so much time running from meeting to meeting, working 16 hour days, missing time with my family because I was exhausted from life, or “busy with work”.

For me, I needed this time to truly weigh up what I want out of life, and trust me it is very different now from what it was at the start of 2020.

This is your reminder that it’s okay not to jump full force back into normality, it’s okay to have enjoyed some of the quieter moments this past year, it’s okay to be worried about seeing people again.

If you don’t want to make plans or organise meet-ups, then don’t.

As I said, happiness comes in the smallest moments, so let’s have more of those and less people-pleasing, anxiety driving, annoying moments that are the biggest waste of time.

I was only just thinking the other day about an amazing talk I attended at the Pendulum Summit two years ago.

The speaker asked all of us to close our eyes and to imagine we were 90 years old and on our death bed.

He told us that the person lying there, ready to let go, that they are the only person’s opinion that will ever matter.

Ask them to look back over their life, did you spend your time wisely? Were you kind? Did you love deeply? Were you happy?

Sometimes it is worth remembering that the only person responsible for your happiness is you.

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