How to Be Normal When the World is on Fire

It’s been eight days since seditionists attacked the Capitol. We are still in the midst of a pandemic. Way too many people choose conspiracy theories over reality. And I’m wondering how to be normal through all this.

Seriously, I tried Googling “How to be normal after…” and then stopped typing because I wasn’t sure how to sum it all up. After what? Insurrection? A terrorist attack? A pandemic? All of the above?

The auto-fill Google results were not helpful.

How to be normal after... (Google search)

I did come across this useful PDF from the FBI on Coping After Terrorism. It includes many things I already know about self-care, and they are good, practical tips.

But even if I’m getting by at the basic, not-super-depressed/anxious-or-suicidal level*, it’s still hard to figure out how to be normal these days. Whatever “normal” means.

(*Note: if you are struggling with depression or anxiety, or having suicidal thoughts, there’s no shame in that. We’re dealing with A LOT of triggers for those feelings. Please talk to your doctor or therapist, or contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Trust me, you are NOT alone in those feelings and there are specialists who can help!)

What is Normal?

Honestly, sitting down to write fiction feels pretty frivolous right now. Mundane chores, like cleaning the house, feel unimportant, too. It’s hard to shake the “shouldn’t I be doing something?!” feeling.

But what should I be doing? My normal will always seem frivolous and/or mundane compared to being a first-responder during an active crisis. That doesn’t mean my normal isn’t worthwhile.

All of our lives have been disrupted by the events of the last year (or so). We are living in times of political instability and health insecurity. In countless ways, our sense of control has been damaged. And that’s hard to overcome.

We can’t turn a blind eye to what’s happening around us, but we also can’t spend our lives assuming a crash position. What can we do? Cling to our “old normal”? Create a “new normal?” Give up on the idea of “normal” at all?

Embrace the Normal

If you’ve read this far, you may now be expecting some magic answer for how to be normal and get your life back on track. I don’t have one.

But here’s my best shot: Embrace the most frivolous and the most mundane parts of your life.

Does cleaning the house seem pointless when the world is on fire? Do it anyway! Does pursuing a passion feel frivolous when the world is on fire? Do it anyway!

Our normal lives are made up of mundane and frivolous things. When big events happen, like the attack on the Capitol, our routines may be disrupted. We may have new fears to assess and new emotions to examine.

By all means, stay (reasonably) up to date on what’s going on in the world. Educate yourself and speak out when an opportunity arises. But let’s try not to throw out the rest of our lives in the process.

Do the mundane things. Do the frivolous things. They are your normal and they are beautiful.

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