Our Editors Share What They Want To “Keep” Post-Pandemic
The New Normals
When we look back at this year and last, there’ll be lots of things we’d like to forget. Or at least release. The innumerable loss of jobs, homes, and loved ones. The restrictions placed on our social lives, travel, and even our faces 😷. The tragic circumstances that led to global protests for gun control, climate care, and the lives and civil rights of people of color and LGBTQIA members. All this, while in isolation.
But once in hindsight, maybe we can attempt to view the pandemic from a more nuanced perspective. Despite all the loss, there are certainly things we’ve gained. Whether a burgeoning hobby or a stronger sense of self, a greater appreciation for frontline workers or more creative ways to communicate with friends and family, we can continue to actively seek, nourish, and maintain these changes—post-pandemic.
As we look with hope towards a new normal on the horizon (even if it takes more time), The Good Trade team is sharing what they’ve learned, encountered, and would like to keep—even once this era is over.
No more small talk, ha! Or at least less small talk in the post-COVID future. I recently saw this post on Twitter, and all I can say is YEP 👏.
I’ve always been a fan of deep discussions (is my Enneagram number showing?), and I’ve valued the way conversations have evolved in the past year. The once casual “how are you?” holds so much more weight because we know that none of us is fine, and we’re all carrying so much internally. I’m ready to continue these hard conversations and not shy away from the most important and necessary topics—e.g., racism, social justice, politics, climate change, mental health, and how we’re really doing. These are the conversations we should have been having all along.
On a lighter note, I’m definitely looking forward to keeping some of my COVID fashion and beauty “trends.” These include wool socks with slide sandals (yes, LA winters can be brisk), minimal makeup, and my natural (albeit thin, mouse-brown) hair; I haven’t had it colored since 2019 so, here we are. No reason to turn back now. Oh, and I plan to continue ignoring my eyebrows, or at least giving them a bit more freedom to, well, be free.
I’ve been trapped in the dense wilderness of “what everyone thinks of me”—and this past year, I started to navigate my way out.
When you’re not seeing people all the time, it’s easier to self-reflect on why you make the choices you make. I noticed so much of what I had been investing my energy into was born from a worry or fear that people wouldn’t like me.
Because of that, I’ve taken better care of myself and leaned harder into my interests than I ever have in my whole life. In a literal sense, I stopped shaving my armpit hair and began playing (and talking about) video games unabashedly. Emotionally, I established more boundaries and spoke more honestly about causes that are meaningful to me. Mentally, I gave myself more breaks and laughed more at instances I might previously have declared failures. We only have so much time here together, so let’s sweat the big stuff and let the rest of it go.
It’s not been linear growth (I still have mushy mac-and-cheese and sweatpants pity parties, don’t we all?), but I can feel myself growing into a more solid outline of the person I want to become, and I’m proud of that. It’s almost as if…my self-worth…is coming…from within? And not from what someone else tells me?
So I want to keep the self-confidence I’ve been brewing, and I want to support that same self-confidence in everyone around me. Everyone has experienced a transformative year, whether we lost everything, or some things, or maybe we lost ourselves—we’re all carrying depths greater than any one outside perspective can ever hold.
Oh, and also I want to keep the new friends I’ve made via online gaming, my meditation habit, and the most precious foster-to-adopt bunny who came into my life after I had to say goodbye to my 12-year-old rabbit Rorschach in March. 😭 Welcome to the family, Freddy! 🐇
If I’m being honest, I don’t remember much about the first six months of quarantine. There are specific moments that come to mind, like adopting our rescue dog Rosie and celebrating my summer birthday, alongside recognizing frontline workers and witnessing a resurgence of the #BlackLivesMatter movement. But for most of it, I spent a lot of time working, stressing over finances and supplemental jobs due to COVID cuts, and navigating a potential new normal.
It wasn’t sustainable…and my life was about to drastically change.
Today in May 2021: My then-fiance/now-husband and I are now married, living across the country, in new full-time roles. With all of these life changes, our relationship with time and balance has completely shifted. And that’s what I want to keep far past the pandemic…perhaps forever?
We no longer spend weekends trying to recover from exhaustive workweeks. We slow down our evenings to go for long walks with Rosie and to contemplate new recipes. We let go of the “dead weight” in our lives whether it’s our worn-down belongings, expiring friendships, or external commitments we no longer enjoy.
Instead, we explore new hobbies that are for ourselves and not for monetizing, like experimenting with our film camera. We focus on strengthening our relationships with loved ones and checking in on each other more often. We make time for farmers’ markets stops followed by leisurely picnics at the park. Above all, we channel nourishment, rest, and play.
When the current pandemic becomes the past, I don’t want to remember the negatives any more than I have to (unless we’re talking about film!). Instead, I’m hoping to reflect on what became most important in life, with the limited time, care, and energy we can offer one another. Because if there’s nothing else I’ve learned after this tough year, isn’t that all we really have?
