I disliked the phrase "new normal" from the moment it entered our vocabulary because there was nothing normal about how the Coronavirus changed our lives. There was nothing normal about wearing a mask everywhere you went or having to socially distance from other people. There was nothing normal about not being able to visit your loved ones or having to run your legal business at 50% capacity if you were lucky enough to not have it closed permanently. There was nothing normal about going to the store and not being able to buy the items you needed like toilet paper, paper towels or cleaning supplies; nothing normal about having to cancel celebrations with your friends and loved ones; nothing normal about not being able to engage in activities that kept you sane and brought you peace and happiness because they were deemed "non-essential." There was nothing normal about having the world shut down.
I understood the reasoning behind making decisions with regard for the public's safety, but I despised how those "precautions" caused a disconnect among people and it broke my heart to watch as the world succumbed to fear and violence. I personally struggled with accepting the new definition of "essential" and the new rules associated with being a member of a Covid society. I knew that if I was going to continue with my life as it was, I was going to have to play by those rules . . . and after some serious rumination, I decided it went against who I was and I wasn't willing to yield. Don't get me wrong, I did try, but I found it too difficult. I felt like I was losing myself with every day that went by, and after the struggle I went through to find myself a few years back, I wasn't willing to Iose myself again. I knew I had to walk away . . .
I walked away from the life that I knew- the life I had built and was comfortable with; the life I could count on financially. I walked way from the job that helped me eradicate my debt, filled with people who I considered my family and regulars that made me smile. Brownstones was my home! It was the place that changed everything for me when I first moved to New York back in 2012. It was the place where I could be myself and it helped me to evolve into the person I knew I always was but was afraid to be for a long time. I loved it with all my heart, but I knew it wasn't in my best interest to stay. It wasn't where I saw my future.
I had been tired of waiting tables for a couple of years, but I didn't have the courage to leave it for something else because I was afraid of the unknown, but more honestly, I was scared of losing the financial freedom I had finally achieved. Not only had I removed the debt from my life, but I was able to afford yearly vacations without having to worry about missing weeks of work. I met all of my monthly financial obligations and had money left over to engage in extra activities like piano lessons, Kung Fu and yoga classes. Even though my soul wasn't filled by waiting tables, I allowed myself to overlook it because it was comfortable . . . and it was something I was good at. I knew the restaurant like the back of my hand and I was proud to represent it. The connections were endless and they really helped to keep me going. Every day I was validated for the person I was, but after the Covid pandemic hit, everything changed. I had changed and the safety and financial freedom that came with working at Brownstones wasn't enough to keep me tied down in comfort . . .
I yearned for complete freedom and so I had no choice but to walk away.
Not all storms come to disrupt your life . . . some come to clear your path. - Anonymous
The changes to our industry implemented during the pandemic made it too difficult for me to stay. For years I allowed myself to hide behind an invisible mask and now I was forced to hide behind a real one; I had struggled to find my voice and now my words were being muffled by fabric. For years I showed my love through hugs and affection and now I was being forced to distance. Every day I went in to work, my soul died a little bit more and I knew that I was the only one who could save it. I had gotten a taste of freedom during the pandemic, which was ironic considering the amount of freedoms we lost . . . by stepping off the hamster wheel and breaking free from the same routine. I was given the time to identify the things that I wanted, come to terms with the "me" I wanted to be and the life that I wanted to live. I had ignored the cries of my soul for years, but it wasn't something I could do any longer. I knew what was true in my heart and for the first time in my life, the rest of myself was aligned with that truth.
The people who knew and loved me saw how I was being affected and they supported my walking away. With their encouragement and blessing, I let go of the life I knew and began to create the life I desired. During the quarantine, I got in touch with my creative side and revisited my passions. I asked myself questions I had avoided in the past and began envisioning the life I truly wanted to live; a life fueled by my creative endeavors. I finished the book I had been working on for over a year. I created a website, a blog, an email list, a business card, a marketing t-shirt and began presenting myself as an author and entrepreneur. I was no longer a server and I emotionally let go of waiting tables as a safe alternative. I began to live each day without an agenda and for the first time in my adult life, I felt free.
I got up when I wanted to get up. No alarm. No schedule. No obligations . . . and I went to bed when I was tired without worrying about getting enough sleep before having to be at work. I wore the clothes I wanted to wear without thinking about a dress code. My new life was free of routine and for the majority of my days, shoes. I was no longer spending my energy on supporting someone else's creation. I was now devoted to my own and it made me feel lighter. Even though there were still limits on the world, there were no longer limits on me. I was free to be myself and spend my days creating in the hopes that I would make a difference to the world. . .
And that was only the beginning of my "new normal."
If you are always trying to be normal, you will never know how amazing you can be.
- Maya Angelou
Instead of worrying about what the world considered "normal," I shifted my focus to following my own compass and listening to my heart. I don't know what the future holds for me, but I know that I am happier than I have ever been and I owe that happiness to letting go of what was normal in my past to defining and creating a "new normal" for my future.