Nothing’s Normal | Kyle Kim

The idea of “normal” has always confused me. As an Asian-American, is it normal to eat culturally-diverse foods for lunch? As a CCA student, is it normal to take multiple AP classes? The term seems to represent different things to different people, with no one quite being able to define what it truly means. In this same way, the upcoming summer presents a lot of questions regarding normalcy.

With San Diego presenting an impressive COVID-19 positivity rate of just 1.3%, it seems as though summer is returning to normal. At least, if normal to you means travel, exploration, and general outdoor interaction. With masks, gloves, and vaccines running through their veins, it seems that many are making plans for vacations, amusement park adventures, concerts, and more. The age restrictions for vaccinations are going down as well, meaning that more and more families are becoming comfortable with gatherings, outdoor eating, and other previously inaccessible activities.

For others, the summer will be normal because nothing will change from their previous summer vacations. High school mainstays like Khan Academy, Discord, and Spotify will remain accessible into summer, and many people may opt to stay home, regardless of regulations regarding lockdown. In fact, some people’s summers may be identical to their summer of 2020, despite the rapidly changing world around them. And of course, that’s normal.

Our return to in-person schooling, both high school and college, presents some conflicts about normalcy as well. While we seem to be returning to a five-days-a-week, in-person schedule, the effects of distance learning will not disappear once we return. Both students and teachers have become more familiar with the extent to which a distance learning system can be effectively established, which could impact our education moving forward. Similarly, it seems likely that, with our new understanding of online communication and productivity, that after-school collaboration could become much more common. 

In a larger sense, our idea of normal is returning and new norms are being established. Restaurants are opening back up, with outdoor seating being more and more of a common occurrence at this point. At the same time, the convenience and financial opportunity provided by food delivery has created a new normal within the restaurant industry. In the same vein, according to the CDC, vaccinated individuals are able to stop wearing masks, signaling a return to a pre-March 13 society. Yet, the idea of masking has implanted itself into our collective culture, meaning that masks are likely to stay, regardless of COVID-19. Essentially, the idea of “returning to normalcy” is at once both factually correct and inherently impossible.

Although the term “normalcy” has been thrown around by people since quarantine began, it has become more and more difficult to pinpoint what that truly means. After all, society has been radically altered by the outbreak of COVID-19, and expecting a specific summer experience seems infeasible. Thus, by realizing that being “normal” is an arbitrary term, we can individually pursue our ideal summers and go back to school feeling refreshed and excited. Have a wonderful summer, and stay weird CCA.

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