THE new norm has now become such an overused phrase that I want to let out an irritated click with my tongue every time I hear it.
I’ve tried to tell myself that perhaps it’s some people’s way of acclimatising to this global upheaval we are going through collectively, or perhaps there’s a need to centre oneself to be able to function.
Whatever it is, after almost half a year of hearing this phrase being thrown around carelessly, I’m beginning to understand it better. We have been through a lot and don’t know where we stand in this pandemic. Some people are thriving, while others are fretting, especially about their financial situation.
I come from Kenya, a country where the government doesn’t give benefits to kids, elderly, differently-abled or anyone in need. If you are wealthy and commit a crime, you are likely slapped lightly on the hand and freed with a meagre fine, while a poor man stealing a bag of flour to feed his family because of dire circumstances will be jailed and slapped with a ridiculously high fine. We are all battling, but why are we accepting this as our new norm?
You may be brave enough to get onto railways tracks, but if you’re not going to keep on moving forward, an oncoming train is going to run you over or the one approaching from behind will do that. You can’t just sit in one place and keep moaning about things not going right for you.
I’ve played victim a few times. I’ve cried out aloud, looking skywards and yelled, ‘why me?’ I got no answers. I had to just suck it up and get on with it. I’ve often cried that this was not the life I signed up for – to bring up kids on my own, struggle financially, fight loneliness and tears, constantly be strong for not just my kids, but everyone around me. Because I seem to laugh all the time, people always thought I was okay. I wasn’t, but I accepted it as ‘my norm’.
Life turned around and things started to get better in my personal life. This pandemic allowed me to slow down and take stock. I didn’t bake banana bread neither did I make Dalgona coffee. Instead, I immersed myself in creativity and spent more time healing myself like no one else could. I faced my demons, fears and shortcomings. I allowed myself to well up in self-pity, then shook myself out of it to find a way forward. It’s not easy at all. Reading someone else’s experiences or going through self-help books can only do so much.
I now make a point to count my blessings and not someone else’s. I water my side of the fence to make it green and am teaching myself to accept the apology I never got for whatever it is that has hurt me in my past. Perhaps it’s time to make that Dalgona coffee and sit back to enjoy it as I marvel at my achievements over the last four and a half decades of life. Now that is MY new norm.
Kamal Kaur is a Nairobi, Kenya-based mother of two teenagers and has been in the media industry for over two decades as a writer, radio host, media consultant, digital media manager and brand influencer. She also paints and teaches art to beginners.