We are trying to accept the current pandemic and the new rules for social isolation, as neither of these seems to be going away anytime soon. Sadly, this is our new normal as expats in Japan.
Some things that have changed for us:
- A sense of confinement: We’re not able to do our usual things — not only work and school, but things like workout classes, haircuts, coffee shops, restaurants, sight seeing, and meeting up with new friends for lunch or dinner. This feels very restrictive.
- A level of uncertainty and anxiety: Things are incredibly uncertain right now, especially for our health, the health of our loved ones, the state of the world, our economy, our financial situations, etc. And that’s just the start of it.
- A feeling of isolation and (possibly) togetherness: Social distancing has created a feeling of isolation that can be very hard to handle at times, especially as a new expat in Japan. For many, there can also be a sense of togetherness – we are all in it together, no one is excluded. We are creating that feeling of togetherness by doing zoom calls, connecting via FaceTime, and staying in touch via email.
- Feeling overwhelmed: Once we feel that sense of overwhelm, we will want to pack up, exit, turn away, avoid. Many of us will avoid challenging tasks, be distracted from our focus, and avoid our healthy lifestyle.
- Disruption: Our old habits are just that old; and we can’t do all the things we once did. It’s quite frustrating to have things disrupted as they make us feel afloat.
- Irritation being with others 24/7: Being isolated with the same people every day can cause friction, even if it’s your own family. Let us be honest here; many times, it brings up all of our issues, all the ways we respond when triggered.
- We want it all to be over, Impatience! We want to go back to normal. It’s hard to accept the way things are and we keep waiting and waiting.
- Wanting to feel something meaningful: We feel very unanchored and during this feeling of groundlessness and instability, we are trying to yearn for some meaning and some sense of purpose.
I’m sure everyone is experiencing the new norm differently. But that is why its a new norm.
So the question is: will we resist it, or can we see it as an opportunity?