The New Normal

(5 minute read)

What's exactly a new normal?

I remember the good ol' times in elementary school. From learning the alphabet in kindergarten, practicing the basics of grammar in 1st and 2nd grade. Cursive, science and algebra in later grades. Things didn't seem too bad for me. If the rest of life was this smooth, I wouldn't trade it for anything.

Then middle school hit.

My first day was a shock! Eight periods with eight different teachers? What the heck! A homeroom class to discuss the "agenda" for the day. There were no more science fairs, recess was shorter and my friends didn't even go to the same school as me. I wasn't getting lunch for free anymore, teachers forgot my name often and I already had a school bully. This is just the tip of the iceberg. I wasn't used to this at all and I wasn't happy with this change.

I missed elementary school so much because I felt competent, confident and generally ready for anything. I had a great group of friends, caring teachers, awesome free lunches and I was so comfortable. I missed feeling like this. I'm sure you're familiar with these feelings for whatever transition you are going through.

This is what we call a new normal, and most if not all of us experience this with new life transitions. These are changes in our lives that we aren't necessarily ready for, or they were more than what we expected. I wish this process was as smooth as movies make it look. Don't get me wrong, some people are genuinely good with change, and for others it might take time getting used to.

Hard Choices

Because of where I was, I knew I had some choices to make in order to get through this season of stress. I couldn't sit there and not do anything anymore. I was tired, mentally drained and my grades began to slip. But I also knew that if I were to do something about, there's probably some risk involved. And for most of my life I wanted to avoid risk. And though what I'm about to say weren't grand gestures to fix what I was experiencing, any idea seemed to help.

Here were my choices:

  1. Transfer out to a new school

  2. Try home school

  3. Suck it up and continue

  4. Quit school altogether (coolest answer)

Choices 1 and 2 seemed like a good option, however I'd still be dealing with either having no friends because of being at home all day, or the difficulties with the structure of middle school if I transferred. Obviously I couldn't just quit school either, as much as it sounded genius to me.

So I stuck with choice 3 -_-

And in life, many of us will eventually choose choice 3.

Sticking it out didn't necessarily mean I gave up, it meant I accepted this was going to be my new normal for a little bit, as hard as that was to swallow. And if this was going to be my new normal, I'd have to learn how to cope with all of it, and quick! So, I pulled up my bootstraps, made some friends, worked very hard, moved up to 8th grade classes while still considered a 7th grader, stood up to a bully, joined some sports and other extracurricular stuff. I was coping hard to say the least and was able to tap into hidden strength I never knew I had.

Accepting my new normal

Knowing this was going to be my new normal for the next two years suited me well. Rather than moping around and holding onto the past experiences from elementary school, I accepted reality in the present moment knowing it was going to be a tough transition. Sure I felt all banged up and bruised at first, but I eventually got the hang of it. The journey made me tougher, and I'd never trade that experience.

I also understand this doesn't apply to all phases of life. Whether we lost a job, lost our best friend or miss our old school, grief is a process as we transition into a new normal. And it's this process, regardless of time, that determines what we learn through that experience. I learned that I'm more resilient than I thought. A good question to ask yourself is, "What is it that I'm learning about myself right now?"

My encouragement to you: The next time you feel stuck because you've entered a new place in life, just remember that it's your new normal, its temporary and you do have some say and power in the process. Coping will help strengthen your flexibility to search for alternatives while managing these tough transitions. With each new normal you experience, the more resilient you'll become at the end of each road. What you get from each moment is something nobody can ever take away from you, and it's these tools that show you how to survive, but more importantly, that you know how to thrive.

Live, learn and thrive in your new normal and see what the next phase of life has for you.

You got this, I just know it!

CommunicationJacob Kountz