I wrote in my blog last week about ‘missing the bustle’ of everyday life, the rushed through routine that my body seems to rely on. This is something which I would think a lot of other Aspies like me are feeling at the moment – that there isn’t a rhythm of everyday life to stick to.
When messaging with a neurotypical recently, whom I’m yet to meet, we were talking about how life is so much more dull in lockdown, repeating the same conversations over and over. I mentioned that there didn’t seem to be some sort of ‘normal’ for me to stick to; by this I meant that we all have a sense of what normal life would be like, if we were not in lockdown what would have happened? After some confusion on his part, I explained the normal for me was going into work 4 days a week, getting on a train, having a little more routine than I do now.
Normal is a state of equilibrium. I know this because of how much my life has changed just in the past two years – and how much it is set to change in the next five. I have a place to study at university in September, finishing my job in August, from university I plan to go into teaching – but who knows what state of ‘normal’ I will be in then.
Since going into lockdown, there hasn’t been a new ‘normal’ for me to stick to. Of course every week day has pretty much been the same, I have been surrounded by the same people and the same things – there is some consistency in my everyday experiences. But there is a questioning sensation in the back of my mind which is asking what this sort of ‘normal’ is, will it stay this way forever? What will happen once we go back to mingling with other people?
Experts are trying their hardest to predict the implications of this virus, but the truth is that we just don’t know. None of us do because it may lead to a more societal change than we would like to admit. And this doesn’t just mean a change in policy, or how the benefit system works. I mean how we work with each other, we have been living in a virtual world over the past two months – which has slowed things down, but made organisation and others think about how much should be done in an office and what is really important in a workplace.
This is slightly what I’m afraid of in the future, that people will be employed ‘work from home’ as a default – in the past this would have been seen as a luxury as people find they have more time, enjoy their jobs more etc. Although, for me this hasn’t worked as well. I’m demotivated, this isn’t the ‘normal’ goal I have set out to do, I’m confused between the work space in my bedroom and the space I have to forget that all other humanity exists. When speaking to my manager a few weeks in, I was still talking of things going ‘back to normal’, in the context of ‘when this feels a bit more normal I think I will be okay’, which she interpreted as ‘once things go back to properly normal’ as in we will be back in the office. The latter I have given up on. But it is an important point to make out, that ‘normal’ for ASDs is not the same as the ‘normal’ life neurotypicals seem to think we mean.
Friends of mine are home from university, carrying on with classes at home – which to them is weird. Last night a friend told me all of his lectures from September were to be virtual, so there would be no physical classes for that semester at least. Slightly reassured that I will be attending a slightly smaller university, I still am worried for the implications this might have for me and my dreams of university when I do leave in September. Because that is the vision I have, of getting out there and talking to people, of being in lectures for a few hours a day, getting lost in the library and working with groups of people on how to present complex ideas. This routine that I can see for myself in the future is something that I have been relying on for so long.