Normalizing the Abnormal

by The Cowl Editor on December 9, 2021


Normalizing the Abnormal

Reflecting on the “Post-Pandemic” Semester

by Jezel Tracey ’24

This semester has not been easy. It has been one of adaptation, regulation, and, most of all, confusion. Despite the negative events that have taken place, this year has been a mark of progress in the world’s battle with COVID-19.

Moving on from a year of online classes and being mandated to wear masks outside, walking to classes and sitting in classrooms feels abnormal. Thus, administrators and professors have done their best to replicate a normal semester this semester.

However, the “normal” that was in practice before 2019 no longer exists. Rather, the circumstances that COVID-19 established have become the “new normal.” This holds especially true for students who started college during the pandemic. As a result of this, three of the four classes at Providence College do not know what a normal college experience is like.

While many are able to acknowledge the urgency in reflecting on and addressing these events, responsibilities and obligations might get in the way of this. If there is anything that went back to “normal,” it would be the “work hard, play hard” and “life goes one” clichés. Although this is necessary, it only adds more stress to the process of understanding and adapting to how the world has shifted within the past two years.

On top of progressing into a higher grade with higher expectations and requirements, students and professors are still required to cope with the political, social, and economical unrest that have been and are still taking place today. This becomes challenging when course work is managed as if the pandemic no longer exists or affects students. Whether it was having Zoom classes as an alternative when one is sick or implementing mental health days within the semester, these minor changes made a difference.

As a result of this mission to get back to “normal,” it seems as though these tactics have been eliminated. While this does seem like the most efficient way to do this, it fails to understand that we are still “abnormal.” Instead, individuals should focus on creating a new norm.

So, as we approach the new year, it is important for one to use the lessons learned before and after COVID-19 to make a better version of themself. If there is anything that this pandemic has taught us, it was the importance of showing up for oneself. In creating this new normal, one must identify the healthy and unhealthy habits learned both before and during COVID-19.

Navigating post-pandemic methods while still being in that pandemic makes it very easy to fall into a mental rut of frustration, sadness, and irritation. Being a college student through all of this surely does not lessen the weight. However, it is still our responsibility to be productive and active in caring for ourselves. 

Last year’s New Year’s resolution might have been to “get back to normal.” For this year, one should focus on creating attainable resolutions: ones that cater to self-care more than productivity goals.If you do not show up for yourself, you cannot show up for others.