One of the most important practices I started incorporating into my everyday ritual has been taking walks—for pleasure. Not the rushed I-need-to-run-to-the-store-to-get-something speed walk that exasperated pre-pandemic life. But, rather, a walk for me. Filled with joy and mental clarity that knows no bounds, speeds, or time constraints.
It allows greater connection to myself, my thoughts, and the world around me. Like most people, the pandemic started out with me moving back home; my roommates quickly changed from my college best friends to my parents. In hopes of finding stability in an unstable world, I sought out the variables I could control. Like connection. Connection to myself, friends and family, and the universe around me. So everyday—whether I really had the motivation or not—I rallied myself into my sneakers, out the door, and walked for miles. Some days longer than others, my only guideline being that I walk at my own pace, for as long as I wanted.
I used to (and still) use this time in a variety of ways depending on the day and mood I’m in. But for the most part, I made calls to my loved ones, making my way down my contact list in hopes of staying as connected as possible. Some days felt heavier than others and it was easier to listen to a podcast, music, or even silence than to gather the chutzpah—they like to say in my culture—to talk to others or even hold space to listen. Those were the days that I walked for pleasure, examining and taking in the tactile and unspoken sounds of tree leaves brushing in the crisp wind, or the way shadows make beautiful art against the ever-adapting landscape.
It’s in these moments that I am able to marry the joyous pleasures of life: connection to myself, others, and the natural world around me. A post-pandemic love story really.
Too much time was spent within the four walls of my one-bedroom apartment and I spent a lot of last year looking at my collected belongings—my clothing, books, decor, anything really!—and I suddenly felt crowded by them. I’d cross my bathroom and bedroom mirrors often and ruminate too much on how I look. And I’d crave some privacy (any privacy) from my partner, despite feeling very blessed that we could both work from home.
For those reasons and likely a few more, the pandemic had me craving—no, needing—the outdoors. But I’m not a walker, much less a runner, and so I found myself frequenting my local parks, ones I’d previously overlooked. They became my literal homes away from home. I’d invite friends to work out, read tarot cards together, or have a full-blown picnic. The park even hosted our conversations about the best high-yield savings accounts and most promising stock options we’d heard about. We made the most out of our six feet of space, not hugging but laughing lots—a sufficient and welcomed salve.
Sometimes I’d go alone—with a book, a Bluetooth speaker, a can of wine. Other times, I’d bring my dog, realizing that he too was feeling confined in our apartment. At least at the park, he could peruse the perimeter, curiously sniffing everything in sight.
I’d also people-watch and feel glints of joy that my neighbors were striving too, to make the best of the hand dealt and were finding time for themselves, their community, nature, and to smile. I’d stare at the sky and watch clouds drift, shape-shift, and disappear, something I probably hadn’t done without interruption since I was a child. Without having to do much, being outdoors helped me feel very still in the midst of a chaotic year.
Anything I could do at home, I chose to do outside—in our greater home 🌎. And I’d like to keep it that way.
(I’d also like to keep the gentle rule my partner and I established of asking each other if we have the space to listen before unloading our every thought; generously tipping service workers of all sorts; and my very simplified skincare routine of sunscreen, eyelash curling, and a tinted lip and cheek balm.)
Social & Community Lead
Well, dang, I feel like the pandemic has flipped my whole world upside down. Though it’s ebbed and flowed, it’s really been a priority of mine to try and move my body in some capacity every day. Yes, even when it’s the last thing I want to do…I must do it!
I’ve committed to getting outdoors specifically, if not a camping trip or long hike, even a 15-20 minute walk around the neighborhood feels so nice. On those walks, it’s been especially warming to make the effort to say hi to neighbors, something I feel like doesn’t typically happen in LA—or any city (we all know the “heads down” walk). I’ve noticed more of my neighbors’ gardens (and plucked a lemon or two from their fruit trees); enjoyed the birds I hear at the park I live next to; and smiled at every single dog that walks past me even if they can’t see it under my mask. I definitely want to keep up these practices in our post-pandemic world, whatever that looks like.
I’ve also started saying no. Often. I think the most beautiful thing that COVID has taught me is that I don’t have to do things out of habit! Habitual friendships, comfortable routines, everything I did just because it’s “what I do.” I’ve stopped and I feel weightless. It’s really freeing.
I’m optimistic that we get to “keep” this total restructuring of our lives post-pandemic, even if it feels near-impossible in the moment.
Wherever you’re at in the world, and in whichever state of lockdown or emergence, feel free to share your experience this year in the comments below. 💛
Danielle Cheesman was born and raised in New Jersey, where she lived until moving to Philadelphia to study journalism at Temple University. She has spent her years writing and developing editorial visions for music, art, and lifestyle brands. Now residing in Los Angeles, you can usually find her taking pictures, making playlists, or cuddling her pup. Say hi on Instagram!