Going back to a normal life

With restrictions slowly being lifted, most of the population already vaccinated, and the lowest number of COVID cases since the beginning of the pandemic, it seems that we are slowly leaving the “new normal” behind and heading toward the old normal.

Or that’s what we tell ourselves at least. Last year, when we thought that the virus would disappear as suddenly as it appeared, that we would be back to our old normal before we even got used to this new normal, we were dreaming of going out with friends without having to wear a mask, or being in crowded bars full of laughter, of seeing our coworkers in person so that we could work better.

I won’t make the same mistakes and pretend to know what the future holds, so take everything I say with a huge grain of salt. I suspect, however, that for some of us, these two years will leave a long-lasting impact, perhaps even a permanent one.

I know people who haven’t been to the office at all this year, and when asked to come back, were in a bit of a state of shock. The crowded trains, the zero productivity of those endless hours on the train, the lack of free time, and even having to socialize face to face with people that used to be an image on a screen can be difficult to some. Knowing this, many companies have limited the number of days at the office to two or three per week, a change that will be hard to reverse.

There are people who, throughout the pandemic, have simply become less outgoing and less social. For children, these two years have been a formative time, and they barely remember what life was without masks, knowing that they would always be able to see classmates in person, or playing with friends outside. The group that has been safest during the pandemic from a healthcare point of view is also the one that will be the most deeply affected long-term, though we don’t yet know how. Perhaps one day they’ll be referred to as the COVID generation.

I myself have timidly tried to go back to something resembling my old life, and gone out a couple of times, in both cases just for a few hours and having a beer with dinner. It seems alien to see groups of people drinking, eating, laughing, and ultimately enjoying. I wish I could be one of them, but I can’t help but have this nagging feeling that it’s wrong. I try to stay as far from the crowds as possible, wear my mask, and keep the meals short, as if I’m committing some kind of deadly sin by being there. Even seeing people close to each other without a mask in movies and TV shows feels strange.

I’m sure that time will alleviate these feelings, and perhaps someday in the future COVID will be but a distant memory, an anecdote to tell our grandchildren. That day we will forget what it was to be constantly on edge about mere social interactions, and we will be fully enjoying the new old normal. For me at least, it’s going to take some time to get there.


Hi, I’m Sergio.
I’m from Spain, lived in the UK for seven years and came to Japan in 2012.
I majored in journalism in London and have been teaching English in Tokyo.
I like traveling, cycling, photography, movies, and spending time with friends.
I wrote articles about life in Japan as a foreigner and anything that I might find interesting.
My email is ” sergio.dom.jpn@gmail.com “, by all means contact me about anything!


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Consultation/information services for foreign residents:全国エリア別・生活情報/相談窓口リンク集



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